The Clippers had the final say against Dallas and will challenge Utah in the semifinals of the NBA playoffs in the West, Atlanta and the unstoppable Trae Young having struck a big blow in the East, winning the first game in Philadelphia. , who woke up too late.
The Clippers did not crack
It was not until Game 7, after six away victories, that the advantage of the floor was useful in this crazy series. At Staples Center, Los Angeles was finally more solid by winning (126-111) and Dallas could not take its long-awaited revenge, after elimination at the same stage last season. Impeccable, Kawhi Leonard (28 pts, 10/15 on shots, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 interceptions) was predominant in this success. “We never gave up even being led 3-2, we really wanted to do better,” he reacted hot. He was well helped by Paul George (22 pts, 10 assists) and Nicolas Batum, author of a big shadow job (11 pts, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 interceptions, 1 against).
The change occurred at the end of the third quarter, concluded (100-85) after the Clippers inflicted a scathing 24-4 on the Mavs, thanks in particular to three consecutive baskets at long distance from Marcus Morris. The winger-shooter planted seven in total out of nine attempted (23 pts), including the one who repelled a last unsuccessful Texan assault with 75 seconds remaining. The outside address of Californians (20/43 at three points) will have made the difference, compared to that of Dallas, deficient (10/36). And this despite Luka Doncic, still exceptional with 46 points and 14 successful assists. The 22-year-old Slovenian prodigy simply didn’t have the support he needed from his usual gunners, Kristaps Porzingis (16 pts) and Tim Hardaway Jr (11 pts) who had a horrendous 1/14 behind the arc.
It’s high for the Hawks
Leading by 26 points in the first period, Atlanta was very hot in the last quarter when the Sixers moved closer to two units, ten seconds from time. But Trae Young (35 pts) and his team held firm (128-124) to lead a victory to zero. We did not necessarily expect the Hawks, certainly talented, but without real experience of the play-offs, to shake up the Sixers of Joel Embiid, the best team of the regular season in the East. But their uninhibited approach to this series makes them formidable underdogs, especially with this funny phenomenon that is Young. Some might find his attitude sometimes insolent, when he freezes for a few seconds to contemplate his banderilla at ten meters which hits the mark in the first period, even annoying with his habit of going to obtain inaccurate faults on contact. But his talent is undeniable and for the moment impervious to pressure. That poorly applied by the Sixers will also be a big point to improve for the future and coach Doc Rivers did not lose heart afterwards: “we lost by allowing the opponent to score 128 points”.
Young, who also delivered 10 assists, wandered a little too much on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center where he became the second player in history to score 30 points or more in his first four play-off games at outside, from Lew Alcindor (future Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1970. His teammates also put the baskets they needed, especially behind the arc (20/47). John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 21 points each. Philly recovered its delay during a 4th quarter (41-29) of great intensity. A too late comeback, initiated by Joel Embiid (39 pts, 9 rebounds). But if there is a positive note to be taken from this setback, it is the reassuring state of form of the Cameroonian pivot, which has not played with the handbrake, despite a small tear in the right meniscus. “We have lost our temper a bit. We didn’t handle the pressure well, we gave them the ball. And in those cases, they charge you for it. We will have to be better in the next game because they will be more offensive, ”warned Atlanta coach Nate McMillan.