Kyrie Irving denied hitting out at Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James after saying he finally has a team-mate he trusts in Brooklyn Nets colleague Kevin Durant.

Irving and Durant teamed up in Brooklyn ahead of the 2019-20 NBA season, though the latter is yet to play since his blockbuster switch from the Golden State Warriors due to an Achilles injury.

A 2016 NBA champion alongside James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving caused a stir during his appearance on Durant's new podcast.

Addressing crunch-time situations and clutch moments, Irving – who arrived from the Boston Celtics via free agency – said: "One thing I've always been comfortable with, I felt like I was the best option on every team I played for down the stretch.

"This is the first time in my career I've looked down and be like, 'That mother****** can make that shot too'. And he'll probably do it a lot easier.

"It's not so much deferring, because in past situations where I didn't take the last shot I felt guilty. I want this game-winning shot, but also you want to trust your team-mates. Not that I didn't trust my team-mates, but I felt like I was the best option."

Many perceived Irving's comments as a dig at three-time NBA champion James, who is trying to win his fourth title via the Lakers this season.

Irving and James spent three years together before the former number one pick opted to leave for the Celtics in 2017.

Following backlash, Irving addressed his comments in a video via social media, saying: "Why must it always be brother against brother? Why? If I'm addressing anyone, I'll say their name.

"Come on, don't listen to the false narratives. Let people live their lives. It's just a game. Talk about the art, talk about the sport, we talk openly and freely. But, because we live in click-bait society, it becomes something bigger.

"You don't have to defend it. It's just what media is. It's entertainment. I'm not going to let it put me against anybody anymore at any point. That's not what it's about. We talk freely, openly and that's our society. Say how you feel. Don't have to put me against anyone else. It's never been about that, it's about love."

During the podcast, Irving and Durant also discussed new Nets head coach Steve Nash.

Hall of Famer Nash has taken his first steps into senior coaching, appointed by the Nets to permanently replace Kenny Atkinson, despite the two-time NBA MVP's lack of experience.

Irving said: "I don't really see us having a head coach. KD could be a head coach, I could be a head coach [some days]."

Durant previously worked with former Phoenix Suns and Lakers guard Nash for three seasons at the Warriors, where the latter was a player consultant.

"I think having Steve there and collaborating with our floor general every day is only gonna yield good results for our scorers like myself and Taurean [Prince], Caris [LaVert] and Spencer [Dinwiddie]," Durant said. "Them having that relationship I think is gonna be key for us going forward.

"I think a lot of people may question our leadership, overall or just us two. But when me and Ky talked about being coached every single day, I think that's leading by example and I think a lot of our team-mates are gonna follow that."

Antoine Griezmann has finally got the Barcelona number seven shirt he wanted from the first day of his Camp Nou career, describing it as "an honour".

The former Atletico Madrid forward was denied his regular number when he arrived at Barcelona in July 2019, as it was held by Philippe Coutinho, and he agreed to wear the 17 shirt instead.

But with Coutinho having since gone on loan to Bayern Munich for last season, and with question marks over whether the winger will stay at Barcelona for the new campaign, the Brazilian has ceded the number to Griezmann.

On Instagram, Griezmann wrote: "It is an honour to wear the 7 at Barca!"

He added: "I want to say thank you to @phil.coutinho, who as well as being a great player is a big friend."

The number switch was announced by Barcelona on their social media accounts, with a video featuring Brooklyn Nets NBA star Kevin Durant opening a box containing Barcelona number seven shirts bearing his name and that of Griezmann.

 

Griezmann scored 15 goals in 41 games for Barcelona last season but often faced criticism for his performances as he struggled to make the greater contribution that many expected of him.

He has previously worn the number seven with Real Sociedad, Atletico Madrid and France, donning the number during their run to World Cup glory two years ago in Russia.

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said he is excited to work with first-time head coach and Hall of Famer Steve Nash.

Nash has taken his first steps into senior coaching, appointed by the Nets to permanently replace Kenny Atkinson, despite the two-time NBA MVP's lack of experience.

