The Boston Celtics are not dead and buried despite going 2-0 down to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals on Friday, insists star forward Jayson Tatum.

Four-time All-Star Tatum posted team-high figures of 34 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists as the Celtics started Game 2 strongly at TD Garden, but it was not enough.

Jimmy Butler's 27 points helped the Heat rally to claim a 111-105 victory, with a game-ending 24-9 run from the visitors leaving the Celtics facing an uphill task to seal consecutive NBA Finals appearances.

Boston now approach back-to-back road games requiring a win to keep the series alive, but Tatum retains confidence in their ability to turn things around.

"It's tough. It's a challenge," Tatum said after Friday's loss. "They came in and won two games. They played well, you have to give them credit. 

"But we're not dead or anything. We've got a great opportunity. 

"I still have the utmost confidence. Everybody has the utmost confidence. We've just got to get ready for Game 3."

Grant Williams attracted criticism for his part in the Heat's fightback, after Butler said a heated fourth-quarter exchange with the Celtics forward provided him with additional motivation late on.

Addressing the incident, Williams said: "I think he said something and I just responded. I'm a competitor and I'm going to battle. 

"He got the best of me tonight, and at the end of the day it's out of respect, because I'm not going to run away from it. 

"You either come back before you die or you come back and get a win, and I'm not willing to die in this finals. I'm ready to get a win. 

"I'm ready to come back and come into Game 3 with a better mentality, and I know this team is as well.

"We have a real, real decision to make, are we going to come back and really set the tone for the rest of this year and really make a statement? 

"Or are we going to come out and lay down? I don't think this team is built for laying down."

Miami's Kaseya Center will play host to Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Tuesday respectively, with the Heat needing just two further wins to avenge last year's 4-3 Conference Finals defeat to Boston. 

Jimmy Butler said his bust-up with Grant Williams lit the fire within after leading the Miami Heat to a terrific comeback win over the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.  

Boasting a 96-87 lead midway through the fourth quarter at TD Garden on Friday, the Celtics looked set to level the series at 1-1, only for Butler to lead his team to a huge 111-105 victory.

Butler scored nine of his team-high 27 points after he went head-to-head with Williams in a heated exchange in the fourth quarter, with the Heat closing the game with a 24-9 run.

Asked whether that incident helped to instigate his strong finish to the game, Butler said: "Yes, it did.

"But that's just competition at its finest. He hit a big shot, started talking to me. I like that. I'm all for that. 

"It makes me key in a lot more, it pushes that will that I have to win a lot more. It makes me smile. It does. 

"When people talk to me, I'm like, 'okay, I know I'm a decent player if you want to talk to me, out of everybody that you can talk to'. It's just competition. 

"I do respect him, though. He's a big part of what they try to do. He switches, he can shoot the ball. I just don't know if I'm the best person to talk to."

Heat guard Caleb Martin concurred, suggesting Williams picked the wrong man to provoke. 

"I knew it was going to be good for us," Martin said. "Knowing Jimmy, at that point in the game, if you get him going… we'll take mad Jimmy any time! 

"You could kind of see it in his eyes that he was ready to go after that."

With Miami set to assume home advantage for Game 3 on Sunday, head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat's ability to find new ways to win has been a key feature of their postseason run. 

"It feels like this has just been our existence all year long," Spoelstra said. "I guess nobody is really paying attention. 

"But every single game… it felt like for weeks on end, every game was ending on the last-second shot, whether we're shooting it or the other team is shooting it.

"You develop some grit from that. Whether that turns into confidence or not, sometimes you don't have the confidence, but at least you have that experience of going through stuff and you understand how tough it is."

The Miami Heat faced a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter but as long as Jimmy Butler is around, there does not seem to be a cause for concern.

Butler scored nine of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and the Heat rallied for the second consecutive game for a 111-105 road win over the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Caleb Martin came off the bench to score 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting and Bam Adebayo added 22 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists to help the eighth-seeded Heat take a 2-0 lead back to South Beach for Game 3 on Sunday.

