The Denver Nuggets completed a stunning comeback from a 3-1 series deficit against the Utah Jazz as they moved through to the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Denver booked their spot in the Western Conference semi-finals thanks to Tuesday's tense 80-78 victory, which was sealed by Nikola Jokic's tie-breaking basket with 27 seconds remaining.

The Nuggets faced elimination after losing three of the opening four games against the Donovan Mitchell-inspired Jazz at Walt Disney World Resort, but Jamal Murray's heroics helped Denver stay alive in the postseason.

Murray's 50 points on Sunday forced a deciding Game 7 in the opening round in Orlando, Florida.

In the do-or-die showdown, Jokic proved to be the difference in the closing stages as Jazz guard Mike Conley's three-pointer spun out at the buzzer in a dramatic finish.

Jokic posted 30 points and 14 rebounds for the third-seeded Nuggets, who became the 12th team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a series, despite blowing a 19-point lead on Tuesday.

Murray had 17 points of his own as the Nuggets await second seeds the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round.

The Jazz were led by Mitchell's 22 points and Rudy Gobert's double-double of 19 points and 18 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics topped defending champions the Toronto Raptors 102-99 for a commanding 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Jayson Tatum scored 34 points and Marcus Smart put up 16 points in a devastating stretch early in the fourth quarter as the Celtics claimed Game 2.

Smart (19 points) made five three-pointers in a three-minute span to help the Celtics move closer to the Conference Finals.

OG Anunoby's 20 points led the Raptors, who also had 19 from Fred VanVleet.

 

Thunder face Rockets

It will be winner-takes-all on Wednesday when the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets clash in Game 7 of their Western Conference first-round matchup. The Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks will also go head-to-head in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semi-final.

The right choice is hardly ever an easy choice.  With arguably so much more to lose than their male counterparts, the WNBA stood up and made that choice.

Last week, the United States' top basketball leagues decided to take the unprecedented step of sitting-out their games as a means of taking a stand against police brutality suffered by African Americans.  The spotlight once again shone on the issue after another black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha.

According to North American sports website, The Athletic, the NBA’s decision to strike took place in a locker room.

“Bucks guard George Hill admitted in Wednesday’s meeting that he sparked the conversation in the team’s pregame locker room about sitting out, and teammates, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, supported Hill.”

Though monumental and far-reaching in its impact, I would have preferred to see the NBA be more articulate about their plan to strike, instead of action taken on the spur of the moment.  Who is to say it would not have been even more impactful with the input of more experienced organizers.

Sports journalist, Lindsay Gibbs, who mostly writes about sexism in sports, expressed what translated as bemusement after discovering that the NBA did not have a council established to address social justice matters.  Although individually, several players have frequently addressed the issue, in particular, LA Lakers superstar Lebron James who recently launched his More Than A Vote initiative.

“I don’t know how I had missed that the NBA had not had a social justice council in place. WNBA set one up this summer and has been in regular contact with the activists and organizers behind the #sayhername campaign all season and it’s been an invaluable connection,” Gibbs tweeted.

The truth is, however, that, with a much larger platform, the reason that the NBA did not create a council is that they can afford not to do so.  The WNBA can’t because they have more at stake.

Generally, fans will be more forgiving of the NBA.  The WNBA has, on the other hand, received fierce backlash in some quarters for merely existing.  On a whole, they are less respected, unappreciated, underestimated and barely taken seriously. A recent article published by the Power Plays newsletter, entitled ‘The WNBA didn't follow in the NBA's footsteps. It blazed the trail,’ rightly pointed to the fact that “The WNBA players have a different calculus than their brothers in the NBA. The biggest WNBA contract right now is around $215,000. The league is much younger and has to fight significantly harder for relevancy and exposure. This offseason, the players negotiated a historic collective bargaining agreement, which is seen as a landmark deal for women’s sports.”

Making the decision to sit-out was not easy because it took them a great deal to get where they are now, which pales in comparison to the men’s league.  The WNBA risked losing much of the hard-earned gains it took years to achieve. Talk about a professional risk! But it was the right choice to make.

The events leading up to that historic decision looked a lot different than the NBA’s.  Knowing that their game would have airtime on ESPN2 that Wednesday night, Mystics head coach Mike Thibault asked the team what they wanted to do to make a statement.

