Tune-In Tidbits: ESPN Friday, June 11, 2021
Get ready for a pair of Game 3s Friday on ESPN with five key stats to know about each matchup.
Brian Martin, for NBA.com
• Joel Embiid has set a new playoff career high in scoring in each of the first two games of this series – 39 points in Philadelphia’s Game 1 loss and 40 points in a Game 2 win. For the series, Embiid is shooting 54.3% from the field on 23 attempts per game and 83.9% from the free throw line on 15.5 attempts per game.
• Clint Capela has been the primary defender on Embiid for 15:31 of matchup time through the first two games – 5:38 more time than any other defender not only in this series, but the entire postseason, which included four games against Washington. Capela has allowed Embiid to score 41 points on 15-27 shooting from the field and 10-11 from the free throw line on eight shooting fouls. Embiid has defended Capela for 14:29 and allowed 12 points on 6-10 shooting.
• While the Hawks bench outscored the Sixers bench 49-26 in Game 2, it was the play of Sixers reserve Shake Milton that turned the game in Philadelphia’s favor. After Trae Young’s free throws put Atlanta up 80-79 with 2:41 left in the third quarter, the Sixers went on a 28-8 run over the next 5:23 of game time spanning the third and fourth quarters. Milton scored 14 points on 5-6 shooting from the field, making all four of his 3-pointers to put the Sixers up 107-88 with 8:04 remaining. After scoring eight points over 15 combined minutes in Philly’s previous three games, Milton finished Game 2 with 14 points in 14 minutes.
• Game 3 sees the series shift to Atlanta, where the Hawks have won 13 consecutive home games dating back to the regular season, which is the longest active streak in the NBA. The Hawks have not lost at State Farm Arena since April 15 vs. Milwaukee. During the streak, the Hawks have averaged 118.4 points per game and won games by an average of 14.4 points. The Hawks’ only win over the Sixers during the regular season came in Atlanta on Jan. 11 as Trae Young (26 points, 8 assists) led the Hawks to a 112-94 win.
• After defending Trae Young for only 1:28 in Philadelphia’s Game 1 loss, Ben Simmons defended Young for a team-high 5:11 in Game 2 and held Young to four points on 2-5 shooting from the field, 0-2 from 3-point range and did not allow any free throws. Young had more success against Matisse Thybulle, who drew the assignment for 3:24 of matchup time and allowed nine points on 2-6 shooting from the field, but committed three shooting fouls leading to 4-5 free throws. Young finished with 21 points and 11 assists, but shot just 6-16 from the field and 1-7 from beyond the arc in the loss.
• Chris Paul has racked up 26 assists with only one turnover as he picked apart the Nuggets defense in the first two games of this series. In Game 2, Paul notched his third career playoff game with at least 15 assists and zero turnovers – the most such games in NBA history. If he can match his series average (13.0) in Game 3, Paul will tie Isiah Thomas for 13th all-time in playoff dimes.
• Paul’s teammates have converted on 26 of his 47 potential assists in this series, with Paul’s assists creating a total of 64 Suns points in two games. Paul has dished at least three assists to six different teammates, with Deandre Ayton being his most frequent connection with seven assists on just nine shot attempts (77.8%). That balance in assists is reflected in Phoenix’s scoring as they do not have a 20+ ppg scorer in the series, but four players averaging between 17.5 and 19.5 points.
• Phoenix’s guards have has nearly doubled up Denver’s guards in offensive production in the battle of the backcourts. The Suns’ guards are providing 50.0 points on 51.4% shooting from the field and 44% from 3-point range, 21.5 assists and just 3.4 turnovers through the first two games of the series. The Nuggets’ guards have averaged just 28.0 points on 32.3% shooting from the field and 29.7% from 3-point range, 14.5 assists and 5.5 turnovers. Denver’s starting backcourt of Austin Rivers and Facundo Campazzo combined for just nine points on 3-12 shooting from the field and 2-9 from 3-point range in Game 2.
• Nikola Jokic leads the Nuggets in points (23.0 ppg), rebounds (11.0 rpg) and assists (4.5 apg), but for the second straight series, teams have focused on limiting the MVP’s playmaking opportunities. In the first two games of this series, Jokic has averaged only 8.0 potential assists, after 8.8 in the first round and 13.8 during the regular season.
• Phoenix matched their playoff franchise record with 18 3-pointers in their Game 2 win – a mark they first hit in the series-clinching Game 6 against the Lakers just six days earlier. In Game 2 against Denver, the Suns had 10 different players make at least one 3-pointer with Jae Crowder (3-4) and Devin Booker (3-7) leading the way with three apiece. The Suns ranked seventh in 3-point shooting during the regular season (37.8%), then shot 35.9% in the first round vs. the Lakers, and have shot 43.1% through the first two games against Denver – the top mark of any team in the conference semifinals.