NBA playoffs: Warriors advance to West finals; Jayson Tatum, Celtics force a Game 7
Klay Thompson knocked down eight three-pointers on the way to 30 points, Stephen Curry scored 29 points with six threes, and the Golden State Warriors advanced to the Western Conference finals by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 110-96 in Game 6 on Friday night in San Francisco.
Curry found his shooting touch late and made two straight baskets late in the third quarter for a 78-77 lead entering the final 12 minutes. Draymond Green contributed 14 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists. Kevon Looney grabbed 22 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth with a pair of timely three-pointers.
Golden State — eliminated by Memphis in the play-in tournament last year — withstood a testy series to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2019, when the franchise reached its fifth straight NBA Finals before losing to the Toronto Raptors in the deciding Game 6.
The third-seeded Warriors will face the Phoenix-Dallas winner in the conference finals. Game 7 of that series is Sunday in Phoenix.
“Whoop that trick!” the delighted, raucous home crowd chanted in the waning moments, the fans’ steal away from Memphis.
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Dillon Brooks scored 30 points with a career-best seven three-pointers for the Grizzlies but picked up his second flagrant foul of the series. Desmond Bane added 25 points.
Curry checked back in for the final 8:21 and delivered a three-pointer with 5:45 remaining off a beautiful bounce pass by Green. Looney found Green for an easy dunk the next time down, capping a decisive 10-0 run.
After Wednesday’s 134-95 debacle on the Grizzlies’ home floor in which they trailed by 55 points, the Warriors were determined to do everything better, especially cutting down on the 22 turnovers leading to 29 points.
The Warriors outrebounded the Grizzlies 70-44, becoming the first team to grab 70 rebounds in a playoff game since San Antonio had 75 against Denver on May 4, 1983.
Bane scored the first two baskets of the game before the Warriors ran off 10 consecutive points, with a pair of layups by Green and a three-pointer by both Curry and Thompson.
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Looney started after Jonathan Kuminga had the previous three games following the injury to guard Gary Payton II. He broke his left elbow in an awkward fall after being hit over the head by Brooks in Game 2. Brooks received a Flagrant 2 foul and one-game suspension.
He was booed loudly again at every chance by the sellout crowd at Chase Center. When Payton was shown on the big screen during a first-quarter timeout, he received a rousing ovation and touched his hand to his heart before encouraging the fans to get louder.
Memphis again played without All-Star guard Ja Morant, who missed his third straight game with a bone bruise in his troublesome right knee that the Grizzlies blamed on Jordan Poole pulling on the knee while going for a loose ball in Game 3.
Grizzlies center Steven Adams limped off gingerly on his right ankle and headed to the locker room 3:23 before halftime but returned. At the same time, Brooks received a Flagrant 1 foul for taking down Curry, and the Grizzlies forward and Thompson were hit with double technicals.
Thompson, back excelling in the playoffs after his 2½-year absence because of a pair of serious injuries, notched his fourth career postseason game with eight three-pointers — tying Ray Allen, Curry and Damian Lillard for most in NBA history.
Celtics 108, at Bucks 95
Jayson Tatum wouldn’t let it happen again.
With defending NBA champion Milwaukee attempting to complete a fourth-quarter comeback for the second consecutive game and close out the Eastern Conference semifinal series, Tatum made sure Boston instead kept its season alive and forced a decisive seventh game.
Tatum scored 46 points, and the Celtics withstood a brilliant performance from Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo to win, the third straight victory for a road team in this thrilling series.
“I wasn’t going to leave anything out there and have any regrets,” Tatum said. “Just trying to do what it took.”
After the Bucks reduced a 14-point deficit to four with just less than nine minutes left, Tatum took over the game. He scored 16 of Boston’s 26 fourth-quarter points.
“He was unbelievable,” said Antetokounmpo, who was pretty extraordinary in his own right with 44 points, 20 rebounds and six assists.
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Tatum’s effort set up a winner-take-all matchup Sunday in Boston. The victor heads to Miami to begin an Eastern Conference finals matchup against the top-seeded Heat on Tuesday.
