NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Tatum's 50 thwarts Nets as Celtics hit back, Kawhi's Clippers respond

By Sports Desk May 28, 2021

Jayson Tatum was the hero as the Boston Celtics bounced back against the star-studded Brooklyn Nets, winning 125-119 in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference opening-round matchup.

Tatum posted a playoff career-high 50 points to thwart James Harden, Kevin Durant and the high-flying Nets in Boston on Friday.

The second-seeded Nets had seized control of the NBA playoff series following back-to-back wins in Brooklyn, but Tatum and the Celtics hit back on home court to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Tatum became the third Celtics player with 50-plus points in a regular playoff game, according to Stats Perform. The All-Star joined John Havlicek (54 in 1973) and Sam Jones (51 in 1967).

The 23-year-old Tatum also became the third youngest player in NBA history to post 50 or more points in a postseason contest. Ricky Barry (55 in 1967) and Michael Jordan (63 in 1986) are the only other players.

Big performances from former MVPs Harden (41 points and 10 assists) and Durant (39 points and nine rebounds) were not enough for the Nets.

Harden and Durant became the first pair of team-mates with 30-plus points in a playoff game since Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson in 2006.

 

Kawhi and George deliver in much-needed win

With their backs against the wall, the Los Angeles Clippers topped the Dallas Mavericks 118-108. Kawhi Leonard (36 points in 13-for-17 shooting) and Paul George (29 points) fuelled the fourth-ranked Clippers, who closed within 2-1 of the Mavericks in the Western Conference series. The Clippers spoiled the party in Dallas, where Luka Doncic produced a playoff career-high 44 points as the Mavs raced out to a 30-11 lead before the visitors rallied in front of 17,705 fans.

 

Randle fails to fire again

All-Star Julius Randle struggled as the New York Knicks lost 105-94 to the Atlanta Hawks, who claimed a 2-1 series lead in the east. Randle finished with a double-double of 14 points and 11 assists, but he was just two-for-15 shooting. Per Stats Perform, Randle became the first Knick to go 0 of eight or worse on two-pointers in a playoff game since Patrick Ewing (0 for 10) did so 27 years ago. Randle's 20.6 two-point percentage in the series is the lowest in a three-game span by any player with that many attempts in the last 30 postseasons.

While the Celtics won, Kemba Walker underwhelmed. He was just three-for-14 shooting as he finished with six points in 34 minutes.

 

Trae stars as Hawks soar

Trae Young was hot again for the Hawks after posting 21 points and 14 assists. The Hawks star joined Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Kevin Johnson, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only players to record more than 30 assists in their first three career playoff games. Young recorded 10 assists in the first half – the first player to achieve the feat in a half of a playoff clash in their first postseason since Rajon Rondo in 2008. According to Stats Perform, Young is the third player since the merger with 80-plus points and 30-plus assists in his first three career playoff games, joining Johnson and Paul.

 

Friday's results

Atlanta Hawks 105-94 New York Knicks
Boston Celtics 125-119 Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Clippers 118-108 Dallas Mavericks

 

Bucks at Heat

The Milwaukee Bucks can seal a series sweep of the Miami Heat on Saturday. Eastern Conference rivals and top seeds the Philadelphia 76ers are also in action against the Washington Wizards, leading 2-0.

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  • Man Utd agree Casemiro deal in principle Man Utd agree Casemiro deal in principle

    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.

    But by and large it has been a window of frustration for United, who have spent the majority of the past few months pursuing Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong only to hit several bumps in the road.

    A deal was reportedly agreed with Juventus for Adrien Rabiot only for that transfer to break down due to the player's excessive wage demands.

    That led United to Casemiro, with rumours over the move only surfacing on Thursday.

    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.

    "We've spoken this morning, he wants to try a new challenge, a new opportunity. I understand this, also the club does," Ancelotti said on Friday.

    "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.

    "There are negotiations between the clubs, he is still a Real Madrid player but it looks like he is now willing to depart. If he is departing we have a lot of resources to replace him.

    "I've always talked a lot with him in my second time at Real Madrid. I just listened to his desire, I think there's no turning back. This is what he wants."

  • BREAKING NEWS: Man Utd agree Casemiro deal in principle BREAKING NEWS: Man Utd agree Casemiro deal in principle

    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).

     

  • Casemiro signing will not resolve Man Utd's problems, warns Saha Casemiro signing will not resolve Man Utd's problems, warns Saha

    Casemiro's imminent arrival at Old Trafford will greatly enhance Manchester United's midfield options but will not resolve all of the club's problems.

    That is according to former United striker Louis Saha, who also told Stats Perform that Cristiano Ronaldo was wrong to ask for a move.

    Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti confirmed on Friday that Casemiro is set to leave the Santiago Bernabeu, with United reported to have agreed a £51million (€60m) fee.

    Casemiro, a five-time Champions League winner with Madrid, is one of a number of midfielders to have been linked with the Red Devils.

    Having appeared to have missed out on Frenkie de Jong and Adrien Rabiot, Casemiro's move to Old Trafford could be completed as early as this weekend.

    While the Brazil international will bring a number of qualities to United, Saha believes his former side's issues run far deeper than simply bringing in a new midfielder.

    United find themselves bottom of the Premier League for the first time since August 1992, which is the only previous occasion they lost their opening two games in the competition.

    "It's a massive signing," Saha said. "But it is not a midfielder, it is not a striker, it is not a defender, goalkeeper or other transfers that are going to solve United’s problems. 

    "So don't be stupid in thinking, 'Oh, okay, we signed the big player who won the Champions League a few times, all our problems will be solved'. 

    "He'll really help the strikers to feel more confident that they have a certain kind of base that helps a team that wants to win titles. But he won't solve every player’s problems."

    Casemiro is set to become United's fourth signing of the window following the arrivals of Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez.

    A number of first-team players have exited Old Trafford since the end of last season, meanwhile, with Paul Pogba the highest-profile departure to date.

    The future of Ronaldo remains in the balance ahead of the September 1 deadline, although a number of teams have opted out of making an approach for the forward.

    Ronaldo is reported to have asked for a transfer just a year after rejoining United, which Saha believes has left the Red Devils in a difficult situation.

    "I respect so much Cristiano and I think he's in this bracket as such a special player that I completely understand the way to manage this is not easy," he said.

    "Cristiano's a massive player and got 24 goals last year. That has a massive impact on the opposition because they fear him.

    "It's a difficult position. But on the same terms, we can recognise that he has put the club in a very difficult situation, because he hasn't maybe spoken out at the right moment.

    "I think the timing and the essence of this could have been kept a bit more private, until the deal is done or nearly done because of the respect that you have about the situation. 

    "The manager is trying to build a team, and you're saying you're unsettled and you want to leave. It's really hard. I don't think that he was right."

    Ronaldo scored 18 Premier League goals last season – only Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min (both 23) scored more – and netted a team-high 24 in all competitions.

    Bruno Fernandes was the only other United player to reach double figures, finding the back of the net 10 times.

    Saha, who won four trophies in five seasons with United, feels it is down to others to step up rather than Ronaldo if the five-time Ballon d'Or winner stays.

    "He got 24 goals last season and shut all the criticism in terms of his personal ability, and that was in a team not playing well," Saha said.

    "He is the only goalscorer who's got more than 10 goals, which is a joke. I mean, that's not normal. 

    "No other players could support when he wasn't scoring. We've seen bits from Bruno Fernandes, who is a bit of a shadow of the player he was before the arrival of Cristiano. 

    "The club and the other players haven't performed to facilitate a good rehabilitation for Cristiano Ronaldo's comeback."

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