Jayson Tatum had 34 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists but the Boston star went 0 for 3 with two turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Jaylen Brown scored 16 points on 7-for-23 shooting and was 1 for 5 with a turnover in the final quarter, when the Heat outscored the Celtics 36-22.

Miami fell behind by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter and trailed 96-87 with 6:41 remaining.

Butler, however, ignited a game-ending 24-9 run with five straight points before Grant Williams made a jumper to put Boston up 98-92.

Adebayo then sank two from the line and assisted on Duncan Robinson's layup, making it a two-point game.

Grant Williams dunked with 3:56 to play but that would be the Celtics' final field goal of the game. Adebayo made another two from the line and Butler hit a 17-foot jumper and a short fadeaway 26 seconds apart to give Miami the lead for the first time since midway through the third quarter.

After Max Strus made one of two free throws, Adebayo scored on a putback dunk to make it 105-100 with less than a minute left.

Tatum converted three free throws to close the gap, yet Gabe Vincent and Strus took matters away from the Celtics in the closing seconds.

LeBron James insists there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Los Angeles Lakers despite falling 2-0 down to the top-seeded Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers were beaten 108-103 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, even though they were leading by 11 points in the third quarter and started the fourth still up by three.

Jamal Murray powered a decisive 15-1 Denver run in the fourth quarter, finishing with 37 points, while Nikola Jokic (23-17-12) made it five triple-doubles in the space of six games.

James, meanwhile, was unable to connect with any of his six three-point attempts in a frustrating night that saw him finish with 22 points.

But the 38-year-old did have 10 assists, nine rebounds and four steals and feels there is enough room for optimism ahead of Game 3 on home court, where the Lakers have won every game this postseason.

"I think we improved from Game 1 to Game 2," James said, per ESPN. 

"And if we can do the same thing from Game 2 to Game 3, we put ourselves in a position to win.

"This is not the NCAA tournament. It's the first to four wins. Until a team beats you four times, then you always have an opportunity to come out of it. That is the confidence we need to have.

"We can't go into any postseason game with comfort just because you either haven't lost at home or you're going back home. We have still got to play with the same desperation as we did [in Game 2].

"We came out with an L. The three-point line is what killed us in the fourth.

"[Murray] made shots at the end of the clock. We guard for 24 seconds and he made two big-time shots, one over [Anthony Davis] and one over me. 

"He had his 3-point shot going in the fourth. It’s no surprise to me, he’s done it before. Sometimes it’s a never-miss league."

James said what he called "a little ankle injury" would not stop him suiting up for Game 3 on Saturday.

Austin Reaves tied James for a team-high 22 points and had no concerns about his star teammate’s shooting woes from deep.

"I mean, he can shoot all he wants – it's LeBron James," said Reaves. "I don't think anybody bats an eye when he shoots a shot or questions his shot. 

"We want him taking whatever he feels comfortable with, just because he's a winning basketball player for his whole career and that's all he wants to do, he wants to win."

Coach Darvin Ham had similar views on James' long-range shooting after Thursday's loss.

Ham said: "He [James] was open, they're playing off of him. He's a highly capable three-point shooter, he let it fly.

"Proud of our guys, they bounced back and we addressed a lot of the things that we said we were going to try to do better.

"Still got to be better in transition D. But overall the energy was there, the effort was there, the urgency was there, we just caught a bad stretch."

The Lakers have now lost consecutive games for the first time since the middle of March. After beating the odds to make the playoffs following a woeful start to the regular season, Ham was quick to remind observers the Lakers should not be counted out. 

"I've been down 2-10, 0-5," Ham said. "You're never as good as they say you are and you're never as bad as they say you are.

"You've just got to treat each day like its own entity. Each day, each game an opportunity to go out and get better. Never get too high and never get too low."