Durant previously worked with former Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers guard Nash for three seasons at the Golden State Warriors, where the latter was a player consultant.

Two-time NBA champion and two-time Finals MVP Durant also went head-to-head with Nash when he entered the league as a rookie in 2007, and he is relishing the opportunity to be coached by the 46-year-old.

"His insight for the game, his communication, how he communicates the game of basketball is definitely going to help me as a player develop and it's going to help the rest of the team," Durant told JJ Redick's 'The Old Man and the Three' podcast.

Durant added: "Every time I'm in the gym with him, I was always like a sponge.

"I'm looking forward to this man. I always feel like I'm a student of the game. Somebody who has experienced so much and played in different eras, I'm looking forward to him teaching me some more things about it as well."

Durant is yet to play for the Nets due to an Achilles injury after his high-profile arrival from the Warriors in 2019 as he prepares for his long-awaited debut in Brooklyn.

Crowned MVP in 2014, Durant opted not to return to the court inside the Orlando bubble at Walt Disney World Resort, where the Nets were eliminated in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

"I've been playing since I was eight, like, really locked in. Every day was centred around the game," Durant said. "To finally get a year off, it was pretty cool. I started to focus a little bit more, understand what I like to do outside of the game a little bit more, as weird as that sounds at 30 years old. I really enjoyed that time to myself.

"I learned so much about the game of basketball, the business of basketball. I see it from a different lens. I was watching the game from a coaches' and a fans' perspective all at once. I felt a new level of appreciation for what I'm doing for being away from it.

"Going into [the season], I didn't think I would have that feeling. It definitely helps when the team signs you to a max deal even though you tore your Achilles. That definitely eased my mind a bit. I also just enjoyed having that free time to do my thing. I never got that time. I never got to enjoy that time. But at this point, I'm looking forward to going out there and playing again."

Steve Nash described Kevin Durant as one of the NBA's greatest ever players and labelled Kyrie Irving one of his all-time favourites as the Brooklyn Nets head coach expressed his excitement at being able to work with the All-Star duo.

Nash has taken his first steps into senior coaching, appointed by the Nets, despite the Basketball Hall of Famer's lack of experience.

After filling the void left by Kenny Atkinson in Brooklyn, first-time coach and two-time NBA MVP Nash will have the opportunity to lead Durant and Irving.

Nash previously worked with two-time NBA champion and two-time Finals MVP Durant for three seasons at the Golden State Warriors, where he was a player development consultant.

Durant is yet to play for the Nets due to an Achilles injury after his high-profile arrival from the Warriors in 2019.

"It's a privilege to work with one of the greatest players to ever play the game," Nash said on Wednesday. "Someone who is incredibly coachable, inquisitive, and that lends itself to the question of searching.

"I think what I meant was that Kevin's always searching, he's always curious, inquisitive, developing as a human being. So he's a deep person who has a lot of goals and a lot about him, not just in basketball terms. I think my comment is more about Kevin as a human being, the type of person he is, about how he's always trying to grow, always trying to learn and always asking how he can get better.

"A big part of that is that Kevin is somebody that is never afraid to say, 'help me with this', 'what do you think about that', so that's the type of confidence and security it takes to be able to ask for help or know what they don't know. And he has that along with an incredible drive, work ethic, toughness and historic talent."

Nash is also relishing the chance to coach 2016 NBA champion and six-time All-Star Irving, who also joined the Nets in 2019 after opting to leave the Boston Celtics.

Irving was limited to just 20 games because of a shoulder injury as the Nets went on to lose in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2019-20.

"First of all, Kyrie's one of my favourite players of all time," said Nash. "He's brilliant; skill level historically off the charts. Creative. Guts. Competitiveness.

"For me to get to coach him is really a pleasure. We have a relationship going back to when he was a rookie, playing against him. Got a chance to train with him for a couple days in New York City after I retired. Must have been five, six years ago. And I got a chance to speak to him since taking the job.

