Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points and led a torrid shooting performance from 3-point range that carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to a sixth consecutive win, a 136-110 rout of the Sacramento Kings on Monday. 

Cleveland rolled to its 14th victory in 15 games by going 23 of 41 (56.1 percent) from beyond the arc. Mitchell finished 5 of 11 on 3-point tries and Max Strus was 6 for 10 while adding 22 points.

The Kings got 12 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists from Domantas Sabonis - his 15th triple-double of the season - but couldn't match the Cavaliers' prolific perimeter shooting as Cleveland began pulling away early in the second quarter.

Cleveland scored five straight points to stretch its lead to 46-36 less than two minutes into the second quarter and went into the half owning a comfortable 74-59 advantage behind Mitchell's 19 points.

The Cavaliers remained up by double digits the rest of the way, with their lead expanding to as many as 29 points late.

Harrison Barnes led Sacramento with 22 points while finishing 6 of 10 from 3-point range. The Kings closed out a seven-game road trip in which they had won five of their first six outings and six of seven overall coming into Monday's clash.

Irving, Doncic lead Mavericks past ailing 76ers

Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić combined for 42 points in the duo's first appearance together in two weeks to propel the Dallas Mavericks to a 118-102 win over the staggering Philadelphia 76ers.

Irving racked up 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting to go along with eight assists in his return from a six-game absence caused by a sprained right thumb. Doncic had 19 points and eight assists to help Dallas end a two-game skid and deal the ailing 76ers their sixth loss in seven games.

It was just the 23rd time in the Mavericks' 50 games this season they had a healthy Irving and Doncic together in the lineup.

Playing their third straight game without reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid, who will undergo left knee surgery and is out indefinitely, the Sixers received 19 points from Kelly Oubre Jr. and 17 from Tobias Harris.

All-Star Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia's second-leading scorer behind Embiid, had 15 points but was just 6 of 16 from the field.

The 76ers did manage to lead 33-26 after one quarter and 57-53 at the half, but Doncic hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:57 left in the third quarter to spark an 8-2 run that gave the Mavericks a 77-72 edge near the end of the period.

Dallas then dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring the 76ers by a 41-28 margin with its bench providing most of the offence, as reserves Jaden Hardy and Grant Williams each recorded 10 points in the final 12 minutes. 

Leonard's 36 points help Clippers cap trip with win over Hawks

Kawhi Leonard scored 13 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter as the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted the Atlanta Hawks and completed a successful road trip with a 149-144 victory.

James Harden added 30 points and 10 assists as he and Leonard powered Los Angeles to a ninth win in 10 games. The Clippers went 6-1 on an 11-day trek away from Crypto.com Arena while the venue hosted the Grammy Awards. 

In a fast-paced fourth quarter that saw both teams combine for 90 points, the Clippers outscored Atlanta by a 21-10 margin over a late stretch to move ahead for good.

Leonard began the run with a putback of his own miss that gave Los Angeles a 124-123 lead with 4:52 left, and Harden capped it when he was fouled after hitting a 26-foot jumper with 1:06 to go. He made the free throw to complete the 4-point play and extend the margin to 143-133.

The Hawks put forth a late rally and got to within 147-144 on Bogdan Bogdanović's 3-pointer with 26.7 seconds remaining, but Harden sunk two free throws on the ensuing possession to keep Atlanta at bay.

De'Andre Hunter had 27 points and seven rebounds off the bench to lead Atlanta, which had a four-game winning streak snapped. Trae Young finished with 25 points and 12 assists in the loss. 

 

Nikola Jokic recorded his league-leading 15th triple-double this season and Jamal Murray fell a rebound shy of one as the Denver Nuggets took down the Portland Trail Blazers, 120-108 on Friday.

Jokic had 27 points, a season-high 22 rebounds and 12 assists for his 120th career triple-double, a total bettered only by Russell Westbrook (198), Oscar Robertson (181) and Magic Johnson (138) in NBA history.

Murray finished with 13 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, while Aaron Gordon scored 18 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 16 points. The Nuggets have won five straight and 12 of 13 against the Blazers.

Scoot Henderson scored 30 points and Anfernee Simons had 29 for Portland, which played without Jerami Grant, who was a late scratch due to lower back tightness.

Clippers’ Westbrook hits milestone in win

Russell Westbrook scored 23 points to become the 25th player in NBA history to reach 25,000 in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 136-125 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Westbrook, who shot 10 of 13 from the field and handed out nine assists, joined teammate James Harden on the list of players to score 25,000 points. Harden reached the milestone in December.

