If you’re reading this on Sunday, there’s a chance that this article is not finished yet. We have to run with this now because we have a former Marquette player in the NBA Conference Finals.... but we might have two by the time things are said and done. Sunday’s afternoon feature game will have the former MU guy that we know about involved, but the night time game will be a Game 7 in the Conference semi-finals round. More importantly for our purposes here, it will be Game 7 for Doc Rivers and the Philadelphia 76ers against the Atlanta Hawks. Doc and the Sixers have to win that game for us to talk about their series against Milwaukee after the Bucks knocked off the Nets in Game 7 on Saturday night.
UPDATE: Hawks win, Sixers lose, Doc Rivers is eliminated. At least now neutral fans can cheer for the primary resident of Fiserv Forum for Marquette-bonus reasons.
Anyway, let’s jump in and talk about what we know for the Conference Finals!
Jae Crowder — Phoenix Suns (51-21)
The former Big East MVP and his squad haven’t played in a week, thanks to a four game sweep of the Denver Nuggets in the previous round. That obviously sounds like good news since they’ll be playing a Los Angeles Clippers team in the Western Conference Finals that just played a Game 6 on Friday night. There is bad news in all that time off as Phoenix point guard Chris Paul was placed into the league’s COVID-19 safety protocols during the week and on Saturday, he was officially ruled out of Game 1 as a result of that. Reports out of Phoenix indicate that Paul has been vaccinated, which does seem to lend itself to the idea that he’ll be back in this series quickly. In fact, players have been entered into the protocol this season for contact tracing purposes and reasons, and if that’s what’s up with Paul, he might be ready as early as Game 2.
As mentioned a moment ago, Crowder’s Suns will be tangling with the Clippers in the conference finals. Los Angeles is the #4 seed in the West, and they knocked off the top seeded Utah Jazz in six games after beating Dallas in seven games in the first round. They are led by the two man boom of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both of whom averaged over 23 points per game in the regular season. Ivica Zubac is the leading rebounder at 7.2 caroms per contest, and Noted Wily Veteran Rajon Rondo led the team in assists at 5.8 per game. Things have really tilted in favor of Leonard and George in the playoffs as they are averaging 30.4 and 26.1 points per game in the postseason respectively.
Crowder is having a strong playoffs, averaging 11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game. In the Denver series, he went for 12.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while shooting 55% from behind the arc.
Game 1: Sunday, June 20, 2:30pm Central, ABC
Game 2: Tuesday, June 22, 8pm Central, ESPN
Game 3: Thursday, June 24, 8pm Central, ESPN
Game 4: Saturday, June 26, 8pm Central, ESPN
Game 5: Monday, June 28, 8pm Central, ESPN
Game 6: Wednesday, June 30, 8pm Central, ESPN
Game 7 (if necessary): Friday, July 2, 8pm Central, ESPN