NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Grizzlies stun Jazz in Game 1, 76ers and Suns win openers

By Sports Desk May 23, 2021

The Memphis Grizzlies did not follow the script in their shock 112-109 victory over the top-ranked Utah Jazz in the NBA playoffs, while the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns drew first blood in their first-round openers.

Utah secured sole possession of the best record in the NBA for the first time in franchise history, having topped the Western Conference with a 52-20 record.

But in the continued absence of All-Star Donovan Mitchell (ankle), the Jazz were upstaged by the eighth-seeded Grizzlies in Sunday's opener on home court.

Dillon Brooks (31 points), Ja Morant (26 points) and Jonas Valanciunas (15 points and 13 rebounds) fuelled the visiting Grizzlies in Utah.

Brooks became the sixth player in the last 10 postseasons to score 30-plus points in his playoffs debut, joining Devin Booker (2021), Luka Doncic (2020), Kyrie Irving (2015), Anthony Davis (2015) and Damian Lillard (2014).

Kyle Anderson also registered a Grizzlies single-game playoff record with his six steals, surpassing the previous mark set by Mike Conley – who now plays for the Jazz – in 2013.

The Jazz were led by Bojan Bogdanovic (29 points), Conley (22 points and 11 assists) and Rudy Gobert (11 points and 15 rebounds).

 

Harris and Embiid flex muscles, Booker stars as Suns sizzle

Eastern Conference top seeds the 76ers overcame the Washington Wizards 125-118 in Game 1 of their first-round series. A playoff career-high 37 points from Tobias Harris set the tone, while MVP hopeful Joel Embiid had 30 points, six rebounds and three assists. Harris and Embiid became the first pair of 76ers to score 30-plus points in a playoff game in 31 years since Charles Barkley and Hersey Hawkins. All-Star team-mate Ben Simmons (six points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists) joined Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain as the only 76ers players ever with 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a playoff game. Double-doubles from Bradley Beal (33 points and 10 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (16 points and 14 assists) were not enough for the eighth-ranked Wizards.

The Suns trumped defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers 99-90 behind Booker (34 points) and Deandre Ayton (21 points and 16 rebounds). Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2009-10, the Suns used a 32-25 opening quarter to see off the seventh seeds in the series opener in the west, despite Chris Paul's shoulder injury. LeBron James had 18 points and 10 assists in a double-double display for the Lakers.

 

Randle struggles

All eyes were on All-Star Julius Randle after leading the New York Knicks back to the postseason for the first time since 2012-13. While he collected 12 rebounds, Randle was far from his usual best in the 107-105 defeat to the Atlanta Hawks. Randle finished six-for-23 shooting for 15 points in 36 minutes. The Knicks star made just two of his six three-pointers.

Anthony Davis was five-for-16 shooting in a team-high 39 minutes of action as the Lakers star recorded just 13 points against the Suns. He missed both of his attempts from beyond the arc. As a team, the Lakers were just 26.9 per cent from the three-point line after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made just one of his seven shots.

 

Ice Trae!

Trae Young was the hero for the Hawks, who edged the Knicks in their series opener at Madison Square Garden. Young nailed the game-winner with 0.9 seconds remaining to silence the New York crowd in a thriller between the fourth and fifth seeds in the east. The Hawks guard finished with 32 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. According to Stats Perform, Young is the first NBA player to make a game-winning field goal in the final five seconds in his playoff debut since Dwyane Wade in 2004.

 

Sunday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 125-118 Washington Wizards
Phoenix Suns 99-90 Los Angeles Lakers
Atlanta Hawks 107-105 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 112-109 Utah Jazz

 

Heat at Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks will look to extend their lead over the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round series on Monday.

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    The Suns defeated the table-topping Golden State Warriors 104-96 despite losing Booker in the second quarter after limping out of the game with a left hamstring injury.

    Phoenix head coach Monty Williams said post-game there was no update on the extent of Booker's injury but Paul, who had 15 points and 11 assists, was bullish about the side's depth.

    "Just keep playing," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "It's not one guy that's gonna fill that void.

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    The Suns defense contained the Warriors to only 18 points in the final quarter and 42 in the second half.

    Paul added: "With Book going down early in the game, it was a next-man-up mentality. Like coach always says, keep the ball moving, that's all we tried to do."

    Booker was averaging 23.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season prior to the injury where he had 10 points, two rebounds and one assist to that point against the Warriors.

    The 25-year-old shooting guard had missed four games after suffering a left hamstring strain last January.

    "No, nothing yet," Williams said when asked about Booker's status. "We'll have more tomorrow."

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    Phoenix head coach Monty Williams said post-game there was no update on the extent of Booker's injury but Paul, who had 15 points and 11 assists, was bullish about the side's depth.

    "Just keep playing," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "It's not one guy that's gonna fill that void.

    "We've got so many guys like Elfrid Paton who hadn’t played the last few games and he's ready, comes right not the game. Cam Johnson, he started the second half.

    "We've got so much on this depth that if somebody does go down, somebody will step up."

    The Suns defense contained the Warriors to only 18 points in the final quarter and only 42 in the second half.

    Paul added: "With Book going down early in the game, it was a next-man-up mentality. Like coach always says, keep the ball moving, that's all we tried to do."

    Booker was averaging 23.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season, prior to the injury where he had 10 points, two rebounds and one assist to that point against the Warriors.

    The 25-year-old shooting guard had missed four games after suffering a left hamstring strain last January.

    "No, nothing yet," Williams said when asked about Booker's status. "We'll have more tomorrow."

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    The Phoenix Suns have tied their franchise record 17 consecutive wins and moved level with the Golden State Warriors at the top of the table by beating them in a 104-96 win on Tuesday.

    The Suns' record-equalling win came without Devin Booker who suffered a left hamstring injury in the second quarter and did not return.

    Deandre Ayton top scored with 24 points along with 11 rebounds while veteran guard Chris Paul had 15 points and 11 assists, but Phoenix's defense was critical to the win.

    The Warriors only managed 61 points after quarter-time, with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green finishing the game with only 12 and eight points respectively.

    Golden State had a season-high 22 turnovers, with Paul having five steals and Mikal Bridges also registering four steals.

    The result means the Suns and Warriors both have 18-3 records across the season and will meet again on Friday.

     

    Harden finds his groove

    James Harden had his third 30-point game for the season, finishing with 34 points as the Brooklyn Nets won 112-110 over the New York Knicks. Harden had a double-double with 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals, while Kevin Durant contributed 27 points and nine assists.

    Top draft pick Cade Cunningham registered a career-high 26 points including five three-pointers as the Detroit Pistons lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 110-92.

    In the absence of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr and Desmond Bane scored 25 and 23 points respectively  to lead the Memphis Grizzlies past the Toronto Raptors 98-91.

     

    Kings struggle from range

    The Sacramento Kings only managed six triples for the entire game as they were beaten by the Los Angeles Lakers, without LeBron James, 117-92. Shooting guard Terence Davis went zero-for-four from beyond the arc. Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook had 25 and 23 points respectively in James' absence, after he entered the NBA's health and safety protocols prior to tip-off.

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