June 20, 2024


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Two more NBA playoff series are tied a 2-2 | Forecasting the 2021 NBA Draft

Greetings sports fans, it’s Chris Bengel back with you on this Tuesday morning. We’ve got you covered with all of the NBA playoff action and even some offseason talk.Β 

Tuesday produced a pair of somewhat surprising results on the hardwood. Β After dropping Game 1, it appeared as though the Philadelphia 76ers were in command of their series against the Atlanta Hawks. However, much to my dismay as a Sixers fan, the offense had a very stagnant second half and Joel Embiid missed a bunny in the final seconds, allowing the Hawks to tie the series.Β 

The late game was even more shocking as the Los Angeles Clippers absolutely dominated the Utah Jazz. Donovan Mitchell was really the only contributor on the offensive end and the Clippers looked like a well-oiled machine. At this point, it’s truly anybody’s guess who will be playing in the NBA Finals this year and that might make the playoffs even more fun than usual.Β 

With quite a bit to get to, let’s dive into all the sports action!

πŸ“° What you need to know

1. Trae Young dazzles, Joel Embiid disappoints in Game 4 πŸ€

The 76ers had a 2-1 lead in their series against the Hawks heading into Game 4. However, the Hawks just wouldn’t go away in the fourth quarter and were able to erase an 18-point deficit in order to come away with a 103-100 win.Β 

One of the biggest reasons for Atlanta’s second half success was the play of star guard Trae Young. Young had his fair share of struggles in the early going and may have only finished 8-of-26 from the field in Game 4, but the Hawks star managed to step his game up when the lights were the brightest as he scored or assisted on each of the team’s final 15 points.Β 

As impressive as Young was, Sixers star big man Joel Embiid had the exact opposite performance. Embiid has been dominant throughout the bulk of the postseason, but that wasn’t true on this night. In fact, Embiid missed 16 of his 20 field goal attempts, including a potential go-ahead layup in the final 10 seconds of the game.

CBS Sports NBA writer Jack Maloney took a closer look at Embiid and Young’s performances in his takeaways from Monday’s game.

  • On Young’s brilliance: “…NBA games are long, and neither Young nor the Hawks gave up. While he never really did get his shot going, Young went into facilitation mode and did a terrific job getting his teammates involved. He finished with 18 assists to set a new playoff career-high, became the first player since Tim Hardaway to have 25 points and 18 assists in a playoff game and is now the youngest player in NBA history to have 18 assists in a playoff game.”
  • On Embiid’s second half struggles: “He went 0-for-12 from the field in the second half and missed a pretty makeable layup with 8.8 seconds left that would have given the Sixers the lead. All told, he finished with 17 points and 21 rebounds on 4-for-20 from the field. This was his worst shooting performance in a playoff game since 2018, when he went 2-for-11 against the Miami Heat.”

2. Clippers dominate Jazz, tie series at 2-2 πŸ€

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While the Sixers and Hawks had a game for the ages, the Western Conference didn’t experience the same level of theatrics. The Los Angeles Clippers jumped out to a double-digit lead midway through the opening quarter and never looked back in a 118-104 win over the Utah Jazz in Game 4. Like the Hawks/Sixers matchup, this series is tied 2-2 as it shifts back to Utah.

As a team, the Jazz struggled to score efficiently, shooting under 43% percent on the night. Despite battling an ankle injury, Jazz star Donovan Mitchell still had a sensational night in which he poured in 37 points and connected on six 3-pointers. The Jazz just weren’t able to keep up with the Clippers’ high-powered offense.

CBS Sports NBA writer Brad Botkin addressed what led to the Clippers jumping all over the Jazz in his takeaways from Game 4.

  • “It feels like all the momentum has swung the Clippers’ way. Kawhi Leonard, who has arguably been the best player in this postseason, was fantastic on both ends, finishing with 31 points. And what can you say about Paul George?
    We’re going to need to bring this P.G. roast to an end. The man is playing terrific, and quietly has been through most of this postseason, and he has for most of his career. He brought on much of the mocking with the self-proclaimed nickname and the whole “that’s a bad shot” routine, but a few high-profile stinkers aside, there is no way you don’t want this on your team.”