"I'm excited to develop that relationship, watching him continue to show greatness on the floor and to continue to get to know him in a really meaningful way, because he's an incredible person.

"The gestures and the things he's done around the WNBA or social justice, these are the things I really admire. For him to put himself in that position with his platform, to help people, shows there's a really deep person there that I've gotten to know but look forward to getting to really know and understand and learn from."

Steve Nash is not avoiding his Brooklyn Nets hiring controversy after acknowledging he did "skip the line" for his first head coaching role but the Hall of Famer highlighted his successful playing career.

The Nets – eliminated in the first round of the playoffs – raised eyebrows when they appointed two-time NBA MVP Nash to permanently replace Kenny Atkinson, despite his lack of coaching experience.

There has been criticism of Nash's appointment in Brooklyn and the 46-year-old – inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018 – is not shying away from the debate as he embarks on his first senior gig.

"Well, I did skip the line, frankly," Nash said during his virtual introductory news conference on Wednesday.

"But at the same time, I think leading an NBA team for almost two decades is pretty unique. So while I haven't necessarily learned some of the skills that I'll definitely seek to understand and learn as far as the technical aspects of coaching, I was never far from that.

"So to lead a team in such a unique position, to be the head of the team on the floor, to think on the fly, to manage personalities and people, skill sets, and bring people together, collaborating with a coach and a coaching staff for almost two decades, it's not like I was in a vacuum. I learned a tremendous amount during my career."

Nash is not the only former player to land a head coaching role without experience, following in the footsteps of Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers and Isiah Thomas.

"I haven't grinded it out as an assistant coach, like many people's path, but there's a precedent for players who have strong careers, who are leaders, anchors," Nash said.

"I think to get this opportunity, as Steve Kerr and many other people have had great success, it's a unique situation, I think. But I definitely realise that I need support. I'm going to hopefully bring a lot of qualities and skills to the table that are unique and strong, but I'm going to need support and a collaborative staff that has a lot of experience and is willing to build this with me."

Nash's arrival in Brooklyn has been described by some as "white privilege" amid the Black Lives Matter movement but the eight-time All-Star added: "I have benefited from white privilege. Our society has a lot of ground to make up.

"I'm not saying this position was a factor, as far as white privilege ... I think, as white people, we have to understand we have a certain privilege and a benefit by the colour of our skin in our communities. We have a long way to go to find equality and social and racial justice. I hope that I'm a great ally in that cause.

"I'm very sensitive to the cause and the goal. I'm not sure that this is an example that purely fits that conversation, but I own it, and I understand why it's talked about. We do need more diversity and more opportunities for African American coaches on staff in all capacities. The league was built through African American players and stars that have made this one of the greatest entertainment industries and businesses in sports in the world. It's really important that we continue to come together and fight at the league level.

"It's interesting, being such a supporter and ally of that need for equality, to be put in the middle of it, in a sense, because it's something that's near and dear to my heart. But I accept it. I want to be part of the conversation. And, frankly, I want to be a part of change moving forward."

Fred VanVleet aimed a shot at the Brooklyn Nets after the Toronto Raptors halved the deficit in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series with the Boston Celtics.

OG Anunoby's buzzer-beating three-pointer gave the Raptors a 104-103 victory over the Celtics on Thursday, seeing the defending champions narrowly avoid falling 3-0 behind.

Toronto had a week off after sweeping the Nets in the first round of the playoffs and the start of their series with Boston, which was delayed by teams refusing to take the court in protest against racial injustice and police brutality after Jacob Blake was shot in the back several times by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

VanVleet felt the uncertainty of that situation coupled with the minimal challenge posed by the Nets – who were without long-term absentees Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, as well as Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan after they opted out of playing in the NBA bubble – made it tough for the Raptors to start strongly in the semi-finals.

Asked why he said Toronto had experienced "a rough couple of days", VanVleet explained: "I think it's everything. With all due respect to Brooklyn, I don't think that got us ready to play at the level we needed to be ready for Game 1.

