Central Notes: Allen, Lillard, Rivers, Giannis, Pacers

Jarrett Allen has been a dominant force in the Cavaliers’ first two playoff games against the Magic. He’s averaging 16 points in the first-round series, while his 38 total rebounds are just 11 fewer than the 49 Orlando’s entire starting lineup has grabbed, Joe Vardon of The Athletic notes. Magic defensive star Jonathan Isaac only played 19 minutes in Game 2 due to Allen’s superiority.

The Cavaliers’ center has drawn extra motivation from his postseason clunker against the Knicks last season.

“He’s a prideful individual,” Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell said. “And I think that the way it happened last year, you could see it’s a motivating thing. I think it goes without saying. I think he’s shown it himself to us all season. I had no doubt that this is who he would be.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Damian Lillard erupted for 35 points in Game 1 of the Bucks’ first-round series against the Pacers. The longtime All-Star guard was itching to get back into the postseason after a two-year absence with Portland, Jamal Collier of ESPN writes. “The last two years not being in the playoffs, it (stunk),” Lillard said. “Early vacations. Last year, I went to Coachella. I ain’t never been able to go to Coachella. Just having that long summer, I was over that. Being able to be in a playoff series on a championship team, championship organization, knowing that we got an opportunity for it, that was the thing I was looking forward to most.”
  • Lillard and coach Doc Rivers had dinner together last Wednesday, where the main topic of conversation was boxing, not basketball. There’s a strong bond between coach and player, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “We’ve connected,” Lillard said. “I’ve always respected how he goes about being a coach. He says what’s unpopular. He’s not afraid to address s–t and I’m a fan of that. I like addressing the elephant in the room, the uncomfortable situations. My family, that’s how it’s always been. That’s how you move past stuff and grow. So I like that that has always been his style. He challenges the best players, in front of everybody. I think that’s how you get the most out of the team.”
  • Not surprisingly, Giannis Antetokounmpo won’t play in Game 2 this evening, the team tweets. The Bucks superstar had been listed as doubtful due to a calf injury suffered late in the regular season.
  • The Pacers got a big-time wake-up call in Game 1, scoring a season-low in points against a perennial playoff contender, Kelly Iko of The Athletic notes. “The first half was embarrassing,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “No excuses. We simply have got to come out better. It was ugly, and we all own it. … They looked like the experienced team. We looked inexperienced. That led to a lot of problems early. You can talk about how different (the playoffs) are, but actually experiencing it is another thing. We were very poor and have to be way better.”
View Comments (4)