Sport NBA playoffs 2021: Grizzlies stun Jazz in Game 1, 76ers and Suns win openers
76ers win eighth straight to move closer to clinching east, Nets end slump and Westbrook equals record
The Philadelphia 76ers stayed hot as Russell Westbrook equalled an NBA record on Saturday.MVP hopeful Joel Embiid posted 29 points for the 76ers, who took another step towards clinching the Eastern Conference and top seed ahead of the NBA playoffs on Saturday.
The Memphis Grizzlies did not follow the script in their shock 112-109 victory over the top-ranked Utah Jazz in the NBA playoffs, while the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns drew first blood in their first-round openers.
Utah secured sole possession of the best record in the NBA for the first time in franchise history, having topped the Western Conference with a 52-20 record.
But in the continued absence of All-Star Donovan Mitchell (ankle), the Jazz were upstaged by the eighth-seeded Grizzlies in Sunday's opener on home court.
LeBron still out as Lakers claim key OT win, 76ers miss chance to secure top seeding
The Los Angeles Lakers are desperate to avoid the play-in tournament and helped their cause with a last-gasp win over the New York Knicks.With LeBron James still absent with an ankle problem, the Lakers were pushed all the way by the in-form Knicks who had the chance to win the match in normal time when Julius Randle missed a good two-point look on the buzzer.
Dillon Brooks (31 points), Ja Morant (26 points) and Jonas Valanciunas (15 points and 13 rebounds) fuelled the visiting Grizzlies in Utah.
Brooks became the sixth player in the last 10 postseasons to score 30-plus points in his playoffs debut, joining Devin Booker (2021), Luka Doncic (2020), Kyrie Irving (2015), Anthony Davis (2015) and Damian Lillard (2014).
Kyle Anderson also registered a Grizzlies single-game playoff record with his six steals, surpassing the previous mark set by Mike Conley – who now plays for the Jazz – in 2013.
The Jazz were led by Bojan Bogdanovic (29 points), Conley (22 points and 11 assists) and Rudy Gobert (11 points and 15 rebounds).
Harris and Embiid flex muscles, Booker stars as Suns sizzle
Eastern Conference top seeds the 76ers overcame the Washington Wizards 125-118 in Game 1 of their first-round series. A playoff career-high 37 points from Tobias Harris set the tone, while MVP hopeful Joel Embiid had 30 points, six rebounds and three assists. Harris and Embiid became the first pair of 76ers to score 30-plus points in a playoff game in 31 years since Charles Barkley and Hersey Hawkins. All-Star team-mate Ben Simmons (six points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists) joined Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain as the only 76ers players ever with 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a playoff game. Double-doubles from Bradley Beal (33 points and 10 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (16 points and 14 assists) were not enough for the eighth-ranked Wizards.
Lakers fall short of escaping play-in tournament as Jazz clinch NBA's best record and Curry wins scoring title
The Los Angeles Lakers will have to go through the play-in tournament, while the Utah Jazz finished with the league's best record.LeBron James – who appeared to tweak his ankle – posted 25 points for the streaking Lakers, who claimed their fifth consecutive victory, however they did not end the regular season high enough in the Western Conference to bypass the NBA's new play-in format involving the seventh through 10th seeds in pursuit of the playoffs.
The Suns trumped defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers 99-90 behind Booker (34 points) and Deandre Ayton (21 points and 16 rebounds). Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2009-10, the Suns used a 32-25 opening quarter to see off the seventh seeds in the series opener in the west, despite Chris Paul's shoulder injury. LeBron James had 18 points and 10 assists in a double-double display for the Lakers.
All eyes were on All-Star Julius Randle after leading the New York Knicks back to the postseason for the first time since 2012-13. While he collected 12 rebounds, Randle was far from his usual best in the 107-105 defeat to the Atlanta Hawks. Randle finished six-for-23 shooting for 15 points in 36 minutes. The Knicks star made just two of his six three-pointers.
Anthony Davis was five-for-16 shooting in a team-high 39 minutes of action as the Lakers star recorded just 13 points against the Suns. He missed both of his attempts from beyond the arc. As a team, the Lakers were just 26.9 per cent from the three-point line after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made just one of his seven shots.
NBA playoffs hard to predict after strange season
A look at the numbers using Stats Perform data as the Brooklyn Nets headline the NBA playoffs.Sure, an occasional first-round upset stands out – like MVP Dirk Nowitzki and the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks falling to the Golden State Warriors in 2007 – but almost never does an underdog hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy as season's end.
Trae Young was the hero for the Hawks, who edged the Knicks in their series opener at Madison Square Garden. Young nailed the game-winner with 0.9 seconds remaining to silence the New York crowd in a thriller between the fourth and fifth seeds in the east. The Hawks guard finished with 32 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. According to Stats Perform, Young is the first NBA player to make a game-winning field goal in the final five seconds in his playoff debut since Dwyane Wade in 2004.
COOLER THAN THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PILLOW.— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks)
Philadelphia 76ers 125-118 Washington Wizards
Phoenix Suns 99-90 Los Angeles Lakers
Atlanta Hawks 107-105 New York Knicks
Memphis Grizzlies 112-109 Utah Jazz
Heat at Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks will look to extend their lead over the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round series on Monday.
NBA playoffs 2021: Jazz, 76ers and Hawks advance to Conference semis, Doncic tames Clippers .
The Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks progressed from the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday.Mitchell posted 26 of his 30 points in the first half to fuel the Jazz to a 126-110 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, sealing a 4-1 series victory in the NBA playoffs on Wednesday.