The 2022 NBA playoffs are offering up another appetizing slate of games Saturday.
The big news was that Luka Doncic made his 2022 playoff debut for the Dallas Mavericks, but the Utah Jazz won the game, 100-99.
Rudy Gobert had 17 points, 10 rebounds and scored the game-winning basket to help the Jazz even the series, 2-2.
In the other completed game, Pascal Siakam dropped a playoff career-high 34 points, helping the Toronto Raptors to a 110-102 Game 4 win over the Philadelphia 76ers to avoid a sweep.
Philadelphia still leads the series 3-1. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series.
The Nets host the Celtics for Game 3 in Brooklyn and may have Ben Simmons in the lineup soon. Boston leads the series 2-0. The Timberwolves are looking to bounce back in Game 4 in Minnesota from a total collapse against the Grizzles. Memphis leads 2-1.
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Check out USA TODAY Sports’ analysis from all of Saturday’s action:
Dallas trailed by as many 16 and had shot the ball poorly in the first half. The Mavericks reversed that in the second half, took the lead only for Utah to sneak away with a 100-99 victory in Game 4. The series is tied at 2-2, and Game 5 is Monday (9:30 pm ET, TNT ).
Utah’s Rudy Gobert scored the game-winner on a lob from Donovan Mitchell (23 points), and Spencer Dinwiddie missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Jazz did not want Dallas star Luka Doncic to win the game on the final possession, and Dallas forward Dwight Powell missed two frees with the Mavs ahead 99-98.
Doncic made his 2022 playoff debut after sustaining a left calf strain in the season finale and had 30 points and 10 rebounds. It was a strong performance after missing two weeks, and the Mavs needed every bit of that performance to stay in the game.
This was not a game for offensive purists – Utah’s Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic (12 points), Royce O’Neal and Mike Conley were a combined 5-for-25 on 3-pointers – just 20%. Hard to win a playoff game with your main shooters slumping, but the Jazz did it.
Former Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson saved Utah from a 3-1 deficit with 25 points.
It’s clear this series is not a good matchup for Gobert (Dallas doesn’t have a true center who plays in low post), and that’s not all his fault. The lack of Utah’s perimeter defense hasn’t helped Gobert be as effective as he can be. Still, Gobert had 17 points and 15 rebounds – and the winning basket.
The Celtics, already up 2-0 in their series against the Brooklyn Nets, got another shot of good news, announcing that Robert Williams III will play in Saturday’s Game 3. Williams’ return will boost the Celtics’ already stellar defense. He is expected to play short stints that will total 20-24 minutes.
Williams has not played since tearing the meniscus in his left knee on March 27. Before his injury, Williams set career highs in points (10), rebounds (9.6) and blocks (2.2).
Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons went through a full workout on Saturday, Nets coach Steve Nash said. Nash said Simmons didn’t experience any setbacks. Simmons is expected to play in Game 4 on Monday. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Simmons will play whether or not the Nets win Game 3 on Saturday, which would put them in an 0-3 hole.
Dallas All-Star Luka Doncic made his 2022 playoff debut after sustaining a left calf strain in the season finale and had 12 points and four rebounds in the first half – though the Mavs trailed Utah 54-42 at halftime of Game 4. Dallas struggled from the field, shooting 31.7%, including 20.8% on 3-pointers. Donovan Mitchell (17 points), Jordan Clarkson (12 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (10 points) led the Jazz. So far, it’s been a much more inspired effort from Utah, down 2-1 in the series.
Toronto is still down in the series but not out. The Raptors evaded elimination with a 110-102 victory in Game 4. Trailing 3-1, Game 5 is Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV).
Raptors forward Pascal Siakam has re-emerged as a star – and he delivered with playoff career-high 34 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. Toronto doesn’t win without that performance.
This game was not pretty at all, but in the playoffs, beauty points aren’t always necessary. The Raptors made use of 13 second-chance points and 22 points off turnovers to overcome 23.5% shooting on 3-pointers.
Sixers center Joel Embiid clearly wasn’t himself with that injured right (shooting) thumb. He was 7-for-16 from the field with 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Philadelphia guard James Harden had 22 points, nine assists, five rebounds, three blocks and a steal goal was just 5-for-17 shooting from the field.
The beat-up Raptors sustained another injury: guard Fred VanVleet left the game in the second quarter with a strained left hip and did not return.
Danny Green (2-for-10) and Tyrese Maxey (5-for-16) were a combined 27% from the field offsetting Tobias Harris’ 15 points (7-for-12 shooting) and 11 rebounds.
LeBron James is watching the playoffs at home for only the fourth time in his 19-year career after the Los Angeles Lakers failed to even make it to the play-in tournament. James took to Twitter, sharing that watching from the sidelines hurts.
“I can/will NOT miss the post season again for my career! This (expletive) HURT,” he tweeted on Friday, in between his playoff takes. “Ok back to watching these games.”
James missed the playoffs in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, in addition to the 2018-19 and 2021-22 season with the Lakers.
Raptors lost Fred VanVleet to injury in first half
Injuries and illness have hurt the Raptors in this series, and guard Fred VanVleet went to the locker room with 4:57 left in the second quarter with a left hip strain. He ripped his jersey as he left the court. The Raptors said he will not return.
After missing all five of his shot attempts in the first quarter, the Sixers’ Joel Embiid, who has a right (shooting) thumb injury, made three of his five attempts in the second quarter. He has eight points and three rebounds. James Harden leads all Sixers in points (12) and assists (5). Tobias Harris chipped in nine points.
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic returned for the crucial game 4 against the Utah Jazz after missing the past three games with a left calf strain
When asked if Doncic is on a minutes restriction, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said, “Well, he’s not going to play the whole game. Less than 48 minutes.”
Embiid missed all five of his first-quarter shot attempts and had just one point, two rebounds and one assists in 11 minutes, 42 seconds of action in the opening quarter against Toronto in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
It was 24-24 after one quarter.
“I think he’s fine,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers told TNT between quarters. “Obviously, he’s going to struggle with it a little bit. He’s got to get used to it, too. He’s never played with it. I think we’re both going to learn a lot – what he can do and what he can’t do.”
It’s an interesting development worth watching not only in this game but the rest of the playoffs.
Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes has been named NBA Rookie of the Year, beating out Cleveland Cavaliers center Evan Mobley and Cade Cunningham of the Detroit Pistons. Barnes won the award by 15 total points over Mobley, the smallest margin of victory under the current voting format.
Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 74 games this season and shot 49% from the field. Barnes, 20, was the fourth overall pick by Toronto in the 2021 NBA draft out of Florida State.