Kawhi Leonard scored 21 of his 33 points in the first half and Paul George added 18 as the Clippers won for the seventh time in eight games.

Jalen Ivey scored 28 points and Bojan Bogdanovic had 26 for the Pistons, who dropped to 4-41 after a 2-1 start to the season.

Sabonis breaks Robertson’s record in Kings’ win

Domantas Sabonis tallied 26 points and 12 rebounds to break Oscar Robertson’s single-season franchise record with his 30th straight double-double to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 133-122 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Sabonis, who added seven assists, surpassed Robertson’s mark set from Dec. 6, 1961-Jan. 30, 1962.

De’Aaron Fox had 25 points and six assists and Malik Monk added 23 points, six assists and five rebounds to help Sacramento win for the fifth time in six games.

Bennedict Mathurin scored 31 points for the Pacers, who shot 54.1 percent from the field but were hurt by 21 turnovers to fall to 4-8 in their last 12 games.

Domantas Sabonis notched his ninth triple-double of the season with 37 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 131-110 win over the lowly Detroit Pistons.

Sabonis shot 16 of 21 from the field, made his only 3-point attempt and was 4 of 4 from the free throw line. He moves within two triple-doubles of Denver’s Nikola Jokic for the league lead.

Keegan Murray scored 32 points on 13-of-17 shooting and De’Aaron Fox added 26 for the Kings, winners of five of seven.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Detroit with 26 points as the Pistons dropped their fifth in a row since ending their NBA-record 28-game losing streak.

Sacramento trailed by 20 points in the first quarter, led by 15 in the third, were tied in the fourth and then pulled away with a 9-0 run in the fourth.

Anunoby helps Knicks stay hot

OG Anunoby scored 23 points and Julius Randle added 20 with eight assists and seven rebounds as the New York Knicks won their fifth in a row, 112-84 over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Anunoby scored 16 points in the first quarter to help the Knicks open a 19-point lead. He shot 6 of 7 from the floor – 4 of 5 from 3-point range – and might have approached his season high of 29 points but the starters played sparingly in the second half.

New York is unbeaten since acquiring Anunoby from Toronto on Dec. 30.

Quentin Grimes had 17 points and Miles McBride had 16 as the Knicks moved a half-game ahead of Miami, Orlando, Indiana and Cleveland for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Davis shines in Lakers’ win

Anthony Davis scored 20 of his season-high 41 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Toronto Raptors, 132-131.

Davis was 13 of 17 from the field and 13 of 14 from the free throw line while adding 11 rebounds and six assists. He made all eight free throw attempts in the final minute as the Lakers held on despite late 3-pointers by Toronto’s Dennis Schröder and Gary Trent Jr.

LeBron James had 22 points and 12 assists to help the Lakers win their second straight after a four-game skid.

Scottie Barnes scored 26 points and RJ Barrett added 23 with 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who had won three of four.

  

Joel Embiid shook off an ankle injury to finish with 31 points and 10 rebounds in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 121-111 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

Embiid scored all 31 points after landing awkwardly trying to block a shot with 5:25 remaining in the first quarter.

He recorded at least 30 points and 10 rebounds for the 13th straight game, the longest in the NBA since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in 16 consecutive games in 1971-72. Embiid has scored 30 or more in 14 games in a row, the most in the NBA since James Harden’s 32-game run in 2018-19.

Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey each scored 33 points, marking just the second time in franchise history three players have scored 30-plus points in a game. The other was in 1961 when Dick Barnett, Hal Greer and Dolph Schayes did it for the Syracuse Nationals.

Philadelphia has won eight of nine overall and six straight meetings with Toronto.

Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 31 points.

Young makes history in Hawks’ loss

Trae Young had his sixth straight game with at least 30 points and 10 assists, but it wasn’t enough as the Miami Heat got 30 points from Tyler Herro in a 122-113 victory.

Young finished with 30 points and 13 assists for his sixth consecutive game with at least 30 and 10. That ties the second-longest such streak in NBA history, one that only Oscar Robertson has topped.

Robertson had such a streak twice – a six-game stretch in January 1964, then a seven-game run spanning December to January 1965.

Duncan Robinson had 21 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 19 for the Heat, who overcame an 11-point deficit in the third quarter.

