2023 NBA playoffs scores, takeaways: Knicks knock off Cavaliers in Game 1; Celtics, 76ers cruise to wins
The NBA playoffs are underway and we already have one upset in the books
The 2023 NBA playoffs kicked off Saturday, with the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks joining the Philadelphia 76ers in the win column. Things wrap up Saturday with the lone Western Conference Game 1 on Saturday as the Kings host the Warriors in the first playoff game in Sacramento since 2006.
The third game of the day tipped after 6 p.m. ET with the Cavaliers hosting the Knicks in the first playoff game in Cleveland without LeBron James since 1998. Despite a late run by the Cavaliers, led by Donovan Mitchell, the Knicks were able to hold on for a 101-97 victory to steal Game 1 on the road.
The second-seeded Celtics took down the seventh-seeded Atlanta Hawks, racing out to a 30-point halftime lead before holding on for a 112-99 win. Boston's Jaylen Brown led all scorers with 29 points, while Jayson Tatum added 25. Hawks star Trae Young was held to 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting.
The 76ers started off the day by hitting a franchise record 21 3-pointers in their 121-101 win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1. James Harden connected on seven of those triples in a 23-point, 13-assist effort, while Joel Embiid added a relatively quiet 26 points.
Eastern Conference playoff scores
- Game 1: 76ers 121, Nets 101
- Game 1: Celtics 112, Hawks 99
- Game 1: Knicks 101, Cavaliers 97
CBS Sports will have live updates throughout the day, keeping track of the latest playoff action with highlights, analysis and more. Follow along below.
Takeaways from 76ers-Nets
Sixers bring a flamethrower to Game 1
In Philadelphia's 121-101 win Saturday afternoon, the team connected on 21 shots from 3-point territory, which set a franchise record for most 3s in a playoff game. What's even more impressive about that number is that the Sixers broke the previous record of 18 before the fourth quarter even started. It was a testament to how scorching hot the team was from deep, and also a result from the Nets double-teaming Joel Embiid for most of the game. Brooklyn's gameplan of forcing the ball out of Embiid's hands and daring everyone else to beat them worked for about five minutes in the first quarter, but then that tactic crumbled rather quickly.It was an interesting tactic from Jacque Vaughn and the Nets staff, given that the Sixers led the league during the regular season in 3-point percentage (38.7%). Not only that but many of the Sixers' 3-pointers were on wide open attempts on Saturday, due to the Nets doubling Embiid. During the regular season, the Sixers generated the eighth-most wide open 3-pointers in the league, and ranked fifth in knocking them down at a 41.1% clip. Clearly the Nets were banking on Philadelphia having an off day shooting from beyond the arc, but that's not what happened. Brooklyn will have to adjust their defensive gameplan for Game 2 if they want to stand a chance in this series. - Jasmyn Wimbish
Takeaways from Celtics-Hawks
Celtics win the 3-point battle
Coming into the series, one of the biggest storylines was the disparity in the 3-point attacks for each team. The Celtics finished second in the league in 3-point attempts per game (42.6) and sixth in 3-point percentage (37.7), while the Hawks were 28th in 3-point attempts (30.5) and 21st in percentage (35.2). That created a major math problem for the Hawks, and they were unable to solve it in Game 1.While the two teams actually ended up taking a similar number of 3s, the Celtics were far superior from downtown, going 13-of-39, while the Hawks shot 5-of-29; in a 13-point win, the Celtics were a plus-24 from the 3-point line. The Hawks won't shoot that poorly the rest of the series, but the 3-point line is going to continue to be an issue for them.
Mazzulla "not concerned" by poor second half
The Celtics showed the championship level they can reach in the first half, as they built a 30-point lead going into the break thanks to dominant play on both sides of the ball. In the second half, they showed that they still have some issues playing with big leads, as the Hawks made them sweat before ultimately losing by 13."I just thought we lost our offensive purpose," Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said. "Playing passive offense instead of just keeping it moving and being aggressive and maintaining that level of pace we had in the first half."In the second half, the Celtics scored just 38 points on 15-of-43 from the field and turned the ball over eight times; Jaylen Brown and Derrick White were the only players on the team to make more than one field goal. It was an ugly display and a reminder of what can happen when the Celtics lose focus.Asked if he was worried about the team letting its foot off the gas yet again, Mazzulla scoffed and shook his head. "No I'm not conerned at all," Mazzulla said. "This team has played great for the entire season. That's going to happen, and it's actually good we went through it. We had to feel that and it's important that we learn from it. For us to be able to get a win and at the same time know we can play better is good." - Jack Maloney
Takeaways from Knicks-Cavaliers
The playoffs are about weaknesses
It is often said that the regular season is about strengths and the playoffs are about weaknesses. That was on full display in Game 1. The Knicks trusted nine players. All four of their reserves had positive point-differentials. They had the lineup flexibility to deal with anything Cleveland might throw at them.
