As we get deeper into the playoffs, the intensity rises and the pressure to execute becomes more and more crucial. That has been evident thus far in these second-round matchups in each conference, with the Brooklyn Nets vs Milwaukee Bucks in the East, and Philadelphia Sixers vs Atlanta Hawks. In the Western Conference, you have the rising, boiling, hot Phoenix Suns who just swept the Denver Nuggets to advance to the Western Conference Finals, 125-118, and the Los Angeles Clippers vs the Utah Jazz.
Starting off with the Nets vs Bucks series, we now have a series tied up 2-2. The Nets might be ahead in the series, if not for injuries to key players such as James Harden and Kyrie Irving, the former of which injured his hamstring in the first minute of Game One, and the latter who sprained his right ankle, landing on Bucks star forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s foot midway through the second quarter in Game Four. Thankfully, the X-rays came back with promising news.
After winning a pivotal Game Three, behind Antetokounmpo’s 33 points and 14 rebounds to make the series 2-1, the five-time All Star came ready to play again in Game Four, finishing with 34 points and 12 rebounds. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday combined for 33 points, pushing the Bucks to a 107-96 victory, tying the series 2-2. On the other side, Kevin Durant finished with 28 points,13 rebounds, and five assists, but with Irving going down, nobody else scored in double figures to help alleviate pressure off him.
Both teams shot around 44% from the field, with the Nets shooting 30% from three point range, and the Bucks 34% within range, respectively. The Nets lost this game by turning the ball over 17 times, a much higher number then lower amount of turnovers of seven they had in Game Three. Game Five will be played on Tuesday, returning to Brooklyn. Will Irving or Harden be able to ease the pressure off Durant? Or will the Bucks take advantage of the decimated Nets to take a 3-2 lead in the series?
In the Sixers and Hawks series, the Atlanta Hawks took Game One, 128-124, behind Trae Young’s 35 points, with 25 of them scored in the first half, but since then, the Sixers took Game Two, 118-102 and Game Three, 127-111. The victories would not have been possible without the combined 67 points contributed by their superstar center, Joel Embiid. Embiid wasn’t without a collaborative effort, however. Tobias Harris contributed with 22 points, Ben Simmons scored 18, and Furkan Korkmaz was huge off the bench with 14 points, hitting big-time shots throughout the game. Atlanta’s Young had 28 points, with eight assists, while the high-flying forward John Collins had 23 points, and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 19 to the board. The Hawks were defeated in this game by shooting an abysmal 30% from beyond the arc, while allowing 66 points in the paint. The Hawks would go on to win the series in six games to advance to the Conference Finals.