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A Day of Surprises as Boston, OKC Win to Go Up 3-1, Tie Series 2-2

By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
PhilBoxing.com
Tue, 14 May 2024



It was a day of unexpected happenings in the NBA semi-finals series in the East and West as Boston moved up 3-1 against Cleveland and OKC tied its series 2-2 with Dallas.

The Celtics were expected to breeze through the Cavaliers in the absence of Cavs ace scorer Donovan Mitchell, but surprisingly, they somewhat struggled in a 109-102 win in Boston.

Meanwhile, the Thunder beat Dallas, 100-96, essentially winning the game on the free throw line. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and company opted for shorter shots in and around the basket, resulting in fouls that gave them a total of 24 free throw attempts, 23 of which they made.

Before the game, analysts had noted a dip in OKC's inside offensive presence due to the Mavs' size and physicality. This game demonstrated that the Thunder can still thrive in and around the painted area, with Alexander and Chet Holmgren asserting themselves.

With Mitchell out due to a strained calf, Boston was expected to have an easier time against the Cavs. That seemed to be the case as the Celtics quickly established the initiative and the lead, although not as sizeable as many expected.

One reason for this was top Celtic Jayson Tatum not having a particularly good scoring night, hitting just 11 of 27, including 2 of 8 from the three-point line, though he still finished with 33 points.

Jaylen Brown had a better shooting clip on the way to 27 points, while defensive guard Jrue Holiday continued in his familiar role from his Milwaukee days, contributing 16. Payton Pritchard and Luke Kornet made up for the continuous scoring slack of Derrick White by scattering 11 and 9 points, respectively.

Darius Garland stepped up in the absence of Mitchell, scoring 33 points, supported by Evan Mobley and Caris LeVert, who scored 19 points each. Max Strus added 15 points in the losing effort.

The Cavs mounted a last-ditch rally in the waning minutes of the game to cut the Boston lead to five, but the Celtics proved steadier to preserve the victory.

Meanwhile, Alexander abandoned his usual long-range shooting, and with Holmgren and Jalen Williams continuously challenging Dallas' inside defense, allowed the Thunder to come back from a ten-point deficit in the last quarter for another thrilling win.

Once Holmgren wrested the lead for OKC with two free throws, 97-95, there was no looking back for the Thunder.

Alexander finished with 34 points to lead OKC. Holmgren backed him up with 18 points. Lu Dort added 17 points while hounding Luka Doncic. Jalen Williams contributed 15 points.

PJ Williamson again led Dallas with 21 points as Doncic, troubled by Dort and playing hurt, could only score 18 points, though he had a game-high 10 assists. Kyrie Irving was again a non-factor with only 9 points.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.

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