"I think the transgressions of those few days, whether we were gonna sit, whether we were gonna play, coupled with laying that egg in Game 1, that was a lot. And then we played our butts off in Game 2 and didn't come out with the win, so it's disappointing.

"We expect a lot of ourselves and so to be down 0-2, we know it wasn't over, but nobody was happy. People were p***** off, the mood wasn't great, and all we needed was one to get the juice back. A little magic, a little luck to get the momentum going on your side. Now we've got to try to tie this thing up on Saturday."

VanVleet had 25 points on 9-of-22 shooting from the field, while he was 5-of-13 from beyond the arc in Game 3.

Steve Kerr thanked Steve Nash for his work at the Golden State Warriors as he took up his first head coach role with the Brooklyn Nets.

Nash, a two-time MVP and Hall of Fame point guard as a player, had resisted the urge to move into full-time coaching until signing with the Nets on Thursday.

Prior to that, the 46-year-old was a consultant for the Warriors, coached by friend Kerr, for five seasons.

Golden State won two titles and made the Finals on four straight occasions in this stint before injuries ravaged their 2019-20 campaign.

Following news of Nash's new role in Brooklyn, Kerr took to Twitter to express his appreciation for the departing great and predict a promising future as a coach.

"Congratulations to @SteveNash and thank you for all your work over the years with the @warriors," Kerr wrote in a post that was shared by the Warriors.

"You are going to crush it in Brooklyn! @BrooklynNets."

Nash will again link up with Kevin Durant, a star of Kerr's Golden State team, as the 31-year-old prepares to return to action for the first time since the 2019 Finals.

Durant was injured as the Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors and then departed for the Nets in free agency.

Steve Nash claimed to have the confidence of Kevin Durant after taking his first coaching job and is excited to work with the former Golden State Warrior and Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets.

Nash, a two-time NBA MVP and Hall of Fame point guard as a player, was named as the new Nets head coach on Thursday, reportedly signing a four-year contract.

The move sees Nash again link up with Durant, who was at Golden State when the 46-year-old was a consultant to Steve Kerr on a team that won two titles.

Durant is yet to feature for Brooklyn due to the Achilles tear he suffered playing for the Warriors in the 2019 Finals ahead of his free agency move.

The 31-year-old was joined in making the move to the Nets by Irving, who plays in Nash's old position and is also familiar with the new appointment.

Nash told ESPN's The Undefeated: "[Durant] is one of the greatest players I've ever seen and to have his confidence is really important. There is a respect and admiration there for me.

"For me and Ky, our relationship is important. He is the [point guard] and I'm the coach.

"I'm thrilled I get the opportunity to know him better and to understand him, how he plays and what he sees and to be here to help him refine his gifts."

Having said in the team's statement he had wanted to take the step into coaching "when the time was right", Nash added: "The coaching itch was always there.

"In a way, I kind of kept it to myself to give me the freedom of not being on the radar of coaching expectancy.

"I've always known in the back of my mind that I'd love to do it."

The Brooklyn Nets have named two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash as their new head coach.

Reports emerged early on Thursday that the former Phoenix Suns point guard was to be handed the Nets job despite his lack of coaching experience.

Confirmation followed that Nash had signed with the team – reportedly on a four-year contract – and will keep Jacque Vaughn, the interim coach, on as his assistant.

Nash, 46, was an eight-time All-Star as a player and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, three years after his retirement.

The South African-born Canadian, who played for the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Suns, has until now resisted turning to coaching.

Nash was a consultant at the Golden State Warriors for Finals victories in 2017 and 2018, however.

"Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right," Nash said. "I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn."

He takes over a Nets team who lost 4-0 to defending champions the Toronto Raptors in the first round of this year's playoffs.

Brooklyn – led by Vaughn following Kenny Atkinson's departure in March – could only name a makeshift line-up following the season restart in Orlando, Florida.

