MIAMI: The defending champion Toronto Raptors pummelled the Brooklyn Nets while the Boston Celtics had to claw past a determined Philadelphia Friday, both taking commanding 3-0 series leads in the NBA playoffs.
Pascal Siakam scored 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and handed out five assists to lead the Raptors to a 117-9 victory over the Nets.
Toronto connected on 50.5 percent of their shots from the field and 47.8 percent from three-point range.
Kyle Lowry came up just short of a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for a Raptors team that can clinch a second round berth in game four on Sunday.
“We’re just taking it a possession at a time,” Lowry said. “We can’t focus on anything else. Closeout games are always the toughest. We know they’re not going to lay down.”
Tyler Johnson led the Nets with 23 points, Caris LeVert added 15 and Chris Chiozza chipped in 14 off the bench, but, as in Toronto’s game-one blowout win, the Nets never led.
The Celtics are also in control after the 76ers, who are well aware that no NBA team has rallied from an 0-3 hole to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
But Boston had to battle a struggling but determined Sixers side to close out a 102-94 victory.
Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Jaylen Brown added 21 as the Celtics withstood a 30-point, 13-rebound from Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
Josh Richardson and Shake Milton added 17 points apiece and Tobias Harris scored 15 with 15 rebounds for Philadelphia, who connected on 29.5 percent of their shots from the floor but kept themselves in it with hustle.
The Sixers out-rebounded the Celtics 57-45 and scored 20 second-chance points to Boston’s nine.
“Defensively we did what we needed to do to win a game,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “Defensively, the quantity of just misses is hard to overcome.”
Jaylen Brown scored 21 points and Jayson Tatum added 15 for Boston, who closed the game with a 10-0 scoring run.
In Western Conference action, the Utah Jazz cruised past the Denver Nuggets 124-87, taking a 2-1 series lead with their second straight lopsided win.
Mike Conley played his first playoff game in the bubble after leaving for the birth of his son and then quarantining for four days upon his return.
Conley made seven of eight three-point attempts on the way to 27 points, leading three Jazz starters with 20 or more.
“I was just truly happy to be back with these guys,” Conley said. “Being in quarantine is not easy — four days, 30 minutes a day you get to go outside and maybe touch a ball, shoot in a parking lot.
“Just to go out there and play the game — the guys made it easy for me tonight.”
Rudy Gobert added 24 points and 14 rebounds and Donovan Mitchell added 20 points and four rebounds. All got plenty of rest as well, sitting out much of the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
Utah held the Jazz to 37.5 percent shooting, with Nikola Jokic finishing with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists for the Nuggets and Jamal Murray adding 12 points.
They got to the free throw line 11 times, compared to the Jazz’s 26 free throw attempts.