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Cavs, Knicks, Nuggets all look for home sweeps tonight on TSN

LeBron James Jamal Murray Los Angeles Lakers Denver Nuggets LeBron James Jamal Murray - The Canadian Press

The NBA playoffs continue Monday night after an action-packed eight-game opening weekend that set the stage for the rest of the postseason.

This evening’s playoff schedule features a trio of games, with all three home teams looking to go up 2-0 in their respective series.

Watch the Magic and Cavaliers tip things off on TSN3, TSN5, and the TSN App at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. You can also see the Knicks and Sixers face off at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT on TSN1, TSN4, and the TSN App, immediately followed by the Nuggets and Lakers with the same programming options.

The Cavs and Magic opened the playoffs Saturday afternoon and Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland to a double-digit Game 1 win, scoring 30 points on 21 shots. Mitchell and the Cavs are looking to overcome a loss in the opening round last season and advance to the second round and beyond for the first time LeBron James left for the Lakers in 2018.

“Last year is over with,” Mitchell said after the win. “We flushed that. This is who we are, and this is who we expect to be.”

While Magic star Paolo Banchero did score an efficient 24 points, the 21-year-old committed nine turnovers in his playoff debut, admitting after the game there was plenty his team could have done better.

Next up it’s the Knicks and 76ers, who are coming off a wire-to-wire finish in Game 1 that saw Josh Hart hit a pair of huge three-pointers in the final two minutes to close things out for the Knicks. Jalen Brunson credited the win to guard Deuce McBride, who scored 21 points off the bench and was a plus-37 in the victory.

“I think their game plan probably was definitely more focused on getting the ball out of Jalen’s hands,” McBride said. “If that’s the poison they pick, you’ve got to make them pay.”

All eyes will be on the health of Joel Embiid for Game 2. Last year’s MVP had 16 points in the first quarter as the Sixers held a nine-point lead to close out the frame. But things went sideways late in the second when Embiid appeared to reinjure his left knee while landing after a spectacular dunk.

Embiid missed nearly two months after having left meniscus surgery on Feb. 6, limiting him to 39 games during the regular season. While the 30-year-old was able to return for the second half Saturday, he wasn’t the dominant force he was in the opening quarter.

Head coach Nick Nurse said there were no plans to rule Embiid out for Monday’s matchup.

"He really is a warrior, and he's battling," Nurse said. "I think he absolutely wants to play."

Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey was also a late add to the team’s injury report Monday morning with an illness.

Closing out the slate is Game 2 between the defending champion Nuggets and four-time champion LeBron James and the Lakers.

The two teams met in the Western Conference Final last season and while the Nuggets won all four games, L.A. lost all but one of those games by six points or fewer. That led to optimism from the Lakers’ side that things would be different in 2024 should the two teams meet again.

Except it didn’t work out that way in the series opener.

Denver pulled away in the third quarter and withstood a Laker charge in the fourth to move to 34-8 at home this season. Nikola Jokic was his usual magnificent self, finishing with 32 points on 15-of-23 shooting while adding 12 rebounds and seven assists. Canadian Jamal Murray pitched in with 22 points and 10 assists.

The win was the Nuggets’ ninth consecutive playoff victory over the Lakers.

“I thought we played some good ball tonight, just could have been better,” James said. “You don't have much room for error versus Denver's team, especially at their home floor. They're just a team that's been through everything. Obviously, they're the defending champions, so you gotta execute, you gotta make shots, you gotta defend. And then you can't give them extra possessions.”