Kevin Durant, who was at Golden State with Nash, missed the entire season following his 2019 Finals Achilles tear with the Warriors.

Kyrie Irving, signed alongside Durant in free agency last year, underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in February, while Spencer Dinwiddie then tested positive for coronavirus.

With Durant and Irving fit again for the 2020-21 campaign, Nash will be expected to put together a competitive Nets team.

The Milwaukee Bucks restarted a fierce discussion about sports and politics on Wednesday evening after they boycotted their Eastern Conference first-round playoff game against the Orlando Magic.

Their boycott comes in the aftermath of yet another police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday. Blake is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down.

It would not have been easy for the Wisconsin-based team to have made this decision which will hit the bottom line of broadcasters, the league itself, their team and eventually, the players.

In June, the Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving led a conference call involving 80 players and vehemently argued against the league’s restart once the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the United States. His drive was to highlight the plight of Black America as they protested the killing of George Floyd another unarmed black man, murdered by a police officer who had a knee on his neck on a road in Minneapolis.

However, his call against the restart came at a time when the NBA was already on pause because of the coronavirus and a boycott would not have made the same kind of impact it would at this point in time.

Kyrie who is vice president of the National Basketball Players Association was right about one thing, playing games wouldn’t have solved the problems of racial injustice. However, boycotting the league then, wouldn’t have had the same result either.

Quite possibly a more perfect opportunity would have been boycotting the finals, whether it would have been the conference finals or the actual NBA finals. But the recent incidents have brought forward this latest action by the players and it now seems more appropriate to impose their will and send the strongest-possible message.

Let’s also be blunt about another point re Kyrie Irving. His worldwide view hasn’t always been spherical, but this is a different sphere. Any boycott with him as the face or voice would have been met with derision and a huge lack of credibility. And the importance of that moment, that movement and that effort would have been lost. Of course, every voice matters when it comes to the cause of racial equality. However, any charge and any course of action must be strategic, surgical and full of thought. And the messenger must be as solid as the message.

I don’t think the players would have boycotted these games if there was compassion from the current occupant in the White House.

Let’s also be fair, extra-judicial killings of unarmed black people have been going on for a while. And while there was a sense of empathy coming from the previous President of the USA, there now appears to be apathy from the current administration on this matter.

The US elections are in November, and the new NBA season is set to begin December 1. This boycott is poised to strongly push a referendum against President Donald Trump, and it is coming two months before voters go to the polls. This is now strategic.

In a couple of months we will know if it works, but there should be no going back for the players like the NBA announced earlier today. If they are going to risk it… risk it all.

It appears the mindset of the Los Angeles teams is one of the same at the moment as there are reports that both the Lakers and Clippers voted to quit the postseason.

My first article spoke about black athletes being more than their talent, and they should utilize their platforms to speak out in a society which finds it difficult to adapt to a more inclusive way.

Another moment has been introduced to opportunity.

Donald Oliver is a football and cricket commentator and a senior producer at SportsMax. Learn more about him at www.thedonaldoliver.com or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

The Toronto Raptors will be hoping Kyle Lowry is fit to feature against the Boston Celtics after easing through to the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Toronto completed the first series sweep in franchise history on Sunday, though a fourth straight victory over the Brooklyn Nets may have come at a heavy price.

Lowry played just nine minutes of the 150-122 triumph that sealed the Raptors' progress, with head coach Nick Nurse revealing in his post-game media call that the point guard suffered an injury to the arch of his left foot.

The six-time NBA All-Star will wait for results from an MRI scan to discover the damage, leaving the defending champions unsure if they will have one of their key players available to face the Celtics.

However, Nurse - who described Lowry as a "big engine" for the team - hopes others can step up to fill the void, whether individually or collectively as a group, if the 34-year-old is sidelined.

"I won't be very comfortable without Kyle out there - he's a big engine for us," Nurse told the media.

"But I would say that we play a system or a style where lots of guys are involved.