Initially, the answer was to play the game but only talk about Jacob Blake and police brutality and not basketball; a media blackout.

The Mystics wanted to make an impact with their court entrance as well. They designed t-shirts that spelled out ‘Jacob Blake’. Each shirt had seven graphic red dots on the back, symbolizing the seven bullets fired into the back of Blake by the police.

As game time inched closer, players started second-guessing their decision to play. But, instead of sequestering in their locker room to get ready for warm-ups, they gathered with the Dream players on the court to discuss options.

And though Thibault offered some advice: “If you're willing to do things, understand that you accept whatever consequences come with that. And don't make your decisions in a vacuum,” staff members mainly stayed out of the discussions.

Because some players still wanted to play, possibly due to outside pressure, the Mystics reached a compromise. The games would go on but would cease every seven minutes (a reminder of the seven times Blake was shot).

Things changed again, however, when the Mystics went to their locker room to change into their uniforms.  The players were unconvinced that playing was the right thing to do. So, they didn’t.

 The decision set the tone for the night. All other teams quickly followed suit.

Unfortunately, the calculated efforts by The WNBA seems lost in the story and is often presented as minor when mentioned in light of the NBA’s. But, what’s new?

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

 

The Houston Rockets "can't play much worse" than they did in Game 6 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, said Mike D'Antoni.

The Thunder triumphed 104-100 on Monday to force a decisive Game 7 in the Western Conference first-round playoff series, with the Rockets paying the price for committing 22 turnovers.

With the scores locked at 98-98 heading into the final two minutes, Russell Westbrook twice gave possession away, airballed a jump shot and sent Danilo Gallinari to the line for the final points of the game.

Westbrook missed the start of the series with a thigh injury and he confirmed he will remain on a minutes restriction in Game 7.

D'Antoni said: "It's tough to come back right in the middle of a series when you've been out for three weeks, and also the whole lay off. He's fine, we'll be fine.

"We played about as bad as we could play. We will have to do a better job the day after tomorrow.

"We are going to respond. We'll clean up some things. We can't play much worse, so we'll play better.

"We just weren't sharp, got a bit careless a few times and we paid for it.

"We had 22 turnovers. You can't have 22. You try to get less than 10 and 22 just sealed our fate.

"Then we had some fouls that weren't disciplined. We had reach-in fouls that put them to the line and let them score, so things we can correct and will."

Asked why turnovers became an issue for the Rockets when it had not been earlier in the series, Westbrook said: "That's just my fault, honestly. That's easy. Last game I had zero, tonight I had seven. As simple as that.

"We've gotta take care of it, starting with myself. Just trying to figure out rhythm and timing, but we'll figure it out next game."

James Harden accounted for five of Houston's turnovers, which he felt undid the strong defensive performance they put in.

"A lot of careless turnovers. Including myself. Just too many turnovers, especially in a playoff game – a closeout game – just gave them too many opportunities," said Harden.

"I think defensively we did a pretty good job with them only scoring 104 points. We just shot ourselves in the foot by turning the ball over and giving us less opportunities to score."

Giannis Antetokounmpo did not ask to guard Jimmy Butler as the Miami Heat star caught fire in the fourth quarter and handed the Milwaukee Bucks a shock loss in Game 1.

Butler scored 40 points – 15 of which came in the final period – as the Heat took the lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals series with a 115-104 victory on Monday.

Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, was held to 18 points – just the sixth time this season he has been kept below 20 when playing over 30 minutes. In the fourth quarter, he scored just three points while shooting 1-of-4 from the field and the free throw line and contributing six turnovers.

The Bucks as a whole added just 18 points in the final 12 minutes, with Butler taking the game away from them and putting Miami in the driving seat.

Antetokounmpo, the 2020 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, did not consider trying to take the lead in keeping Butler at bay.

Asked if he requested to be switched onto Butler late on, Antetokounmpo replied: "To guard him? No, I didn't. Why would you ask that?"

On whether it was something he would look to do going forward, he added: "No, I'll do whatever coach tells me to do."

Although Antetokounmpo had 10 rebounds, nine assists, one steal and one block, he was restricted to just 12 shots across the game as the Heat tightened up defensively after giving away 40 points in the first quarter.

"I've just got to keep making the right play, keep playing good basketball, keep finding my team-mates," he said.