Sabonis has triple-double to lift Kings

Domantas Sabonis had 28 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his fourth triple-double of the season as the Sacramento Kings rolled to a 120-105 win over the short-handed Phoenix Suns.

De’Aaron Fox added 23 points and broke Mike Bibby's Sacramento-era assists record in the third quarter.

Kevin Durant scored 28 points and Devin Booker contributed 24 for the Suns, who have lost four of five to fall to .500 (14-14).

Phoenix played without Bradley Beal (ankle), Josh Okogie (hip strain) and Jusuf Nurkic (personal).  

Derrick White scored 30 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 21 in his return to the lineup as the Boston Celtics remained perfect at home with Friday's 133-123 win over the New York Knicks.

Jayson Tatum chipped in 25 points to help Boston improve to 10-0 at TD Garden this season and bounce back from Monday's 122-112 loss to the Indiana Pacers in the NBA's In-Season Tournament quarter-finals.

Porzingis, who had missed the Celtics' previous four games with a strained left calf, tallied 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the first half to help stake Boston to a 74-65 lead at intermission.

The Celtics stretched their advantage to as many as 20 points in the third quarter and the Knicks never got closer than seven points down in the fourth.

Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett each had 23 points for New York, which had won three straight prior to Tuesday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Tournament quarterfinals.

Fox leads rally as Kings top short-handed Suns

De'Aaron Fox scored 23 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter as the Sacramento Kings dominated the second half en route to a 114-106 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Domantas Sabonis compiled 15 points, 17 rebounds and five assists for Sacramento, which overcame a nine-point half-time deficit by outscoring the Suns by a 33-12 margin in the third quarter.

Phoenix, which played without Kevin Durant due to an ankle injury and remains without fellow star Bradley Beal, shot 52.4 per cent in the first half to build a 59-50 lead. 

The Suns went 6 of 23 from the field in the third quarter, though, as the Kings fought back to tie the game before finishing the period on a 16-4 run to take an 83-71 advantage into the fourth.

Fox then took over in the final quarter as Sacramento gradually pulled away, with his 3-pointer with 1:44 remaining giving the Kings a comfortable 112-98 lead.

The slumping Suns lost for the fourth time in five games despite Devin Booker's 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting along with seven assists. Eric Gordon added 19 points for Phoenix.

Thunder continue mastery of Warriors with overtime win

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 38 points, Jalen Williams added 28 and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied late in regulation before handing the Golden State Warriors a 138-136 overtime loss.

Chet Holmgren chipped in 21 points, including three free throws with 7.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter that forced overtime, as the upstart Thunder defeated the veteran Warriors for the third time in four meetings this season. 

Golden State fell to 10-12 on the season despite 34 points from Stephen Curry and 22 from Klay Thompson. Jonathan Kuminga posted 24 points and 12 rebounds off the bench before fouling out in OT.

The Thunder battled back from a 14-point second-quarter deficit, then never trailed in overtime after opening the session on a 12-3 run capped by a Holmgren 3-pointer that gave them a 130-121 lead with 2:40 left.

Golden State fought back and pulled to within 136-134 on Curry's 3-pointer with 29.7 seconds remaining, but Holmgren fed Luguentz Dort for a critical layup on the ensuing possession and the Warriors eventually ran out of time.

 

Domantas Sabonis and the Sacramento Kings have agreed to five-year contract extension worth $217 million, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The deal includes $195 million in new money, Sabonis’ agents said Saturday night.

The Kings are using the salary cap to deliver an additional $8.6 million to raise Sabonis’ earnings for 2023-24 to $30.6 million and will add a four-year extension that will give him nearly $200 million more over the life of the contract.

Sabonis’ first full season with the Kings in 2023-24 was an excellent one. He averaged 19.1 points, 12.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists while shooting 61.5 percent from the field as he made third-team All-NBA.

Led by Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox, the Kings won the Pacific Division title and ended a 16-year playoff drought in 2022-23 with a 48-34 record.

Sabonis was acquired from Indiana in February 2022 in the deal that sent All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton to the Pacers.

Steve Kerr said he will continue "to bat" for Draymond Green after being "extremely surprised" by the one-game suspension handed out to the Golden State Warriors star over a stomping incident.

Green was ejected from Game 2 of the Warriors' playoff series against the Sacramento Kings when he was seen lashing out at the ribs of Domantas Sabonis, who appeared to grab at Green's legs when falling to the ground.