"We're going to miss all of those great things that Kyle does if he's not playing, but someone else will take shots, play defense, play tough, do all the things he does and make up for it. Or, we do it by committee, which is probably the better way."

He added: "You've got to go out there with who is healthy and available, and you've got to think there is a good chance you can figure out a way to win. That's what we will do, either way."

Despite being without Lowry, Toronto coasted past the Nets. Norm Powell had 29 points and Serge Ibaka contributed 27 as the bench came up big in Game 4, contributing 100 points to the cause.

Still, they will hope to have one of their key players on the floor when they open the series against the Celtics, who impressed Nurse with the way they swept past the Philadelphia 76ers, on Thursday.

"I think they're really good," he replied when asked about Toronto's next opponents. 

"They are super-talented, really deep and very well coached. I think they're playing great at the moment.

"They put away a very talented Philadelphia team with ease, with ease. There was never a doubt in that series where it was going, bar maybe a little bit in one game. 

"I'm hoping it's a great series. We're going to need to play good to beat him."

Luka Doncic produced a stunning moment of magic to help the Dallas Mavericks outlast the Los Angeles Clippers 135-133 in overtime in Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round series.

With the Mavericks trailing 133-132 and staring at a 3-1 deficit in the NBA playoffs, Doncic called game as the reigning Rookie of the Year nailed a buzzer-beating three in OT on Sunday.

A game-time decision due to a left ankle injury, Doncic put fitness issues aside to see the Mavericks dramatically level the series at 2-2 in Orlando, Florida.

Doncic became the youngest player in NBA playoffs history to post a 40-point triple-double as he finished with 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists.

It was the 21-year-old's second successive triple-double ahead of Game 5 against the Clippers at Walt Disney World Resort.

Kawhi Leonard's 32 points were not enough for the Clippers, while Lou Williams led the team's scorers with 36.

Defending champions the Toronto Raptors flexed their muscles in a 150-122 victory over the Brooklyn Nets as they recorded a sweep in the Eastern Conference first round.

Toronto's bench contributed 100 points, the most in any game since official starters began being tracked in 1970-71 – Norman Powell (29) and Serge Ibaka (27) leading the way.

The Raptors will face the Boston Celtics in the second round after the latter swept the Philadelphia 76ers 4-0 via a 110-106 success.

 

Mitchell makes history

Donovan Mitchell became the first player in NBA history to have two games with 50-plus points and five-plus assists in a single postseason as the Utah Jazz trumped the Denver Nuggets 129-127. Mitchell scored 18 of his 51 points in the fourth quarter to help the Jazz take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference matchup.

Nuggets star Jamal Murray also put up 50 points in the losing effort. Murray and Mitchell are the first pair of players to register 50-plus points each in a non-overtime game since Wilt Chamberlain (63) and Elgin Baylor (51) in 1962, per STATS.

It was a huge night for the Raptors. Not only did they become the first team in postseason history to score 500-plus points in a series sweep (505), Toronto also became the first playoff franchise to have 150-plus points to cap a series whitewash.

Kemba Walker's 32 points and a double-double of 28 points and 15 rebounds from Jayson Tatum fuelled the Boston Celtics. Joel Embiid was a shining light for the 76ers with 30 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Sixers' swift exit, George struggles

It was a day to forget for the 76ers. It marked the first sweep at the hands of the Celtics in 15 playoff series meetings. Philadelphia have also failed to progress beyond the second round in three consecutive seasons.

The Jazz won but Joe Ingles was scoreless. Usually a threat from beyond the arc, Ingles missed all three of his three-point attempts. The Australian was also 0 for four from the field in 35 minutes.

Paul George's struggles continued against the Mavericks. He was just three of 14 from the floor and one of seven from beyond the arc for nine points in 45 minutes.

 

Doncic's Euro step

The Slovenian star was at his brilliant best, including this move to the rim.

