The massive weekend of basketball continues with four games scheduled across the entire day. After going a perfect 4/4 yesterday, our NBA picks have analysed each of tonight’s four games to come up with the winners for you!
The Hawks, Lakers and Mavericks host a game four with the opportunity to go up 3-1 on the cards, while Boston has the opportunity to tie their series 2-2 on their home floor. Read on below to find our four NBA picks for all of today’s action!
New York Knicks @ Atlanta Hawks (Game 4) – 1pm EDT
The Atlanta Hawks returned home and took over the series against the New York Knicks, winning game three 105-94 to take the 2-1 lead. As was the story through the first two games, the Knicks couldn’t get anything going offensively, with their 94 points being the second lowest total through the first three games.
Derrick Rose was inserted into the starting lineup and responded with 30 points on 61.9% shooting, with six rebounds and five assists, but he was the only one to score 15+ for the Knicks. Julius Randle scored 14 points on 2/15 shooting and was swarmed with numerous chants from the Atlanta crowd, including being told he was ‘overrated’.
Trae after telling the Knicks “We’ll see you in the A” 👀
🔴 21 Pts, 14 Ast, Game 3 W
🔴 Hawks lead 2-1 pic.twitter.com/rRzWzcSKs7
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 29, 2021
The treatment that Randle received in Atlanta was similar to that of Trae Young in New York, but the Hawks’ guard actually delivered for his team. After averaging 31 points through the first two games, Young took a step back on the scoring front to become more of a facilitator, finishing with 21 points and 14 assists, while committing just two turnovers in his 37 minutes.
Atlanta’s entire rotation was the reason they were able to get over the line, with seven different players scoring in double figures, highlighted by Clint Capela’s 13 point, 12 rebound and two block performance. The bench was massive as well, with Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter and Lou Williams combining for 31 points on 8/10 shooting from deep.
Atlanta as a team shot 16/27 (59.3%) from behind the arc while New York managed just 9/30 (30%). That sort of shooting difference has been the way this series has gone and the Knicks can’t seem to buy a bucket at the moment, especially their leader, Randle. New York was 18-14 following a loss during the regular season, and they responded well in game two after a game one loss, but the Hawks were an incredible 20-4 as home favorites and should be taking a 3-1 lead back to New York for game five.
Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers (Game 4) – 3:30pm EDT
A heated and controversial game three saw the Los Angeles Lakers take a 2-1 series lead after multiple exchanges between the two sides throughout the game. The Phoenix Suns were a bit shell-shocked in the game and the antics led to both Devin Booker and Jae Crowder being ejected late in the fourth quarter.
With Chris Paul still limited by his shoulder on Thursday night, the Suns needed Booker to step up if they were any chance to steal a game in Staples Center but he managed just 19 points on 6/19 shooting, his lowest total of the series. Cameron Payne came off the bench to provide a spark yet again, shooting Phoenix back into the game when they looked done for the night in the third quarter, finishing with 15 points, six assists and four steals.
However, the most valuable player of the first three games for Phoenix has been Deandre Ayton. The big man, in his first postseason, has had three straight double doubles and was the main bright spot for the Suns in game three, putting up 22 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Unfortunately, for the second straight game, he was outdueled by Anthony Davis and that has been the Lakers’ edge.
After the Lakers listed AD as questionable for Game 4 with a left knee sprain, he said he believes he’ll play.
The Lakers have a chance to take a 3-1 series lead on the Suns. pic.twitter.com/IqiL8fciVE
— ESPN (@espn) May 30, 2021
Davis ended up with game highs of 34 points and 11 rebounds, dominating offensively for LA with a game high 22 field goal attempts and getting to the line 14 times, hitting 12. LeBron James put in another all-around performance with 21 points, nine assists and six boards, but had seven assists and shot under 50% from the field for the second time this series. He was buoyed by Dennis Schroder’s second straight great performance with the Lakers’ guard ending up with 20 points on 54.5%, with four assists and two steals.
The big one will be the health of each team’s stars. Paul is obviously banged up and far from 100% but Anthony Davis is on the injury report with multiple niggles and dings he has collected throughout this physical series. Davis has said that he will be playing in game four, but at what capacity is still unknown. Another one for the Lakers, and while he hasn’t had the best series to date, is starter, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The shooting guard couldn’t finish the game but scans came back clean and he is listed as questionable for this afternoon’s clash.
