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Luka Doncic injury update: Will Mavericks star play in Game 4 vs. Clippers?

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Luka Doncic injury update: Will Mavericks star play in Game 4 vs. Clippers?

The status of the Mavericks’ most important player is unclear ahead of Sunday night’s pivotal Game 4 against the Clippers.

After posting 44 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in Dallas’ Game 3 loss, Luka Doncic told reporters that he was dealing with a neck issue. He has since been added to the official injury report, setting off alarm bells for Mavs fans hoping to see the two-time All-Star guide the team to victory and a 3-1 series lead.

MORE: Jusuf Nurkic calls out Kendrick Perkins after Trail Blazers’ win

Here are the latest updates on Doncic ahead of Game 4.

Will Luka Doncic play vs. Clippers?

Doncic said after Game 3 that he had felt some pain in his neck around halftime, and it also went down his left arm. The Mavericks have listed Doncic as questionable for Game 4 with a cervical strain. Injury expert Jeff Stotts noted that the average missed time for a cervical strain is less than one game.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle believes Doncic will play, but he said the team will see how he feels Sunday.

Through the first three games of the series, Doncic is averaging 38.0 points, 9.0 assists and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from 3-point range.

Clippers vs. Mavericks Game 4 injury report

(Current as of 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday)

Team Player Status Reason
Mavericks Luka Doncic Questionable Cervical; strain
Mavericks Maxi Kleber Probable Right Achilles; soreness
Mavericks JJ Redick Out Right Achilles; injury
Clippers Serge Ibaka Questionable Back; spasms

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Islanders, Anthony Beauvillier force Game 7 in (possibly) last game at Nassau Coliseum

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Islanders, Anthony Beauvillier force Game 7 in (possibly) last game at Nassau Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Islanders staved off closure of the Nassau Coliseum for at least a little longer with a 3-2, come-from-behind overtime win Wednesday night. Whether the ice can be melted one final time at the Old Barn is now labeled as “to be determined” as the home team forced a Game 7.

“We’re obviously a resilient group and we knew we had a lot of time on the clock still, so, just stuck with it and fortunate to get two goals and tie it up and obviously win in overtime,” said Mathew Barzal. 

Things started a little better for the Islanders than they did two nights prior when they were blown out of Amalie Arena in Tampa 8-0. The first goal of that game came just 45 seconds after the drop of the puck. In this game, they came out matching the tempo with the Bolts in front of a loud and boisterous crowd. But the fans were all hushed when Brayden Point did, well, Brayden Point things — again.

The Calgary, Alta., native lit the lamp for the ninth consecutive game; only Reggie Leach’s 10 straight games with a goal stands in his way of the record.

In the second period, the Lightning killed off a 5-on-3 for about a minute before Anthony Cirelli gave them a two-goal lead. His fourth goal of the postseason went five-hole through netminder Semyon Varlamov. But the Islanders, with the crowd fully behind them, got one back with under six minutes left in the middle frame. Jordan Eberle, who entered Game 6 with just three goals in the postseason and amid a six-game goal drought, threw a backhander on net and past the blocker of Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The Islanders had their chances after that. Barzal controlled the puck for a Steve Yzerman amount of time in the first few minutes of the third period. Kyle Palmieri pulled Vasilevskiy out but couldn’t tuck the puck in behind him. Eberle had a chance for his second with just over 12 minutes to go.

Maybe they got a jump from Jets guard Greg Van Roten pounding a beer and then smashing the container on his head. Maybe it was because it seemed as if the crowd was standing the rest of the way. 

With 8:44 left on the clock, Scott Mayfield — who probably should have been called for cross-checking Nikita Kucherov in the back and knocking him out of the game after one shift— became an unlikely Islanders hero. He went down the right wing and beat Vasilevskiy top shelf to even things. It was just his third career playoff goal and his first since Game 3 of the first round against the Penguins.

The building was hopping after that, although things got dicey for the hometown team when Matt Martin took a high-sticking penalty with 5:57 remaining. Varlamov and his crew held the Lightning at bay, and with the fans chanting a deafening “Let’s Go Islanders,” the game went to a nail-biting overtime.

New York didn’t need much time in the extra session, however.

Just 68 seconds in, Anthony Beauvillier intercepted a pass deep in the offensive zone — he said postgame that he blacked out — and buried it.

“Feels amazing, to be honest. That building coming into overtime was smelling like cigarettes and now it smells like beers,” said the goal scorer. “That place was going crazy so everyone is happy we’re going back to Tampa.”

The building erupted as the Islanders flew off the bench to swarm the overtime hero. And as the team celebrated, so did the fans — by throwing beer cans and bottles onto the ice and sticking around long past the team had left the ice.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Barzal with a smile before adding it was “a little dangerous.”

“It’s one of the best [moments],” said bench boss Barry Trotz when asked where Game 6 will rank among his career hghlights. “I love this group, the character of this group. And this building and what it’s meant to a number of players and more than anything, our fans. These are great moments. Going off the ice, everybody’s hugging each other, there’s beer cans flying all over. It’s quite a sight.  

“These are great memories to have. But we’ve got to get another one.”

