Lakers take out Warriors, Heat in Eastern Conference Finals

The shock turned to the advantage of the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James’ team offered the scalp of the defending champion, the Golden State Warriors, Friday, May 12, after a perfectly controlled sixth game (122-101). Los Angeles, champion in 2020 and in search of an 18e title that would beat the previous record, will face in the next round the Denver Nuggets of Nikola Jokic, who dismissed the Phoenix Suns on the same score of four wins to two.

After a thunderous start to the match against the San Francisco players who had left their dexterity in the locker room, the Lakers were never really worried in front of their public. LeBron James had 30 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. His friend, Anthony Davis, scored 17 points and grabbed 20 rebounds for a victory that confirmed their incredible late-season rise. The always surprising Austin Reaves scored 23 points, including a shot from midfield at the first-period buzzer.

The Lakers have chained a seventh straight home success since the end of the regular season with, among other things, three wins in seven days against the Warriors, ending a loop of 28 Golden State playoffs with at least one victory away, an NBA record that spans the entire career of Stephen Curry, helpless Friday night, despite 32 points on the clock.

Read also: NBA: Denver qualified for the Western Conference final, Boston forces a seventh game in the East

The Lakers are the first team since 2014 to knock the Warriors out of the playoffs before the Finals. Golden State has appeared in six of the last eight NBA Finals, missing the playoffs entirely the other two seasons.

Miami in the conference final, as usual

In the East, here they are again in the conference final. The Miami Heat players eliminated the New York Knicks by winning Game 6 of the series (96-92) thanks to the combined efforts of stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

This is the third time in four years that the Heat have reached this stage of the competition. In 2020, in Orlando’s anti-Covid bubble, he dismissed the Celtics to join the final, which was ultimately lost to LeBron James’ Lakers. Last year, Boston had taken its revenge, at the end of a series of suspense. And a reunion cannot be ruled out, because the Massachusetts team will have the opportunity on Sunday, at home, to complete its series against Philadelphia (3-3).

Heat player Jimmy Butler (number 22) against the New York Knicks in Miami on May 12, 2023.

While waiting for this scenario to be fully realized, the Heat fought to extinguish the inclinations of the Knicks, who started very strong in this meeting, since they led by 15 units in the first quarter, carried by the untenable Jalen Brunson, author 15 points with a 5 of 6 behind the arc. The New York point guard, always so generous – he played 45 minutes – finished with 41 points on the clock, becoming the first player in the franchise to chain three playoff games in a row with at least 30 points since Patrick Ewing, in 1990.

Until the last minute, causing the gap to narrow to 92-90, he was a constant threat for the Floridians, unlike Julius Randle (15 points, 11 rebounds) and RJ Barrett (11 points) who shot at 4 out of 24 between them.

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Despite a starving long-range address (7 of 27), the Heat had more offensive weapons to catch up, even if Jimmy Butler was not on his best night (24 points, 7 of 22). To support him, he had Bam Adebayo, who sounded the revolt of the team in the second quarter by scoring 11 of his 23 points (9 rebounds), and Max Strus (14 points), author of important baskets in money time.

“I like to wet the shirt for the wins, that’s what we do best. We’ve done it all season. (…) There are some very good players in this team.”, rejoiced Butler, who will necessarily still need them in tune to advance further. And get his first NBA title, in a franchise already crowned three times (2006, 2012, 2013).

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Le Monde with AP and AFP

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