Celtics make finals, Nuggets keep hopes alive against Clippers
(Corrects par 9)
Lake Buena Vista, US, Sep 11 (efe-epa).- Boston Celtics prevailed over Toronto Raptors on Friday, edging out the reigning NBA champions 4-3, in the seventh and deciding game of the Eastern Conference semifinals, while in the Western Conference, Los Angeles Clippers came back from behind to win against Denver Nuggets to keep hopes alive for a final berth.
Celtics overcame the Raptors 92-87 with power forward Jayson Tatum leading the attack with a double-double of 29 points and 12 rebounds, which earned him the recognition of the Most Valuable Player.
He was well supported by shooting guard Jaylen Brown, who contributed 21 points, captured eight rebounds and provided two assists.
Meanwhile, point guard Marcus Smart posted 16 points and Kemba Walker added another 14, rounding up the list of Boston players to score in double digits.
For the Raptors, Fred VanVleet emerged as the leader of the attack with 20 points, supported by Kyle Lowry, who contributed 16 points, and Serge Ibaka, who scored 14 points.
Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell were others to score in double digits, contributing 13 points and 11 points, respectively, but were unable to check the Celtics in the decider.
Boston became the first team in NBA history to win four “road” games in one playoff series.
They will start their Eastern Conference finals campaign on Tuesday against Miami Heat, who eliminated Milwaukee Bucks 4-1 in the other semifinal.
Meanwhile, Denver Nuggets beat Los Angeles Clippers 111-105 in the fifth game of the Western Conference semifinals, keeping their hopes alive for a chance to earn a place in the finals as they now stand at 3-2 in the best of seven contest.
Canadian point guard Jamal Murray was the leading scorer for the Nuggets with 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while four others from the team registered double-digit scores, among them a double-double of 22 points and 14 rebounds by Serbian center Nikola Jovic.
The Nuggets were trailing 46-61 with 9:42 minutes remaining in the third quarter before the 35-year-old veteran power forward Paul Millsap inspired their dramatic comeback, scoring 14 of his 17 points in the session.
For the Clippers, shooting guard Kahwi Leonard emerged as the leader of the attack with 36 points, nine rebounds and four assists as the team looks to make its first ever Western Conference finals.
Power forward Paul George contributed with 26 points, six rebounds and six assists, but like Leonard, was unable to hammer a nail in the coffin of the Nuggets’ campaign despite a substantial lead at half time.
The Denver team’s victory brought back comparisons of their previous win over the Utah Jazz, where they had fought back from a similar 1-3 deficit and eventually advance 4-3 in the best of seven contest.
“Everybody continues to count us out,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That’s the way we like it.”
This marked Denver’s fourth elimination-game win of this postseason, the team’s most since winning six such games during the 1994 playoff run.
“They played like the season was on the line. They had that approach,” George said about his opposition. “They were out there flying around and played hard. They made timely baskets they needed.” EFE-EPA