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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    Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry piled on the points as the Golden State Warriors improved to a 12-11 record with a 120-101 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

    Wiggins scored a season-high 36 points on 14-of-19 field shooting with a joint career-high eight three-pointers, including three in a row in the third quarter at the Chase Center.

    Curry added 30 points, including eight triples, as well as providing 10 assists for Golden State, who have won five of their past six games.

    Jordan Poole, who came into the starting line-up for Klay Thompson who was rested, also had 21 points with five three-pointers. Center Kevon Looney had 12 rebounds with nine points.

    The Warriors shot 25-of-52 from three-point range as a team, compared to the Rockets who went at 10.7 per cent from beyond the arc, making three-of-28 attempts.

    Golden State became the second team in NBA history to make 20 three-pointers in four of five games.

    Gobert ejected in Timberwolves defeat

    Rudy Gobert was ejected for deliberately tripping Kenrich Williams as the Minnesota Timberwolves were beaten 135-128 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    The French center was given a flagrant 2 foul and ejected in the second quarter when he tangled with Williams, appearing to sweep a leg out while on the ground, seeing his unbalanced opponent tumble.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander top scored for OKC with 33 points and six assists, while for the Timberwolves, who were already without Karl-Anthony Towns (calf), D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards scored 27 and 26 points respectively.

    Short-handed Bucks down Hornets

    The Milwaukee Bucks overcame the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo due to left knee soreness as they moved to 16-6 with a 105-96 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

    The Bucks, who are second in the Eastern Conference, were also without Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday but Bobby Portis (20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists) stepped up.

    Jordan Nwora added 17 points, while Brook Lopez (14 points including three three-pointers and six rebounds) and Jevon Carter (14 points and six assists) were strong contributors.

  • Morant fined $35,000 for 'inappropriate language' toward referee Morant fined $35,000 for 'inappropriate language' toward referee

    Ja Morant has been fined $35,000 by the NBA for "directing inappropriate language towards a game official" and for not leaving the court soon enough.

    The punishment was announced by the league on Saturday in response to the Memphis Grizzlies guard's behaviour in the 109-101 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

    With just over a minute left of the game, Morant was given a technical and ejected by the referee, which provoked an angry response from the 23-year-old.

    He took to Instagram after the game to suggest officials have "too much power," adding: "you get ejected nowadays for telling a mf the same thing they told you."

    Morant has been enjoying another productive season in Memphis, averaging 28.2 points, 7.3 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game for the 13-9 Grizzlies, who visit the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

  • Bucks forward Middleton happy to be back after first match since April Bucks forward Middleton happy to be back after first match since April

    Khris Middleton was happy to get minutes under his belt despite defeat after he played his first game since April for the Milwaukee Bucks against the Los Angeles Lakers.

    A rampant pair of performances from Anthony Davis and LeBron James – who scored 44 points and passed Magic Johnson on the all-time NBA assists list respectively – saw the visitors downed 133-129.

    But even with the loss, it marked a major landmark for the Bucks as they welcomed back forward Middleton to their line-up, having seen him sidelined since April's playoffs.

    With 17 points and seven assists, the 31-year-old kept himself busy throughout, and expressed his delight at getting back on the floor with the rest of his team-mates.

    "It felt really good to be back out there with the guys competing, playing," he said. "[I've got] a range of emotions.

    "[I've] been through a lot these last couple months - happy, sad, anxious, nervous. To finally get out there and play and get a lot of those nerves past me, it felt pretty good."

    The Bucks head to the Charlotte Hornets as part of a back-to-back on Saturday, but head coach Mike Budenholzer suggested Middleton will not be played again so quickly in succession.

    "To have Khris back is huge for us," he added. "[It is] pretty impressive how seamlessly he got back into the game, [at] both ends of the court.

    "We talk a lot about how Khris, he's just a basketball player. He's a smart player [who] just understands the game. [He is] not overly reliant on athleticism or things like that.

    "For him to come back and be able to catch a good rhythm – he's got to keep working but a big step for us tonight to get Khris Middleton back."

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