The Los Angeles Lakers eliminated the Golden State Warriors, the defending champion, from the Western Region semi-finals in the NBA, by defeating them well-deserved 122-101, and clinching the series 4-2, and likewise the Miami Heat did in the Eastern Province at the expense of the New York Knicks.
And the best scorer in the history of the league, LeBron James, emerged by signing 30 points for the winner, who set a date in the Western Final with the Denver Nuggets, the regional leaders in the regular league, who had qualified with his Serbian giants Nikola Jokic at the expense of the Phoenix Suns 4-2.
“It’s going to be a great series,” James veteran told ESPN. They finished top of the West all season. We have a lot of respect for them.”
The series kicks off on Tuesday in Denver. A day later, the Miami Heat will open the Eastern Conference final on the ground between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers, who are currently tied 3-3.
Miami reached the Eastern Final after a bitter struggle with the New York Knicks, as it won its sixth match at home 96-92, ending the series 4-2, under the eyes of actor Jack Nicholson, rapper Dr. Dre and Elon Musk.
The last semi-final will be decided Sunday when Boston hosts Philadelphia.
Aggressiveness and strategy
In Los Angeles, the Lakers dominated the match from start to finish, adding LeBron 9 rebounds and 9 assists, to settle the series at the second attempt after losing the fifth match in San Francisco.
“The King” explained: “Many of our team did not participate in decisive matches. After the fifth match there in San Francisco, I realized that I have to play aggressively, but also with efficiency and strategy.”
He added to the winner Anthony Davis 17 points and 20 rebounds, D’Angelo Russell 19 points, and Austin Reeves 23 points, including a super hat-trick by the midfield line when the first half was breathing its last, giving the golden team a 56-46 lead.
And since making his way to the playoffs with difficulty via the play-in supplement, the Lakers have achieved seven consecutive victories at home.-
On the other hand, this is the first time that the Warriors lost in the wonderful era with its distributor Stephen Curry and coach Steve Kerr, which began in 2015, a series in the knockout rounds within the Western Region.-
The Warriors have reached the league final six times in the last eight years, winning the title four times, and missed the playoffs in 2020 and 2021.
Curry scored 32 points, but succeeded in only 4 of 14 attempts from behind the arc. Another veteran star, Klay Thompson, scored only two hat-tricks from 12 attempts.
James spoke about the defensive strategy to keep the Warriors in check: “We tried to make things difficult for them. They are champions, they won’t give up. Their ability to score and shoot is unparalleled.”
The thirty-eight-year-old, who won the league title four times with three different clubs, continued: “We wanted to maintain pressure, strength, and be the most solid party in the 48 minutes.”
Heat holds up
In Miami, things were not that clear, but 24 points for the star of the team, Jimmy Butler, and 23 for the pivot player, Bam Adebayo, put the Heat on the right track to reach the Eastern Final for the third time in four years.
It became the first team ranked in eighth place to reach the Eastern Final since the Knicks in 1999, noting that it eliminated the league leaders Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.
“I loved it,” Butler said after a fierce battle with the Knicks. “We’ve played similar games all year. We’ve prepared well.”
And the Heat braked a wonderful new performance from Knicks star Gaylen Branson, who scored 41 points, but the latter lost an important ball 16.4 seconds before the end of time, which gave the Heat a two-point lead.
The last moments were difficult for the Heat, after Branson got a flagrant error, so he scored two free throws, then Gabe Vincent added a basket, reducing the difference to two points, before Branson lost the last ball.