Initially it was reported that Green would be unlikely to be banned for the incident but the NBA league office confirmed he will sit out Game 3 of the first-round playoff series, which the Warriors are trailing 2-0 in.

Asked about his initial reaction to the news, head coach Kerr said: "I was extremely surprised and then immediately into 'Alright, what's next? How do we win the game?'

"There's no time to spend worrying about it or thinking about it or complaining about it, it doesn't matter, we know what the league decided to do, we have to respond accordingly and go out there and win the game."

Green's suspension was in part due to his past history when it comes to ill-discipline.

Back in the 2016 Finals, he was suspended after accumulating too many fouls in a Game 4 clash that ended with Green hitting LeBron James in the groin, having already been ejected earlier in the playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was also ejected in Game 1 of last season's second-round series versus the Memphis Grizzlies.

In 2018, Green was suspended by the Warriors following an altercation with Kevin Durant, and spent time away from the team earlier this season after punching teammate Jordan Poole.

"He's the ultimate competitor. Everybody knows he's going to occasionally tip over the edge and his emotions get the best of him. That's part of it," Kerr said when asked about Green's past misdemeanours counting against him.

"There's no stopping it. You're not going to be able to put your arm around him and say, 'OK, let's move forward'. It doesn't work that way.

"It's not anything we can control. Draymond is incredibly passionate and competitive and fiery and he's helped us win more championships, I've said it many times – we don't have a single championship without Draymond Green. That's the truth. He crossed the line over the years, but that's part of it. We will go to bat for Draymond."

Draymond Green's one-game suspension handed to him by the NBA was in part due to being a "repeat offender".

That is according to the league's executive vice president and head of basketball operations, Joe Dumars, who explained the reasoning behind the ban for the Golden State Warriors star, meaning Green will miss Game 3 of their NBA playoffs first-round series against the Sacramento Kings.

The Kings lead the series 2-0, with the incident occurring in Game 2 on Monday when Sacramento's Domantas Sabonis appeared to grab at Green's leg after falling to the ground.

Green responded by stomping on Sabonis' ribs, and while the Lithuanian was issued a technical for his involvement, Green was ejected with a flagrant two, with Dumars confirming via an NBA statement that the four-time All-Star would be suspended for one game.

Speaking to ESPN, Dumars said: "Here's what it came down to: excessive and over-the-top actions, conduct detrimental and a repeat offender. That's what separates this where you end up with a suspension."

He added: "You know what the situation is, but you have to set that aside and look at the facts in front of you... [Being a] repeat offender weighs as heavy as anything."

On whether Sabonis got away lightly with his involvement, Dumars said: "Sabonis was penalised in the game with a technical foul, and Golden State gets the free throw.

"It wasn't like [Sabonis] didn't get off without any punishment, but we didn't think that rose to the level of excessive and over-the-top, conduct detrimental and repeat offender.

"That's why you separate those two and deal with one act on the court, and then another act."

This was Green's 17th career ejection, with the ban being his fourth suspension.

Game 3 of the series takes place at Chase Center on Thursday.

The NBA league office issued Golden State Warriors defensive anchor Draymond Green with a one-game suspension for his stomp on Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis.

The incident occurred in Game 2 of their first-round series, when Sabonis appeared to grab at Green's leg after falling to the ground.

Green responded by lashing out with a stomp onto Sabonis' ribs, and while Sabonis was issued a technical for his part, Green was ejected with a flagrant two.

The Athletic had reported earlier on Tuesday that sources indicated it would be unlikely Green would be suspended for Game 3, but that turned out to be false.

The NBA's statement read: "Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has been suspended one game without pay for stepping on the chest of Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis, it was announced today by Joe Dumars, executive vice president, head of basketball operations. 

"The suspension was based in part on Green's history of unsportsmanlike acts.

"Green's actions were in response to Sabonis grabbing and holding Green's right ankle after falling to the floor. Green received a Flagrant Foul Two and was ejected, and Sabonis was assessed a technical foul."

Already facing a 2-0 series deficit, the Warriors will now have to claw their way back without their future Hall of Fame defensive specialist.

Draymond Green pleaded his innocence for the stamping incident that led to his ejection from Monday's 114-106 loss to the Sacramento Kings, calling on referees to help him out.

Green was called for a flagrant-2 foul and subsequently ejected in the fourth quarter of the Game 2 loss in the Golden State Warriors’ playoffs first round loss after an altercation with Kings center Domantas Sabonis.

