College Hoops

Thunder stun Mavericks; Celtics up 3-1 | WNBA’s Caitlin Clark era begins

Thunder stun Mavericks; Celtics up 3-1 | WNBA's Caitlin Clark era begins

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These very young, very fun and very promising Thunder have their first signature playoff win. Oklahoma City, which trailed by as much as 14, used a late 9-0 run to stun the Mavericksย 100-96 to even the seriesย and regain home-court advantage.

  • When almost everyone was struggling offensively, the Thunder leaned on their excellent defense and MVP runner-upย Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (34 points) to stay within arm’s length.
  • When the lid finally came off the basket, it did at the perfect time: Oklahoma City scored 35 points in the fourth quarter, with Chet Holmgren (18 points) and Lu Dort (17) making huge 3-pointers down the stretch.
  • Luka Doncicย shot 6-of-20 (and 2-of-9 from 3) and, with the Mavs down by two with 10 seconds left, he missed his first free-throw attempt after being fouled on a drive to the hoop. Kyrie Irving had just nine points. Oklahoma City’s ability to throw a plethora of athletic, physical defenders at both of them and have Holmgren protect the rim is huge.

Plenty of teams — more experienced, more accomplished ones at that — would have crumbled. Not the burgeoning Thunder. What a win.

The Celtics, meanwhile, are one game away from their third consecutive Eastern Conference finals after a 109-102 win over the Cavaliers, who were without star Donovan Mitchell (calf strain). Boston goes back home for Game 5, up 3-1.

It wasn’t always the prettiest game from the East’s top seed,…

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