Luka Doncic makes history when the Mavericks force Game 7 against the Suns; The heat eliminates the 76ers



CNN

The Dallas Mavericks forced Game 7 into the Western Conference semi-finals, beating the Phoenix Suns 113-86 on Thursday night to level the series best-of-seven at 3-3.

Luka Doncic, facing the first elimination game of his young career, did well with 33 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists to drag the Mavs to a decisive game in Phoenix on Sunday.

In what has become an increasingly lively series – particularly between the two young stars of each team, Devin Booker and Doncic of the Suns – it was the Slovenian guard who fed that energy to raise the bar.

The 23-year-old shot 11 of 26 from the field, including 2 of 8 from deep and 9 of 14 from the free throw line, on his way to a dominant performance.

Mavericks manager Jason Kidd praised Doncic’s ability to remain unperturbed as he faced elimination in the playoffs.

“I don’t know if he was playing like he was trying to do something different,” Kidd told the media. “I think he enjoys the moment.

“You guys have seen a little longer than me up close. He is not afraid of the stage. I think you guys call it the first time you win an elimination game. You will be in this situation for a long, long time. ”

It was also a historic night for Doncic, who became one of the fastest players in NBA history to reach 700 playoff points.

It took Doncic 22 games to reach the finish line, placing him in the top five fastest players to reach the feat.

George Mikan did it in 23 games, Doncic is related to Bob McAdoo in 22 games and only Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan have done it faster, in 20 games.

Deandre Ayton led the Suns chart with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Booker added 19.

The Mavericks’ victory on Thursday night continues the home team’s tendency to win all games in this series, leaving the Suns a strong chance to win Game 7 on their court and advance to their second consecutive Western Conference final.

Doncic fires on Phoenix Suns striker Torrey Craig.

Across the country, the Miami Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 99-90 in Game 6.

Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 32 points, to go along with eight rebounds, while the Heat finished the series a best of seven, 4-2.

The win was particularly sweet for Butler, who played for the 76ers in the 2018/19 season. After the game, on his way to the locker room, Butler could be heard saying, “Tobias Harris on me,” a reference to Philadelphia’s decision to trade Butler with the Heat in 2019 and instead choose to sign Harris to a huge contract.

Subsequently, he praised the effect the Heat organization had on his overall game.

“I think the trust my teammates and coaches have placed in me is a lot,” said Butler. “They are really stimulating me up there and I’m going to play. I try everything in my power to make sure I win … They trust me for everything. ”

Butler smiles after winning the Heat series against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Heat will now face the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics series winner in the Eastern Conference Finals.

For the Sixers, a question-filled off-season begins, particularly about whether to offer James Harden an extended contract.

Harden was traded by the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season, but his play since he arrived has been hit and miss.

And facing an elimination in Game 6 on Thursday, Harden struggled against the suffocating defense of the Heat, finishing with just 11 points but shooting only twice and scoring none in the second half.

Subsequently, 76ers center Joel Embiid said the Harden the team received is different from the Harden that was the MVP just a few years ago.

“Ever since we got him, everyone has been expecting Houston James Harden,” Embiid told the media. “But that’s not what he is anymore. He is more of a director. I thought that, at times, he could have been, like all of us, more aggressive. All of us, whether it was Tyrese (Maxey) or Tobias (Harris) or guys coming off the bench.

“And I’m not just talking offensive. I’m talking about you know, on the whole in attack and defense. I didn’t think we were good in defense as a team. They took advantage of a lot of things we tried to do on the defensive.

“And then, in an insulting way, everyone is really on the same page, of course, probably only having as much, three or four months to all work together and try to figure it out. Maybe it’s not been long … I don’t think we played our best basketball. ”

Embiid leaves the field after losing the Sixers series to the Miami Heat.

Embiid was full of praise for his former teammate Butler.

“Obviously, that’s my boyfriend,” Embiid said. “That’s my brother. Oh man, that’s tough. But I’m so proud of him. He’s playing on an unreal level right now. He’s something else right now. I’m proud he’s at this level, you take them and that. which he was able to do.

“They’ve had ups and downs all season. Missing boys, not being healthy and still have found a way to be the number one team in the East and to be able to come in and do what they did, they deserve a lot of credit. They have a great team, great guys in general. And, of course, a great coach and a great frontal attack, so a lot of credit to them. ”