 

Sunday's results

Boston Celtics 110-106 Philadelphia 76ers
Dallas Mavericks 135-133 Los Angeles Clippers (OT)
Toronto Raptors 150-122 Brooklyn Nets
Utah Jazz 129-127 Denver Nuggets

 

Lakers face Trail Blazers

After his mammoth display in Game 3, LeBron James will look to help the Los Angeles Lakers take a 3-1 lead against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

The Los Angeles Clippers took the lead in their series against the Dallas Mavericks, while the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors are 3-0 up.

Kawhi Leonard starred as the Clippers posted a 130-122 win over the Mavericks.

Leonard finished with 36 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as the Clippers grabbed a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference first-round series.

Mavs star Luka Doncic had a triple-double of 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, but also suffered an ankle injury.

Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis managed a double-double of 34 points and 13 rebounds, going 11-of-18 from the field for Dallas.

The Celtics and Raptors are each one win away from setting up an Eastern Conference semi-final.

Boston moved into a 3-0 lead over the Philadelphia 76ers thanks to a 102-94 win, while the Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 117-92 to be a victory away from advancing.

 

Kemba lifts Celtics, special Siakam

Kemba Walker had 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the Celtics' victory.

The 76ers are on the verge of a first-round exit, but Joel Embiid finished with a double-double of 30 points and 13 rebounds.

Pascal Siakam's 26 points helped the Raptors to their comfortable win.

A double-double of 24 points and 14 rebounds from Rudy Gobert helped the Utah Jazz past the Denver Nuggets 124-87. The Jazz lead the Western Conference first-round series 2-1.

Jazz guard Mike Conley went seven-of-eight from three-point range to post 27 points.

 

Terrible Temple

Garrett Temple struggled for the Nets. The forward was two-of-12 from the field, managing just five points in nearly 36 minutes.

 

Wonderful Walker

Walker contributed 14 of his 24 points in the second half for Boston.

Friday's results

Toronto Raptors 117-92 Brooklyn Nets
Utah Jazz 124-87 Denver Nuggets
Boston Celtics 102-94 Philadelphia 76ers
Los Angeles Clippers 130-122 Dallas Mavericks

 

Lakers face Trail Blazers

Having drawn level in the Western Conference first-round series, the Los Angeles Lakers face the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 3 on Saturday.

The Dallas Mavericks levelled their Western Conference first-round series after defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 127-114 in the NBA playoffs.

Luka Doncic starred as the Mavericks bounced back against Kawhi Leonard's Clippers in Game 2 at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday.

Doncic posted 28 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists, while fellow star Kristaps Porzingis had 23 points in Orlando, Florida.

Leonard's game-high 35 points and 10 rebounds were not enough as Paul George (14 points and 10 rebounds) struggled shooting – the Clippers All-Star was just four of 17 from the field, and two of 10 from beyond the arc.

Game 3 between the Mavericks and Clippers is on Friday.

The Boston Celtics, meanwhile, took a commanding 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference first-round matchup after beating the Philadelphia 76ers 128-101.

Jayson Tatum led the way again with a career playoff-high 33 points to fuel Boston against rivals Philadelphia in Game 2.

The 76ers stormed out of the blocks, taking a 14-point lead early in the first quarter before the Celtics overpowered their opponents – Kemba Walker adding 22 points to go with Jaylen Brown's 20.

Joel Embiid's 34 points and 10 rebounds were not enough for the 76ers, who are under pressure as they fight to avoid an early exit.

The Celtics and 76ers will meet again on Friday in Game 3.

 

Raptors roar as VanVleet stars

Fred VanVleet impressed again as defending champions the Toronto Raptors earned a 2-0 lead over the Brooklyn Nets with a 104-99 victory. VanVleet had a double-double of 24 points and 10 assists in the first-round Eastern Conference clash. Norman Powell scored 24 points off the bench, while Kyle Lowry posted 21 points and nine rebounds.

After a playoff-record 57 points in Game 1, Donovan Mitchell registered 30 points and the Utah Jazz topped the Denver Nuggets 124-105 to level the series. Mitchell was big in the third quarter, scoring 21 of his 30 points to take down the Nuggets. Jazz team-mate Jordan Clarkson finished with a career playoff-best 26 points.