The Warriors big man stamped on Sabonis’ chest, after the latter fell to the ground and appeared to grab Green's leg as Golden State tried to launch a fast break following Stephen Curry's rebound from Malik Monk's missed two-point attempt.

Lithuanian center Sabonis was on the floor in pain for several minutes. While Green was ejected, Sabonis was called for a technical foul for the grab.

The Warriors All-Star claimed it was the second time in two games that he had been grabbed, citing a similar incident in Game 1 involving Monk and calling for more assistance from the officials.

"My leg got grabbed," Green told reporters. "Second time in two nights. Referees just watch it. I've got to land my foot somewhere.

"I'm not the most flexible person, so I'm not stretching that far. I could only step so far in pulling my leg away. It is what it is."

Green said the referees told him he had been ejected because he "stomped too hard", while he was not surprised Sabonis stayed down injured given the impact.

Sabonis refused to be drawn on the incident, nor whether there was any animosity between him and Green as a result.

"It's playoff basketball," Sabonis told NBA on TNT. "This is it, we're here to fight. Every time we step on the floor, we're going to give everything for our team-mates and the franchise.

"We're both fighting for the rebound. We fell on each other, stuff happens, it's basketball, we've got to move on, next play."

Stephen Curry missed a clean three-point attempt on the buzzer as the Sacramento Kings claimed their first playoff win in almost 17 years with a 126-123 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

De'Aaron Fox came alight with 15 final-quarter points for the Kings in a back-and-forth encounter, finishing with 38 on 13-of-27 shooting from the field with four three-pointers.

Curry almost sent Game 1 of their first round playoffs to overtime when he received Draymond Green's inbound pass with 2.9 seconds left, only for his shot to rim out.

Andrew Wiggins had missed a wide-open three-point attempt for the lead with 10.1 seconds left, before Malik Monk made two free-throws to open up the decisive three-point lead.

Curry finished with 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting with six three-pointers made, along with six rebounds and two assists.

Klay Thompson made five-of-14 from beyond the arc, managing 21 points, while Draymond Green had nine rebounds and 11 assists.

Kings center Domantas Sabonis had a double-double with 12 points and 16 rebounds, while Monk finished with an outstanding 32 points in 29 minutes off the bench, making a perfect 14-of-14 from the line.

Brunson repels Cavs and Mitchell rally

Jalen Brunson helped the New York Knicks steady after a late Cleveland Cavaliers rally to grab a 101-97 road win in Game 1 despite Donovan Mitchell's best efforts.

The Cavs claimed the lead with 2:12 remaining in the final period from Jarrett Allen tip-in capping a stunning 9-0 run, before a clutch Josh Hart triple followed by Brunson step-back jump shot.

Brunson finished with a team-high 27 points, while Julius Randle returned from injury with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Mitchell threw everything at the Knicks, scoring 38 points on 14-of-30 shooting with five rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

The Cavs guard scored 10 points in a row for the Knicks during their fourth-quarter charge, where Quentin Grimes' free-throws with 4.1 seconds left sealed the deal.

Celtics first-half flurry sets up win

The Boston Celtics blew away the Atlanta Hawks with 74 first-half points before easing to a 112-99 victory led by Jaylen Brown with 29 points despite a sore hand.

Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his 25 points in the first half where the Celtics led by as much as 32 points, while Derrick White contributed 25 points and 11 rebounds.

The Hawks' shooting letting them down, finishing with five-of-29 from three-point range with Trae Young managing only 16 points on five-of-18 shooting. Dejounte Murray top scored for Atlanta with 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

James Harden scored 23 points including seven triples with 13 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers scored a playoffs franchise-record 21 three-pointers in their 121-101 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The 2023 NBA playoffs are here and promise to be as thrilling as ever.

There are narratives all over the place ready to be written, with the Golden State Warriors trying to retain their championship, the Los Angeles Lakers coming from 2-10 to potentially win it all, and the Boston Celtics looking to make up for last season's Finals heartbreak.

Between now and the start of the Finals in June, who knows how many shock results, big performances and memorable moments basketball fans will be treated to.

The final two places will be decided on Friday with the last two play-in games determining who will face top seeds the Milwaukee Bucks and the Denver Nuggets, while the first round gets underway straight away on Saturday.

Stats Perform takes a look at the six confirmed series so far, starting with arguably the most intriguing of them all.

Western Conference:

Phoenix Suns (4) v Los Angeles Clippers (5)

After an outstanding 2021-22 campaign in which they finished as the top seed in the West with a record of 64-18, the Suns began this season with a 6-1 run.

