The final game of the first round has ended, and with it, the conference semifinals are set. Also on Sunday, the Sixers and Hawks battled to an exciting finish that ended in a Game 1 upset. Let’s talk about it.
Clippers run away late, eliminate Mavs with Game 7 win
The most back-and-forth series of the playoffs so far ended with a feat neither team had yet accomplished: winning at home. After falling behind 2-0 originally, the L.A. Clippers completed their series comeback with a high-scoring 126-111 win that officially eliminated Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks from the 2021 playoffs.
Doncic didn’t go down without a fight, however; the Slovenian star dropped a series—and career—playoff-high 46 points on Sunday, along with 14 assists and seven rebounds. His hot shooting kept the Mavs in the game in the first half, and he helped them retake the lead early in the third quarter before the Clippers put the game on ice with a 24-4 run. The superstar duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 50 points while Marcus Morris Sr. hit seven three-pointers in the win.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) June 7, 2021
Off the bench, Rajon Rondo took just four shots and made one, ending up with three points as Coach Ty Lue opted to sit him in favor of Reggie Jackson in crunch time. He finished the series with averages of 4.6 ppg, 4.3 assists and 2.4 rebounds in limited minutes. However, he did play a key role in guarding Doncic for several stretches in the series.
For Dallas, it marks the end of Willie Cauley-Stein‘s season as well. WCS averaged 2.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in the series but didn’t make it off the bench in Game 7. Unless the Mavericks pick up his option for next season, he’s expected to hit free agency this summer.
The Clippers will advance to play the top-seeded Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals, beginning Tuesday night in Utah.
Sixers’ comeback falls just short, Hawks steal 1-0 lead
I’m beginning to think this might be Trae Young‘s year after all. The sprightly Hawks point guard picked up right where he left off after burying the Knicks, making it rain right out of the gate for 35 points in a surprising 128-124 upset win over the favored Sixers in Game 1.
The Sixers got good news before the game when it was announced that Joel Embiid would play after missing the last two games with a knee injury. He even riled up the fans with a rousing show featuring Triple H of all people, ringing the pregame bell with a freakin’ sledgehammer. No seriously, that is a thing that happened:
The bell ringer crossover you've all been waiting for…
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) June 6, 2021
But those good vibes didn’t last long once the game started. Atlanta jumped out on top immediately, playing fast and building up a 26-point lead by midway through the second quarter. Young abused veteran Danny Green off the bounce and Philly had no answer offensively or defensively.
It looked like a runaway curb-stomping until late in the fourth quarter, when the Sixers’ defense finally clicked into gear and brought them back into it in the nick of time. They went on a lightning-quick 16-2 run in the last four minutes to get within three, culminating in an Embiid layup off a turnover. But eventually the Hawks managed to break the press, and they salted it away with a few clutch shots and free throws in the final moments.
In addition to Young’s 35, Atlanta got 21 apiece from John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic in the win. For Philly, Embiid led the way with 39 followed by 20 from Tobias Harris and 17 from Ben Simmons. Tyrese Maxey played 14 minutes and scored six points.
Game 2 of this series will take place on Tuesday with the Hawks holding a 1-0 lead.
|Tyrese Maxey (PHI)||124-128 L vs. ATL||6||2-8 (0-2)||2||0||0||0||1||-9||14|
|Rajon Rondo (LAC)||126-111 W vs. DAL||3||1-4 (1-3)||0||0||0||0||0||+3||9|
|DeMarcus Cousins (LAC)||126-111 W vs. DAL||DNP - Coach's decision||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Patrick Patterson (LAC)||126-111 W vs. DAL||DNP - Coach's decision||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Willie Cauley-Stein (DAL)||111-126 L @ LAC||DNP - Coach's decision||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TODAY IN THE NBA
7:30 (TNT): #3 Bucks @ #2 Nets – BKN leads 1-0
10:00 (TNT): #3 Nuggets (Murray*) @ #2 Suns (Booker) – series tied 0-0
* – inactive