NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Paul, Suns ease past Nuggets for 2-0 series lead

By Sports Desk June 09, 2021

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic showed MVP form once again, but the Phoenix Suns used a balanced attack to take a 123-98 victory and a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference semi-final series. 

Jokic scored the first basket of the game Wednesday, but that was the only lead the Nuggets held as Phoenix took control and never let go in what became an easy win as their home crowd chanted "Suns in four" late in the game. 

Chris Paul controlled the game for the Suns, scoring 17 points and dishing out 15 assists without a turnover in his 30 minutes of play -- the third time he has had at least 15 assists with no turnovers in a playoff game.

The 36-year-old Paul now has 72 assists and just 10 turnovers in eight playoff games this season. 

Devin Booker added 18 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix, while Deandre Ayton had 15 points and 10 rebounds. 

Jokic left the game late in the third quarter with the Nuggets trailing by 20 and did not return, finishing with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in 29 minutes. 

Denver did not give him much help, as the rest of their starting lineup made just nine of 32 shots from the field (28.1 per cent). 

Michael Porter Jr. was the only other starter to reach double figures, scoring 11 on three of 13 shooting -- including two of nine from three-point range. 

The Nuggets made only 14 of 43 (32.6 per cent) from beyond the arc overall, compared to 18 of 38 (47.4 per cent) for Phoenix. 

Game 3 of the series is Friday in Denver.

Nets at Bucks

The Brooklyn Nets look for a 3-0 lead on the Bucks as their Eastern Conference semi-final series shifts to Milwaukee on Thursday.  

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    United have agreed a fee reported to be £60million plus £10m in add-ons to take the midfielder to Old Trafford.

    The Brazil international is set to sign a four-year deal with the Red Devils, who are bottom of the Premier League after losing their first two Premier League games under new boss Erik ten Hag.

    Casemiro joined Los Blancos in January 2013 at the age of 20 and has gone on to win 18 trophies - including the Champions League five times, three LaLiga titles and the Club World Cup on three occasions.

    The 30-year-old will appear before the media in the press room at Real Madrid City on Monday, when president Florentino Perez will be present as the LaLiga champions stage a ceremony to bid farewell to the long-serving enforcer.

    Madrid paid tribute to Casemiro after confirming a deal has been agreed with the Red Devils on Friday.

    A statement on the club's official website said: "Real Madrid would like to express its gratitude and appreciation to Casemiro, who is part of the club's history."

    After listing his many honours during his time in the Spanish capital, the European champions added: "In addition to this brilliant list of achievements, Casemiro will always be remembered by the Madridistas as representing the values of our club. An exemplary player who has given his all for Real Madrid.

    "Real Madrid is and always will be his home, and we wish him and all his family the best of luck in this new chapter of his life.

    With United facing Liverpool on the same day of Casemiro's press conference in Madrid, his debut could come at Southampton a week on Saturday.

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    Manchester United have agreed a deal in principle to sign midfielder Casemiro from Real Madrid for a fee in the region of £60million.

    The Brazil international is set to become the fourth arrival of this window after Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.

    Casemiro, who had three years remaining on his contract with Madrid, brings plenty of quality and experience to Erik ten Hag's midfield after racking up over 300 appearances during nine trophy-filled years at Santiago Bernabeu.

    Indeed, the 30-year-old won five Champions Leagues with Los Blancos - scoring against Juventus in the 2017 final - as well as four LaLiga titles and three Club World Cups.

    Casemiro struggled to nail down a regular spot following his move to Madrid from Sao Paulo in 2013; spending the 2014-15 season on loan at Portuguese giants Porto.

    However, he did not look back after cementing his place in the starting line-up during the 2015-16 campaign, with no midfielder winning more tackles in LaLiga since then (415).

    The Brazilian has also completed 368 interceptions in the past seven seasons - with Dani Garcia (399) the sole midfielder to better that tally - while Dani Parejo (1,666) and Sergio Busquets (1,504) were the only players in his position to win possession on more occasions than him (1,462).

     

    Ten Hag has been keen to bolster his ranks in midfield ever since assuming the reins at Old Trafford, with Eriksen's arrival the first piece of that jigsaw.

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    But the transfer appeared all but done when Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti confirmed Casemiro had expressed a desire to complete a move away from the Spanish capital.

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    "Because of what he has done in this club, his desire and due to everything he has done for this team, we need to be respectful of this.

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    Casemiro, who had three years remaining on his contract with Madrid, brings plenty of quality and experience to Erik ten Hag's midfield after racking up over 300 appearances during nine trophy-filled years at Santiago Bernabeu.

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