NBA Playoffs Update: Mavericks Advance, Lakers Dismiss Coach

Playoffs NBA – playoffs – day 17

Dallas MavericksLos Angeles Clippers

The Dallas Mavericks ended last season by letting themselves win (to fall in the standings and have some chance of drafting Victor Wembanyama). After that sad farewell, this year they competed again. With the Slovenian Luka Dončić as the undisputed leader, the Mavericks have qualified for the semifinals of the Western Conference by eliminating the Los Angeles Clippers by 4 games to 2 in the first round tie. They meet a difficult opponent, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s Oklahoma City Thunder, the first seed in the West.

Dončić was once again the team’s beacon. With 28 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds, he set the pace that interested the Mavericks despite their disastrous and inappropriate series of 1 triple out of 10 attempts. Seeing that his aim was not with him from a distance, he looked for shots to the basket, mid-range shots and assists to better-placed teammates.

In Dallas, Dončić and Kyrie Irving finally mix well, who seemed to annoy each other on the court last season. Now they take turns, complement each other and help each other. The hug they gave after a four-point play by Irving that already put an impossible distance on the scoreboard to overcome (106-82 with less than six minutes left) symbolizes that new complicity Between both. Irving finished with 30 points.

After one quarter for each team and a tie at 52 at halftime, the game was decided in the third quarter with a partial score of 35-20. The Clippers ran out dry on offense while the Clippers stepped on the accelerator. Those 15 points became too difficult and the gap widened in the last stretch to 24 points before a reaction from the Los Angeles team changed the score a little.

The Clippers missed again this Friday their main scorer of the regular season, Kawhi Leonard, out in the last four of the six games of the tie and half gas in the other two. For James Harden, who left the Philadelphia 76ers through the back door in search of a team where he could be a star and have a chance at a title, the season has been disappointing. As happened last season, La Barba has failed when push comes to shove. In the last two games, in which Dallas has gone the series his way, Harden has scored one of the 12 triples he has attempted. His scoring in those two games (7 and 16 points) is far below the star status that he attributes to himself.

Nikola Jokić, the only MVP

With the elimination of Harden, voted best player of the 2017-2018 regular season (and veteran Russell Westbrook, who is now a substitute, but won the MVP in the 2016-2017 league), the purge of brilliant players from the last decade. Everyone who has won the player of the year award since 2009 is out, with the sole exception of Serbian Nikola Jokić. The losses of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, dominant figures in recent NBA history, were joined this Thursday by the eliminations of Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), and that of the Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo from the Milwaukee Bucks.

In return, the West semifinal will pit the two finalists together with Nikola Jokić (clear favorite) for this year’s MVP: Dončić and Gilgeous-Alexander. Those from Oklahoma, who finished first in the West in the regular season, are the favorites, but the Mavericks will not give up easily.

Orlando and Cleveland, to life or death

In the other game this Friday, Orlando Magic tied the tie at three games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were defeated despite the spectacular performance of Donovan Mitchell. The Cleveland star scored 50 points after assuming all the offensive prominence for his team. Opposite, Paolo Banchero scored 27 points, 10 of them in the decisive last quarter. Banchero, 21 years old, number one in the 2022 draft, was supported by the 22-year-old, 2.08-meter-tall German power forward Franz Wagner, with 26 points, and by forward Jalen Suggs, also 22 years old , with 22 points, including six triples.

Youth is the treasure of the Magic, a team that has qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four years and for the third time in 12. In the last two, they fell on the fast track in the first round. This time everything will be at stake in the seventh game, to be played this Sunday in Cleveland.

Mitchell was too alone on his team. In phases of the game he was accompanied by Darius Garland, who finished with 21 points, but all of the Cavaliers’ points in the final quarter (18) were scored by Mitchell. The team had a bad day from the three-point line, making only 7 triples out of 28 attempts. In the first half it was even worse, because 13 of the 14 attempts failed. Even so, they went into halftime alive with a difference of 4 points (53-49). The Cavaliers began the third quarter with a run of 17-4 in their favor, putting them 9 points ahead.

Orlando looked into the abyss. He closed the gap and closed the third quarter five points down (73-78). In the decisive stretch, however, the Magic’s team play won out over Mitchell’s solo performance. With a 30-18 run in the final quarter, Orlando’s team scored a final score of 103-96.

The Cavaliers have not passed the first round since 2018, when they dominated the East with LeBron James in their ranks. In that golden period, they won four consecutive Conference championships and their only NBA championship ring. Since the Eastern final against the Celtics in 2018, they have accumulated seven consecutive road losses in the playoffs. This Sunday’s decisive game, however, is played in Cleveland.

The Lakers fire their coach

After their elimination against the Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Lakers announced this Friday the dismissal of their coach, Darvin Ham, who has only been in the position for two seasons. Ham managed to lead the Lakers to the Western Conference finals last year, in his first season leading the team. With him on the bench, the Lakers have won the first NBA Cup this season. However, they have clashed again against Nikola Jokić’s Nuggets.

Despite having Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers, who finished the regular season with 47 wins and 35 losses and had to earn qualification for the playoffs in the play-in in front of New Orleans. LeBron James has left the team’s continuity for next season up in the air.

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2024-05-04 04:29:19
#Luka #Dončić #leads #Dallas #Mavericks #Western #Conference #semifinals #Basketball #Sports


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