NBA Playoffs: First Round Rising Stars
USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt breaks down the most surprising stars of the NBA playoffs so far.
The 2022 NBA playoffs offer another appetizing slate of games on Saturday.
The Philadelphia 76ers have a chance to wrap up their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors, but not without adversity. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that star center Joel Embiid is experiencing significant pain in his right thumb and may undergo an MRI to determine if he sustained any ligament damage.
But Embiid said there is “no chance” he will miss Game 4 in Toronto. Philadelphia leads the series 3-0. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series.
“I’m going for the sweep” Embid said.
The Nets host the Celtics for Game 3 in Brooklyn and may soon have Ben Simmons in the lineup. Boston leads the series 2-0. The Timberwolves look to bounce back in Game 4 in Minnesota from a complete meltdown against the Grizzles. Memphis leads 2-1.
Saturday’s action is rounded out by Game 4 in Utah between the Jazz and the Mavericks, who will likely be without Luka Doncic. Dallas leads the series 2-1.
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Check out USA TODAY Sports’ analysis of all of Saturday’s action:
ESPN reported Saturday that there is optimism that Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic will suit up for a crucial fourth game against the Utah Jazz. If Doncic is able to play, he will have a minute restriction so he can’t further aggravate the calf injury that has sidelined him for the past two weeks.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse knows his team has a big mountain to climb. No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 playoff hole, but Nurse said there’s a first time for everything.
“It’s a big challenge, but someone has to do it,” Nurse said. “That’s how I look at it, someone has to do it. And if it gets to 3-1, then it’s not 3-0 anymore. And 3-1 is done.”
The Raptors may be without Scottie Barnes, who left Game 1 with an ankle injury and missed Games 2 and 3. He is listed as a doubt for Game 4.
Luka Doncic listed as questionable for Game 4 in Utah. Coach Jason Kidd said Doncic is “going in the right direction,” but it will be a game-time decision.
Doncic has been sidelined for the entire first-round series thus far after suffering a left calf strain during the regular-season finale against the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month. After losing the opener of the series, the Mavericks have won the last two games, thanks to Jalen Brunson’s 41 points in Game 2 and 31 more in Game 3.
Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid is dealing with a right thumb injury. Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton will likely miss the rest of their first-round series and perhaps a few second-round games.
And now, Miami’s Kyle Lowry is upset with a left hamstring injury sustained in the third quarter of Atlanta’s Game 3 victory against the Heat. Lowry left the game with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter and did not return.