Grant Williams sends Bucks packing, Doncic shows Suns the Luka Special
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This was supposed to be a special day. Two Game 7’s. Some of the brightest stars in the league. While this day will go down in history, it won’t be for the reason most expected. With a total margin of victory of six points between the two games, this was one of the biggest letdowns in recent history. So, let’s dive in!
Celtics 109, Bucks 81
The stars show out when the lights shine brightest. For the Celtics in Game 7, it was Grant Williams, of course. He tied the NBA record for 3-pointers made in a Game 7 with seven. That tied Stephen Curry (twice) and Marcus Morris. Being tied on a list with Curry when it comes to long range shooting is always a good thing. He finished with 27 points, six rebounds, and two blocks in what was likely his last start this postseason. He’s been starting in place of Robert Williams, who was cleared to play in this game after missing Games 4-6 with a bone bruise in his knee. Ime Udoka had said that he would only play “if needed”, which wasn’t the case in this game. Boston trailed by six at the end of the first but dominated the rest of the way. They begin their series with the Heat on Tuesday, so there should be an update on his playing status soon. However, it would be fair to assume that he’ll play in that game, given that he could’ve played in this one.
Jayson Tatum’s seven turnovers weren’t the prettiest number, but he was still able to get the job done with 23 points, eight assists, and five triples. He was called for his third foul during the second quarter and his fourth foul early in the third, which kept him on the bench a bit more than normal. However, he still ended up playing 37 minutes.
Marcus Smart didn’t shoot the ball well (2-for-9), but he made up for it by providing in about every other facet of the game. He finished with a line of 11/7/10/1/1, while also making his typical impact that doesn’t show up on the scoreboard.
Payton Pritchard was what you might call “on fire” in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of his 14 points in the final period as the Celtics put the finishing touches on the victory.
Jaylen Brown and Al Horford’s performances didn’t pop, but they were still very solid. Brown finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, and two steals. Horford put up six points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.
Pritchard and Derrick White were the only Celtics to play double figure minutes off the bench, but White’s output wasn’t nearly as positive, as he shot 1-for-10 from the floor. After a strong finish to the regular season, he hasn’t shot the ball well at all during this postseason run.
The matchup with Miami won’t be an easy one. Both teams are deep and excellent defensively. However, Tatum has struggled in three appearances against the Heat this season, averaging 17.7 points on 42.2./29.4/71.4 shooting splits. He shouldn’t shoot that poorly, but it’s worth noting that that’s how the regular season went. The Celtics did win the season series 2-1.
Giannis Antetokounmpo gave it everything he had, but it didn’t end up being enough. Unlike most teams, Boston had an answer for the Greek Freak. He shot 10-for-26, turned it over five times, and only shot six free throws, hitting four. The answer for him won’t ever be completely locking him up. He’s too good. But this was a solid effort from Boston. He still did finish with a line of 25/20/9/2/1, which is obviously a career game for most players. However, he was coming off a 44/20 performance, so it seems less incredible. Giannis did become the first player in NBA history to finish with 200 points, 100 rebounds, and 50 assists in one series, which is otherworldly. He had to do everything to keep them in the series, including winning twice in Boston. While Khris Middleton’s presence may have changed the outcome, it did allow Giannis to give us a performance for the ages. No Giannis slander will be tolerated at this time.
Brook Lopez posted a double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. Jrue Holiday added 21 points, eight assists, and two steals. They were solid performances, but they weren’t the help that Giannis needed for Milwaukee to really compete in this game. Bobby Portis added 10 points and six rebounds off the bench, but that was basically it for production from Bucks players. Pat Connaughton? 32 minutes, two points. Wesley Matthews? 22 minutes, three points. Grayson Allen? 22 minutes, one single point. The team shot 4-for-33 on triples. It’s very difficult to win a game when you shoot that poorly from deep and the other team shoots 22-for-55 on 3-pointers.
If the Bucks were healthy, there’s a legitimate argument to be made that they could’ve repeated as champions. They may retool, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see them run it back with a very similar squad. They just ran out of gas in this one.
