NBA Round-Up: Atlanta Hawks Playoffs Schedule, NBA Africa, and the Kia NBA Sixth Man Award

Now that the NBA Playoffs are in full-swing, it’s easy for other league news to get overshadowed. The Atlanta Hawks kicked off their playoff run in exciting fashion, NBA Africa made some big news recently, and the 2020-2021 Kia NBA Sixth Man Award winner was announced.

On Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden, the Hawks were able to comeback and beat the Knicks 107-105 thanks to Trae Young’s last-second heroics.

The Hawks will be looking to eek out another shock-win on the road this Wednesday, May 26, at MSG. In order to do so, they’ll need to find a stop to Julius Randle.

Atlanta is 17-19-1 against the spread (ATS) in 37 away games this season while New York is 22-14-1 ATS in 37 home games this season. Some predictors like the ESPN Basketball Power Index (BPI) give the Knicks (52.2%) a clear advantage over the Hawks (47.8%), but the playoff odds listed on SportsBettingDime have the Hawks at a 59%-41% advantage.

So far, this is how their schedule shapes up for the remainder of the series:

Sun 5/23 Atlanta at New York 1 7:00PM TNT
Wed 5/26 Atlanta at New York 2 7:30PM TNT
Fri 5/28 New York at Atlanta 3 7:00PM ESPN
Sun 5/30 New York at Atlanta 4 1:00PM ABC
Wed 6/2 Atlanta at New York 5* 7:30PM TNT
Fri 6/4 New York at Atlanta 6* TBD TBD
Sun 6/6 Atlanta at New York 7* TBD TBD

NBA Africa, FIBA, and the Basketball Africa League

The National Basketball Association (NBA) just announced the formation of NBA Africa, a new entity that will conduct the league’s business in Africa, including the Basketball Africa League (BAL) – a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.  The inaugural BAL season, featuring 12 of the top club teams from 12 African countries, is underway in Kigali, Rwanda, and the first BAL Finals will be held Sunday, May 30 at 4:00 p.m. CAT / 10 a.m. ET.

The strategic investors include a consortium led by Babatunde “Tunde” Folawiyo, Chairman and CEO of Yinka Folawiyo Group; and Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation (HFP), led by Tope Lawani, Co-CEO of HFP and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Helios Investment Partners (“Helios”), HFP’s investment advisor.  The investors’ expertise in a wide range of industries and established relationships with African businesses, governments and NGOs will help accelerate the NBA’s growth across the continent.  Lawani and Folawiyo will also join the NBA Africa Board of Directors, which is led by NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams and includes NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum.

The announcement was made today by Silver, Tatum, Williams, Lawani and Folawiyo, who were joined by NBA Global Ambassador and NBA Africa investor Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in advance of Africa Day, an annual worldwide commemoration of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) held on May 25. Additional investors in NBA Africa include NBA Legends Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng (South Sudan), Grant Hill and Joakim Noah.

Mutombo, a friend of THE PEACH REVIEW®, was overjoyed about the announcement. “This is a historic day for basketball in Africa, and I’m honored to join this special group of leaders who are committed to the continent and to using the game to improve people’s lives,” he said.  “I’m fortunate to have been among the first players from Africa to make an impact in the NBA, and because of the commitment of these individuals, countless more players will have the opportunity to follow in my footsteps in the years ahead.”

Utah Jazz Guard Jordan Clarkson Earns Coveted Award

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson has won the 2020-21 Kia NBA Sixth Man Award for his contributions in a reserve role, the NBA announced today.  This is the first Sixth Man honor for Clarkson, who becomes the first player to win the annual award with the Jazz.

Clarkson received 65 first-place votes and earned 407 total points from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.  Utah forward Joe Ingles finished in second place with 272 points (34 first-place votes), making this the first time that teammates hold the top two spots in voting for the Kia NBA Sixth Man Award.  New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose finished in third place with 77 points (one first-place vote).

Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.  To be eligible for the Kia NBA Sixth Man Award, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started.

Clarkson averaged a career-high 18.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 26.7 minutes in 68 games (one start).  His scoring average of 18.3 points as a reserve was the highest in the NBA.  Clarkson made a career-high 208 three-pointers overall (seventh in the NBA among all players) and a league-high 203 as a reserve.  The 203 three-pointers are the fourth-highest single-season total off the bench in NBA history.  He also ranked ninth in the NBA in free throw percentage this season (89.6).

Playing his first full season with Utah and seventh in the NBA, Clarkson recorded two games with at least 40 points, five games with at least 30 points and 23 games with at least 20 points off the bench.  He scored 40 points against the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 15 and 41 points against the Golden State Warriors on May 10, giving him two of the five 40-point games off the bench in Jazz history.

Clarkson joined Ingles in helping Utah finish with an NBA-best 52-20 record and the fifth-highest single-season winning percentage in franchise history (.722).  The Jazz earned the top seed in the Western Conference for the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

Clarkson, 28, was acquired by Utah in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 24, 2019.  He re-signed with the Jazz on Nov. 23, 2020.  Clarkson, the 46th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, has career averages of 15.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 521 games.  He played with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cavaliers before joining the Jazz.

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