NBA

Warriors and Trail Blazers extend leads, Celtics reach Conference semis

By Sports Desk April 21, 2019

Two-time reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers are poised to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals.

Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson combined for 65 points, leading Golden State to a 113-105 victory and a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Stephen Curry struggled shooting the basketball and finished three of 14 from the field, while rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander posted a team-high 25 points for Los Angeles.

Also in the west, the Trail Blazers hold a 3-1 advantage against the Oklahoma City Thunder following Sunday's 111-98 win.

After losing Game 3, Portland moved a step closer to the second round of the playoffs thanks to CJ McCollum's 27 points.

On the other side, Paul George posted a game-high 32 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who are fighting to stay alive in the postseason.

The Toronto Raptors are also a win away from the Eastern Conference semi-finals courtesy of their 107-85 triumph against the Orlando Magic.

Toronto – who were stunned in Game 1 – extended their winning streak to three as Kawhi Leonard starred with a game-high 34 points.

 

Haywards leads Celtics sweep

Gordon Hayward posted a team-high 20 points as the Boston Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers 4-0 thanks to their 110-106 victory. Marcus Morris added 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting.

Al-Farouq Aminu totalled 19 points and nine rebounds for Portland.

 

Matthews struggles as Pacers bow out

Wesley Matthews scored three points on one-of-seven shooting in Indiana's loss.

Lou Williams posted 12 points on two-of-10 shooting for the Clippers.

Terrence Ross had five points in 31 minutes as the Magic lost.

Russell Westbrook scored 14 points, but it was on five-of-21 shooting.

 

Irving picks a pocket

Kyrie Irving's steal was turned into a behind-the-back pass, which was finished on the other end by Celtics team-mate Jayson Tatum.

George kept the Thunder in the hunt with a buzzer-beater from behind the arc to end the third quarter.

 

Rockets at Jazz

The Houston Rockets came out on top in Game 3 despite James Harden's horrendous shooting performance. The Utah Jazz found a way to bother the league's leading scorer for a majority of the game, but failed to capitalise on their opportunities to pull ahead. The Jazz lost a one-possession game, so minor adjustments could help them turn things around. Harden likely will not play as bad a second time, though.

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    Antetokounmpo finished with 24 points, six assists and six rebounds in the 105-99 reverse on home court, though he went off late on after suffering an ankle injury.

    The Bucks took the lead in the series but have now lost three successive matches, with the Raptors 3-2 ahead, and able to secure an NBA Finals place should they win the sixth game on Saturday.

    But Antetokounmpo insists the Bucks are still in the fight.

    "We're not going to fold," Antetokounmpo told a news conference.

    "We're the best team in the league. We're gonna go in, give it everything we got. We can't fold. We're gonna come back to Milwaukee being p*****.

    "I just want to win. I think we had a chance to win it, but we didn't. Obviously, I'm p*****. I am not gonna lie to you. We got two more games to go."

  • Raptors must live for the moment as NBA Finals beckon, says Leonard Raptors must live for the moment as NBA Finals beckon, says Leonard

    Kawhi Leonard has urged his Toronto Raptors team-mates to "enjoy the moment" after they moved to within one win of the NBA Finals.

    Leonard starred with a 35-point game on Thursday, as the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals after a 105-99 win at the Fiserv Forum.

    A victory in the sixth game on Saturday would confirm the Raptors' place in the Finals for the first time in franchise history.

    And 2019 All-Star Leonard - an NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 - says the Raptors must embrace the pressure.

    "Experience helps a lot," Leonard told a news conference. "I've been here before, I've been to the finals, it's pretty much nothing new that I'm seeing.

    "You've just got to have fun with it, enjoy it. I told them tonight, when we were down 10, to enjoy the moment and embrace it and have fun and love it, this is why we're here.

    "It's a great opportunity. What you work for in the summer is to win basketball games. 

    "The same mindset through the play-offs is to come in, have fun, try to execute as best as I can. Play confident and whatever happens will happen."

    Leonard did not exert the same authority on proceedings as he has done in earlier matches throughout the series, but came up with a match-winning performance in the fourth quarter.

    Having opened the Raptors' scoring in the final period with two jumpers, Leonard followed up with a pair of three-pointers to nudge his side ahead.

    The 27-year-old also provided nine assists, but insists that he is not a player that aims to dictate the Raptors' play

    "I'm not a guy that really controls the ball the whole game. I just try to give other people the opportunities to shine, and not try to be a dominant ball player," Leonard said.

    "I try to stay with a consistent mindset throughout the whole game, trying to read the defence throughout the entire game, see what's working. 

    "I'm not afraid of the moment, I enjoy it. You've just got to go and shoot the ball, that’s my mindset.

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  • Raptors fan Drake: I love this team and we're going to the NBA Finals Raptors fan Drake: I love this team and we're going to the NBA Finals

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    Drake, who is a global ambassador for the Raptors, was watching in Toronto when his team beat the Bucks 105-99 in Milwaukee to take a 3-2 lead in the series, and he defended his antics when speaking to reporters afterwards.

    "We have the best player, we have the best fans in the whole NBA, in the whole world," he said.

    "Look around you, look at this, we created this. This didn't exist before we were here, look around at the square, this didn't exist before we were here, we did this.

    "It doesn't matter what anybody says. They can say it's disrespectful, they can say, it's this, it's that.

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    "I love Toronto, I love this team and we're going to the NBA Finals."

    While the 32-year-old was not in Milwaukee, the Bucks' owner's daughter Mallory Edens was sat courtside wearing a t-shirt of Pusha T, a rapper with whom Drake has had a feud with.

    That was clearly noticed by Drake, who changed his Instagram avatar to a picture of Edens after the game.

    He also uploaded a picture of Edens onto his story with the caption "All is fair in war and war and trust me I'll still get you tickets to ovo fest".

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