3. Forecasting the NBA Draft πŸ€

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We’re in the thick of the NBA playoffs right now, but front offices around the league already have an eye on the 2021 NBA Draft, which is scheduled to take place on July 29.Β 

There isn’t much debate at the moment with who the top pick will be and the top five also looks fairly set in stone. Oklahoma State freshman phenom Cade Cunningham is widely expected be the first player off the board, but the only question is what team will be selecting him. The Houston Rockets had the league’s worst record at 17-55 and stand the best chance to win the NBA Draft lottery. However, the Detroit Pistons weren’t too far behind with only 20 wins and could also win the top pick.

Colin Ward-Henninger took a closer look at the draft with his latest mock draft. Here are some highlights from the lottery portion of his mock.

  • Ward-Henninger on the Warriors’ pick at No. 6: “If the Warriors get Minnesota’s pick and (Scottie) Barnes is available, you might be able to hear the raucous cheering from Golden State’s war room all the way at Barclays Center. A long, versatile, switchable defender with tremendous playmaking upside, Barnes is exactly the type of player who can fill the Warriors’ glaring hole on the wing. Golden State will be tempted to trade this pick for a veteran if it lands at No. 6, but if Barnes is available that decision becomes much more difficult.”
  • Ward-Henninger on the Magic’s pick at No. 8: “They already have Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony, but the rebuilding Magic can’t pass up a talent like (Davion) Mitchell based on positional redundancy. At 22, Mitchell should contribute immediately on both sides of the ball with his strength and motor. He became a consistent 3-point shooter and playmaker over the course of his college career, turning him into an elite prospect with tremendous upside.”
  • Ward-Henninger on the Spurs’ pick at No. 12: “(Ziaire) Williams was the No. 6 player in his class coming out of high school before suffering through a train wreck of a freshman season at Stanford. His upside is undeniable on both sides of the ball with his 6-11 wingspan and tremendous mobility. He’s one of the best space-creators in the draft offensively, and it’s a matter of whether those shots eventually start to fall more consistently. The Spurs have a knack for developing players, so Williams seems like a worthwhile gamble at this juncture of the draft.”

4. MLB Power Rankings

The 2021 MLB season is approaching the All-Star break and we’re really starting to see who some of the contenders around the league are. Teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Tampa Bay Rays find themselves among the most impressive teams in baseball as we get into the summer months.

In this week’s edition of MLB Power Rankings, CBS Sports’ Matt Snyder has taken notice of the Rays’ recent surge and has placed them atop the MLB heap for the second consecutive week. There have been few teams that have been as sensational as the Rays this season as they’ve won seven of their last eight games.

Here’s a closer look at how the top 10 of Snyder’s rankings shook out this week.

  • No. 1 Tampa Bay Rays
  • No. 2 Chicago White Sox
  • No. 3 San Francisco Giants
  • No. 4 Los Angeles Dodgers
  • No. 5 Houston Astros
  • No. 6 Chicago Cubs
  • No. 7 Boston Red Sox
  • No. 8 Oakland Athletics
  • No. 9 Milwaukee Brewers
  • No. 10 New York Mets

πŸ“ Odds & Ends

πŸ“Ί What to watch tonight

πŸ’ Islanders vs. Lightning, 8 p.m.Β | TB -200 | TV: NBCSN

⚾ Rays vs. White Sox, 8:10 p.m. | CWS -105 | TV: MLB.TV

πŸ€ Bucks vs. Nets, 8:30 p.m.Β | BKN +4Β | TV: TNT

πŸ₯‡ Best thing I saw on the internet

It’s always a thrill for young fans when they’re able to catch a foul ball or receive game-worn articles of clothing from professional athletes. French Open champion Novak Djokovic made the day of a young fan when he handed the youngster his match-winning racket that he had used to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas. The raw excitement from the fan was so awesome to see. Receiving a match-winning racket from Grand Slam tournament is something that this fan won’t ever forget.