However, by the end of their first game of 2023, Phoenix had already lost as many as they did in the entirety of the previous regular season and only managed a record of 45-37 in the end to finish as a fourth seed.

Adding Kevin Durant in February gave them a much-needed boost, though, and his link-up with Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, DeAndre Ayton and Chris Paul feels like it could lead to something special in the postseason. Durant is 8-0 as a Net.

They will be up against a Clippers team who have had stumbles during the season but went 11-5 heading into the playoffs.

Kawhi Leonard's return from injury in November was huge for Ty Lue's team, with he and Paul George both averaging 23.8 points per game for the season.

The teams split their four meetings during the regular season, albeit including a Clippers victory in their final game when the Suns rested their starters.

Sacramento Kings (3) v Golden State Warriors (6)

It feels like the Kings quietly went about their business this season, amassing 48 wins, more than half of which (25) came on the road.

That could not really be further removed from the Warriors' experience, which saw only 11 of their 44 victories come as the away team.

However, after starting 7-29 on the road this season, Golden State won four of their final five. That included a 56-point victory at the Portland Trail Blazers on April 9, tied for the second-largest road win by any team in NBA history (Pacers at Thunder in May 2021 – 57).

De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis will lead the way for Sacramento, but a certain Stephen Curry will be expected to shine again in the postseason as he has done so often in the past.

Since 2013-14, Curry has gone 27-2 against the Kings, the second-best record by any player against a single opponent (min. 20 games) during that span (Norman Powell, 19-1 vs Nets). Curry has averaged 26.7 points, 7.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds over those games.

Golden State were 3-1 against the Kings this season, with Curry (25 points) and Klay Thompson (29) doing much of the damage in their victory in the penultimate game of the campaign against shorthanded opponents.

Memphis Grizzlies (2) v Los Angeles Lakers (7)

As LeBron James recently said, the Lakers were given just a 0.3 per cent chance of making the playoffs by analysts when they started the year 2-10.

As it turned out, they nearly reached the postseason without even needing the play-in tournament, but a fairly routine win against the Minnesota Timberwolves got them to the dance.

James has been outstanding again this season, averaging 28.9 points, and will be eager to produce fireworks now that he and the Lakers are back in the postseason.

On the other side, Ja Morant seems to have put recent problems behind him and looks ready to lead the Grizzlies.

His 26.2 points have been ably supported by Desmond Bane (21.5) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (18.6), though they will miss the presence of the injured Steven Adams, who averaged 11.5 rebounds this season.

The Lakers went 2-1 against the Grizzlies this season, although the home team won on each occasion.

Eastern Conference:

Cleveland Cavaliers (4) v New York Knicks (5)

It was a strong year for Cleveland, winning 51 games in the regular season, although they had a losing record on the road (20-21).

Donovan Mitchell (28.3 points) has been sensational for the Cavaliers, who could hold a significant advantage throughout the playoffs as they boasted a perfect 7-0 record for games that went into overtime during the season.

The Knicks are looking for their first playoff series win in 10 years in what is only their second postseason appearance in that time.

Coach Tom Thibodeau has Julius Randle (25.1) and Jalen Brunson (24.0) to thank for guiding his team to a comfortable playoff place, with Randle also averaging 10.0 rebounds.

New York's starters are averaging 86.5 points this season, the most by any starting unit (Cleveland rank fifth at 83.5). That accounts for 74.6 per cent of the team's scoring, which is the highest rate by a Knicks squad since 2010-11 (74.7).

The Knicks were 3-1 against the Cavs this season, including their last one at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse just two weeks ago.

Philadelphia 76ers (3) v Brooklyn Nets (6)

Ever since he went to Philadelphia, it has felt like James Harden has been the story heading into any clashes between these two.

It feels like there is so much more to it now, though, especially since the Nets also lost Durant and Kyrie Irving.

No longer a team of stars, the Nets are reinventing themselves as just a team, and it will be interesting to see how they manage the postseason. The Nets finished the season 10-4 in games decided by three or fewer points, tied with the Knicks for the best record in the league (min. 10 one-possession games).

Harden and Tyrese Maxey have provided capable support to Joel Embiid, who has been his usual impressive self, with an average of 33.1 points, the most in the entire league.

The Sixers certainly have the momentum going into this series, winning all four of their meetings this season, including in the final game. It was the first time one of the teams swept the season series since Philadelphia won all four matchups against the New Jersey Nets in 2010-11.