Davis also vowed to improve in Game 3. He had 14 rebounds and four blocks but was restricted to 18 points on 4-of-15 shooting after scoring 40 points in Game 1.

The eight-time All-Star said: "I'm going to continue to shoot those shots and I got to be better, more efficient, help the team win. So, I'll be better."

Jamal Murray and Michael Malone wanted to make sure people would be talking about the Denver Nuggets after Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

They achieved just that as the Nuggets moved 2-0 ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers with a 108-103 win, led by Murray's 37 points.

Murray scored 23 points in a huge fourth quarter that Denver had started three points behind. The Canadian also recorded 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Nikola Jokic impressed again, registering his fifth triple-double in the space of six games with 23 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists.

It was clear after Thursday's game that the Nuggets had been frustrated to see much of the coverage of their 132-126 win in Game 1 discussing the positives of the Lakers' performance.

Now, Denver are two wins away from a first NBA Finals appearance.

"You win Game 1 and all everybody talked about was the Lakers," said Malone, per ESPN.

"Let's be honest, the national narrative was, 'Hey, the Lakers are fine. They're down 1-0, but they figured something out'.

"No one talked about how Nikola just had an historic performance. He's got 13 playoff triple-doubles now, third all-time. What he's doing is just incredible on a nightly basis on the biggest stage in the world.

"But their narrative wasn't about the Nuggets. The narrative wasn't about Nikola. The narrative was about the Lakers and their adjustments. 

"So you know, you put that in your pipe and you smoke it, you come back and you know what, we're gonna go up 2-0."

Murray added: "We're the Denver Nuggets; we're used to that.

"Even when we win, they talk about the other team. We beat the Clippers in the bubble, they talk about the other team. 

"Same old, same old. It fuels us a little more and will be sweeter when we win the chip."

Murray, who is still battling an ear infection, had only made five of his first 17 shots before his decisive late surge.

"It would have been a lot easier if I had made them in the first half!" he said.

"Playing in the Western Conference finals against the Lakers and LeBron James, it's an amazing opportunity, and it's something you're going to look back in history and remember for the rest of your life."

James and Austin Reaves both scored 22 points for the Lakers, while Rui Hachimura added 21 off the bench.

Anthony Davis had 18 points and 14 rebounds but was held to a 4-of-15 shooting performance after scoring 40 points in Game 1.

Murray lifted Denver to a crucial 15-1 run that put them 96-84 ahead with just over five minutes left. He scored four of his six three-pointers in the fourth quarter.

"I love Jamal Murray," added Malone. "This is not just like I'm coaching him. We've been together seven years and been through a lot of ups and downs.

"To see him back playing at the level he's playing at, the first thought for me is just tremendous pride and just so happy for him. Because I saw the dark days coming back from that ACL injury.

"He needs to continue to do that. Obviously our goal is not done. We have to win this series. Our goal is to win a championship, and he's going to be a big part of that."

Jokic said about Murray: "He was special and he won us the game. He played 42 minutes, his energy was amazing. 

"Yes, maybe in the first half, he struggled to make shots. But when it mattered the most, he made shots and won us the game basically."

Game 3 takes place on Saturday in Los Angeles, with the Lakers unbeaten at home so far in the playoffs.

Jamal Murray scored 23 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter in a stellar performance as the Denver Nuggets held on for a 108-103 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Thursday's win saw the Nuggets take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Nikola Jokic notched his fourth straight triple-double and seventh of these playoffs with 23 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists to improve Denver to 8-0 at home this postseason. The Nuggets are two wins away from the franchise's first-ever NBA Finals appearance.

Murray missed 12 of his 17 shots through three quarters but was 6 of 7 in the fourth, including four 3-pointers and fuelled a 15-1 run to put the top-seeded Nuggets ahead for good.

His fourth-quarter explosion began with a short jumper with 9:59 remaining to forge an 81-81 tie.

