The Boston Celtics advanced in the NBA playoffs despite suffering another injury blow on Saturday.
Despite losing yet another star player to injury – this time Jaylen Brown – the Celtics somehow managed to turn an eight-point half-time lead into an easy 112-96 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in game seven.
The Celtics advance to host the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of an Eastern Conference semi-finals matchup on Monday.
Brown, who had scored 20.5 points per game in the first six games of the series, limped to the locker room late in the first half. Although he returned to the bench after half-time, he did not play in the second half. The Celtics announced he had a sore right hamstring.
Yet even with Brown sidelined, the Celtics looked unstoppable against a hungry Bucks team. With Al Horford (26 points) owning the paint and Terry Rozier (26 points, five-of-eight from three-point range) ripping the nets from outside, the Celtics built a 19-point lead with five minutes remaining before coasting home. On the defensive end, the Celtics completely shut down the Bucks' transition game.
It is enough to make anyone ponder just how good this team will be when stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward return next season.
Meanwhile, in game one of the Western Conference semi-finals, the Golden State Warriors powered their way to a 123-101 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, despite the absence of injured Stephen Curry.
The Warriors outscored the Pelicans by 20 points in the second quarter to take a 76-55 lead into the locker room. Incredibly, things got even more lopsided in the second half, as the Warriors built a 29-point lead after three quarters.
Even with Curry sidelined, the Warriors just had too many players for the Pelicans. Klay Thompson (27 points) and Kevin Durant (26) led six Warriors in double digits in scoring.
Game two is in Oakland on Tuesday.
TRIPLE-DOUBLE FOR GREEN
Draymond Green collected his fourth career postseason triple-double (16 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists), passing Tom Gola for most playoff triple-doubles in Warriors history.
Forward Jayson Tatum also had a huge game for the Celtics, with 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. He also was a ridiculous plus-24, more than twice as many as any other Celtic.
Guard Jrue Holiday shot four-of-14 from the field, picked up five fouls and scored 11 points in the Pelicans' loss. After averaging 27.8 points per game in the Pelicans' surprising sweep of the Trail Blazers in the first round, he needs to do more if New Orleans want any chance in this series.
DAVIS, RONDO COMBINE
Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo looked like they had done this alley-oop thing before.
Boston Celtics 112-96 Milwaukee Bucks
Golden State Warriors 123-101 New Orleans Pelicans
PACERS AT CAVALIERS
There are some great storylines here. The Cavs on the brink of elimination. The Pacers looking to win their first playoff series since 2014. Is this LeBron James' final game in a Cavs uniform? Following that game seven, the Rockets host the Jazz in game one of the Western Conference semi-finals.