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NBA

Buzzer beater from Tatum sees off the Nets as Bucks, Suns and Heat all secure wins

With a last gasp basket by Jayson Tatum, the Boston Celtics secured a 115-114 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday in a dramatic Game 1 of their NBA playoff series.

Update:
NBA Play-offs (Game 1)

With a buzzer-beating basket by Jayson Tatum, the Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets 115-114 on Sunday in a high-octane Game 1 of their NBA playoff series.

In other first-round matchups on Sunday, defending champions Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Chicago Bulls 93-86, Phoenix Suns beat New Orleans Pelicans 110-99 and Miami Heat outmuscled Atlanta Hawks 115-91.

Drama in Boston

The most action packed clash took place at Boston’s TD Garden, where the Celtics scored a valuable and agonizing first win thanks to Tatum’s winning basket.

The young All-Star forward, who scored 31 points on the night, ruined the evening for Kyrie Irving, who powered the Nets with 39 points in front of his former fans, who taunted and booed him throughout the game.

“It wasn’t hostility, it’s basketball. I try not to focus on that”

Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)

Boston fans do not forgive the controversial point guard for breaking his word to renew with the Celtics and leave in 2019 to Brooklyn to reunite with Kevin Durant.

Irving, who appeared to made gestures to fans after some of his incredible baskets was instrumental in seeing his team secure the win with a spectacular last quarter in which he scored 18 points.

“It wasn’t hostility, it’s basketball. I try not to focus on that,” Irving said, downplaying the hostile reception from the crowd. “You have to accept it. It’s the dark side.” Irving’s team-mate Kevin Durant was somewhat subdued on the night hitting just 23 points on a 9/24 shooting stat line from the field.

The Nets didn’t have enough to out-gun the league’s most in-form team with 33 wins in its last 39 games. In addition to Tatum, three other Boston players reached 20 points: Jaylen Brown (23), Marcus Smart (20) and Dominican Al Horford (20).

The game was tied in the final minute when Irving, with his sixth three-pointer of the game, looked like he was going to come out on top in the battle with the fans. After a missed three-pointer by Durant, the last possession remained in Boston’s hands with 12 seconds on the clock.

Brown couldn’t find his way to the basket and gave the ball to Smart who, instead of attempting the three-pointer, assisted for Tatum’s arrival in the paint, who dribbled past Irving and scored uncontested with five-tenths to go to record a dramatic Game 1 win for Boston.

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives the ball against Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11)
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Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives the ball against Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11)David Butler IIUSA TODAY Sports

Bucks beat Bulls in Game 1

The Milwaukee Bucks began their ring defense with a close win over the Chicago Bulls. Greek MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 27 points and 16 rebounds, although he spent much of the final quarter on the bench due to disciplinary issues.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo
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Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo MATT MARTONEFE

Montenegrin center Nikola Vucevic was the Bulls’ top scorer with 24 points and 17 rebounds but missed two consecutive shots under the rim in the last minute that facilitated the win for the home team.

The other Bulls players were far from their best. Veteran DeMar DeRozan had an erratic shooting night with 18 points (6/25) and shooting guard Zach LaVine had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Despite a sluggish night on offense, the Bulls’ defense, led by Alex Caruso, forced the defending champions to fight for the win until the final minute.

“We were a little out of rhythm”

Giannis (Bucks)

“It’s been a long eight or nine days without playing a game. We were a little out of rhythm,” Antetokounmpo justified.

Paul and Booker shine for Suns

The Phoenix Suns (top seed in the West) were too good for the New Orleans Pelicans (110-99) thanks to a relentless Chris Paul, who gave another lesson with 30 points and 10 assists.

The point guard took command of the game when the Pelicans, who trailed all game, made a last-ditch attempt to get within eight points (79-71) at the close of the third quarter.

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns
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Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns Christian PetersenAFP

In the final quarter, Paul punished the opposing defense time and again to score 19 points on an immaculate 7/7 shooting from the field.

The veteran point guard is still chasing his first ring at the age of 36, after the disappointing loss to the Bucks in the last Finals.

Shooting guard Devin Booker contributed to the Suns’ win with 25 points while Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas scored 18 points and grabbed a game-high 25 rebounds, 13 of them offensive.

Heat too strong for Hawks

In the other game played on Sunday, the Miami Heat crushed the Atlanta Hawks thanks to a relentless defense that dried up the stellar Trae Young.

Apr 17, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) looks to pass the ball
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Apr 17, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) looks to pass the ball Jim RassolUSA TODAY Sports

Backup point guard Duncan Robinson punished Atlanta with 27 points and 8 three-pointers while Jimmy Butler, Miami’s star player, added 21 points.

On the other side of the court, Miami’s ferocious defense collapsed the Hawks and provoked the worst game of the season from their leader, the talented Trae Young, who was held to 8 points and 4 assists.

The Heat, runners-up in 2020, came into the clash well rested with the Hawks having to qualify for the playoffs via the play-in.