Boston Celtics (2) v Atlanta Hawks (7)

Few expected the Celtics to make the Finals last year, and even fewer thought they would take a 2-1 lead against the Warriors.

It all went south from there, though, ultimately losing 4-2, but their response this season has been impressive again.

Boston started 21-5, and although that levelled out towards the middle of the regular season, they put together some more impressive runs to finish 57-25.

Jayson Tatum's average of 30.1 made him briefly a contender for MVP, while Jaylen Brown (26.6) and Marcus Smart are expected to be fit again during the first round.

Trae Young led the Hawks through their play-in clash with the Miami Heat, and he and they will now need to step up again.

Young has scored 30 or more points in four straight road games against the Celtics. Since the NBA-ABA merger, just four players have scored 30-plus points in five straight games in Boston (including playoffs): Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan, Curry and James.

The Celtics won all three regular season meetings, including in their final games before the postseason, although both fielded weakened teams.

Kyrie Irving led the Dallas Mavericks' second-half rally from a 13 point third-quarter deficit to boost their play-in hopes with a 123-119 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

Irving scored 25 of his 31 points in the second half as the Mavs claimed an important win to improve to 38-42, having trailed 71-60 at half-time at American Airlines Center.

The win sees the Mavs draw level with the 10th-placed Oklahoma City Thunder in the fourth and final play-in tournament spot in the West with two games to play. OKC have the tiebreaker edge.

Dallas play the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs in their final two games, while the Thunder take on the Utah Jazz and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Mavs point guard Irving shot 12-of-23 from the field with six-of-10 from beyond the arc along with four rebounds, eight assists and two steals.

Luka Doncic was outstanding on Dallas' backcourt too, with 29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr scored 24 points including five triples.

Irving led Dallas' third-quarter 12-0 run, flipping the game on its head, ending their own three-game losing skid.

De'Aaron Fox scored 28 points with eight assists for the Kings, with Domantas Sabonis recording a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. All five Kings starter scored double-digit points.

Sacramento also had a season-high 22 offensive rebounds, recording 30-14 second chance points.

Clippers claim crunch win over Lakers

The Los Angeles Clippers claimed a critical 125-118 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the race to avoid the play-in tournament, while extending their recent winning run in the Battle of LA to 11-0.

Norman Powell scored a team-high 27 points off the bench, while Kawhi Leonard added 25 points and seven rebounds. The Lakers, playing the second game of a back-to-back, had LeBron James score 33 points with eight rebounds and seven assists.

The Clippers snapped their two-game losing run and ended the Lakers' four-game winning streak, improving to a 42-38 record to sit fifth ahead of the Golden State Warriors (42-38).

The Lakers are 41-39 in seventh alongside the New Orleans Pelicans (41-39), who won 138-131 over the Memphis Grizzlies despite Jaren Jackson Jr's 40 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

Bucks and Celtics clinch No.1 and No.2 seeds

The Milwaukee Bucks were without Giannis Antetokounmpo and lost Khris Middleton midgame both due to knee soreness but triumphed 105-92 over the Chicago Bulls to secure the East's number one seed.

The Bucks flexed their muscle without the star duo with Bobby Portis scoring 27 points with 13 rebounds, Brook Lopez adding 26 points and seven rebounds and Jrue Holiday contributing 20 points with eight rebounds and 15 assists.

Milwaukee have locked in top spot with a 58-22 record, while the Boston Celtics won 97-93 over the Toronto Raptors to confirm the East's number two seed with a 55-25 record.

Malcolm Brogdon came off the bench to score 29 points from 35 minutes, while Jaylen Brown managed 25 points and 11 rebounds with Jayson Tatum out with a bruised left hip.

The Dallas Mavericks' playoff hopes suffered another setback after James Harden inspired the Philadelphia 76ers' fourth-quarter charge on Wednesday.

The Mavs, who had lost seven of their previous 10 games coming into the contest, led 91-89 at three-quarter time at Wells Fargo Center before the home side rallied to triumph 116-108, clinching their 50th win of the season.

Harden provided the assists for all of Philadelphia's points during a 10-0 run that flipped the contest, condemning the Mavs to a 37-40 record and leaving them in danger of missing the playoffs and play-in tournament in the Western Conference. Dallas failed to score in the final 3:18 of the game.

