Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, April 24: Pascal Siakam, Luka Doncic & the first playoff road wins

Pascal Siakam and Luka Doncic star as the Pacers and Mavs became the first teams to win on the road in the 2023-24 Playoffs.

Starting 5When you’re trying to win on the road for the 1st time these Playoffs, sometimes you gotta get a little Spicy.


What’s inside today’s edition? 

Spicy P Ends Streak: Pascal Siakam makes history, as Indy becomes 1st road team to win this Playoffs

Luka, Mavs Rally: Doncic drops 32 as Mavs come back late vs. Clips to even series

Jaden, Wolves Up 2-0: Jaden McDaniels’ career night sends MIN to 1st 2-0 lead in 20 years

SGA & Clutch Play: How has the Kia MVP & Clutch Player of the Year finalist done his crunch time scoring?

Boston Breaking Records: What are all the milestones the Celtics have hit this season?


Last night’s scores & what to watch today.

Tonight’s TNT Doubleheader: The Heat & Celtics tip off Game 2 at TD Garden (7 ET), with Boston up 1-0. Pelicans-Thunder follows (9:30 ET), with OKC looking to go up 2-0. | Playoffs Home


Pascal Siakam hits a unique statistical threshold for the 2nd straight game, placing him alongside Shaq, Wilt and Tim Duncan.

To break a streak the NBA hadn’t seen since 2004, the Indiana Pacers turned to a style that had been a staple since opening night … and a Playoff veteran who’d only joined the team three months ago.

Indiana’s Pascal Siakam went for a Playoff career-high 37 pts and the Pacers set a franchise Playoff record with 38 assists to beat the Bucks 125-108 in Game 2

The win evened the series at 1-1 and made Indiana the 1st road team to win in these Playoffs, after a rare run by home teams. | Recap | Siakam’s Best

  • Snapping The Streak: Including Minnesota’s win earlier, home teams had won 12 straight games to open the Playoffs. That hadn’t happened since 2003-04
  • See Ya Streak, Part 2: The win ended Indiana’s 10-game Playoff winless run, dating back to 2018
  • History For Spicy P: Siakam (11 reb, 6 ast) became the first player ever to open a postseason with two straight games of 35+ pts, 10+ reb and 60% + shooting
  • Legendary List: Only Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal and Wilt Chamberlain had ever put up those number in back-to-back Playoff games

38 Dimes: NBA assist leader Tyrese Haliburton led the way with 12, with three other Pacers putting up six or more

  • Ball Control: Indy became the only team since turnovers were tracked in 1970-71 to have a Playoff game with 35+ assists and 6 or fewer turnovers

Embracing Experience: Indy, whose roster has the third-least postseason experience of any Playoff team, fell behind quick in Game 1, and never recovered.

  • 508 Games: That’s the difference in combined postseason experience for the Bucks roster (701 games) versus Indy (193), which hasn’t won a Playoff series since 2014
  • Deja Vu: After putting up a franchise-record 35 in the first half of Game 1, Damian Lillard went off for 26 in the first half of Game 2
  • Enter Siakam: This time, Lillard had somebody going shot for shot with him, with Siakam exploding for 21 – including a 3-for-4 mark from deep – in the first half and 16 more in the second.
  • Veteran Presence: Siakam, a veteran of 50+ Playoff games and the only member of the Pacers to have won a title (2019, Raptors), also provided a steadying effect on his team
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle: “His experience in the playoffs is so valuable. He’s not a guy that’s going to get rattled by anything. Never has once since January, since we got him. He’s a guy that people confide in and look up to.”
  • Said Siakam: “Every time they made a run, we were just there. The composure was there. I could see it in the eyes of the guys. Just guys not panicking.”

Game 3 tips Friday at 5:30 ET on ESPN.


The Mavs pull out a narrow win in Game 2 behind their star backcourt tandem of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Down 6 in the fourth and facing a 2-0 series deficit, the Dallas Mavericks rattled off a 23-8 4th quarter run to beat the Clippers 96-93 in Game 2, and knot the series at 1-1. | Recap | Watch The Ending

Luka Doncic (game-high 32 pts) and Kyrie Irving combined for 55 points, as the Mavs overcame the return of LA’s Kawhi Leonard, who missed Game 1. | Luka’s Best

  • Inside The Run: Luka, Kyrie and PJ Washington (Playoff career-high 18 pts) accounted for 20 of Dallas’ 23 points during the comeback. | Watch Luka’s Big 4th
  • Including This: Watch this clutch Doncic 3 from courtside, as the Mavs go up 9 late
  • Add Another One: To Luka’s list of all-time career clutch buckets
  • Clipper Comeback: In a game that saw 10 lead changes, Dallas held the lead for the majority of the night, until a 22-12 Clipper run from 6:38 in the 3rd til 9:32 in the 4th put LA up 73-67
  • Walk Off: Hit the court and head into the tunnel with the Mavs after they completed the comeback
  • Said Kyrie on journey back to Playoffs: “I think failure will inspire you more than you can imagine.”

Leonard put up 15 pts and 7 reb in his first game since March 31, while James Harden and Paul George each dropped 22.

  • History for LA: James Harden moved into 10th all-time in Playoff free throws and 12th in Playoff assists, passing Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, respectively, while Leonard passed Hakeem Olajuwon & Dennis Johnson into 18th in Playoff steals

Game 3 tips Friday at 8 ET on ESPN.


Jaden McDaniels drops a playoff career-high 25 points and Minnesota outscores Phoenix 55-42 in the 2nd half of Game 2.

Coming into the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t receive a single vote to finish in the Western Conference’s Top 4 in the NBA GM Survey. So, behind a defensive revolution that saw them jump from 10th to 1st in DefRtg, the Wolves spent all year proving they belonged.