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Mavericks 123, Suns 90
I don’t remember ever being so shocked at the way a game was playing out. I’ve been excited about surprising results and upsets. But I couldn’t believe this was happening. A 64-win team. Game 7. Legacies clearly on the line. At home. And Dallas was just unstoppable. I’ve never seen a team smile so much after hitting threes in the first half. But rightfully so. The Mavs led Phoenix 57-27 at halftime. Luka Doncic was tied with the Suns with 27 points at halftime, including a barrage of stepback triples late in the first half that were straight out of a video game on the easiest difficulty. Luka, Jalen Brunson, and Spencer Dinwiddie combined for 89 points. The Suns scored a total of 90.
Reggie Bullock led the Mavs with 32 minutes played, which probably explains his team-high +44 +/-. Luka only played 30 minutes, but he was able to finish with 35 points (12-for-19 FGs), 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and six triples. Obviously it’s still early in his career, but he feels ready to go down as one of the greatest playoff performers of all time. He’s loving not having to be guarded by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George every playoff game.
Dinwiddie put up 30 points off the bench on 11-for-15 shooting with five triples. To be a key contributor to help guide a team to the conference finals is quite the turnaround from how he started the season. Considering the issues he had with the Wizards, it’s awesome to see him thriving in this new role.
After struggling to start the series, Brunson finished strong and should still see a hefty payday this offseason. He had 24 points on 11-for-19 shooting with six rebounds. Maxi Kleber had three blocks off the bench. Nobody else excelled on the stat sheet, but they all made timely plays.
Dallas will start their series with Golden State on Wednesday on the road. Dallas won the season series 3-1, with Luka averaging 31.5/9/5.5 with 5.8 turnovers across those games.
Well this wasn’t the way it was supposed to end. After breezing through the regular season, Phoenix looked primed to make it back to the finals. After going up 2-0 in this series, it seemed over. Unfortunately, Chris Paul doesn’t have the best track record with 2-0 leads. This was the fifth time in his career that his team went up 2-0 in a series, and they ended up losing. This wasn’t just any loss. This was PATHETIC. Just an absolute no-show by everyone on this team. Clearly Chris Paul’s legacy was more on the line than anyone else’s, and he finished with 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting with four assists, no turnovers, and three fouls in 31 minutes. I know that game got out of hand quickly, but that stat line doesn’t scream “superstar that wanted to get back to the NBA Finals”.
Devin Booker scored 11 points on 3-for-14 shooting with four turnovers. He seemed discombobulated all game. Aside from the missed easy shots and turnovers, he was losing his dribble and fumbling passes. Just the worst game possible to not show up.
Cameron Johnson led the Suns in scoring with 12 points off the bench. Unfortunately, he was the primary defender for Luka’s spurt at the end of the first half, so he’ll be in every highlight reel for the next week.
Ish Wainwright scored 10 points off the bench in garbage time and was the only other Sun to score in double figures.
Deandre Ayton only played 17 minutes, to which Monty Williams said “it’s internal”. There were reports of a spat between the two during a timeout that led to Ayton’s benching. With Ayton a restricted free agent this summer, this could lead to him suiting up for a new team next season. However, with emotions running high in this type of game, it’s far more likely that they’re able to resolve this issue. If Phoenix wants to run it back, they’ll need to keep him around or get similar value back for him. After such an incredible season, it’s not fun to see it end so bitter. Unfortunately, that’s how it will be remembered.
Folks, he actually dug it up. From @StatsWilliams:— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 16, 2022
Last time a team's starters scored 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 points in a 1st half was by the Warriors against the Jazz on Nov. 29, 1999.
The 5 starters...
ESPN's Tim Legler (!!) https://t.co/k1vCFdJmHg
- Kyle Lowry missed practice on Sunday. His status for the Eastern Conference Finals is up in the air. He’s been largely ineffective when he’s tried to play through the injury, so him getting healthy should be the priority.
- Ja Morant should recover fully from the bone bruise in his knee long before training camp.
- Karl-Anthony Towns had a multitude of minor procedures to clean up some ailments that were nagging him during the playoffs. He’ll be fully healthy for next season.
- Steve Kerr cleared league protocols and will coach the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Mike Brown will return to an assistant coaching role before taking over head coaching duties in Sacramento next season.