"They're going to try to build a wall this game, the next game, the whole series. I've got to keep making the right play.

"When the game is over and you look at the stat sheet and see 12 shots, you have to wonder why I didn't shoot more, could I have been more aggressive. But I think I just tried to make the right play. Win or lose, you've got to live with it."

Jimmy Butler led the Miami Heat to a 115-104 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday and is far from the toxic character he is made out to be, according to coach Erik Spoelstra.

Butler took over in the fourth quarter and scored an NBA playoffs career-best 40 points to put the Heat 1-0 up on the top-seeded Bucks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

The five-time All-Star left the Chicago Bulls in acrimonious circumstances in 2017 and was traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves the following year after falling out with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

When the Philadelphia 76ers failed to make him a priority in free agency in the past offseason, he signed with the Heat.

Spoelstra feels Butler has landed in the ideal environment and flourished in the confines of the NBA bubble near Orlando, Florida.

"These are extreme circumstances, they're not easy for anybody. And you need a level of discipline, of structure, and camaraderie," said Spoelstra, via ESPN.

"Jimmy, despite what, probably, the narrative is out there, he's a very likable guy in the locker room, and I think that helps in a setting like this.

"He just fits everything about us, our fabric and who we are. Make or miss, everybody feels comfortable when he's making those decisions. He happened to score [on Monday] but he's a very unselfish player.

"It's not just about him scoring the basketball, he makes the appropriate reads depending on what's needed for that particular game. They [the Bucks] stepped up their defence, though, and you have to give them credit for that, and we basically had to put the ball in his hands.

"He wants these kinds of moments."

Butler said team-mates Andre Iguodala, Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson told him to win the game for Miami, but he hopes other members of the team get to shine in the rest of the series.

"I told my team-mates I probably wasn't gonna pass the ball," Butler said of his approach down the stretch. "I made a couple shots, and they said, 'That's fine with me.'

"I don't know if it will be like that next game. I hope Tyler [Herro] is the one that'll be in the position where he feels like the rim is so big that he can't miss, or Goran, or Bam [Adebayo].

"We've got a lot of guys that are so comfortable, so confident. We're okay."

He added: "I've learned [to be able to take over games], but I've watched so many great players. And it's great to have D-Wade [Dwyane Wade] in my corner, I'm telling you.

"He's always in my phone, telling me about the game, what to look for. He's been a huge help. He's the first person that texts me tonight whenever I get back to the locker room.

"I'm learning. I've been learning. I will continue to learn. I just want to win, though. I can't say it enough."

Jimmy Butler put on a show as the Miami Heat topped the Milwaukee Bucks 115-104 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals in the NBA playoffs.

Butler posted a playoff career-high 40 points to lead the Heat past the top-seeded Bucks at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida on Monday.

A five-time All-Star, Butler scored 14 of his points in the final quarter as fifth seeds the Heat upstaged Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.

Butler became just the third player in Miami's postseason history to have at least 40 points, following in the footsteps of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

Heat team-mate Goran Dragic added 27 points for Miami, whose 5-0 start to the playoffs is tied for the best ever by a team seeded fifth or lower, per STATS. The Washington Wizards also started 5-0 as the fifth seeds in 2015.

Despite outscoring the Heat 40-29 in the opening quarter, the Bucks were unable to hold on as the Heat's defence starred.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Bucks, who were led by Khris Middleton's 28 points.

The Heat and Bucks will meet again in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder forced a Game 7 against the Houston Rockets after prevailing 104-100.

Facing elimination in the Western Conference opening round, veteran Chris Paul came up big for the Thunder with 28 points and seven rebounds.

Trailing 98-92 with just over four minutes remaining, former Rockets guard Paul was clutch for the Thunder, nailing a pair of three-pointers down the stretch to lift his team.

James Harden recorded 32 points and eight rebounds for the beaten Rockets, who face the Thunder in Wednesday's decider, while Russell Westbrook had seven turnovers against his former team.

 

Jazz face Nuggets

The Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets will go head-to-head in Game 7 of their Western Conference first-round matchup on Tuesday. The Boston Celtics and defending champions the Toronto Raptors are also in action in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel insisted the team are not taking LeBron James for granted as they prepare for the second round of the NBA playoffs.

James produced a masterclass with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to help the Lakers seal a 4-1 series victory over the Portland Trail Blazers by winning 131-122 on Saturday.

