The Lakers’ repeat bid is officially over as they bowed down to the Suns in the first round of this year’s NBA playoffs.
Heading into Game 6, the Lakers were facing an insurmountable challenge in trying to come back from a 2-3 deficit against the Suns. However, the visitors were just the better and more complete team.
Elsewhere, the Nuggets have eliminated the Blazers after a hard-fought series, while the Jazz, Hawks, and Sixers dominated in their respective matchups to move on to the second round.
Read on below as SBOTOP gives you our takeaways in these last few days around the Association.
Devin Booker is the real deal
Devin Booker has officially arrived since he’s the driving force in eliminating the defending champions.
The sweet-shooting guard had a virtuoso performance in the closeout game as he dropped 47 points including 22 in the first quarter alone, which killed the Lakers’ NBA 2021 odds of repeating with another championship.
Booker’s sizzling start was the main difference in Game 6 since he was torching the Lakers’ defence with a variety of moves and shots from the paint, midrange, and from three-point distance.
He made eight of his 10 three-point attempts, shot 9-for-9 from the charity stripe, and notched 11 boards and three dimes for good measure.
However, Booker didn’t do it all alone and he got significant contributions from his teammates.
Phoenix’s second-leading scorer was Jae Crowder, who made crucial threes in the fourth quarter en route to 18 points. Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges added 10 points apiece, while Chris Paul had eight points and 12 assists.
As for Los Angeles, LeBron James led the Lakers with 29 points but the loss of Anthony Davis proved too much to overcome since he was clearly hindered by his injury.
The Suns have now won three straight matches to reach the second round for the first time since 2010, when they were beaten by the Lakers in the Western Conference finals.
Nikola Jokic shows why he’s the MVP
The Nuggets are set to take on the Suns in the next round thanks to the usual heroics of Nikola Jokic.
The Serbian international dropped 36 points, eight rebounds, and six assists to lead Denver to a series-clinching victory at Portland. He was backstopped by Michael Porter Jr. and Monte Morris who tallied 26 and 22 points respectively.
On the other hand, the Blazers were led by Damian Lillard who had 28 points and 13 assists. However, he wasn’t as impactful compared to Game 5 in which he dropped 55 points and some jaw-dropping NBA 2021 highlights.
In the said match, Lillard hit clutch shot after clutch shot but the Blazers couldn’t seal the deal since he isn’t getting enough help from his teammates. And when the Nuggets made him a marked man in Game 6, the Blazers were held to just 14 points in the fourth quarter.
It has been a remarkable run so far for the Nuggets as they’ve navigated these past few months without two of their key players in Jamal Murray and Will Barton.
Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL back in April while Will Barton is still being hampered by his hamstring issue.
With both of them out, Nikola Jokic carried the Nuggets on his back, sparking a 14-point comeback by notching 20 of his 36 points in the third period.
The Nuggets never looked back from there and they have sent the Blazers packing in the first round for the second consecutive season.
Jazz, Hawks, Sixers advance
The Jazz, Hawks, and Sixers are all going to head to the second round after cruising past their respective opponents.
It all took a gentleman’s sweep to beat their counterparts and their Game 5’s have epitomised their dominance in the first round.
After losing in the first game, the Jazz were rejuvenated by Donovan Mitchell’s return from injury – capped off by his 30-point, 10-assist double-double in Game 5.
Meanwhile, the Sixers didn’t need Joel Embiid in the closing game as Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Seth Curry all put in solid performances to finally move past the Wizards after losing in Game 4.
As for the Hawks, Trae Young solidified his MSG villain status by tallying 36 points and nine assists to upend the Knicks’ Cinderella campaign.
The Jazz now await the winner between the Clippers-Mavericks series, while the Sixers and Hawks are slated to go toe-to-toe in the Eastern Conference semis.
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