Nuggets eliminate Clippers as Lakers await; Heat lead Celtics 1-0
Lake Buena Vista, United States, Sep 15 (efe-epa).- The Denver Nuggets blew up all the odds tonight after eliminating the Los Angeles Clippers and being the Lakers’ next rivals in the finals of the Western Conference.
While the Miami Heat, in overtime, kicked off the Eastern Conference finals with a victory over the Boston Celtics, who were also favorites.
History repeated itself, the Nuggets, with Canadian point guard Jamal Murray and Serbian center Nikola Jokic, came from two defeats and after beating the Clippers 104-89 in the decisive seventh game, they ended up 4-3 in the series at best of seven.
The Lakers of star forward LeBron James, who beat the Houston Rockets 4-1 in the other semifinal tie, await them.
The Nuggets, who will play their first finals since 2009, had Murray as the great figure who contributed 40 points, after scoring 15 of 26 shots from the field, including 6 of 13 3-point attempts, and destroyed the Clippers defense, left winless in a decisive elimination match for the eighth time.
Along with Murray, who also dished out five assists and grabbed four rebounds, Jokic made his presence felt in the inside game and also beat the Clippers’ marks.
Jokic was once again the most complete player of the game with a triple-double of 16 points, 22 rebounds -19 defensive, 13 assists, recovered two balls and put up three blocks in 40 minutes.
The Serbian international center set the best team record in playoff games with 22 rebounds and broke his own record from last year that he shared with Marcus Camby (19.)
Starting power forward Jerami Grant and forward Gary Harris each had 14 points and completed the list of four Nuggets starters who finished the game with double-digit scores and allowed their coach Michael Malone to have the best gift of his 49th birthday.
Despite the additions of star forward Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers did not reach the conference finals, where they have never been in their history.
They are also 0-8 in games that could secure a trip to the conference finals.
Leonard finished with 14 points on 6 of 22 shots, including 2 of 7 triples, grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists, without being in the winning team.
The same thing happened to George, who had to settle for just 10 points, after missing 4 of 16 shots from the field, including 2 of 11 from outside the perimeter.
Reserve center Montrezl Harrell led the Clippers with 20 points and three rebounds.
The duel for the Eastern Conference title began Tuesday with the first game of the best-of-seven series played by the Celtics, seeded third, against the Heat, fifth, who won 117 -114.
They did it in overtime and after center Bam Adebayo put a spectacular stopper on the shot of Celtics star forward Jayson Tatum, who could have forced the second five extra minutes.
Before the Slovenian point guard Goran Dragic, with 29 points, and guard Jimmy Butler, led the attack of the Heat and got the baskets that gave him the possibility of starring in the comeback in the fourth quarter.
Butler’s three-point play with 12 seconds to play put Miami in the lead, Adebayo blocked Jayson Tatum’s dunk attempt in the closing seconds and the Heat took a 1-0 lead in the series.
Guard Kemba Walker’s score with 23.2 seconds left in overtime put Boston up by one, before Butler worked his way to the rim to score as Tatum fouled him.
The Celtics chose Tatum on the next possession and when he was going to score he found Adebayo’s block that was going to decide the victory of the Heat, which ended Boston’s streak of seven straight wins in the first game of the series playoffs.