First Round Ramps Up

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Clippers, Lakers Series Both Nodded Up at 2-2 in Big Sunday of Basketball

Trae Young said he would see the New York Knicks in the A, but the Atlanta Hawks’ first round opponents failed to make the trip over to Georgia and show up for two straight games.

With a 113-96 victory, the Hawks took a commanding 3-1 series lead on what was a pivotal day of postseason basketball.

Despite nice performances from RJ Barrett and Julius Randle, the Knicks simply have no answer for Trae Young who has been unstoppable all series long. The Hawks star point guard led all player with 27 points and 9 assists, while John Collins added 22 points in the win. Savvy veteran Danilo Galinari added 21 points of his own off the bench as the Hawks will now look to close out the Knicks in Game 5.

If the Knicks hope to return to Atlanta for one more game, they will need to find a way to slow down Young.

Over in Boston, there was some more fan-player controversy.

A fan was arrested for throwing a water bottle at point guard Kyrie Irving as he was heading towards the tunnel after an utter dismantling of the Boston Celtics.

Similar to the Knicks, the Celtics find themselves at the brink of elimination following a 141-126 Game 4 loss. Kevin Durant amassed 42 points while Irving scored 39 points and grabbed down 11 boards in the win. Meanwhile, James Harden dropped 23 points and dished out a career playoff-high 18 assists.

Following the game, Durant spoke on the incident between the Celtics fan and Irving.

“I mean, fans have got to grow up at some point,” said Durant. “I know that being in the house for a year and a half with the pandemic got a lot of people on edge, got a lot of people stressed out. But when you come to these games, you’ve got to realize, man, these men are human, you know? We’re not animals. We’re not in a circus. You coming to the game is not all about you as a fan. So have some respect for the game and have some respect for these human beings and have some respect for yourself. Your mother wouldn’t be proud of you throwing water bottles at basketball players or spitting on players or tossing popcorn.

“So grow the f–k up and enjoy the game. It’s bigger than you.”

Over on the west coast, things are getting spicy in California.

After falling behind 2-0 in their first round series to the Dallas Mavericks, the Clippers have clawed back and taken over the momentum of the series with back-to-back road wins in the American Airlines arena.

Kawhi Leonard led the way for the Clippers on Sunday night with 29 points and 10 rebounds, while Paul George added 20 points and 9 rebounds of his own. Meanwhile, Luka Doncic, who is dealing with a neck strain struggled all night finishing with 19 points on 9-for-24 shooting.

“The pain is like neck and then the nerve down,” Doncic said following his poor shooting night. “I don’t really know how to explain that. It felt way better today morning than yesterday. I’ll just keep doing massages, ice it down and then be ready for Wednesday.”

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle also provided some information on his star guards injury.

“He’s in pain,” Carlisle said. “It appeared to me that he couldn’t turn left, couldn’t look to his left. He couldn’t turn his neck to his left, and that’s difficult for a guy that relies on peripheral vision and basically has played his whole life with his head on a swivel. We’ve got to hope in the next couple of days that he can get better, hopefully substantially better. There is a two-day break between games, which is a positive in this case.”

The series will now return to Los Angeles for a crucial Game 5.

Last but certainly not least, the Phoenix Suns were able to make their first round match up with the Los Angeles Lakers a series again.

As Anthony Davis was forced to leave the game in the second half due to a strain, the Suns fought to tie up the series at 2-2 after securing a 100-92 victory. In what was a balanced effort, Phoenix had six players finish the night in double figures, as the injured Chris Paul led the way with 18 points and nine boards. DeAndre Ayton, who has been a beast for the majority of the series, finished the game with 14 points and 17 boards.

Over on the Lakers side, LeBron James scored 25 points and grabbed 12 boards, but it was not enough as the Lakers failed to overcome the loss of Davis.

“We’ll see,” said James on what the Davis injury means for the Lakers moving forward. “These shoulders were built for a reason. So, if it takes for me to put some more on top of it, then so be it. Win, lose or draw, I’m ready for the challenge.”

There is more NBA basketball in the docket tonight as the Philadelphia 76ers will look to close out the Washington Wizards while the Utah Jazz will look to take a command 3-1 series lead over the Memphis Grizzlies.

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