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Thunder Averts Upset, Celtics Crush Heat; LAC Tames Mavs, Bucks Gore Pacers


PhilBoxing.com




West top team Oklahoma City Thunder could thank their lucky stars as they nearly became the first higher seed to be beaten in the just opened 2023-24 NBA playoffs, pulling off a 94-92 squeaker over the 8th seed New Orleans Pelicans.

The other higher seeds kept the formchart as East topnotcher Boston Celtics, Milwahkee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers won against their opposites with plenty to spare.

Boston crushed the Jimmy Butler-less Miami Heat 114-94, the Bucks hardly missed ace big man Giannis Antetokumtpo in defeating the Indiana Pacers, 109-94 and the LA Clippers downed the Dallas Mavericks, 109-97.

The Thunder saw an off balance desperation three point shot by CJ McCollum miss the basket after Shai Gilgeous Alexander and Chet Holmgren collaborated to give OKC the lead for good, 94-92 via a jumper and a free throw.

SGA led OKC with 28 points, Jalen Williams had 19 and Holmgren scattered 15 points and grabbed 14 boards aside from anchoring the defense with 5 blocks.

This season, Boston seems determined not to allow a repeat of what happened last time when the Celtics were upended by the Heat in the Eastern Finals, 4-3.

At least in the opener, Boston's job was made easier with the absence of Heat's ace scorer Jimmy Butler. This allowed the Celts to give more exposure to their reserves who delivered like Sam Hauser and Payton Pritchard.

Still Jason Tatum led a balanced attack with 23 followed by Derreck White (20), Kristaps Porzingis (19) and Jaylen Brown (17).

Bam Adebayo seemed forlorn in the absence of his partner Butler as he led the Heat with 24 points.

Without Giannis, the duo of big men Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis anchored the inside as Damien Lillard (35) and Karl Middleton (23) spewed fire from the outside.

Paskal Siakam tried to rally the Pacers with 36 points and 13 rebounds but could only draw support from center Miles Turner (17), TJ McConnell (10)and Tyrese Haliburton (9).

The Clippers-Mavs was fancied as a gimme match as LAC is still without Kawhi Leonard while Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are playing beautifully together.

But this is the playoffs.

What could win games for Dallas with Doncic and Kyrie in the regular season may not be enough to win games in the playoffs.

And it happened.

Doncic (33) and Irving (31) accounted for two thirds of Dallas total point production but it was more than offset by the output of five Clippers led by Paul George.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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