Monday, May 16, 2022

Luka Doncic makes history as Mavericks force Game 7 against Suns; Heat eliminate 76ers

Luka Doncic, going through the primary elimination recreation of his younger profession, got here up large with 33 factors, 11 rebounds and eight assists to pull the Mavs to a deciding recreation again in Phoenix on Sunday.

In what has turn out to be an more and more chippy sequence — specifically between the 2 younger stars from every staff, the Suns’ Devin Booker and Doncic — it was the Slovenian guard who appeared to feed off that power to boost his recreation.

The 23-year-old shot 11-for-26 from the sphere, together with 2-for-8 from deep and 9-for-14 from the free-throw line, on his solution to a dominating efficiency.

Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd praised Doncic’s skill to stay unflappable whereas going through playoff elimination.

“I don’t know if he was playing as if he was trying to do something different,” Kidd advised the media. “I think he enjoys the moment.

“You guys have seen just a little bit longer than I’ve up shut. He’s not afraid of the stage. I believe you guys name it the primary time profitable an elimination recreation. He’ll be on this state of affairs an extended, very long time.”

It was a historic evening for Doncic too, as he became one of the fastest players in NBA history to reach 700 playoff points.

Doncic took 22 games to reach the milestone, putting him in the top-five quickest players to achieve the feat.

George Mikan did it in 23 games, Doncic is tied with Bob McAdoo on 22 games, and only Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan have done it faster, in 20 games.

Deandre Ayton led the scoring sheet for the Suns with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Booker added 19.

The Mavericks’ victory on Thursday night continues the trend of the home team winning all their games this series, leaving the Suns with a strong chance of claiming Game 7 on their home court and advancing to their second straight Western Conference finals.

Doncic shoots over Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig.

The Heat is on in Philly

Across the country, the Miami Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 99-90 in Game 6.

Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 32 points, to go along with eight rebounds, as the Heat closed out the best-of-seven series, 4-2.

The victory was particularly sweet for Butler, who played for the 76ers in the 2018/19 season. After the game, as he made his way to the locker room, Butler could be heard saying, “Tobias Harris over me,” a reference to Philadelphia’s decision to trade Butler to the Heat in 2019 and choosing to sign Harris to a huge contract instead.

Afterwards, he praised the effect the Heat organization has had on his overall play.

“I believe the arrogance my teammates and my coaches put in me, it is loads,” Butler said. “They actually be hyping me up on the market and I simply go play. I strive every part in my energy to ensure that we win … They simply belief me with every part.”

Butler smiles after the Heat's series win against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Heat will now face the winner of the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics series in the Eastern Conference Finals.

For the Sixers, it starts an offseason filled with questions, in particular, over whether to offer James Harden an extended contract.

Harden was traded from the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season, but his play since arriving has been hit and miss.

And facing an elimination Game 6 on Thursday, Harden struggled against the stifling Heat defense, finishing with just 11 points but shooting only twice and scoring none in the second half.

Afterwards, 76ers center Joel Embiid said the Harden the team received is different from the Harden who was the MVP just a few years ago.

“Since we bought him, everyone anticipated the Houston James Harden,” Embiid told the media. “But that is not who he’s anymore. He’s extra of a playmaker. I believed, at occasions, he may have been, as all of us may have been, extra aggressive. All of us whether or not it was Tyrese (Maxey) or Tobias (Harris) or guys coming off the bench.

“And I’m not just talking about offensively. I’m talking about you know, as a whole offensively and defensively. I didn’t think we were good defensively as a team. They took advantage of a lot of stuff that we tried to do defensively.

“And then, offensively, simply actually everyone being on the identical web page, clearly, solely having most likely what, three or 4 months to all work collectively and attempt to determine it out. Maybe, it wasn’t a whole lot of time … I do not assume we performed our greatest basketball.”

Embiid walks off the court after losing the Sixers' series against the Miami Heat.

Embiid was filled with reward for his former teammate Butler.

“Obviously, that is my man,” Embiid said. “That’s my brother. Oh, man, it is powerful. But I’m so happy with him. He’s enjoying an unreal stage proper now. He’s one thing else proper now. I’m happy with him being at this stage and carrying them and what he is been capable of do.


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