“I don’t think anybody’s won two games in a row in this series,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Now, it’s the finality. You’ve got to go and find a way to get that fourth win and win the series. I think everybody in sport looks for that game. That college feel. That NCAA feel, where if you lose your season’s done, if you win, you keep going. It’s exciting.”
The Bucks had won all eight of their potential series clinchers in Budenholzer’s four-year tenure before Friday. This marked the first time the Bucks had lost a possible clincher since a Game 7 defeat at Boston in a 2018 first-round series.
Boston showed its grit by bouncing back two nights after blowing a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead in a 110-107 home loss in Game 5. The Bucks tried to rally again after trailing by 14 in the final period, but this time the Celtics stayed in front.
“Tonight will be the first night since that game that I’ll get some sleep,” said Marcus Smart, who had 21 points, seven assists and no turnovers.
Jaylen Brown added 22 points for the Celtics, who capitalized on their superiority from three-point range. The Celtics were 17 for 43 and the Bucks seven for 27 from beyond the arc.
Antetokounmpo tried to lead the Bucks to a second straight improbable comeback.
Boston led 84-70 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter and was up 84-73 when officials ruled Grant Williams had drawn a charge for Antetokounmpo’s fifth foul. But the Bucks challenged the call and it was overturned on replay, instead sending Antetokounmpo to the line with four fouls.
Antetokounmpo made both free throws to start an 8-0 run that got the Bucks back into the game. Milwaukee trimmed the margin to 85-81 on Antetokounmpo’s three-pointer with 8:42 left.
Tatum said he was thinking about that Game 5 collapse as the Bucks started to rally. He wanted to make sure Milwaukee didn’t win the 50-50 balls and dominate the glass the way the Bucks did down the stretch Wednesday.
“They were tougher than us in that fourth quarter of Game 5,” Tatum said. “That was in the back of my mind. That was in the back of everybody’s mind, that we couldn’t get beat on those kind of plays. Our season was on the line.”
Tatum wouldn’t let the Bucks get any closer.
After that 8-0 Bucks spurt, Tatum scored the Celtics’ next 11 points. That included a fadeaway jumper as the shot clock expired to get the lead back to six plus a couple of three-pointers.
“He went into another mode right there,” Smart said. “We’d seen it in his eyes.”
Tatum and Brown each hit a three-pointer during an 8-0 spurt that closed with Smart’s jumper that made it 100-87 with 4:20 remaining.
Boston maintained a double-digit edge the rest of the way.
“We had the right resolve,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “We talked about it after that game. We let an opportunity slip away [Wednesday], but we still had a chance to make it a better story, I guess.“
The Celtics played without forward/center Robert Williams for a third consecutive game. Udoka said Williams suffered a bone bruise in his left knee while colliding with Antetokounmpo in Game 3.
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Milwaukee was missing three-time All-Star forward Khris Middleton for a ninth straight game. Middleton sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during Game 2 of the Bucks’ first-round series against the Chicago Bulls.
The Celtics own a 24-9 Game 7 record all time, while the Bucks are just 3-8.
But the Bucks can lean on some recent successful history in winner-take-all games. Their title run last year included a Game 7 overtime victory at Brooklyn in the East semifinals.
Tatum has scored at least 30 points in three straight games. Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday (17) and Pat Connaughton (14) combined for 75 of the Bucks’ 95 points. The other Bucks shot a combined nine for 33 overall and 0 for 13 from three-point range. Antetokounmpo was 14 for 15 on free-throw attempts.
Police: 3 people injured in shooting near Deer District
Three people were shot near the Deer District following Game 6 in Milwaukee, authorities said.
The Milwaukee Fire Department said authorities took two people to a hospital, a 30-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl, and a third person drove to a hospital. All three people had non-life-threatening injuries.
Police said a 29-year-old man was in custody.
Witnesses told WTMJ-TV that they saw a fight outside a bar after the game. Police are investigating what led to the shooting.
Deer District is an entertainment district in downtown Milwaukee where sports fans frequent during sporting events.
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