Paul George, Los Angeles climb back in Western finals with Game 3 win

The Clippers have overcome two separate 2-0 deficits in this postseason, and on Thursday, they took the first step toward doing it for a third time. After falling behind in the first half, the Clippers erupted in the second to win Game 3, 106-92. They will now have a chance to tie the series in Game 4 on Saturday.

Paul George led the Clippers with 27 points, but as has been the case so many times this postseason, it was Reggie Jackson who sealed the win with an incredible fourth quarter. He finished the game with 23 points to help make this a 2-1 series. The Suns, meanwhile, got very little out of their star guard tandem. Chris Paul and Devin Booker combined to shoot a horrific 10 of 40 from the field in the loss for Phoenix.

The Suns hadn’t lost a game since May 27, a staggering nine-game winning streak as they’d run roughshod over the Lakers, Nuggets, and for two games, the Clippers. L.A. fought back on Thursday, and on Sunday, will try to do so again by tying the series at two games apiece. For now, here are the biggest takeaways from Game 3.

A bad day for Phoenix’s guards

The Suns are so deep that they can usually overcome a stroke of bad luck or two. The first two games of this series encapsulated that. Phoenix won both games at home without Chris Paul because Devin Booker was dominant in Game 1 and Cameron Payne played the game of his life in Game 2. Well, let’s take a look at what happened in Game 3:

  • Paul returned to the lineup, but as he hasn’t played in 11 days and may or may not have had COVID-19, he was at the very least rusty. His conditioning and rhythm seemed affected by the layoff.
  • Booker played Game 3 in a facemask after Patrick Beverley head-butted him in Game 2. It would be unfair to attribute his struggles entirely to that mask. Beverley has defended him very well

Khris Middleton helps Milwaukee force a Game 7

We have another Game 7 on our hands. The Milwaukee Bucks led wire-to-wire to defeat the Brooklyn Nets 104-89 to keep their championship hopes alive.

Kevin Durant put up big numbers again as he finished the loss with 32 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way for the Nets. His standout effort wasn’t enough though as Milwaukee’s big three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday combined for 89 points, 35 rebounds and 13 assists to avoid being eliminated on their home floor.

With the win, the Bucks and Nets will now face off in a winner take all Game 7 matchup at Barclays Center on Saturday. The time of that showdown has yet to be determined. For now, here are the three most important takeaways from Game 6.

1. Giannis, the center

Remember when Giannis Antetokounmpo attempted eight 3-pointers in Game 3? Yea, he doesn’t either. For the first time all postseason, the two-time MVP did not attempt a 3-pointer. In fact, only five of his 20 shot attempts came outside of the paint. In the early portion of this series, the Nets somehow tricked Giannis into playing like a guard. That’s not who he is. He’s a center, and the Bucks are at their best when he plays like one.

Aside from a game in which Antetokounmpo got injured 46 seconds in, he had only played two other games this season without attempting a 3. The Game 6 win pushed Milwaukee to 3-0 when he doesn’t, with a point-differential of plus-63. They went undefeated when he didn’t try a 3 last season as well. In fact, excluding games in which he got injured, the Bucks have now won their last 10 games in which he did not try a 3-pointer. The last time they lost under those circumstances? April 24, 2018. The Bucks need Giannis in attack mode, and he was on Thursday.

That being said, they greased the wheels a bit with their lineup choices as well. In the first five games of the series, …

Paul George rallies The Clippers to Game 5 win over Jazz

Once stunned into silence on a night where the expected outcome had not come to pass, the 18,007 inside the arena had begun to regain their belief, and volume, as Clippers teammate Paul George made free throws to push their lead to seven with three minutes remaining. And as he shot, Beverley waved his arms, signaling for more before the Clippers’ finished an improbable 119-111 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Consider his position: It was hard for the noise to get any louder than what the Clippers had already heard Wednesday, long before tipoff. In the hours after All-Star Kawhi Leonard was ruled out for Game 5 of this second-round series because of a strained right knee that could sideline him the rest of this series, if not beyond depending on the injury’s still-unknown severity, gambling odds tilted toward the Jazz.

A sports-talk radio host in Los Angeles described himself as thankful that order had seemingly been restored — a twisted end to a promising Clippers season. If Phoenix, awaiting the winner of this matchup in the Western Conference finals, had fired up film of the Jazz, it might have been understandable.

Leonard, the all-NBA force who had averaged more than 30 points in this postseason, has been that valuable for the Clippers. But removing him from the lineup did not remove the unshakeable confidence this roster forged through short-handed February nights, a May comeback against Dallas and this June encore against the Jazz. Only seconds after George’s free throws, Terrance Mann drove the baseline against 7-foot Rudy Gobert and dunked over the outreached arm of the three-time defensive player of the year.

The victory stakes the Clippers to a 3-2 lead entering Game 6 Friday in Los Angeles and was as loud as any postseason statement the franchise has made in its recent history. Without Leonard, George led the Clippers in points (37), rebounds (16) and assists (5) to push the franchise one victory away from their first conference final berth and, personally, push back after his …

Trae Young, Atlanta even series with Philly after comeback win in Game 4

The Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers provided fans with an exciting playoff game on Monday night as the lower-seeded team picked up the 103-100 win they needed to even the series at 2-2.

After getting off to a slow start, Hawks All-Star Trae Young finished the win with a game-high 25 points to go along with 18 assists and four rebounds. Atlanta needed their star player to be dominant and he was just that in a game that the Hawks had to have.

On the other side, the 76ers saw all five of their starters score in double figures but, in the end, it was not enough to get the job done. As a result, the setting will shift back to Philadelphia on Wednesday night for what is now, essentially, a best-of-three series.

Here are three key takeaways from the game:

1. Hawks use 18-point comeback to tie the series

After stealing Game 1 on the road, the Hawks lost the next two games by double digits, and it seemed like the Sixers had figured things out. That was reinforced when the Sixers quickly took control in Game 4 and built an 18-point lead in the second quarter, before going into the halftime break up by 13.

The Hawks were in serious trouble at that point, and it honestly wouldn’t have been surprising if the Sixers had cruised to victory. But the Hawks weren’t ready to go home, and slowly but surely worked their way back into the game. It wasn’t always pretty, but they showed the kind of effort and fight that would make any team proud.

However, with just a few minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, they still trailed by four and needed a response. That’s when Trae Young stepped up and used his playmaking and scoring to key a 7-0 run that put the Hawks in front for good. Now, the series is all tied up at 2-2, and the Hawks still have a chance to advance to their first Eastern Conference finals since 2015.…