Man, that was a great day of games today. The second round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs is now looking really spicy after two hard-fought victories that have ended up turning both the Dallas vs. Phoenix and Philadelphia vs. Miami series into a best of three battle.
The Mavericks aren’t quite ready to give up yet, but Chris Paul is going to go after them in Game 5
The Dallas Mavericks looked lost in the first two games of their series against the Phoenix Suns, but they’ve now managed to recover and have tied the series at 2-2 after their 111-101 victory in Game 4.
Luka Doncic, who looked like he was the only one who could contribute for the Mavericks in the first two games, has finally been getting the help that he’s desperately needed. Doncic finished with 26 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists and three steals with just four turnovers. He had five other teammates score in double figures.
Dorian Finney-Smith apparently found a flamethrower before the game, as he went off for 24 points and eight rebounds while shooting 8 of 12 from deep. All of his points came off of three-pointers.
However, there are a few things that Dallas still needs to shore up. While Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie combined to score 28 points, they shot 10 of 27 overall. They can’t rely on Finney-Smith to get hot like that every night, and it’s going to be tougher to do in a hostile stadium in Game 5.
Game 4 wasn’t short on controversy, either. First, Chris Paul looked to have finally gotten a dose of his own medicine as the Mavericks were able to bait the refs into calling a lot of fouls on him. He fouled out for just the 14th time in his career and only played in a total of 23 minutes, finishing with five points, five rebounds, seven assists, a steal, and two turnovers. Devin Booker put on a good game with 35 points, but simply couldn’t do enough damage without his backcourt partner.
However, Mavericks fans may have also given him the inspiration to put on a Point God performance in Game 5, after two people in the crowd were ejected from the stadium for allegedly putting their hands on Paul’s mother and wife, apparently in front of Paul’s children as well.
If the claim is true, and that fans put their hands on an opposing team’s player’s family members, the NBA needs to take some drastic action. Fans do not have the right to do shit like that. Ballers writer Francis T. talked about the growing rift between players and fans in March, and this incident is another example of bullshit that should not be allowed. Chris Paul may be an asshole most of the time, but I stand with him. Paying money for a ticket does not give one the right to treat other people like shit.
James Harden finally showed up in the fourth quarter, and now we’ve got a real battle between the Heat and Sixers
Joel Embiid’s early return continues to pay dividends for the Philadelphia 76ers, as he put in a solid performance in 38 minutes of game time with 24 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 7 of 13 from the field. With Embiid on the floor, life simply gets harder for the Miami Heat. Embiid did much of the early lifting for Philadelphia, as he had 15 points and three rebounds in the first quarter. More importantly, Embiid also showed his defensive chops in this game, which is going to be important in what is guaranteed to be a hard-fought Game 5.
Bam Adebayo didn’t have as hard a time this time around against Embiid though, as he finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists while shooting 9 of 12 overall.
Jimmy Butler again put in his best attempt to win the game, but his 40 points, three rebounds and six assists while making 13 of 20 shots and 12 of 13 free throws. It’s got to be frustrating to keep playing so strong without being able to win, but the Heat do still have two more games at home. However, when you compare his contributions to the rest of the team, it’s clear that the rest of the guys need to step up.
Even with Embiid on the floor, the star of the show today ended up being James Harden, who had been struggling with his offense recently. The Beard turned back the clock in the fourth quarter in Game 4, scoring 16 points in the period, with a bunch of them in crunch time, while finishing with a total of 31 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. Harden got back in his bag and resurrected his stepback threes.