NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Jazz, 76ers and Hawks advance to Conference semis, Doncic tames Clippers

By Sports Desk June 03, 2021

Donovan Mitchell led the way as number one seeds the Utah Jazz progressed to the Western Conference second round, while the top-ranked Philadelphia 76ers also booked their spot in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Mitchell posted 26 of his 30 points in the first half to fuel the Jazz to a 126-110 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, sealing a 4-1 series victory in the NBA playoffs on Wednesday.

The Jazz All-Star tallied 10 assists and six rebounds, joining Deron Williams and John Stockton as the only Utah players with 30-plus points and 10-plus assists in a postseason clash.

With five three-pointers made, Mitchell also became the first jazz player in franchise history to finish with 30 points, 10 assists and five threes in a playoff encounter.

Mitchell was assisted by Jordan Clarkson (24 points) and Rudy Gobert (23 points and 15 rebounds) as the Jazz await the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers-Dallas Mavericks matchup.

Grizzlies sensation Ja Morant impressed again with 27 points and 11 assists as he finished his first playoff series averaging 30.2 points and 8.2 assists while shooting 48.7 per cent from the field – the highest ever points per game average by a Memphis player in a single postseason.

All three teams that had a chance to clinch a series midweek, won by 14-plus points following the success of the Jazz, 76ers and Atlanta Hawks. According to Stats Perform, it is the first time three franchises have claimed a series with double-digit victories on the same day since May 1, 2003.

 

Simmons flexes muscles as 76ers advance without Embiid

Despite the absence of MVP finalist Joel Embiid due to a meniscus tear, the 76ers still reached the second round thanks to a 129-112 rout of the Washington Wizards. Ben Simmons inspired the 76ers in Philadelphia, where he had a triple-double of 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. It was Simmons' third career playoff triple-double, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Charles Barkley to move into second place on the all-time list in Philadelphia history – behind only Wilt Chamberlain (eight). Seth Curry (playoffs career-high 30 points) and Tobias Harris (28 points) also starred as the 76ers defeated the Wizards 4-1. Wizards pair Bradley Beal (32 points) and Russell Westbrook (24 points and 10 assists) combined for 56 points, however, it was not enough at Wells Fargo Center.

Next up for the 76ers are the fifth-seeded Hawks, who saw off the New York Knicks 4-1 behind a 103-89 success. Trae Young silenced fourth seeds the Knicks with a postseason career-high 36 points in New York. Julius Randle's 23 points and 13 rebounds were not enough for the Knicks.

Luka Doncic put on a show as the Mavericks withstood the Clippers 105-100 for a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference first-round series. Doncic went off for 42 points and a playoff career-high 14 assists to take down the Clippers in Los Angeles. The All-Star became the second player in NBA history to record a game with 42-plus points, eight-plus rebounds and 14-plus assists in the postseason, joining LeBron James (2018).

 

Rose struggles

In the starting five, veteran and former MVP Derrick Rose failed to make an impact. In 27 minutes, Rose was three-for-11 shooting for only six points as the Knicks bowed out.

While Kawhi Leonard had 20 points, it was not an efficient display. The Clippers star finished seven-for-19 shooting – making just one of his seven three-point attempts. He also had five turnovers.

 

Ice Trae!

Young bowed to the Madison Square Garden crowd, happy after putting the icing on the cake with a long-range three as the Hawks sent hosts the Knicks packing.

 

Wednesday's results

Utah Jazz 126-106 Memphis Grizzlies
Philadelphia 76ers 129-112 Washington Wizards
Atlanta Hawks 103-89 New York Knicks
Dallas Mavericks 105-100 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Suns at Lakers

It is make or break for defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers, who will host the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 on Thursday. The Lakers trail the second-seeded Suns 3-2 in the Western Conference first round and face elimination.

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  • South Korea 2-1 Portugal: Dramatic Hwang winner incredibly puts Taeguk Warriors through South Korea 2-1 Portugal: Dramatic Hwang winner incredibly puts Taeguk Warriors through

    Hwang Hee-chan scored a stoppage-time winner to beat Portugal 2-1 and put South Korea through to the last 16 of the World Cup at the expense of Uruguay in a dramatic conclusion to Group H.

    The Taeguk Warriors appeared to be heading out as they looked set to draw while Uruguay led Ghana elsewhere, but Hwang netted at the end to complete an incredible turnaround.

    Ricardo Horta had put Portugal in front early on, but they failed to heed the warning posed by Kim Jin-su's disallowed goal soon after, with Kim Young-gwon deservedly getting South Korea back on level terms.

    Portugal – who won the group anyway – coasted through the second half and South Korea took full advantage, with Hwang landing the decisive blow to spark bedlam and send Uruguay packing.

