After the favorite teams won every matchup in the first round, the NBA playoffs reached the conference semifinals. Here are the series-opening games for Monday night.
Sixers Down in Miami For Game One
Tonight's game at FTX Arena will be the start of the eagerly awaited series between Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers. Six games were won by the Sixers, who defeated the Toronto Raptors with a big win in Game 6. The win was not without cost. MVP candidate Joel Embiid was hurt and will miss Game 1 tonight after suffering a concussion from a fractured orbital bone. It is not known if he will be available for the remainder of the series.
The Heat defeated the Hawks in their first-round series and won it in five games. Miami held Trae Young down to 15.4 points per match on 31.9% shooting. The All-Star point guard was also held to just 15.4 points per game by Miami's relentless pressure defense. He shot only 18.4% from beyond the arc due to their obstinate pressure defense.
Miami has to contend with some injuries after their win against the Hawks. Jimmy Butler was unable to play in Game 5 against Atlanta due to soreness in his left knee. However, he will be back in the lineup tonight. Kyle Lowry also has a pulled hamstring that will prevent him from playing in the first two games. He also missed Atlanta's last game.
The 76ers and the Heat split the season series, and have not faced each other since March. That was when Philly acquired James Harden and Max Strus was moved into the starting lineup. Strus is a better defender than Duncan Robinson, with an average of 14 points and 1.4 steals during the playoffs.
Harden averaged 19.2 points and 10.2 assists during the postseason. If Philly wants to win, he will have to improve his production tonight.
Miami will win easily at home against the Sixers, who are in a weakened position.
Phoenix Test for Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks will host Game 1 in their Western Conference semifinal series against the Suns on Monday night. To reach this point, the number-four seed Mavericks beat Utah in six games. Phoenix needed six games to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans. The league's best record was maintained by the Suns, who swept the series 3-0 against Dallas.
Although the Mavericks don't rank among the best-scoring NBA teams, they are close to the top for shooting percentage with 54.8%. They are ranked fifth overall because of this. Luka Doncic led them with 28.4 point, 9.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists per games. Jalen Brunson was next with 16.3 points and 4.8 assists.
These playoffs have seen the Suns also shooting well. Devin Booker was unable to play in three of the series' games against New Orleans due to a tight hamstring. Chris Paul took over the role in the final game. He then broke the NBA record for consecutive field goals in playoff games without missing a shot. He went 14-14 from field, scored 33 points and had eight assists. Deandre Ayton scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the Suns shot 60% for the game.
Dallas will once again be shown who the best team is by the Suns.