At the end of the day, you have to trust the Lakers to get the job done. Chris Paul’s inability to perform at the level that he did during the regular season has hampered Phoenix’s ability to be competitive in this series. LA’s 109-95 win on Thursday was the biggest margin of victory through the first two games and the writing could be on the wall for the second seeded Suns.
Brooklyn Nets @ Boston Celtics (Game 4) – 7pm EDT
The Boston Celtics have risen from the dead, winning game three 125-119 and making this a series. They looked down and out after the Brooklyn Nets beat them 130-108 in game two but a big night from Jayson Tatum pushed the Celtics over the top.
Tatum, who left game two early with an injury, came out ultra aggressive from the start of game three and ended up with 50 points on the night. He became the third youngest player to achieve that feat in playoff history and did so by shooting 5/11 from three, 13/15 from the line and 16/30 from the field. What is even more impressive from Tatum is that he led the Celtics in assists, with seven.
Kemba Walker, who is supposed to be Tatum’s secondary scoring option, finished the game with just six points on 3/14 shooting from the floor. Lucky for the Celtics, his point guard opponent, former Celtic Kyrie Irving, shot 6/17 for his 16 points, unable to get going offensively for his side.
50 POINTS AND THE DAGGER. pic.twitter.com/MqlhYyAuQr
— ESPN (@espn) May 29, 2021
Nights like that is why Brooklyn have structured their roster the way they have. Irving can have a poor shooting night but they still have two former MVPs to help keep the team afloat. Kevin Durant and James Harden combined for 80 points by themselves, with the former adding nine boards and four steals and the latter adding 10 assists and seven rebounds.
Unfortunately for the Nets, it was their defense that ruined them yet again. After keeping Boston to 100.5 points per game through the first two, the Celtics erupted for 125. Brooklyn even shot more free throws and had less turnovers, but Boston shot better from the floor and that allowed them to out-gun the super-charged Brooklyn offense.
However, we don’t expect Tatum to be scoring 50 every night, and that was what the Celtics needed in order to win by only six points. Brooklyn played incredible defense on Tatum through the first two games, limiting his ability to find his comfort zones, but Friday’s performance was just incredible. Unfortunately Tatum, and the Celtics too for that matter, have been unable to play and score consistently enough to trust them. Brooklyn are definitely the better team, and should show that in game four.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Dallas Mavericks (Game 4) – 9:30pm EDT
Could the Los Angeles Clippers be back in action? After two embarrassing games on their home floor to open the series, and a worrisome first eight minutes of game three, the Clippers kicked into gear. With the Dallas Mavericks up 2-0 in the series and 30-11 in the first quarter of game three, LA could have easily rolled over and opened themselves up but they fought back and ended up winning 118-108.
Kawhi Leonard was once again the lead man for the Clippers, ending up with 36 points on 13/17 (76.5%) shooting, eight rebounds and two blocks. Paul George also enjoyed his best game of the postseason, shooting 11/18 (61.1%) for his 29 points. Rajon Rondo came off the bench to have a team high eight assists, helping compose the team and playing poised basketball on both ends of the floor, something they so desperately needed.
Clippers take Game 3 over the Mavericks, 118-108, in Dallas.
◻️ PG13: 29 PTS | 7 REB | 4 AST
◻️ Kawhi: 36 PTS | 8 REB | 3 AST
Dallas leads the series, 2-1. pic.twitter.com/sUvg5Qnt2Q
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 29, 2021
All of this was to overcome the spectacular play of Luka Doncic. Despite his team losing by ten points and none of his teammates scoring over 14 points, Doncic had game highs across the board with 44 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. In his 39 minutes on the floor, Dallas was +3, but in his nine minutes on the bench they were outscored by 13 points.
It is a worrying sign for the Mavs as Doncic was complaining of a neck issue that was deferring pain down his left arm, and is listed as just questionable for tonight’s clash. If he is unable to go, or even unable to go at close to 100%, the Clippers will have a serious advantage in this game. They have now shown the ability to beat the Mavs, breaking their postseason losing streak, and have an air of confidence surrounding them now.
After great performances in their first two games, Tim Hardaway Jr and Kristaps Porzingis combined for just 21 points on 7/24 shooting. Their inability to give Doncic the support he needs will be Dallas’ undoing and the Clippers seem to have figured out how to restrict them from doing so.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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