The three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP had two triple-doubles and two double-doubles in the Western Conference first-round matchup at Walt Disney World Resort.

As the top-seeded Lakers await the Houston Rockets or Oklahoma City Thunder, Vogel was asked if James – averaging a triple-double in the postseason – is taken for granted within the league.

"I think the media and maybe the fans are taking for granted but we don't take it for granted inhouse here," Vogel replied following Monday's practice.

"Our coaching staff, front office and his team-mates, we all really understand appreciate how special his performances are and what he brings to the table.

"We definitely don't take that for granted."

The Lakers, meanwhile, could be boosted by the return of guard Rajon Rondo for the Western Conference semi-finals.

Rondo has been sidelined in Orlando, Florida since suffering a fractured right thumb in July.

"He did practice today, did look good," Vogel told reporters. "We're hopeful to have him in this series."

Jamal Murray's incredible 50-42-50 playoff run brought lofty praise from Nuggets coach Mike Malone and team-mate Nikola Jokic after Denver forced a Game 7 against the Utah Jazz.

The Nuggets trailed 3-1 through four games, but Murray has caught fire again in the playoffs, having helped Denver take the Portland Trail Blazers to seven games in the second round last year.

Murray had 50 points in a losing effort in Game 4 against the Jazz, then inspired wins with returns of 42 and then, on Sunday, 50 points.

The 23-year-old averaged 18.5 points in the regular season and his sensational upturn in form has left coach Malone - formerly an assistant at the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors - struggling to make a fitting comparison.

"What Jamal's done the last three games is unbelievable," Malone said.

"I've been blessed to have been around some great players in this game - LeBron [James], CP [Chris Paul], Steph Curry, Klay Thompson - but I've never seen a guy go 50, 42 and 50, two of those games being elimination games.

"Talk about a young guy putting a team on his back... and that will to win, to do whatever is necessary to get the team to win, is tremendous."

Murray visibly grappled with his emotions in Denver's first game since the playoffs were paused after the Milwaukee Bucks went on strike following the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Blake was repeatedly shot in the back by police in the Bucks' home state of Wisconsin, prompting the latest demonstration against police brutality and racial inequality.

Murray wore shoes decorated with images of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and he struggled to find words for his on-court TNT interview.

Malone continued: "We haven't played since Tuesday, so to do it with everything that's taken place in the last three or four days, all the raw emotion, makes it that much more impressive.

"I'm running out of superlatives for Jamal Murray. I just want to say I'm proud of him. What he did tonight was amazing."

Jokic, who scored 22 points, was similarly impressed, adding of Murray: "He's really playing at a high level, a superstar level right now.

"We wish the God of basketball is going to give him a little bit more of that during our playoffs."

Murray himself recognises the need to perform on a more consistent basis, however.

"People want me to be consistent and, I'm not going to lie, it's not easy," he said. "That's why the greats are so good. They don't just do it one night, they do it every night."

Luka Doncic will take a leaf out of the books of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and add a new crinkle to his game next season, according to Rick Carlisle.

The Dallas Mavericks' season came to an end on Sunday as the Los Angeles Clippers secured a 111-97 victory to win their first-round playoff series 4-2.

The fact they pushed one of the favourites to six games owed much to Doncic, who averaged 31 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists during a stellar series at the end of his second year in the NBA.

"He's one of the toughest players that I've ever seen in this league, and that goes back 35 or 36 years," Mavericks coach Carlisle told reporters.

"He is a great young player that's getting better each year. He's Rookie of the Year last year, this year's up for Most Improved [Player]. I'd like to know if that's ever happened before.

"I expect that he'll come back next year even better with something new in his game. The same way that [Larry] Bird and Magic [Johnson] and [Michael] Jordan, all those great players did every summer. Now, it's going to be a fall whenever we reconvene as a league again.

"But he has an irrepressible enthusiasm for the game, for his team-mates and for winning.

"Today it was hard getting him out of the game. Second half we didn't do it until the very end.

"We're so fortunate to have him and now we've got to get our roster completely healthy and keep working to get the right players around him."

When that was put to Doncic, the Slovenian said he would spend the offseason trying to hone his shooting.

Doncic averaged 28.8 points in 2019-20 regular season – the sixth-best total in the league – up from 21.2 in his rookie season.

