NBA preview

NBA Playoffs: LA Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks take to the floor this week

The NBA Playoffs are fast reaching crunch point. We’ve already at the Eastern and Western Conference Finals stage and there are two fascinating matchups to pore over this weekend. In this preview, we will run the rule over LA Clippers v Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks v Atalanta Hawks.

Devin Booker rains fire for Phoenix Suns against LA Clippers in Game 1

The Suns made the best possible start to the Western Conference Finals when they outlasted the Clippers in Game 1. And it was Devin Booker who elevated himself to new heights in the absence of Chris Paul, with a scintillating display that saw him post his first career triple-double. Weighing in with 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists, Booker was sensational.

Although it may be the first 24-year-old’s first run out in an NBA postseason, the playoffs can make or shatter a player’s career. Yet Booker has been unfazed, and he looks like he belongs on the big stage. Booker is a crowd pleaser and, at one point, he drained in 16 consecutive points to lift the roof off at the Phoenix Suns Arena.

Phoenix Suns still left in dark over Chris Paul’s return

While the Suns ground out a victory despite being without Chris Paul, it is unclear when Paul will return to the fold. Currently, Paul is quarantining in LA after testing positive for COVID-19 last week, and has been symptoms-free. When asked about Paul’s return, Suns coach Monty Williams said: “It’s just a day-to-day thing with him right now. I probably drive people crazy with that.”

Quitting is not in LA Clippers’ DNA

It has been a monumental effort for the Clippers to get to the Western Conference Finals. In their 50-year history, they had never reached the Western Finals. Against the Utah Jazz, they overturned a 25-point deficit, and they rallied before clinching a 131-119 victory. While they will require every ounce of determination to get past the Suns, quitting certainly isn’t in the Clippers’ nature.

LA Clippers running out of bodies with Kawhi Leonard on treatment table

For the Clippers, losing Game 1 against the Suns is very much retrievable. Doing so without the services of Kawhi Leonard made it much tougher to stomach. Recent reports have suggested that Leonard has an ACL sprain, and it seems likely that Paul will return to the floor for the Suns before Leonard does for the Clippers.

Atlanta Hawks ready to make more history after stunning victory over Philadelphia 76ers

The Hawks have had to wait a while to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. Indeed, the last time they did so was in 2015, but in overcoming Philadelphia 76ers last Sunday night the Hawks set up a date with Milwaukee Bucks. While the Sixers hadn’t reached the Conference Finals since 2001, the Hawks did well to burst the Sixers’ bubble, and the adventure continues.

In Trae Young, the Hawks have a player that can cause real damage, just like his team-mate Kevin Huerter. At the start of the playoffs, Young was enduring a basketball nightmare as in Game 7 against the 76ers as he was 2 for 19 from field with four turnovers in Game 7, before turning things around in spectacular fashion.

When the Hawks started the regular season with a 14-20 record, and Lloyd Pierce as their head coach, the initial signs were worrying. But since Nate McMillan assumed control, he has steadied the ship, and the Hawks have looked more assured, and their 71.1% winning record under McMillan would have comfortably been the best in the East had it been over a full season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo can lead Milwaukee Bucks to NBA glory

Over the past couple of years, the Bucks have come under intense scrutiny for prematurely bouncing out of the playoffs. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has been named MVP (Most Valued Player) in two of the past three campaigns, drained in 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists in Game 7 against the Nets to push the Bucks into the Conference finals.

The Bucks have underachieved for a franchise their stature, and they haven’t reached the NBA Finals since 1974. But with Giannis in their ranks, anything is possible especially when Giannis goes into attack mode, and he could dominate the series against the Hawks if he becomes a more consistent jump shooter.

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