Nikola Jokic's double-double of 28 points and 11 rebounds were not enough for the Nuggets, who also had 28 points from rookie Michael Porter Jr.

 

Horford's woes continue

Al Horford and his move to the 76es has not paid off, and the former Celtics star struggled again. Back on the bench, Horford scored just four points in 23 minutes, while collecting two rebounds.

The player who started in his place, Matisse Thybulle, managed only two points in 25 minutes of action. Alec Burks was one of eight from the field and missed both of his three-point attempts.

While the Raptors won, Marc Gasol was scoreless through 17 minutes of court time. He also had three turnovers.

 

Brown's 360!

Brown produced a highlight moment – this spin and slam against the 76ers.

 

Wednesday's results

Boston Celtics 128-101 Philadelphia 76ers
Utah Jazz 124-105 Denver Nuggets
Toronto Raptors 104-99 Brooklyn Nets
Dallas Mavericks 127-114 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Trail Blazers face Lakers

The Portland Trail Blazers can take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference first-round matchup when they meet the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

Defending champions the Toronto Raptors made a winning start in the NBA playoffs, while the Los Angeles Clippers topped the Dallas Mavericks.

Fred VanVleet posted a playoff career-high 30 points and 11 assists as the Raptors eased past the Brooklyn Nets 134-110 in game one of the first-round Eastern Conference matchup at Walt Disney World Resort on Monday.

VanVleet became the first Raptors player in franchise history to combine 30-plus points and 10-plus assists in a playoff game.

The Raptors star was also eight of 10 from three-point range as the second-seeded Raptors drew first blood against the Nets in Orlando, Florida, where Serge Ibaka contributed 22 points off the bench.

In the day's final game, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George starred in the Clippers' 118-110 victory over the Mavericks in the Western Conference.

Leonard's double-double of 29 points and 12 rebounds, and George's 27 points fuelled the second-seeded Clippers, who emerged triumphant in the first-round opener.

 

Doncic creates history, Mitchell scores 57

While the Mavericks lost, Luka Doncic made history. The reigning Rookie of the Year's 42 points are the most in an NBA playoffs debut in league history.

Donovan Mitchell put up huge numbers. He scored a franchise playoff-record 57 points on 19 of 33 shooting from the field but the Utah Jazz lost to the Denver Nuggets 135-125 in overtime. His scoring spree surpassed the Jazz mark of 50 set by Karl Malone in 2000. Denver's game-one success in the west was inspired by Jamal Murray, who posted 10 of his 36 points in OT. Nikola Jokic added 29 points and 10 rebounds.

Jayson Tatum had career playoff highs of 32 points and 13 rebounds as the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 109-101 in game one of their first-round Eastern Conference series. Jaylen Brown put up 29 points, while the 76ers were led by Joel Embiid's 26 points and 16 rebounds.

 

Turnovers cripple 76ers

Philadelphia were made to pay for their turnovers. In total, the 76ers turned the ball over on 18 occasions as the Celtics capitalised by scoring 21 points. Embiid had five turnovers of his own.

Kristaps Porzingis only managed 14 points and six rebounds for the Mavericks. He was three of nine from the field, and one of four from beyond the arc.

 

Embiid with the slam!

The 76ers All-Star was hot, especially early, against rivals the Celtics.

 

Monday's results

Denver Nuggets 135-125 Utah Jazz (OT)
Toronto Raptors 134-110 Brooklyn Nets
Boston Celtics 109-101 Philadelphia 76ers
Los Angeles Clippers 118-110 Dallas Mavericks

 

Trail Blazers face Lakers

The in-form Portland Trail Blazers will open their Western Conference first-round series against the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Damian Lillard's Portland secured their spot in the playoffs as the eighth seed courtesy of Saturday's play-in success against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers – led by LeBron James – are making their first postseason appearance since 2013.

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