    South Korea's feeble start suggested they were there for the taking, with Horta applying an easy finish to take a fifth-minute lead after Diogo Dalot breezed past Kim Jin-su and cut the ball back.

    Kim Jin-su scored what he thought was the equaliser 12 minutes later, tapping in on the rebound after Diogo Costa saved Cho Gue-sung's header, but it was ruled out for offside.

    Portugal's lead was wiped out before the half-hour, though.

    Ronaldo shied away from a corner delivery, which struck him, and Kim Young-gwon was on hand to steer home.

    Portugal's captain then missed completely missed his kick from close range early in the second half, the subsequent offside flag doing little to spare his blushes.

    A second half generally lacking quality appeared to be petering out.

    But then captain Son Heung-min darted towards the Portugal goal, awaited support, and calmly fed Hwang through a defender's legs, Hwang slamming past Costa to secure progress in astonishing fashion.

     

  • Flick must go after Germany's 'pathetic' World Cup exit, says Hamann Flick must go after Germany's 'pathetic' World Cup exit, says Hamann

    Former Germany international Dietmar Hamann has called for Hansi Flick to be replaced as the team's head coach after overseeing a "pathetic" group-stage exit from the World Cup.

    A late double from substitute Kai Havertz helped Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in their final Group E game on Thursday, but Japan stunned Spain with a 2-1 win at the Khalifa International Stadium to send the four-time winners home.

    Germany have now suffered group-stage eliminations from consecutive World Cups, having avoided falling at the first hurdle on each of their last 16 appearances at the tournament before 2018.

    The coaches of some eliminated sides – such as Mexico's Tata Martino and Belgium's Roberto Martinez – have already announced their departures, and Hamann thinks Flick should do the same.

    Speaking to Sky Sports in Germany, a furious Hamann said: "I think it's impossible that we can continue with the coach. 

    "After this debacle, we only have 18 months until the European Championships at home, that was pathetic.

    "Costa Rica had one shot on target in the first two games and we made them look like Brazil. In the team, everyone does what they want. I see no reason why Flick should remain as coach.

    "When I hear some comments from those responsible [with other teams], I have to say that responsibility looks different. Excuses, excuses, excuses. It's time for a cut."

    Germany have failed to keep a single clean sheet in their last 12 games at World Cups or European Championships, their longest ever such sequence. 

    The last side to fail to score against Germany in a major tournament match was Slovakia, who were beaten 3-0 by Joachim Low's side in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.

  • Netherlands v USA: Oranje happy to keep winning while not playing well Netherlands v USA: Oranje happy to keep winning while not playing well

    The Netherlands would love to start playing well, but beating the United States and reaching a World Cup quarter-final is their primary focus.

    This has so far been an underwhelming tournament from the Oranje, although they still advanced top of Group A with two wins and a draw from their three matches.

    Coach Louis van Gaal told the media to fly home if the football was "so terribly boring", but there is no doubt it is effective.

    Discounting penalty shoot-outs, Van Gaal is unbeaten in his 10 World Cup matches as a coach. Only Felipe Scolari (12) and Mario Zagallo (11) have enjoyed longer undefeated streaks to start their finals careers.

    The coach appears to have his players on board, as Marten de Roon said: "We are searching, that is clear. We hope it gets better, we all hope so.

    "But the first goal is to get through to the next round. We are not deliberately playing badly here. Maybe one of you has the solution?

    "Of course, we would prefer to play everyone off the carpet and win 5-0 every time and become world champions, but it is not that simple. Winning counts on Saturday, but how we do it matters less. Even if necessary through penalty kicks.

     

    "I don't mind becoming a world champion without having played a good match. The positive is that we haven't lost. That may also give us the confidence that it can only get better."

    The Dutch have reached at least the quarter-final in four of their last five appearances at the World Cup, exiting in the last 16 in 2006.

    Meanwhile, the United States have lost three of their four last-16 matches, winning only in 2002 against Mexico.

    They have only won one of five meetings with the Netherlands – all in friendlies – although that victory was in their last such clash in 2015.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Netherlands – Cody Gakpo

    All the talk going into the tournament was around one forward in Memphis Depay, but the Netherlands have a new star. Gakpo put Oranje 1-0 up in all three group games, with David Villa in 2010 the last player to open the scoring in four matches at a single World Cup.

    United States – Christian Pulisic

    Pulisic expects to be fit for this match despite his injury against Iran, and his return will be welcomed. The winger has scored twice as many goals (22) for the USMNT as any other player in Gregg Berhalter's squad.

    PREDICTION

    The Netherlands may not be playing well, but the supercomputer expects their winning habit to continue. They are 51.9 per cent favourites for this one.

    The United States have a 22.0 per cent chance, while a draw that would spell penalties has a 26.1 per cent likelihood.

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