Los Angeles (AFP)
The Phoenix Suns are the first franchise to advance to the NBA Conference Finals after their fourth win in four games at the Denver Nuggets on Sunday (125-118), as in the East, the showdown between Milwaukee and Brooklyn is more contentious (2-2).
With this “sweep” (a series victory in four games), the Arizona franchise is finding the final in the conference for the first time in 11 years. In this second game away from home, they were once again able to count on their veteran guard Chris Paul, with 37 points and back Devin Booker, 34 points and 11 rebounds.
“A lot of people say I don’t play + basketball + useful,” Booker, 24, said after the game. “It’s time to prove it.”
Even NBA MVP (Player of the Season), Nuggets player Nikola Jokic, could not help but bow to the Suns firepower. The Serbian giant admitted: “They kicked our ass. We have to keep our heads up. If we lose, we have to accept that and try to come back better.”
A symbol of his team’s frustration, Jokic was sent off in the third quarter for a blow to the face in an action match over Cameron Payne and finished the match with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
After Paul and Booker, Phoenix once again relied on the strength of his group, with 14 points for Michael Bridges, 12 for Daindy Eaton or 10 rebounds for Jay Crowder.
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They will face the winner of the Western Finals between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz, the latter leading the series 2-1.
– Gateway to the Port of Milwaukee –
In the East, Milwaukee drew 2-2 against Brooklyn, thanks to a deserved win (107-96), built in large part by Giannis Antikonembo and Khris Middleton, as in the 2-1 home game.
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Thus, the Bucks, after their first two heavy defeats, in New York, raised the bar, each time betting on their aggressiveness and putting Kevin Durant, the best player in the net in James Harden’s absence, under the injury limit. Pressure.
Midway through the third quarter, the Bucks had a 16-point lead (68-52) following a well-controlled second quarter (30-22), even if Giannis Antetokounmue (34 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists) wasn’t effective Very well in his free throws (14/26 with barely more than 50% success).
Kevin Durant (28 points, 13 rebounds) fired the warning signal, netting at less than ten points, then Middleton (19 points, 8 assists), with a brutal shot, concluded this third inning on the score 81-69 for Dollars looking for a tie home.
In 7 minutes from the end, the difference was reduced to 19 points (97-78) and it really became a mission impossible to net. Especially without releasing Kyrie Irving too soon, due to an ankle injury, to affect this meeting.
Milwaukee finally held their second straight game, and the Nets will have to start from scratch Tuesday night in Brooklyn. Favorites remain on the title, but only on paper.
© 2021 AFP