Things are all even between the Sixers-Heat and Suns-Mavericks ahead of Game 5 after big wins for Dallas and Philly on Sunday.
76ers 116, Heat 108
Series: TIED 2-2
James Harden averaged 18 points on 39 percent shooting and 25 percent from three-point range, and 4.0 turnovers per contest in the first two games of this series with the Heat and with Joel Embiid sidelined; that just wasn’t going to cut it for the 76ers. Hence the 0-2 hole they fell into to open the series. Game 3 wasn’t much better for Harden, but the Heat had a dismal night offensively that allowed Philly to get their first win of the series.
Game 4 was a different story. The Heat did not have an awful shooting night like in Game 3, but James Harden decided to show up to the series last night. Harden came into the fourth quarter with 15 points … and then he flipped the switch as Philly pulled away from the Heat down the stretch despite Jimmy Butler dropping 40 points on the other side. Harden scored 16 points and drilled four triples in the final quarter, and the 76ers pulled away from Miami in the final minutes.
Harden finished with 31 points and added 9 assists and 7 rebounds in his best performance of the series. Joel Embiid scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Sixers in the winning effort. Embiid was many people’s favorite for the NBA MVP award this season, but Adrian Wojnarowski reported this morning that Denver’s Nikola J0kić had won the award for the second consecutive season, meaning that Embiid will likely be the runner-up. Still, Embiid is the lifeline of the 76ers. Despite Harden’s strong fourth-quarter performance on Sunday night, it’s not a coincidence that Philadelphia dropped both contests without Embiid and won both since his return to action.
Jimmy Butler scored 40 in the loss for Miami, who hopes to regain control of the series in Game 5 in South Beach.
Mavericks 111, Suns 101
Series: TIED 2-2
In a series that looked like no matter what Luka Dončić and the Mavs did, they would have no answers for the defending Western Conference champs; Dallas has evened things up after a pair of victories at home this weekend. Luka Dončić was brilliant again on Sunday afternoon, logging a 26-point, 11-rebound double-double in the winning effort, but he got some help from Dorian Finney-Smith, who shot 8-12 from range and scored 24 points for the Mavs.
Dallas hit 20 three-pointers and shot 45.5 percent from range in the victory, and Finney-Smith drained nearly half of the Mavericks’ three-pointers:
DORIAN. FINNEY. SMITH.
24 points on 8-of-12 from three for DFS 🔥pic.twitter.com/0BxAqUUm8t
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 8, 2022
Devin Booker scored 35 points in the losing effort, but the real story for the Suns on Sunday was Chris Paul. Or, the lack thereof, Chris Paul. The 17-year veteran fouled midway through the fourth quarter and logged just 23 minutes and change of action in this one due to being in foul trouble all afternoon. Paul finished up the game with just five points.
The series is heading back to Phoenix even at two-a-piece.
After the game, we learned some disturbing news of an incident involving Chris Paul’s family in the stands on Sunday afternoon. It’s alleged that Paul’s wife and mother had hands put on them by fans next to them in the arena, and to make matters worse, Paul’s children were there to witness the incident.
Eli wrote up the details last night:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) May 9, 2022