Joel Embiid returned from a one-game, calf-injury-enforced absence to boost his MVP aspirations with 25 points and nine rebounds, while Harden had 15 points and 12 assists.

Harden's partnership with Embiid was on full show, with the pair holding the NBA's best single-season record over the past 25 years for assists by one player to another, averaging 4.8 per game, ahead of Sacramento Kings duo Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins (4.0 in the 2015-16 season).

For the Mavs, Luka Doncic had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Kyrie Irving added 23 points.

Philadelphia's 50th win from their 76th game of the campaign marks the fewest amount of games required to reach that mark in franchise history since 2001.

The 50-26 76ers are third in the East, behind the Milwaukee Bucks (55-21) and the Boston Celtics (52-24).

The Bucks routed the Indiana Pacers 149-136 led by Jrue Holiday's career-high 51 points and a Giannis Antetokounmpo triple-double.

Kings end NBA's longest playoff drought

Sacramento ended their 17-year playoffs wait, the longest drought in NBA history, thanks to a 120-80 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Kings pulled away with a lopsided 70-34 second half, led by Domantas Sabonis (15 points and 12 rebounds) and De'Aaron Fox (18 points and six assists), while Keegan Murray passed Donovan Mitchell for the most threes made by a rookie (188) in his 13 points.

Sacramento clinching their playoff spot came amid a chaotic night in the West, with Jalen Williams' buzzer-beating tip-in earning the 10th-placed Oklahoma City Thunder a 107-106 win over the Detroit Pistons. OKC occupy the final play-in spot.

Russell Westbrook scored 36 points as the fifth-placed Los Angeles Clippers ended the second-placed Memphis Grizzlies' seven-game winning streak with a 141-132 victory, while the taunts continued as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Chicago Bulls 121-110.

Durant returns as Suns firm up fourth seed

Kevin Durant made his long-awaited home debut as he returned from a 10-game absence due to a sprained ankle, but he was rusty as the Phoenix Suns overcame the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-100.

Durant shot five-of-18 from the field for 16 points with eight rebounds and four assists. Devin Booker top-scored for the Suns with 29 points on eight-of-18 shooting from the field.

The 2014 MVP Durant shot two-of-four from three-point range, both in the fourth quarter, holding off the Timberwolves who drew level in the final period, with the win helping the Suns improve to 41-35 to sit fourth in the West.

In a clash between two of the seven best records in the NBA, the Boston Celtics produced an impressive 132-109 road blow-out win against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

It was shaping up as a shoot-out as both teams started red hot from three-point range, but the Kings could not keep up as the Celtics scored at least 30 points in all four quarters.

Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with a game-high 36 points on 14-of-25 shooting, adding eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. His All-Star co-pilot Jaylen Brown chipped in an efficient 27 points (10-of-16 shooting) with five rebounds and four assists.

Kings All-Star Domantas Sabonis put together his 12th triple-double of the season with 16 points (seven-of-12), 13 rebounds and 12 assists, although his six turnovers were costly.

The win improved the Celtics' record to 50-23, becoming the second team in the league to reach 50 wins this season, while their 24-14 mark on the road is bettered only by the Philadelphia 76ers (22-12).

Sacramento are still sitting pretty at 43-28, holding a five-game buffer in the Western Conference's third seed.

Mitchell poster highlights Cavs victory

Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Donovan Mitchell threw down arguably his biggest dunk of the season to put an exclamation point on a 115-109 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Mitchell ended up with a game-high 31 points on 10-of-22 shooting, including five-of-nine from three-point range, highlighted by a monstrous fast-break poster jam over Yuta Watanabe as both leapt off two feet and met chest-to-chest.

After missing 10 days due to an eye injury, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen looked right back to his best with 12 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks, with eight of his rebounds coming on the offensive end.

The victory improves Cleveland's record to 46-28, and while they have been a disappointing 17-20 on the road, they have now won four of their past five away from home.

Top pick Banchero flirts with first triple-double

Orlando Magic top draft pick and overwhelming Rookie of the Year favourite Paolo Banchero nearly posted the first triple-double of his career in a 122-112 home win against the Washington Wizards.

The 20-year-old finished with 18 points (six-of-nine shooting), nine rebounds and eight assists for his second close call of the month. It comes 10 days after he put up 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in an overtime win against the Miami Heat.

Kristaps Porzingis led the Wizards with 30 points (12-of-22 shooting), six rebounds, three assists and two blocks, continuing what has been arguably the best season of his eight-year NBA career.

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