"There's a lot of things to improve on," he admitted.

"You cannot work just on one thing, you've got to work on everything. But I think I'll especially work on my shooting – that's my key."

Despite the disappointment of a first-round exit in the post-season, Doncic was pleased with how hard the Mavs pushed the Clippers.

"A great season," he added when asked to sum up the campaign. "I'm proud of our team, how we fight. I think we fight until the end.

"The Clippers have an amazing team. It was hard but I think we give everything. We played especially hard in the playoffs and I'm proud of our guys."

The Boston Celtics drew first blood against defending champions the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference second-round series.

Boston were too strong for Toronto, winning 112-94 at Walt Disney World Resort in the NBA playoffs on Sunday.

Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart posted 21 points apiece, while Kemba Walker put up 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who swept the Philadelphia 76ers and never trailed against the Raptors.

On a tough day for the Raptors, Kyle Lowry led the team with 17 points in Orlando, Florida.

Game 2 between the Celtics and Raptors is on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers booked their spot in the Western Conference semi-finals after accounting for the Dallas Mavericks 111-97.

Kawhi Leonard's 33 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and five steals helped seal a 4-2 series victory for the Clippers.

Leonard became the first player in franchise history to have at least 30 points and five steals in a postseason game.

Luka Doncic's 38 points, nine rebounds and nine assists were not enough for the eliminated Mavericks.

The Clippers will face either the Denver Nuggets or Utah Jazz in the west.

 

Murray's half-century forces Game 7

Another big performance from Jamal Murray helped the Nuggets level their series with the Jazz at 3-3 after prevailing 119-107 in Game 6. Murray finished with 50 points to force a deciding showdown.

Per STATS, Murray is the second player in NBA history to have back-to-back 40-point games to force a Game 7 after being 3-1 down. The other was LeBron James in the 2016 Finals.

Jazz star Mitchell scored 44 points in the losing effort. Per STATS, it marked the fourth time this series Mitchell and Murray have posted 30-plus points in the same game. The only other pair of opposing players in NBA history to achieve the feat in the same series were James and Gilbert Arena in 2006.

 

Williams struggles

While the Clippers advanced, it was a tough outing for Lou Williams. He was just one of nine from the field and missed all four of his three-point efforts for five points.

Clippers team-mate Paul George also made just six of 19 from the field. The All-Star was two of seven from beyond the arc as he finished with 15 points in 40 minutes of action.

Dallas' Trey Burke struggled. In 35 minutes, Burke was two of 10 from the field and 0 of two for six points.

The Raptors were poor from three-point range. Toronto shot just 25 per cent on 10-for-40 shooting against Boston.

 

Williams windmill

After Smart's steal, Robert Williams III nailed this dunk for the Celtics.

 

Sunday's results

Boston Celtics 112-94 Toronto Raptors
Los Angeles Clippers 111-97 Dallas Mavericks
Denver Nuggets 119-107 Utah Jazz

 

Heat face Bucks

The Miami Heat and the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks will open their Eastern Conference second-round series on Monday.

Doc Rivers hailed Kawhi Leonard after the Los Angeles Clippers star helped lead the team into the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Leonard posted a double-double as the Clippers defeated the Dallas Mavericks 111-97 to seal a 4-2 series win in the Western Conference on Sunday.

A two-time champion after guiding the Toronto Raptors to their first title last season, Leonard finished with 33 points and 14 rebounds in Game 6 at Walt Disney World Resort.

And Clippers head coach Rivers heaped praise on two-time Finals MVP Leonard following his exploits against the Mavericks in the opening-round series.

"Kawhi was phenomenal throughout this whole series," Rivers told reporters. "I thought he was dominant and then PG picked it up greatly after the first two games.

"But there's so many other little things that guys -- I thought that Marcus [Morris Sr.] throughout was not only just a good player but he was an instigator. [Ivica] Zubac had the playoff of his life. [Landry] Shamet and Reggie [Jackson] makes big shots. I liked how we looked in that way; that other guys contributed."

Leonard had his fifth consecutive game with 30-plus points for the Clippers, who will face either the Utah Jazz or Denver Nuggets in the next round.

He also recorded seven assists and five steals as the Clippers eliminated Luka Doncic and the Mavericks – becoming the first player in franchise history to post at least 30 points and five steals in a playoff clash.

