In last week’s Showstopper, we delivered a major winner in the UFC 263 main event. This time around, we’re giving you the crucial injury updates for this weekend’s NBA playoff games.
Get the latest news that impacts the 76ers vs. Hawks and Jazz vs. Clippers matchups, plus uncover key angles for the NHL battle between the Golden Knights and Canadiens.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Atlanta Hawks
Friday, June 18 | TV: ESPN
Aside from shooting a woeful 25.7 percent from the free-throw line in this series, Ben Simmons has not provided enough of an offensive threat to counter Atlanta's dynamic scoring options of Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Lou Williams in the backcourt. Losing Danny Green in Game 3 was also a tough blow for Philly, since he's been one of the 76ers’ most reliable 3-point threats. The veteran forward is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a right calf strain, which has forced Furkan Korkmaz into the starting lineup. The combination of Seth Curry (despite a terrific offensive game) and Korkmaz in the lineup together was not a pretty sight on pick-and-roll defense down the stretch as Philly allowed 40 points in the fourth quarter of Game 5.
Much like he did in Atlanta’s first-round series against the Knicks, coach Nate McMillan will continue to run heavy pick-and-roll offensive sets in order to close out this series at home. Joel Embiid's knee has held up remarkably well, as evidenced by his 37-point outing in Game 5, but it's going to take a bigger offensive effort from Simmons to stave off elimination in Atlanta.
Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Friday, June 18 | TV: ESPN
With The Klaw out of action, "Playoff P" got his chance to silence the doubters – and he did that convincingly in Game 5. Paul George scored 37 points on 12-of-22 shooting and Marcus Morris chipped in with 25, leading the way for the Clips’ stunning road upset. The Clippers are now one game away from their very first Western Conference Finals appearance as the series shifts back to Los Angeles. The latest reports indicate that Kawhi Leonard may have suffered an ACL injury during the end of Game 4, so don’t expect to see him back on the court at least for this series. Even without Kawhi, the Clippers do have enough firepower to keep up with the Jazz, and lineup replacement Terance Mann is an underrated two-way player.
It’s important to note that Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is playing through an injured right ankle, which has sapped his normal explosiveness. It may be finally catching up to the young superstar, as he shot 6-for-19 (including 4-for-14 from long range) in Game 4. On the bright side for Utah, Mike Conley has said he "feels close" to a return from his right hamstring strain. With the Jazz facing elimination, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Conley make a strong push to play in Game 6.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Montreal Canadiens
Friday, June 18 | TV: USA Network
After falling short in Game 2 at home, The Golden Knights now head to Montreal with this series tied up at 1-1. Habs goaltender Carey Price had a huge bounce-back effort, only allowing two goals on 31 shots, as Montreal’s defense looked better with Jeff Petry in the mix again. On the injury front, Montreal right winger Jake Evans continues to be sidelined with a concussion and hasn't been cleared for contact yet. Also, keep a close eye on Vegas forward Chandler Stephenson's pre-game status, as he missed Game 2 with an upper-body injury, forcing the Golden Knights to make some tough adjustments on their top line. Stephenson has been one of Vegas' best centermen and his presence was sorely missed, especially on face-offs.
The Canadiens have put up mixed results on home ice with a record of 13-11-4, so Vegas still appears to be a solid bet here, though that confidence level hinges on Stephenson’s potential return. He’s currently day-to-day and has a good shot to play in Game 3.