NBA

Williams the unlikely hero as Celtics eliminate defending champion Bucks, Mavericks advance

By Sports Desk May 15, 2022

Grant Williams scored a career-high 27 points as the Boston Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, defeating the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks 109-81 in Game 7 on Sunday.

Williams went seven-of-18 from the perimeter to lead the Celtics, with four others scoring in double digits in Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Payton Pritchard, who added 14 points off the bench.

The 23-year-old's seventh triple of the night came at an important time, too, with the Bucks starting to gather momentum at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Tatum was pivotal on both ends despite seven turnovers, putting up 23 points on 50 per cent shooting, eight assists and six rebounds.

The Celtics were able to restrict Giannis Antetokounmpo from scoring easily, with the reigning finals MVP getting 25 points but on 10-of-26 shooting, along with his 20 rebounds and nine assists.

With the series-deciding win, the Celtics have set up a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals, facing the first-seeded Miami Heat.

Doncic dominates as Mavs demolish Suns

Both of the contestants in the 2021 NBA finals were knocked out in same night in Game 7s on Sunday, with the Dallas Mavericks blowing out the first-seeded Phoenix Suns 123-84.

The Suns scored a disappointingly low 27 points on their home floor in the first half, as threes rained in on the other end, and the Mavs went into the main change with a 30-point lead.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker went missing when they were needed most, generating little in terms of dribble penetration and combining for 21 points on seven-of-22 shooting.

Conversely, Luka Doncic had come into Game 7 with shooting splits of 45.7 and 29.6 per cent but lit the Suns up with the season on the line, finishing with 35 points on 12-of-19 shooting.

More importantly, Doncic was able to get his teammates good looks, with Dallas shooting an 48.7 per cent from the perimeter.

The Mavericks will now face the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals. 

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    Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is bullish about his side's prospects for the 2022-23 season with the return of Kawhi Leonard.

    The Clippers reached the Conference Finals for the first time in 2021, but missed the playoffs in 2022 with Leonard absent for the entire campaign due to an ACL injury.

    Leonard sustained the injury in Game 4 of the 2021 Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Utah Jazz.

    Paul George was also restricted to only 31 games in the 2021-22 season with a niggling elbow injury, as they finished with a 42-40 record.

    The Clippers are expected to be boosted by Leonard and George both having a clean bill of health while point guard John Wall is set to join in a free-agent deal after he reached a buy-out agreement with the Houston Rockets.

    "I think the sky is the limit for our team," Ballmer said. "It'll be our effort, our energy.

    "Of course, you got to have a little good luck to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy, which is what we really like.

    "I think if we stay healthy next year we are going to be having a chance to talk way late into the [postseason]."

    Leonard, who is a two-time NBA Finals MVP (2014 and 2019), looms large as the key to the Clippers' chances.

    The 31-year-old small forward averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and a career-high 5.2 assists per game in the 2020-21 regular season. He averaged a career-high 27.1 points in his first season with the Clippers in 2019-20.

    "[Leonard is] not only your best player but one of the preeminent handful of top players in the world," Ballmer said.

    "I am really excited about that. Kawhi's in the gym. He's working, and we got our fingers crossed everything keeps going on schedule."

    The Clippers also confirmed on Tuesday that they had signed a three-year $33 million contract extension with center Ivica Zubac.

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    Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is bullish about his side's prospects for the 2022-23 season with the return of Kawhi Leonard.

    The Clippers reached the Conference Finals for the first time in 2021, but missed the playoffs in 2022 with Leonard absent for the entire campaign due to an ACL injury.

    Leonard sustained the injury in Game 4 of the 2021 Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Utah Jazz.

    Paul George was also restricted to only 31 games in the 2021-22 season with a niggling elbow injury, as they finished with a 42-40 record.

    The Clippers are expected to be boosted by Leonard and George both having a clean bill of health while point guard John Wall is set to join in a free-agent deal after he reached a buy-out agreement with the Houston Rockets.

    "I think the sky is the limit for our team," Ballmer said. "It'll be our effort, our energy.

    "Of course, you got to have a little good luck to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy, which is what we really like.

    "I think if we stay healthy next year we are going to be having a chance to talk way late into the [postseason]."

    Leonard, who is a two-time NBA Finals MVP (2014 and 2019), looms large as the key to the Clippers' chances.

    The 31-year-old small forward averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and a career-high 5.2 assists per game in the 2020-21 regular season. He averaged a career-high 27.1 points in his first season with the Clippers in 2019-20.

    "[Leonard is] not only your best player but one of the preeminent handful of top players in the world," Ballmer said.

    "I am really excited about that. Kawhi's in the gym. He's working, and we got our fingers crossed everything keeps going on schedule."

    The Clippers also confirmed on Tuesday that they had signed a three-year $33 million contract extension with center Ivica Zubac.

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    Five-time All-Star guard John Wall plans to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers after reaching a buyout agreement with the Houston Rockets, ESPN reported on Monday.

    Wall will relinquish $6.5million of the $47.4m he was owed for the upcoming season, the final one of a four-year, $171m extension he signed in 2017 while a member of the Washington Wizards. Yahoo Sports first reported that a buyout had been reached.

    The 31-year-old will be joining a Clippers team that reached the Western Conference Finals in 2020-21 but were ousted in this year’s play-in, dealing with long injury absences for stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

    Leonard missed the entire season recovering from a torn ACL sustained in the 2021 playoffs, while a torn elbow ligament limited George to 31 games.

    Wall also did not play in 2021-22 due to reported differences between the veteran and the rebuilding Rockets over his potential role, and he hasn’t played more than 41 games in a season since 2016-17 due to several injuries.

    The top pick of the 2010 NBA Draft missed much of 2017-18 due to a knee injury that required surgery and sat the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered in January 2019.

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