For the first time in three days, no one was sent packing from the NBA postseason on Tuesday night.
The Denver Nuggets avoided elimination with a 117-107 win over the Utah Jazz keyed by a masterful 42-point, eight-rebound, eight-assist effort from Jamal Murray.
Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Clippers claimed a 3-2 edge on the Dallas Mavericks with an eye-popping 154-111 win that saw Paul George rediscover his "Playoff P" form (35 points on 18 shots in 24 minutes).
These playoffs, while unique in just about every other aspect, have included the typical drama and edge-of-your-seat excitement of the second season. Since so much of that is star-driven, we'll examine three of the best pairings below.
NBA Playoff Bracket
No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks lead No. 8 Orlando Magic 3-1
No. 5 Miami Heat eliminated No. 4 Indiana Pacers 4-0
No. 3 Boston Celtics eliminated No. 6 Philadelphia 76ers 4-0
No. 2 Toronto Raptors eliminated No. 7 Brooklyn Nets 4-0
No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers lead No. 8 Portland Trail Blazers 3-1
No. 4 Houston Rockets tied with No. 5 Oklahoma City Thunder 2-2
No. 6 Utah Jazz lead No. 3 Denver Nuggets 3-2
No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers lead No. 7 Denver Nuggets 3-2
Postseason Dates and TV Info
August 31: Conference semifinals begin
September 15: Conference finals begin
September 30: NBA Finals begin
October 13: Latest possible date for NBA Finals
TV Networks: TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV
Best Duos in the 2020 NBA Playoffs
LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
The pride of the Purple and Gold gives new meaning to the word "unstoppable."
You could study the art of NBA defense for years and years and still never come across the right way to pester a 6'9", 250-pound point guard or a 6'10", 253-pound interior force with above-the-rim explosion and perimeter skills. This twosome looked absurd on paper as soon as it was assembled last summer, and it only grew more ridiculous in practice.
"It's everything that I dreamed of," James told Spectrum SportsNet. "You know, I understand and I know the talent level that he possesses out on the floor both on the interior and out on the perimeter. He's one of those unicorn-type players that could do it all."
When James and Davis simultaneously click, the Lakers are virtually impossible to beat. That's what the Trail Blazers are quickly learning.
After Portland grabbed a quick 1-0 lead, L.A. has responded with three consecutive victories, one keyed by Davis (31 points, 11 boards in Game 2), one keyed by James (30 points, 10 assists in Game 4) and the other orchestrated by both (combined 67 points, 23 rebounds and 16 assists in Game 3).
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
This duo isn't the only reason the Clippers have been such a popular championship pick since it came together last offseason, but it surely tops the list.
Leonard and George are on a tiny list of the Association's best two-way players. While neither dominates the basketball, both can lead offenses and find shots for themselves and their teammates. Each packs a powerful enough three-point shot to play off the other, and despite being annual suppliers of 20-plus points, they can each do their best work at the defensive end.
While George has had a rockier transition than Leonard, thanks in no small part to having surgery on both shoulders last offseason, it was only a matter of time before George erupted. After enduring an abysmal stretch from Games 2-4 (11.3 points on 21.3 percent shooting), he was back to being a point-producing machine in Game 5.
If George keeps this up, the Clippers can go back to attempting the championship run they've been plotting since last summer. L.A. blitzed opponents by 13.2 points per 100 possessions when its two stars shared the floor this season, and the pair could produce a similar number at any moment this postseason.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Let's start with an admission: Part of what makes this duo so special is the fact that the Celtics have closer to a Big Three (or even a Big Four) than a star pairing. With Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward on the roster, Boston isn't simply living or dying based on Tatum and Brown's production.
If that was the case, though, the Celtics could still be in good hands. Brown is averaging 21.5 points with a 60.9 true shooting percentage this postseason, and he's the less productive of the two. Tatum is going for 27.0 per game while shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from range. The two also rank among the more versatile defenders in basketball.
"Those two dudes are super special talents," Walker told reporters. "... It's just fun to watch. It's really fun to be a part of their growth."
The Celtics are firmly in the heavyweight division of championship contenders, and their young wings are a major part of that. They shared a plus-9.6 net rating in the regular season, and they've upped that to plus-10.3 in the playoffs.