NBA Playoffs – playoffs – working day 12
The match seemed won. The Golden State Warriors led by five points and had possession with just 42 seconds remaining. At that point, Stephen Curry, under pressure, called a timeout from the court, but there was a small problem: the Warriors had already exhausted their timeouts. A rookie mistake by the star of the team that nearly put the defending NBA champions on the brink of elimination.
The referees called a technical foul and the Sacramento Kings made a free throw and took possession. De’Aaron Fox hit a three-pointer. They were just one point away with 28 seconds to go. To top it off, Curry himself missed the shot on the ensuing attack, leaving the Kings a chance for one last shot to clinch the win. He didn’t go in by the hair.
The Warriors star sighed with relief and acknowledged his mistake after the game: “I’m not going to lie, I thought it was the smartest play in the world,” Curry said after the 126-125 victory that tied the tie at 2-2, which was play the best of seven games. “I looked at the bench and everyone was shaking their heads, so it was an unfortunate situation in that regard,” he admitted. The coach, Steve Kerr, also took responsibility for not having warned the players that they had no more time-outs because they had consumed one by unsuccessfully questioning an attacking foul called by the referees.
It would have been cruel for Curry, the best player on his team during the game, to have caused the loss. He finished the game with 32 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He was escorted in attack by Klay Thompson with 26 points and in defense Draymond Green won after his game suspension.
The 2-2 leaves the tie in the air. The Kings have been more solid this season, but the Warriors are the champions and you always have to count on them. What did seem very complicated would have been to come back from 3-1. The Warriors are having a hard time winning outside of San Francisco this year and the Kings have home field advantage in the tie. Those from San Francisco need to win a game in Sacramento to qualify and it doesn’t seem easy; winning two were big words.
In Sacramento, De’Aaron Fox had a very complete game, with 38 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, but it wasn’t enough. The confrontation was very close in the first two quarters, the Golden State Warriors took the lead in the third and got unnecessarily complicated in the last. Still, they achieved their purpose. The playoff returns to Sacramento on Wednesday and there will be at least Game 6 on Friday in San Francisco.
The Knicks take advantage. In the East, the tie with the most even starting match was the one that pitted the New York Knicks against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The New Yorkers stormed Cleveland in Game 1 and seized homecourt advantage. They have won the last two at Madison Square Garden with credit and are 3-1 in the tie.
This Sunday, the Knicks have prevailed 102-93 with a great game by Jalen Brunson (29 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds), accompanied in attack by Rowan Alexander with 26 points. The disappointment on the Cleveland side has been Donovan Mitchell, who has scored 11 points in 42 minutes after a series of 5 of 18 from the field, in one of his worst games of the season. He takes over from Darius Garland, who played a dismal third game. Garland had 23 points and 10 assists for the Cavs this Sunday, but his team needs both to perform well to have a chance.
The Knicks have their first chance to qualify this Wednesday at home. If they fail, they will try again on Friday and a hypothetical seventh game would be played next Sunday. Those from New York have not passed a tie since 2013.
The Celtics impose their law. The Atlanta Hawks surprised the Celtics in the third game and the Boston team came out very focused this Sunday to get the tie on track. Despite the fact that at times those from Atlanta have put up a battle, the difference between the two teams is very big, especially if Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are inspired. He has each scored 31 points.
The top scorer of the game, however, has been from Atlanta. Trae Young has added 35 points in another great game. The Hawks have had streaks of their best basketball of the year against the Celtics, who have put them in trouble despite the difference between the two.
The tie returns to Boston this Tuesday. If the Celtics win, awaiting them in the Eastern Conference semifinals are the Philadelphia 76ers, who did their homework quickly and qualified with a 4-0 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Denver will have to wait. The Philadelphia 76ers remain the only team to win their first-round playoff 4-0. The only ones who could still emulate them were the Denver Nuggets, but this Sunday they lost in overtime on the Minnesota Timberwolves field in the fourth game of the series (114-108).
The difference between the two teams is very large and the Nuggets, the best team in the West in the regular season, remain clear favorites. This Sunday, Nikola Jokic was loaded with fouls very early, which has somewhat conditioned the participation of the most valuable player of Denver. To this has been added a great game by Anthony Edwards, the 21-year-old guard, who is knocking on the door of the greats.
Between the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, the Timberwolves have gotten away. Michael Malone has made Jokic return to the field, and the Nuggets have leveled a score in which they were 12 points behind with just over two minutes to go. The Minnesota team had the last possession with a tie at 96 and with 12.7 seconds left, but they wasted it and the game went to overtime.
In overtime, the success of the Minnesota shooters from the 3-point line allowed them to take a 7-point lead with a minute and a half to go (109-102). This time they have not let her escape completely, although they have been about to. When the Nuggets have come within a point, Edwards has rounded off his great game with a decisive three-pointer with 11 seconds remaining. Edwards has finished with 34 points and Jokic, with 43 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists, which this time have not been enough.
The Nuggets will have the possibility of signing the classification on their court this Tuesday. If they succeed, they will face the winner of the tie between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals, which for now lead the first 3-1.
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