He then sank consecutive 3-pointers and hit another after Bruce Brown connected from deep to put Denver up 93-84. Michael Porter Jr.'s three preceded another three from Murray that made it 99-87.

The Lakers scored the next five points to close the gap, but Murray answered with another basket. Austin Reaves ended a run of 11 straight missed threes by Los Angeles to close the deficit to 101-99, only to see Murray sink five free throws in the final 25 seconds.

Brown stole the ball from LeBron James with eight seconds left to seal Denver's victory.

Murray's 23-point quarter was one less point than the entire Lakers team.

James was just shy of a triple-double with 22 points, 10 boards and nine assists but missed all six of his 3-point attempts. Austin Reaves added 22 points with five threes and Rui Hachimura contributed 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting for Los Angeles, which misfired on 22 of 30 from beyond the arc.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Los Angeles, where the Lakers have won eight straight.

The Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA) has appointed of Wayne Dawkins as the Technical Director for the U17 National Team programme.

A basketball coach with over 30 years’ experience and founder of P.H.A.S.E. 1 Academy, Dawkins will be tasked with shaping the future of Jamaican basketball and nurturing young talents on the national stage.

As the technical director, Dawkins will assume a range of key responsibilities aimed at strengthening the U17 National Team programme. He is also expected to play a pivotal role in assisting in the recruitment of coaches, creating effective playing systems and providing best practices for coaching development as well as assisting with scouting and talent identification.

Among his first assignments will be preparing the U17 boys team for the upcoming 2023 Centrobasket U17 Championship in Belize.

“The level of talent we have in Jamaica, both locally and internationally, is more than enough to create an explosion of Jamaican basketball and establish our nation as a perennial global basketball power,” Dawkins said.

“I am excited to work with the young athletes and help them realize their full potential."

Paulton Gordon, President of the Jamaica Basketball Association, said the association has great expectations of the newly appointed technical director.

"We are honoured to welcome Wayne Dawkins to the Jamaica Basketball Association. Wayne's wealth of experience and dedication to the sport make him an invaluable addition to our team. With his leadership, we have great expectations for the success and growth of our U17 National Team programme," Gordon said.

Jimmy Butler was labelled as "one of a kind" after he led the Miami Heat to a shock win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The eighth-seeded Heat came into the series as big underdogs, while the Celtics were rated as favourites to claim this year’s NBA championship.

But despite facing a 71-59 deficit early in third quarter, Butler helped Miami to an improbable road 123-116 win.

The Heat scored a franchise playoff-record 46 points in the third quarter and outscored Boston 66-50 in the second half. 

Butler had 35 points and also recorded seven assists, six steals and five rebounds. He now has five games with at least 30 points this postseason and his play has filled his teammates with confidence. 

"When Jimmy's playing like that, we feel like we can play with anybody, beat anybody," Heat guard Gabe Vincent said after the game, per ESPN. 

"We got a couple guys in this locker room like that, but Jimmy's one of a kind."

"It's fun [to play with him], he is one of the best players in the world for a reason," added Kyle Lowry. "It's just a joy to watch it.

"For a guy that wants it so bad and works so hard at his craft, it's important to enjoy his success. He gives us all the confidence to be successful and be aggressive and be assertive.

"That's what makes him special, that it's not all about him. He's about our group and our team and everyone else."

For Butler, who is hoping to lead Miami to the NBA Finals for a second time, the trust he is shown by all areas of the franchise is proving key.

He said: "We know that Coach [Erik Spoelstra] puts so much confidence and belief in each and every one of us. Coach Pat [Riley] as well.

"Our circle is small, but the circle got so much love for one another. We pump constant confidence into everybody. 

"I'm playing at an incredible level because they are allowing me to do so. They are not putting a limit on my game. They are trusting me with the ball and on the defensive end. 

"I think that's what any basketball player wants. That's what anybody wants out of life is just to be wanted, be appreciated and just let you go out there and rock.

