Clippers crush ‘abysmally bad’ Mavericks; Celtics superstar’s scary fall in win: Playoffs Wrap

    The Dallas Mavericks entered the playoffs as one of the NBA’s most in-form teams but looked a shadow of themselves in a 109-97 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers.

    That was despite the Clippers being dealt a setback before the game itself, with Kawhi Leonard ruled out of the series opener with inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee.

    In his absence, James Harden stepped up to lead the Clippers with 28 points while four of Los Angeles’ five starters hit double figures in the win.

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    Russell Westbrook, meanwhile, scored 13 points off the bench to go with four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

    Dallas got plenty of production from the usual suspects as Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic combined for 64 points but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Mavericks failed to get the kind of help they need from their improved supporting cast.

    The Clippers raced out to a 34-22 lead after the first quarter off the back of an early 11 points and three assists from Harden, while Ivica Zubac was causing problems as he added 10 points and four rebounds in the period.

    Things only took an even bigger turn in the second quarter for the Mavericks as they scored just eight points to find themselves trailing 56-30 heading into the half.

    The team as a whole had shot 9-for-40 from the field and 2-for-18 from deep at that point, with Harden again on a heater for Los Angeles as he led the way on 20 points.

    The Mavericks never looked any real chance of getting back into the game despite winning the third and fourth quarters and may be forced to adjust their rotations for the rest of the series after Maxi Kleber struggled to get anything going on the offensive end.


    Led by a triple double from Jayson Tatum, the Boston Celtics cruised to a 114-94 win over the Miami Heat in the opening game of their NBA playoff first-round series.

    The top-seeded Celtics raced out to a 14-0 start, setting the tone for a wire-to-wire victory that was never in doubt despite Miami being able to add some respectability to the score in the fourth quarter.

    The Celtics, draining a barrage of three-pointers, led 60-45 at half-time and extended that advantage to 91-74 by the end of the third quarter before taking their foot off the gas a little in the final period.

    The Heat, without injured star Jimmy Butler, reached the playoffs as the number eight seed after beating the Chicago Bulls in a play-in eliminator.

    Miami took the same route into the playoffs last season, going on to upset the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals before they were beaten by the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals.

    The Celtics took care of business. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)Source: AFP

    But the chances of such a run this time look remote, especially without Butler, who is out with a medial collateral knee ligament injury, as the Celtics were just too much for Erik Spoelstra’s side.

    Tatum, who had his first triple double in a playoff game, put up 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and provided 10 assists.

    There was one scary moment late in the fourth quarter when Tatum took a hard fall after a foul from Caleb Martin.

    “A physical game, playing against a physical team, s***’s gonna happen,” Tatum told reporters after the game.

    “It’s not the last time I’m probably going to get hit like that or fouled in this series. I wasn’t hurt.

    “You get hit like that, you just get up. And I knew we were in the bonus, so go down there and knock my free throws down.”

    Five-time NBA All-Star Tatum, 26, was one of six players to reach double figures scoring for Boston with Derrick White the second top scorer with 20 points.

    Tatum was disappointed with the way the team allowed Miami a glimmer of hope in the fourth quarter, where they were outscored 35-23.

    “We had some turnovers, some mistakes,” he said.

    “They’re not going to give up, they’re not going to lay down. Some things we can correct. We could have done better in that fourth quarter.

    “Human nature can play a factor but you can’t relax.”

    Bam Adebayo was top scorer for Miami with 24 points and six rebounds.

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