The East’s top seeds battle in the NBA’s conference semifinals -

The East’s top seeds battle in the NBA’s conference semifinals

The Eastern conference’s top four seeds all averted upsets in the opening round of the NBA playoffs and now are trying to get past challenging opponents. The No. 1 seed Miami Heat took a 1-0 lead over the N. 4 seed Philadelphia 7ers into Game 2 last night (Wednesday) at home while the No. 2 Boston Celtics evened their series versus the Milwaukee Bucks 1-1 on their home floor on Tuesday night with a 109-86 win.

The 76ers faced the Heat in Games 1 and 2 minus uber-talented center Joel Embiid, who is recovering from a broken orbital bone after being elbowed in the face by the Toronto Raptors Pascal Siakam last Thursday in Game 6 of their series. There is a possibility Embiid could return for Game 3 tomorrow in Philadelphia. The 76ers will also host the Heat in Game 4 on Sunday at home.

It was imperative the Celtics play with urgency and force in Game 2 against the Bucks after being manhandled in their 101-89 Game 1 loss on Sunday. They opened up an early double-digit lead and by halftime were up by 25 (65-40), led by forward Jaylen Brown’s 25 first half points.

“It’s the playoffs,” Brown said after ending the game with a team-high 30 points. “We can’t let one game kind of dictate how this series goes. We wanted to be aggressive from the gate.”

Celtics head coach Ime Udoka agreed. “We wanted to match their physicality and punch back tonight,” he said. “A big message was show them who we are.”

He added the Celtics were in what was virtually a do-or-die situation. “We wanted to come and play like our season was on the line and we did.” Indeed a loss to the Bucks in Game 2 would have placed the Celtics in a dire circumstance against the defending NBA champions. Now they will face the Bucks in Game 3 on Saturday in Milwaukee with a more optimistic outlook after avoiding a 2-0 deficit.

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