"I really feel as though with anything in life, if you get the opportunity and you have the belief that my teammates, my coaches, Coach Pat, ownership have in me to kind of lead the charge, along with Bam [Adebayo] right now, anything is possible.

"We go out there and we hoop and we play basketball the right way, knowing that we've always got a chance.

"We don't care if you pick us to win. We never have. We never will."

Adebayo supported Butler with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Lowry, Vincent, Caleb Martin and Max Strus all scored 15 points each.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 30 points but did not take a shot in the fourth quarter and Boston are now 4-4 at home in the playoffs ahead of Game 2 on Friday.

"I don’t know why," said Tatum. "You’ve still got to play the game, you've got to make plays, regardless of whether you’re home or away."

Marcus Smart, who had 13 points and a game-high 11 assists, added: "The only thing we need to adjust to is picking up our physicality and playing some damn defense.

"They didn't change anything from the first half that they weren't doing, they just upped their physicality and that's it. That's the only thing they switched. 

"There's nothing tactical, X's and O's, it's just come out and guard your yard. They scored 46 in that third, and they got going, and they made us pay, and they led into the fourth quarter."

Jimmy Butler scored 23 of his 35 points after halftime and the Miami Heat used a dominant third quarter to beat the Boston Celtics 123-116 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday.

Miami faced a 71-59 deficit early in the third quarter before using a 17-4 run to take a 76-75 lead.

Butler scored nine straight points for the Heat, capped by a 3-pointer with 1:56 left in the quarter to make it 95-87.

Malcolm Brogdon's free throw with 2:31 to play pulled Boston within 114-110 but Caleb Martin and Butler made consecutive threes to extend the lead to 120-110 with under a minute left.

Miami, which has opened all three playoff series with road victories, scored a franchise playoff-record 46 points in the third quarter and outscored Boston 66-50 after halftime.

Bam Adebayo had 20 points and eight rebounds, while Kyle Lowry, Martin, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus each scored 15 points, with three 3-pointers apiece as part of the Heat's 16-for-31 effort from long range.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 30 points but didn't take a shot in the fourth quarter. Brown finished with 22 points and nine boards and Brogdon added 19 points.

Game 2 is Friday in Boston.

Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is interested in having James Harden back in a Sixers uniform.

The former league MVP, however, reportedly is planning to decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent.

Morey spoke to the media on Wednesday, one day after the team fired Doc Rivers as coach, and said Harden could return.

“We are interested in bringing him back,” Morey said.

Harden has a $35.6million player option for the 2023-24 season, and the 76ers can offer the 2017-18 league MVP a $210million, four-year deal - $8million more than any other team.

However, Harden intends to move on from the 76ers and become a free agent, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.

“We have to plan for every scenario,” Morey said. “He has the option to be a free agent, and so we have to plan for all those scenarios. We feel like (Harden leaving) is a scenario where we can continue to move forward.”

Acquired in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets in February 2022, Harden was a solid complement to league MVP Joel Embiid, averaging 21.0 points and 10.7 assists in the regular season to help the 76ers to the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

In the playoffs, however, the 33-year-old Harden was maddeningly inconsistent.

He had a pair of 40-point performances but averaged just 15.1 points on 30.0 per cent shooting with 8.4 assists in his other nine games.

The 10-time All-Star reportedly wants a four-year deal with a team that has a competitive roster.

Morey feels that the 76ers have that competitive roster that Harden desires.

“Look, we have to remember there’s like 26 teams that would rather have our roster,” he said.

“We’re starting with the MVP of the league. The draft lottery yesterday was hoping to get a top pick to hope that player becomes as good as the MVP of the league.

"So we’re starting in a great spot and yeah, we have a lot of free agents, so we’re going to lose some free agents. There’s some key ones we’d like to bring back. But we feel good about the alternate scenarios as well.

