NBA

Williams the unlikely hero as Celtics eliminate defending champions 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 123-90.

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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    The 76ers went 1-0 down in their playoff series against the Knicks on Saturday, losing 111-104 at Madison Square Garden.

    Embiid, last year's MVP, finished with 29 points, but had to sit out the final 2:37 of the first half after a brilliant play in which he passed the ball to himself off the backboard.

    He landed heavily, however, and headed straight for the locker room before returning for the second half.

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    "He really is a warrior, and he's battling," Nurse said of Embiid.

    "I think he absolutely wants to play.

    "I knew when I went in at halftime that they were checking him out, and that he was up and moving. 

    "They didn't rule him out yet. They just took him all the way to the end there to get him ruled back in."

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    "Nothing with Joel surprises me now," said Maxey, who finished with 33 points.

    "He's always a fighter. He's always going to try and give it his all for his team. So if he thinks he can go, he'll for sure be out there."

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    Embiid had 29 points, also adding eight rebounds and six assists, as the Sixers succumbed to a 111-104 defeat at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

    He made one stunning play near the end of the first half, finishing with a one-handed dunk after passing to himself off the backboard, but that came at a cost as he then left for the final two minutes and 37 seconds of the second quarter.

    Embiid seemed to land awkwardly on his left leg after that play and immediately dropped to the ground before getting up and walking straight to the locker room. 

    Embiid rejoined his team-mates on the floor at the start of the second half, but with the reigning MVP recently missing two months after undergoing meniscus surgery, the incident left fans concerned.

    Philadelphia coach Nick Nurse is positive regarding his chances of featuring in Game 2 on Monday, saying: "He really is a warrior, and he's battling.

    "I think he absolutely wants to play. I knew when I went in at halftime that they were checking him out and that he was up and moving. 

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    Tyrese Maxey, who led Philadelphia with 33 points and was 14-of-26 shooting, says Embiid will suit up for Monday's contest if physically able to.

    "Nothing with Joel surprises me now," Maxey said. "He's always a fighter. He's always going to try and give it his all for his team. So if he thinks he can go, he'll for sure be out there."

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