Rivers added: "You can tell he was the one guy that shoots to close out a series. He [Leonard] was calm. He got us in place.

"You know, during games you fall on a set and we fell on that low elbow set for him. We just took what was there. They didn't come; he scored. If they came, he made the right pass.

"I said it before the game, I think I was talking to P.J. Carlesimo and I was telling him, the one thing I didn't know -- I knew he could pass and I knew he may be a good passer. I didn't know he was an elite passer, and that's something you don't know until you coach a guy."

The Clippers managed to see off the Mavericks, despite a game-high 38 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

"This is playoff basketball and everything is not going to go your way," Leonard said. "You're going to have downs and ups. Just got to keep playing."

Looking ahead in the postseason, Leonard added: "Just got to focus. That's what we got to do. Less mistakes for sure, and more execution."

"It's one step closer to where we want to get to, so it's a good accomplishment that we got through the first round, now we enjoy it tonight and we get ready for the next thing tomorrow [Monday]," he said.

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT

 1. Best of luck ladies! Stay safe!

The West Indies Women are set to face England in five Vitality International T20 matches at the Incora County Ground, Derby in September. I commend Cricket West Indies for ensuring our women cricketers are afforded an equal opportunity to play the sport they love despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

CWI have agreed to follow the strict medical protocols that were implemented for the West Indies Men’s tour to England earlier this year. The players and staff will remain in a bio-secure environment for the duration of the tour, with all matches being played behind closed doors.

In an interview with Windies captain Stefanie Taylor regarding the restart of cricket she said, “I’m excited for the restart because we’ve been away for a long time. Barring injury, this is probably the longest I have been away from the game. I know the rest of the team are also excited to get back out on the field.”

When asked about the biosecure measures put in place Stefanie said, “I am confident with the bio-secure environment. I saw how well it worked for the last two series in England and knowing we’ll have the same level of biosecurity, I’m comfortable with the protocols in place.”

Another Windies player that I contacted regarding the restart of women’s cricket Britney Cooper said, “It’s always a privilege to be selected for West Indies. I am looking forward to this series since we’ve been away for so long. Also, it’s an opportunity to restart since we didn’t have the best World Cup earlier this year.”

I am incredibly pleased with the efforts of CWI to ensure our Windies women play competitive cricket despite the ongoing pandemic. Best of luck ladies and most importantly stay safe.

 2. Continue blazing a trail Bravo. Congratulations!

Dwayne Bravo has always been one of my favourite cricketers because of his efforts on the field. There is something special about having Bravo in your team that gives you confidence that you can turn any match around no matter the situation. I enjoy the energy that he brings to the sport and the fact that in each game he gives his 100 per cent. Congratulations Champion, on becoming the first bowler to take 500 wickets in all Twenty20 cricket.

Bravo has played for 21 different teams, played alongside 400 different teammates, against over 1200 opponents and dismissed 312 different batsmen. He has now achieved a new milestone 500 wickets, over 100 more than Lasith Malinga.

What I find most intriguing about Bravo is the impact that he has in T20s. His ability to bowl at different stages of an innings, especially at the death overs is incredible. The Trinidadian is the type of player that can change a game with both bat and ball. However, we cannot fail to mention his fielding brilliance. I celebrate you, champion, keep blazing your trail!

3. The postponement of the NBA games- A powerful statement.

Since the restart of the NBA, the players have continued to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. They have shared their own stories. They continue to wear “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts. They have locked arms and kneeled during the anthem. However, after the latest shooting of an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the players did the most meaningful thing they could do: they refused to play.

By refusing to play the players made a profound statement. They withheld the only thing many fans and many Americans see when they look at them: their talent. They called on authorities to take accountability for what was taking place. The main question being asked now is, “Will the authorities finally listen to the pleas of these players and create change?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carmelo Anthony is praying he will be able to stay with the Portland Trail Blazers next season after winning praise from LeBron James for his efforts since making an NBA comeback.

The former New York Knicks forward's career had been in doubt following spells with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets between 2017 and 2019, after which he did not play a game for over a year.

But 10-time All-Star Anthony joined the Blazers in November and impressed with averages of 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists across 58 outings in the regular season.

The 36-year-old saw his postseason come to an end when the team lost 131-122 to James and the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of their playoff series on Saturday, but he again caught the eye with a 27-point outing.