“Scenario A would be to bring James back. Scenario B, if he’s not back, will be we’ll have to get creative. And we feel good about the tools available to us if that happens.”

Victor Wembanyama is headed to the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs won the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday in Chicago, giving them this year's No. 1 overall draft pick and the opportunity to add a franchise-altering player in Wembanyama.

The 19-year-old French prospect – considered by some to be the best since LeBron James entered the league two decades ago – will almost surely be selected as the top overall pick during next month's draft.

San Antonio finished last season 22-60 and entered the lottery with a 14 per cent chance of claiming the No. 1 pick.

Wembanyama will be the latest in an esteemed line of big men taken atop the lottery by San Antonio.

The other two times the Spurs selected first overall, they picked David Robinson in 1987 and Tim Duncan in 1997 – both NBA champions and Hall of Famers.

Wembanyama will also follow in the legacy of countrymen Tony Parker and Boris Diaw by playing for the Spurs, an organisation known for embracing international players.

Playing in France this season, Wembanyama averaged 21.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.1 blocks for the Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92.

"I believe he's going to be a hall-of-famer," said Will Weaver, an opposing French League coach and former assistant with the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.

"I coached Kevin Durant, Jarrett Allen. I've been around a lot of good, big men that have a lot of unique skills. I just see his professionalism and competitiveness."

The NBA has yet to acquire an official measurement of Wembanyama, but he is thought to stand anywhere from 7-foot-2 to 7-foot-5.

"He's an incredible young man," NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN during its draft lottery broadcast.

"He's 19 years old and I didn't take out a yardstick or meter stick or whatever they use in France, but he seemed all of 7-4 to me. He clearly appears to be a generational talent."

Wembanyama uses his formidable size to protect the paint and block shots, while flashing ball-handling skills and shooting touch on the offensive end of the floor – a combination that has made him perhaps the most hyped prospect in NBA history.

San Antonio's elation is balanced by the relative disappointment of the other teams in the lottery.

The Charlotte Hornets were awarded the second overall pick. The Portland Trail Blazers will pick third, and the Houston Rockets fourth.

The Detroit Pistons, who finished the season with a league-worst 17-65 record, fell to No. 5.

While Wembanyama is clearly the coveted prize in this year's draft, the class also features several other promising young players, including embattled Alabama forward Brandon Miller and point guard Scoot Henderson, who played last season for the G League Ignite.

The 2023 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, June 22 in New York.

Nikola Jokic notched another triple-double with 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists but the Denver Nuggets barely held off the visiting Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

Jokic had his third straight triple-double and sixth of these playoffs, while Jamal Murray added 31 points for the Nuggets, who led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter before the Lakers stormed back, with Denver ultimately holding on for a 132-126 win.

Los Angeles pulled within three twice in the fourth quarter, once on Austin Reaves' 3-pointer at 124-121 with 3:23 remaining and again on LeBron James' two free throws that made it 129-126 with 72 seconds to play.

After sinking two from the line and seeing Murray make a huge steal on James with 18 seconds left, Jokic sank another free throw, effectively ending the Lakers' comeback.

Anthony Davis had 40 points and 10 rebounds, James fell just shy of a triple-double with 26 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists and Reaves keyed the late charge with 11 of his 23 points coming in the final quarter.

Jokic became the first player since at least 1997 to have a dozen or more boards and at least five assists in any quarter of an NBA playoff game.

Game 2 takes place on Thursday in Denver, where the top-seeded Nuggets are 7-0 in the playoffs.

Doc Rivers became the latest coaching casualty after his team underachieved in the playoffs.

The Philadelphia 76ers fired Rivers on Tuesday, two days after the team's Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics, which saw them blow a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Overseeing a talented roster led by 2022-23 MVP Joel Embiid, Rivers had coached the 76ers for three seasons and only the Phoenix Suns (160) and Milwaukee Bucks (155) racked up more regular-season wins than Philadelphia (154) over that time.

