Step Back, 8 notes on the Conference Semifinals: Episode 9

inth episode of the new Dunkest column: this time we’ll talk about Doncic, Gilgeous-Alexander, Mitchell. Tatum, Nuggets, Edwards, Pacers, and Hart

Step Back Dunkest Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

This week’s 8 notes from Step Back are on the NBA Playoff Conference Semifinals. Enjoy your reading.

Dallas is learning to win even with an inaccurate Doncic

The Mavs have a 6-3 record in these playoffs, ahead even against OKC despite Luka Doncic’s percentages not being the best: 41% overall from the field and 26.4% from beyond the arc. Credit (especially) goes to Irving’s change of pace in the second half of the game, where he scores 17 of his 23.3 points and jumps from 22% to 54% from three-point range.

SGA’s 31 points are a regular occurrence, but they’re not always enough

OKC, struggling against Dallas, hopes to get back on track thanks to the contribution of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – a metronome who also scored exactly 31 points in game-3 (the 14th time this season). However, it seems not enough to win against the Mavs and turn the series around.

If Tatum speeds up, the series (and the playoffs?) are downhill for Boston

The first game of the series in Cleveland, after the “Cavs’ upset” at the TD Garden in game-2, highlighted how the Celtics – with the Tatum & Brown duo scoring over 25 points each – become an unstoppable team and the obligatory favorite of this postseason: in Ohio (and beyond), they are warned.

Mitchell is one of the most decisive NBA players

The Cavaliers’ guard has not scored less than 28 points in the last six games, putting up 50 in game-6 against Orlando and 39 in the decisive game-7 – hitting 22 three-pointers (plus everything else). Very few, when the NBA Playoff atmosphere becomes rarified, manage to maintain this level of performance.

Denver is a mile high, but the Nuggets win mostly on the road

The first two games against Minnesota showed unexpected difficulties for the reigning champions, who always rely on home court advantage – given Denver’s altitude of 5,280 feet, which takes the breath away from opponents. The Nuggets’ trend now is the opposite: 8 road wins in the last 9 playoffs games, another demonstration of strength.

Anthony Edwards is not done enchanting yet.

The T’Wolves missed a historic opportunity at home after winning the first two games in Denver, but Anthony Edwards has no intention of giving up: 44 points in the game-4 defeat, his fourth playoff forty-point game in his career when LeBron James and Kevin Durant were only at three at his age. The best is yet to come.

Free throws don’t help the Pacers to equalize against the Knicks

Two opposite stats from game-4 tell the exceptional nature of the Pacers’ success against the Knicks: New York attempted 31 free throws against the eight attempted by Indiana, but despite this, Tyrese Haliburton and company dominated, winning by 32 points. The series, in short, is longer than predicted a few days ago.

Josh Hart’s numbers are a symbol, but also a symptom

The Knicks’ utility player who never leaves the court, covers more ground than anyone else and at 6 feet 3 inches tall grabs a ton of rebounds has become the emblem of New York’s fighting spirit. However, Hart also shows its limitations, from reduced rotation to poor presence under the rim: trends to reflect upon.

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