The Slovenian prodigy was the great architect of the Mavericks’ success during the sixth season of the NBA playoffs. Miami sent Philadelphia on vacation.
Jimmy Butler Heat qualified for the Eastern Final, thanks to their victory (99-90) in Philadelphia, irresistible Mavericks and Luka Doncic, pushing the Suns into the decisive game seventh in the West, after their great success at home (113-86).
The Florida team, who reached the finals of the tournament in 2020, losing to the Lakers, won their series 4-2 and thus maintained their position as the number one seed, against the Sixers (No. 4) who, like them, had no goal yet but the title. .
Embiid is not on top
But for that, Joel Embiid had to be 100%. Which it wasn’t. So dented on all sides, between tearing his ligament in his right thumb and breaking it in the orbit of the right eye, he did his best despite the obvious discomfort and pain.
Anticipating the semi-final outcome, the Cameroonian pivotal player also this week referred to a “lose-loser situation”. “If I don’t play I’ll probably be called up as a non-fighting player and if I play badly they’ll probably say a lot of things like ‘It’s not good enough’.
Without a shortfall (20 points, 12 rebounds), in a heat defense applied to poison his life (7/23 in shots), such a great counter caused by Pam Adebayo (10 points, 8 rebounds), he wasn’t. Dominant as it has been this season.
Butler: “We got the job done.”
In contrast, Jimmy Butler had his full potential, as evidenced by his 32 points (8 rebounds, 2 blocks). Under his leadership, the Heat made the difference in the third quarter (25-15) to then peak by 20 units at the start of the next quarter.
“We had to win an away game. We did the job, played well and defended properly,” the star cheered, with good help from Max Strus (20 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) in particular.
If Therese Maxi did his best (20 points on 9/22) to get the Sixers back under ten points in time, James Harden would still be disappointed (11 points, 9 assists). “Beard”, who tried only two shots in the second half, made a mistake, but only cheated in match No. 4 in this semi-final, scoring 30 points to equalize 2-2.
Recruited in the closing hours of the transfer window, in a swap with Ben Simmons, and ultimately looking like a mutual fiasco between Philly and Brooklyn (he was eliminated in the first round, without being able to play the Australian), Harden, top scorer in Cannes League (2018, 2019, 2020) will form the surprise scoring duo with Embiid, who finished first this season. It did not happen.
Doncic crushes everything
In Dallas, the Mavericks regained balance against the Suns, who could also finish it. But they did not really put the ingredients, unlike Luka Doncic, still very impressive (33 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 interceptions) and decisive.
The Slovenian prodigy not only worked on his opponents, but also found effective relays in attack, with Galen Bronson (18 points) and Reggie Bullock (19 points). And the defense was very deterrent, as evidenced by 16 successful interceptions and 22 ball losses.
So much so that at the break (60-45), the match was almost over, with Phoenix later not being able to change anything. Whether it was DeAndre Ayton, who is comfortable on the inside (21 points, 11 rebounds), Devin Booker (19 points, 8 rebounds) or Chris Paul (13 points, 4 assists), he was well erased for three games.
Thus, the aggressiveness of the Texas players contrasts with the indifference of the Arizona players. Embarrassed, the latter quickly gave the impression that he had succumbed to a No. 7 home game on Sunday.
Knowing that every team has won at home in this series, there is nothing inconsequential at the bottom of betting everything in the extra 48 minutes that their fans pay. But they’ll have to be careful, as Doncic has enough genius to screw up any plan.
(France Press agency)