Cleveland lacked that flexibility, because it became apparent very quickly that J.B. Bickerstaff only has four players that he trusts. Isaac Okoro started the game and defended Jalen Brunson. He did a good job in a limited first-half sample (Brunson got into foul trouble), but his limitations as a shooter robbed Cleveland's guards of any driving space offensively.
So Bickerstaff went to Cedi Osman down the stretch, who tried to pressure Brunson full-court. Well… Brunson scored 21 points in the second half. Osman couldn't stay in front of him. Caris LeVert shot one-of-seven from the floor. Dean Wade had a minus-14 point differential in seven minutes. Ricky Rubio looked like a fossil.
It doesn't matter how well Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley play if they have no help. Things are so desperate for Cleveland after one game that it might be worth considering some of their deeper bench players. Could Lamar Stevens flip the rebounding battle back in their favor? They signed Danny Green after a February buyout. Does he have anything left in the tank?
Cleveland has to hope the answer is yes. The Knicks essentially got to play Game 1 9-on-4. Cleveland can't win that way.
An up-and-down Randle performance
The story of this series before it tipped off was the health of Julius Randle. He missed the last five games of the season with an ankle injury, and he had plenty to prove coming off of a miserable first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks in 2021. He was surprisingly able to start Game 1, and the raw numbers suggest he delivered. He finished the night with 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
The eye test was more of a mixed bag. Randle shot 7-for-20 from the floor, and only two of his made field goals came in the paint. He was, essentially, a jump-shooter. Evan Mobley makes most opponents take shots they don't want to take, but Randle's size and ball-handling should be an advantage in this theory. Mobley's defensive weaknesses is his vulnerability to bully-ball. Randle, in theory, can punish him with it. That is, if he's healthy.
It was an ugly game. It's easier to swallow a 7-for-20 shooting outing when the other team can't make 3's and is getting all of its points from a single player. Cleveland had the NBA's No. 1 defense for a reason this season. A healthy Randle is probably going to be needed for the Knicks to win three more games in this series. Cleveland likely won't be held to double digits many more times in the next six games. - Sam Quinn
Knicks take Game 1
Knicks 101, Cavaliers 97. The Knicks take a Game 1 lead, their first road Game 1 win in 24 years. Now the Cavaliers will look to tie the series on Tuesday. The Knicks have stolen home-court advantage in the series.
Rebounding dooms the Cavaliers
Another Knicks miss... another offensive rebound for the Knicks. That's the difference. Now Quentin Grimes can effectively ice the game at the line.
Another huge offensive rebound
A Josh Hart miss should've given the Cavaliers a chance to tie the game. Instead, the Knicks pulled in their 16th offensive rebound and Jalen Brunson used it to push the lead up to four points. That might be the difference in this one.
Hart answers back
Despite an injured ankle, Josh Hart fired up a late-clock 3 and it miraculously went in. That turned a one-point deficit into a two-point lead.
Cleveland takes the lead!
A quick 9-0 Cavaliers run fueled by turnovers and the sheer brilliance of Donovan Mitchell has given the Cavaliers a one-point lead. The Knicks have controlled this game from the start, but with two minutes to go, the Cavs are in front with their home crowd behind them.
Two straight Knicks turnovers. Two straight layups for the Cavaliers. It's a one-point game after a 7-0 Cavaliers run.
Donovan Mitchell is the only thing keeping Cleveland alive
Donovan Mitchell has twice as many points (34) as any other Cavaliers (Darius Garland is in second with 17). He has 39% of Cleveland's total points in this game. He is the only Cleveland player capable of doing anything on offense right now.
CBS Sports HQ
What's Trending Now: Damian Lillard Trade Rumors Heating Up
CBS Sports Releases Top 100 NBA Players Ahead Of 2023 Season
CBS Sports Releases Top 100 Players Ahead Of 2023 Season
Highlights: Wings at Fever
Highlights: Sun at Liberty
HQ Spotlight: James Harden Takes A Unique Approach to Forcing His Way Out of Philadelphia
Basketball HOF Enshrinement: Popovich Headlines 2024 Class
Basketball HOF Enshrinement: Dirk's Influence On The Game
Basketball HOF Enshrinement: Defining D-Wade's Legacy
Best Sound: NBA Enshrinement Weekend 2023