"Proud as hell of my brother Carmelo Anthony doing what he did on his return!!" James wrote on Twitter after the Lakers had sealed their 4-1 first-round win.

James had 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists making he and Anthony – who now hopes to remain with Portland – only the third pair of opposing players aged 35 or older to each score 25 points in a playoff game, per ESPN.

"In my mind, I'll be right back in the fray of things when next season comes," Anthony told reporters.

"I pray that it can be Portland, I think I found a home in Portland.

"You saw why this is a good fit for me. Whenever you find a situation that's comfortable and allows you to be who you are, you want to stay in that situation. 

"There's no need to try different things when something is working."

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said of Anthony: "I feel very honoured to have been able to coach him. He's a Hall of Fame player, and he's a Hall of Fame guy."

LeBron James insisted the return of basketball should not distract people from the most pressing issues facing the United States.

James starred as the Los Angeles Lakers completed a 4-1 series victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA playoffs with a 131-122 win on Saturday.

The match in the bubble at Walt Disney World Resort followed a three-day strike amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice after the shooting of Jacob Blake – a black man – in Wisconsin.

And James, who has been an ardent supporter of the action that was initially prompted by the Milwaukee Bucks' decision not to take to the court for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, wants the focus to remain firmly on such matters.

"We are trying to create change. We can't lose sight of what the main thing is," he said, having showcased his on-court influence with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

"It's not just about me but it's about every other player in this league and how we continue to shed light on things that are going on in our community, things that are going on around America, things that are going on around the world and to have this platform, the NBA platform.

"As the Golden State Warriors said for years and years and years, there is strength in numbers. And that is the case here."

James, along with many in the NBA, was reluctant to return to the court until concrete plans were put in place to begin to address the issues raised by the shooting of Mr Blake, including NBA arenas being used as polling stations for elections.

The 35-year-old is hopeful further progress will be made towards achieving those goals after he and his fellow NBA stars took a stand.

"Hopefully, the past couple days will make a change for the greater good and the future," he said.

"The bubble season will never be forgotten when it comes to sports… but obviously this moment is so much bigger than us playing basketball.

"Hopefully, years on down the line when America is in a better place, that you can look back on to this moment and be like 'that was one of the catapults that got it going'."

LeBron James and Anthony Davis inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to a 4-1 series victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA playoffs.

The NBA postseason resumed at Walt Disney World Resort on Saturday following a three-day strike amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice after the shooting of Jacob Blake – a black man – in Wisconsin.

James posted 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while Davis finished with 43 points in Saturday's 131-122 win in the Western Conference first round.

Davis and James became the first duo since the ABA-NBA merger to score 35-plus points on 70-plus percent shooting each in the same playoff game, per STATS.

The top-seeded Lakers will face either the Houston Rockets or Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks advanced in the Eastern Conference thanks to their 118-104 victory over the Orlando Magic.

The Bucks, who triggered protests throughout professional sports in the United States on Wednesday, were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo in their return to the court.

Bucks star and reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had 28 points and 17 rebounds as the Miami Heat await in the next round.

 

Rockets soar as Harden stars

James Harden posted 31 points to lead the Rockets to a 114-80 rout of the Thunder and a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference. Fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook also returned from injury.

A Nikola Vucevic double-double of 22 points and 15 rebounds were not enough for the eliminated Magic.

In the absence of All-Star team-mate Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum put up 36 points, while Carmelo Anthony had 27 of his own.

 

Rough night for Gallinari and Thunder

Danilo Gallinari managed just one point in the Thunder's heavy loss. He was 0 of five from the field, while missing all three attempts from beyond the arc in 22 minutes. Thunder team-mate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, meanwhile, only posted four points on six-of-eight shooting from the field, and 0 of four from three-point range.

In Orlando's defeat, Gary Clark played 24 minutes and was 0 of four from the field and 0 of three from beyond the arc. He made one of two free throws.

 

LeBron and Davies combine

The two All-Stars continue to flourish in pursuit of the ultimate goal – an NBA championship.

 

Saturday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 118-104 Orlando Magic
Houston Rockets 114-80 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Lakers 131-122 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Celtics face Raptors

The Eastern Conference second-round series between the Boston Celtics and defending champions the Toronto Raptors gets underway on Sunday.

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