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Each conference’s top seed is in action with Philadelphia and Utah holding 2-1 leads with game four on the road. Can either of them extend to 3-1 or do the Hawks and Clippers have a chance of tying things up?
Philadelphia 76ers @ Atlanta Hawks (Game 4) – 7:30pm EDT
Trailing in a series for the first time in these playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks host the Philadelphia 76ers in a game that they simply have to win if they are to have any chance of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. Friday night’s 127-111 Philadelphia win saw the Sixers dominate throughout, leading for 44 out of the 48 minutes and never trailing for the last 3.5 quarters.
A 28-20 first quarter and a 34-19 third quarter was the difference for Philly, who won their second straight game over the Hawks, both by 16 points. Joel Embiid had a stand-out performance yet again, finishing with 27 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. Atlanta hasn’t had an answer for Embiid all series, with the MVP runner-up averaging 35 points and 10 boards through the first three games.
It hasn’t just been Embiid, with his supporting cast thriving as well. Tobias Harris has scored 20+ in all three games this series, putting up 22 points on 62.5% shooting, along with eight rebounds and five assists on Friday night. The worry for the Sixers is that Danny Green went down early with a calf strain and will be out for some time now, but Furkan Korkmaz stepped up into his role to finish with 14 points and a game high +24 in his 27 minutes on the court, his most gametime of the playoffs so far.
Sixers dominate the Hawks in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead 💪
Embiid: 27 PTS, 9 REB, 8 AST pic.twitter.com/OQalMpXo13
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 12, 2021
Korkmaz and Harris combined to shoot 4/7 from deep in what was the difference between the two sides, with Philly shooting 10/21 (47.6%) from downtown while the Hawks managed just 6/23 (26.1%) in a dismal night from deep for the home side. Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter, who combined for 8/14 shooting from three in game two, went 1/9 on Friday while being -7 and -12 in their minutes, respectively.
Trae Young actually scored a game high 28 points, while adding eight dimes as well and John Collins put up 23 points on 10/14 (71.4%) shooting, with their offense actually scoring nicely. The defense was clearly the issue, giving up the most points they have all playoffs and sending the Sixers to the line far too much, with Philly attempting 39 free throws for the game.
Ultimately, the Sixers are the better team and have asserted their dominance all over the series throughout the last two games. They are playing better on both ends of the floor, shutting down the Hawks’ strength, shooting, while getting whatever they want offensively as well. We don’t see that changing in tonight’s game four. Philly may have some rotation issues, with Green being out of the lineup, that will allow the Hawks to get an edge at times, but overall the Sixers should be winning this one and heading home with a 3-1 series lead.
Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Clippers (Game 4) – 10pm EDT
The Los Angeles Clippers are finally on the board in this series, beating the Utah Jazz 132-106 on Saturday night. After losing two close ones in Utah, getting back home obviously did the Clippers a world of good, winning by 26 points, their biggest winning margin in the playoffs.
Leading by just 11 heading into the last quarter, with the Jazz still a chance of getting back into the game, LA put their foot down to ensure they escaped with the win. A 10-0 run was the driving force behind the 38-23 final quarter for the Clippers, with Kawhi Leonard scoring 12 and Paul George scoring six in the period.
Clippers came to play at home 😤
They win 132-106 and make series 2-1 🍿
Kawhi: 34 PTS | 12 REB | 5 AST
PG: 31 PTS | 5 AST | 6/10 3PT
— Overtime (@overtime) June 13, 2021
Leonard finished with a game high 34 points, shooting 58.3% from the field and pulling down 12 boards in a man of the match performance. George also had it going offensively, shooting 6/10 from deep for his 31 points, with the two All Stars finally playing well simultaneously for the first time this series.
George, along with Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum combined for 15/22 shooting from behind the arc, with the Clippers making 19 for the game. This was the most they had made in a game so far this series and it is no coincidence that LA won this one, being the first time Utah didn’t make more threes.
Utah also made 19 themselves, making it a tie in that category, with Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neal and Jordan Clarkson all making 4+ from deep. Mitchell continued to put the Jazz on his back, scoring a team high 30 points while none of his teammates reached 20.
Ingles, who continues to replace Mike Conley in the starting lineup, was Utah’s next best player with 19 points, but had just two assists for the game, after combining for 11 through the first two games, both wins. Clarkson only had 14 points, tying his lowest tally so far this postseason, and unable to provide the scoring punch off the bench that Utah so desperately needed.
The enduring image. Donovan didn’t stay in the back, but the Clippers are up 20 with 3 minutes to go… pic.twitter.com/lutenWIjMn
— David James (@DavidDJJames) June 13, 2021
The worry for Utah is that the Clippers controlled every aspect of the game on Saturday and now Mitchell is as banged up as Conley is. While Conley is yet to see the court so far, and is just questionable for tonight’s game, Mitchell has been playing through pain but it may be finally catching up to him. With seven minutes left in the game on Saturday, Mitchell went back to the locker room and didn’t return to the court at all. Both he and Quin Snyder insist that he is fine, but that isn’t how it looks and the Clippers can now take advantage.
Given that they still hold a 2-1 lead and have home court advantage, the Jazz may feel no pressure to rush Conley back, holding him out till game five back in Utah. That means that the bruised and battered Mitchell has to shoulder the load yet again and with both Leonard and George thriving on offense, it may be another ugly game here tonight.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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