Sixers advantage. In the clash of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, Philadelphia won Tuesday night in Boston (115-103), with Joel Embiid at work, and can qualify Thursday if they win at home against the Celtics in the NBA playoffs.
In the other confrontation of the evening, the Denver Nuggets of Nikola Jokic also took the advantage 3 to 2, dominating Phoenix 118-102. Again, the Colorado franchise, seeded N.1 in the West, can qualify on Thursday, but it will have to win with the Suns, otherwise a 7th and final meeting will be necessary.
Did Philadelphia do the hardest part? Led 2 to 1 before the weekend, the Sixers had managed to equalize Sunday in front of their public, at the end of the suspense (116-115 ap), thanks to a masterful performance by James Harden (42 pts). Tuesday night, “the Beard” scored “only” 17 points, and regular season MVP Joel Embiid took over as top scorer with 33 units.
“Joel did a great job shooting when he had to shoot and passing when he had to pass,” coach Doc Rivers said.
But the coach of “Phila” did not ignore the performance of Harden, author of a double-double, with 10 assists. “He had a perfect game. He was aggressive very early in the game, when needed. And he took everyone on board with him,” said Doc Rivers.
Great weather, therefore, above the head of the Sixers, where five players finished at more than 10 points, before game 6.
“Run” and “Defend”
It’s quite the opposite for the Celtics, after what their coach Joe Mazzulla called “the worst game of the play-offs”.
“It doesn’t come at the best time but you have to look ahead and be ready for the next game,” he added.
Dropped at the end of the first quarter (33-26), Boston never managed to come back, despite the efforts of the Tatum-Brown doublet (60 points between them).
In the Western Conference, Denver also benefited from an excellent start (35-24 at the end of the first quarter), and breathes better after its 118-102 victory against Phoenix, which allows it to erase the failure of Sunday. .
Serbian pivot Nikola Jokic, who had escaped suspension after jostling the owner of Phoenix in Game 4, scored a new triple-double (29 pts, 13 rebounds, 12 assists), and the Nuggets flew away at the end meeting, counting up to 24 points in advance.
In front of the media, their coach Michael Malone especially insisted on the defensive performance of his team. “We didn’t make any defense in the two games lost to Phoenix,” he noted.
While Denver can hope to qualify for the conference final on Thursday in Arizona, he also insisted on this point. “Run” and “defend, “that’s what we will have to do (…) if we want to conclude”.
The first two qualified for these finals can be known as of Wednesday evening since the New York Knicks, in the East, and the LA Lakers, in the West, lead 3 to 1 respectively against the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors, supporters of the title in danger.