In Tuesday’s 105-93 Game 2 win over the Suns, a team that’d put up 118 ppg against them in the regular season, they just kept proving it – led this time by a player who’s quietly helped them grind into the West’s elite. | Recap

Jaden McDaniels went for a Playoff career-high 25 points, and helped to lock down the Suns’ star-studded offense, as the Wolves took just the second 2-0 lead in team history. | McDaniels’ Best

  • Only Other Time: Minnesota’s last 2-0 lead in a Playoff series came in 2004, when the Wolves took down Denver, 4-1 in the First Round
  • McDaniels Steps Up: With the Suns keyed on Anthony Edwards, the fourth-year wing took over, taking a team-high 17 shots and posting a team-high +24 with 8 reb
  • On The Other End: McDaniels helped lock down the Suns’ star trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, who went just 18-for-45 from the floor
  • Ant On McDaniels: “He’s the X-Factor.”
  • Wolves Coach Chris Finch: “His activity’s been another level so far in these 2 games. … I thought he had a special performance tonight, really special.”
  • Turning Point: The Suns took an 8-point lead in the 2nd, but the Wolves rattled off a 43-27 run from the midpoint of the 2Q through the 3rd, powered by 13 from McDaniels and 8 from Karl-Anthony Towns in the stretch 

More On McDaniels: The forward out of Washington has built a reputation on the defensive end, finishing 16th in DefRtg this year among starters (min 50 games).

  • This year, players shot 1.8% worse from the floor when guarded by him
  • Standout In His Class: McDaniels is the only member of the 2020 NBA Draft class to have 200+ blk & 200+ stl
  • Said McDaniels: “Being in the Playoffs is a dream come true.”

Game 3 tips Friday on ESPN at 10:30 ET.


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder deliver a disciplined performance in Game 1 victory over the Pelicans.

The Thunder led by 10 early in the 4th quarter. Then the drought began.

OKC went more than five minutes without making a shot, as New Orleans used an 18-6 run to take a two-point lead with under two minutes to play.

A Game 1 win for the No. 1 seed was slipping away.

But Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wasn’t going to let it happen.

In a span of a minute, SGA shook loose from defensive standout Herb Jones to tie the game with a contested 20-footer … then, with all eyes on him, split the defense to hit a 13-footer And-1 to give OKC the lead for good.

Watched The Plays? Good. Because those two shots illustrate why SGA – a finalist for the Kia MVP – was also named a finalist for Kia Clutch Player of the Year, which will be awarded on Thursday.

  • Gilgeous-Alexander has delivered in closing moments all season long, finishing the regular season with 112 points on 58.1/35.7/89.7 shooting splits, while adding 19 assists to just six turnovers
  • OKC went 23-11 in SGA’s 34 clutch games, outscoring opponents by 68 points in his 107 clutch minutes

Remember those clutch shots from Sunday? The midrange pullup and a floater in the paint?

Now look at SGA’s clutch shot chart compared to the other two finalists – Golden State’s Steph Curry and Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan – as each had different methods for creating clutch buckets

  • While Steph (189 pts) and DeMar (182 pts) have the edge in total points thanks to taking (and making) more shots than SGA, neither shot the ball better than Shai
  • Clutch True Shooting Pct: SGA 70.7%, Curry 69.0%, DeRozan 62.5%

What’s in store tonight when OKC hosts New Orleans in Game 2? Find out on TNT at 9:30 ET.


By the time the Miami Heat – the Boston Celtics’ biggest Playoff nemesis of the past five years – scored their first points of the 2023-24 postseason, the C’s had already made history.

  • Roaring out to a 14-0 start, Boston became the first team of the play-by-play era to open a postseason on a 14-0 run or better
  • Forty eight minutes of hoops later, they’d set one more record, sinking 22 3-pointers and becoming the first team in postseason history to have every player who played hit a three.

A Year Of History: The records added yet another set of milestones to one of the greatest seasons in history for one of the game’s most iconic franchises.

Before the Cs host the Heat in Game 2 (7 ET, TNT), check out a few of the marks Boston has set this year.

The Most…

  • Points in Celtics history (9887)
  • Threes in a season in Celtics history (1351), 2nd in NBA behind Warriors
  • Home wins to start a season in team history (20)
  • Wins in a row (11) this season, tied with the Rockets
  • 50-point wins in a season (3) in NBA history
  • 40-point wins (4) in NBA history, tied with OKC this year
  • 30-point wins (10) in NBA history, tied with 1971-72 Bucks
  • Games with 15 3PM games in NBA history (63), 9 ahead of the 2022-23 Warriors & 2018-19 Rockets

The Best(s)…

  • Offensive rating of the play by play era, since 1997-98 (122.2)
  • Tied highest EFG% (57.8%) in the play-by-play era, 2nd in True Shooting % (60.9%)
  • Highest net rating since 2000 (11.7)
  • Largest margin of victory in any 11 game win streak in NBA history (+243)

The Lowests…

  • 2nd lowest defensive rating in the NBA this season (110.6)

The Firsts…

  • Team since the 1975-76 Warriors to finish the season 14 games ahead of anyone else in the conference
  • Team to hit 1,300 threes in back-to-back seasons
  • Team not to attempt a free throw in a full game

More In Celtics History …

  • 2nd highest 3P% in the play by play era (38.8%), behind 08-09 team
  • 4th most wins (64)
  • 14th time a Celtics team has reached 60 wins


  • Kristaps Porzingis became the first Celtic with 100+ blk & 100 3PM in a season
  • Jayson Tatum joined Larry Bird (1983-84 to 87-88), John Havlicek (1969-70 to 72-73) and Paul Pierce (2000-01 to 03-04) as the only Celtics to score 1900 points in at least 3 straight seasons