There are few things better in sport than Game 7 clashes in the NBA, and we had two go down on Sunday night and neither game went down as the majority expected.
Defending champs defeated
In arguably the biggest shock of the play-offs so far, reigning champs the Milwaukee Bucks were eliminated after a poor shooting display from behind the arc, with the visitors hitting just four of the 33 three-point shots.
The Celtics were led by an unlikely hero in Grant Williams, who had scored zero and two points in Game 5 and 6 respectively, but was the highest scorer in this one 27 points on a 7-18 shooting clip from three.
Ime Udoka’s side ranked highest in NBA for defensive rating in the regular season, and they shut out the Bucks in the second half of the game, with the visitors registering just 38 points over the third and fourth quarter.
The Celtics, who have won a joint-record 17 NBA titles along with the Los Angeles Lakers, move on to their fourth conference finals appearance in the past six years, seeking their first title since 2008.
We closed out the defending champs. Next stop: the Eastern Conference Finals. pic.twitter.com/ORkN6HqD0J
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 16, 2022
No. 1 seed Suns fall to Mavs at home
In Sunday’s other game-seven fixture, the Dallas Mavericks booked their place in the Western Conference finals with a 123-90 victory over hosts the Phoenix Suns.
Luka Doncic recorded 35 points and 10 rebounds, while Spencer Dinwiddie scored 30 points, playing just 25 minutes off the bench and Jalen Brunson added a further 24 in a well-rounded scoring effort from Jason Kidd’s side.
Luka Doncic has led the @dallasmavs to the Western Conference Finals!
In the Western Conference Semis, Luka averaged 32.6 PPG, 9.9 RPG, and 7 APG. Check out his best plays from the series! pic.twitter.com/TqZJghJx72
— NBA (@NBA) May 16, 2022
The top-seeded Suns were early favourites to win the 2022 NBA championship after reaching the finals last year and finishing top of the Western Conference, but they could not make home court advantage count in Game 7.
The Suns shot just 37.9% from the field and only got 11 and 10 points from their two main scoring options Devin Booker and Chris Paul respectively.
Who will they meet in the conference finals?
In a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics will seek revenge against the top seed Miami Heat side, with the latter coming out the victors when they faced off in the Orlando “bubble”.
Both teams will be battling injuries to key players, with starting point guard Kyle Lowry out (left hamstring strain) and Robert Williams III unable to play through the pain (left knee soreness) after he was reintroduced to the team in Game 4.
The Heat will have home court as the East’s top side, but the Celtcs have been the best team in the league for the last three and a half months, so it is sure to be a great series.
Prediction: Celtics in seven
The Mavs will take on a resurgent Golden State Warriors, who took down the Memphis Grizzlies in six games to book a place in the Western Conference finals.
GAME 6 KLAY IS DIFFERENT pic.twitter.com/qxPBQO1pme
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 14, 2022
The Warriors are expected to have a clean-bill of health for the series, but no-one has found a way to stop the Mavericks star shooting guard Luka Doncic in this year’s play-offs. The Slovenian averaged 32 PPG against the Suns.
This series will be a contrast in styles. One team plays quickly and moves the ball. The other plays slow and generally keeps the ball in the hands of one guy. The Mavs led the league in time per possession where is the Warriors were down in 14th.
Prediction: Warriors in six