The 2022 NBA playoffs are offering up another appetizing slate of games Saturday.
The Philadelphia 76ers have the opportunity 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 suffered any ligament damage.
Philadelphia leads the series 3-0. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series.
“I’m coming for the sweep,” Embiid said.
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.
Saturday’s action is rounded out by Game 4 in Utah between the Jazz and Mavericks, who are likely to be without Luka Doncic. Dallas leads the series 2-1.
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Check out USA TODAY Sports’ analysis from all of Saturday’s action:
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.
Luka Doncic is listed as questionable for Game 4 in Utah. Coach Jason Kidd said Doncic is “going in the right direction,” but will be a game time decision.
Doncic has been sidelined the entire first-round series so far after he suffered a left calf strain during the regular-season finale against the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month. After dropping the series opener, the Mavericks have won the last two games, thanks to Jalen Brunson with 41 points in Game 2 and 31 more in Game 3.
Injuries piling up for contenders
Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid is dealing with a right thumb injury. Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton likely will miss the rest of their first-round series and perhaps some second-round games.
And now, Miami’s Kyle Lowry is bothered by 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.