It’ll now come down to that Game 7 on Friday night in Tampa to determine who will play for the Stanley Cup.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo not upset about Trae Young’s shimmy: ‘He’s just having fun’

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Giannis Antetokounmpo not upset about Trae Young's shimmy: 'He's just having fun'

Trae Young was the talk of NBA Twitter on Wednesday night, as the Hawks star exploded for a playoff career-high 48 points in Atlanta’s 116-113 win over Milwaukee. But did Young enjoy his impressive Eastern Conference finals performance just a little too much?

No, he did not because sports are supposed to be fun, and a two-time NBA MVP seems to agree with that idea.

MORE: Three ways Young torched Bucks’ drop-heavy defense

During the third quarter of Game 1, Young left Bucks guard Jrue Holiday in the dust with a vicious left-to-right crossover, putting him in position to drain a wide open 3-pointer. Before he released the ball, though, Young decided to throw in a little shimmy.

“I had a lot of time,” Young said after the game. “I was kind of tired, a little bit. So I got a little second to get a deep breath and knock it down.”

At the next timeout break following Young’s shot, Giannis Antetokounmpo could be seen replicating Young’s shimmy motion in front of his Bucks teammates, perhaps looking to inspire better defensive effort.

When asked during his postgame media availability whether he took the shimmy personally, Antetokounmpo, who totaled 34 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in the loss, quickly brushed it off and (hopefully) prevented a silly cycle of hot takes.

“He’s just having fun. He’s enjoying the game,” Antetokounmpo said. “Obviously I wouldn’t want him to make the shot, but he’s having fun. He’s enjoying the game. We’re going to do the same as a team. We’re going to have fun. We’re going to enjoy the game. There’s going to be times that Bryn [Forbes] or Jrue might shimmy or whatever the case might be. I might mean mug.

“It’s just part of the game. It’s nothing. You can’t take that personally.”

Thank you, Giannis. Let’s all just appreciate the entertainment that Young provides and get ready for Game 2.

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Three ways Trae Young torched Bucks’ drop-heavy defense in Hawks’ Game 1 win

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Three ways Trae Young torched Bucks' drop-heavy defense in Hawks' Game 1 win

Trae Young has already proved he is ready for the NBA playoff stage. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals was just the latest test the Hawks star passed with flying colors.

In Atlanta’s 116-113 series-opening win over Milwaukee on Wednesday night, Young scored a playoff career-high 48 points and dished out 11 assists. The 22-year-old scored or assisted on 72 of the Hawks’ 116 points, including 14 of their last 16 points of the contest, per ESPN Stats and Info.

MORE: NBA Twitter shows Young love after 48-point outburst

The Bucks didn’t provide much resistance in the first half, as Young hit 11 of his first 16 field goal attempts. A big reason why Young found so much success on the offensive end was because Milwaukee’s drop-heavy scheme allowed him to get to the spots where he is most comfortable operating.

Let’s take a look at three ways that Young took advantage of Mike Budenholzer’s defensive approach:

Dropping in the floater

Young led the NBA this season in both floaters made and attempted, and he realized early in Game 1 that one of his favorite shots would consistently be available to him. Less than a minute into the first quarter, Young came off a pick from Clint Capela, drove down the lane and tossed up an uncontested floater. Brook Lopez just kept dropping and dropping to the point that he was almost underneath the rim.

Lopez started up a little higher on the screen later in the quarter, but he still dropped too far back when Young penetrated into the paint. Young put Jrue Holiday in jail, keeping the All-Defensive First Team member on his hip and creating enough space for another floater.

And one more time. Once again, Lopez gave Young far too much room, and Jeff Teague wasn’t even in the ballpark.

Pulling up off the dribble

Young only shot 4 of 13 from 3-point range on Wednesday, but it seemed as though he could get to his pull-up game anytime he wanted. On this possession in the second quarter, Young lost Teague in the pick-and-roll, and with Lopez planted below the free throw line, this was an easy rise-and-fire opportunity.

When the Hawks went to the double drag setup late in the first half, the Bucks still had Giannis Antetokounmpo drop and relied on Pat Connaughton to recover. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, Young stopped on a dime, Connaughton flew by and Young launched from just inside the arc.

So what happened when Antetokounmpo switched? The Hawks ran another pick-and-roll with Lopez’s man. No one in sight . . . swish.

Dishing to teammates

In the play below, Holiday did a nice job of navigating the screening action and chasing down Young. Lopez also used his size at the rim to discourage the floater. But Young is such a good playmaker that none of the effort mattered. He drew two defenders and flipped the ball to Capela for the dunk.

And then there was the play of the game. On a pick-and-roll with John Collins, Young sucked in both Holiday and Bobby Portis, then threw the ball off the backboard for a wild Collins slam. Make no mistake — this was intentional.

Milwaukee mixed in more switching toward the end of Game 1, and Budenholzer may have to rely on his more switchable small-ball lineups moving forward. Lopez was minus-14 in 20 minutes, and many of Young’s cleanest looks came with the 7-footer on the floor. 

That could open up more rebounding opportunities for Atlanta, however. Capela came up with a huge offensive rebound in the closing seconds to give the Hawks a three-point lead after Antetokounmpo switched onto Young. 

The simple truth is that Young is such a gifted offensive player that there is no easy solution for the Bucks. They will have to mix things up to slow him down.

“I’ve seen pretty much every defense,” Young said after Game 1. “It’s really just figuring out what kind of defense they’re showing that night. . . . For me, it’s just trying to make the right read and figure out how they’re going to guard.”

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