Each of those Sixers' seasons, however, ended with an exit in the conference semis.

Sunday's ouster was the second time Philadelphia was eliminated with a Game 7 loss, in addition to 2021, when the top-seeded 76ers lost to the Atlanta Hawks.

Rivers is 6-10 all-time in Game 7s. No other NBA coach has more than five such defeats.

In Sunday's 112-88 loss, Philadelphia was outscored 57-36 in the second half and managed just 10 third-quarter points to tie an NBA playoff record for fewest points in a quarter in the shot clock era.

This came after the Sixers were outscored 24-13 in the fourth quarter of a 95-86 home loss in Game 6.

Rivers joins Mike Budenholzer, the 2019 coach of the year and 2021 title-winner with the Bucks, and Monty Williams, the 2022 coach of the year with the Suns, to be fired in the last two weeks after their teams were knocked out of the playoffs.

Rivers won the NBA title as coach of the Celtics in 2008, and was named coach of the year with the Orlando Magic in 2000.

He also coached the Los Angeles Clippers and has amassed a 1,097-763 (.590) record in the regular season over his 24 seasons as a coach.

Despite his regular-season success, he has not coached a team past the conference semifinals since 2012.

Jayson Tatum scored a playoff career-high 51 points – the most ever in a Game 7 in NBA history – to lead the Boston Celtics to a 112-88 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday to return to the Eastern Conference finals.

After his 16 point fourth-quarter performance rallied the Celtics to a Game 6 victory, Tatum was hot from the start in the winner-take-all Game 7, going 17-of-28 from the field – including 6 of 10 from 3-point range – while grabbing 13 rebounds to help Boston advance to face the Miami Heat in the East finals for a second year in a row.

The series will begin Wednesday in Boston.

Jaylen Brown added 25 points and Malcolm Brogdon scored 12 off the bench for the Celtics, who broke the game open in the third quarter.

With the game tied at 55 early in the third, Boston went on a 28-3 run while holding the 76ers without a point for 6:20 to build an 83-58 advantage.

Tatum scored 17 of Boston’s 33 third-quarter points as the 76ers were limited to just 10 points in the period – tied for the lowest-scoring quarter by a team in a playoff game in the shot clock era.

While Tatum’s point total surpassed Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s 50-point mark set just two weeks ago against the Sacramento Kings for the most in a Game 7 in league history, MVP Joel Embiid and James Harden combined for just 24 points.

Embiid finished with 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds and Harden scored just nine while misfiring on 8 of 11 shots.

The 76ers lost in the conference finals for the third year in a row and fifth time in six seasons.

The Memphis Grizzlies suspended Ja Morant from all team activities on Sunday after the All-Star point guard appeared to again be holding a gun during a social media video.

Morant previously served an eight-game suspension that was handed down by the NBA for being seen holding a gun live on Instagram while at a club when Memphis was playing in Denver in early March.

In the latest video, Morant is in a vehicle and appears to have a gun in his hands while someone else filmed him and broadcast it live on Instagram.

“We are aware of the social media post involving Ja Morant and are in the process of gathering more information,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.

The Grizzlies said Morant is suspended “pending league review.”

The NBA suspended Morant earlier this season for “conduct detrimental to the league.”

“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement in March. “It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him.”

Morant announced that he was stepping away to seek help after the first video went viral, and he later did an interview with ESPN during his suspension.

“I don’t condone any type of violence,” Morant told ESPN. “But I take full responsibility for my actions. I made a bad mistake and I can see the image that I painted over myself with my recent mistakes.

“But in the future, I’m going to show everybody who Ja really is, what I’m about and change this narrative.”

Morant was named to the All-Star team for the second straight season in 2022-23 and averaged 26.2 points while setting career highs with 8.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Memphis went 51-31 to win the Southwest Division and earn the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, but the Grizzlies were ousted in six games in the first round by the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

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