NBA 2022 playoffs: legacies at stake in a pair of games 7

Which NBA contenders will join the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors in the Conference Finals?

Sunday’s Game 7 features two series that couldn’t be more different.

The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) each battled their way to their finals, each winning classics on opponent’s ground behind superstar performances from Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks (8 p.m. ET, TNT) could be tied heading into Game 7, but only two matchups have been decided by single digits and three others have been decided by at least 20 points.

However each team got here, these 7 games will help shape the legacies of players like Tatum, Antetokounmpo, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Luka Doncic. Which superstars will rise to the occasion and propel their teams one step closer to the NBA Finals?

Here’s what to watch before every confrontation.


Legacies are at stake in Celtics-Bucks

On the final day of the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks had a chance to secure the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a victory. Instead, the Bucks decided to rest their starters and lost the game, paving the way for the Boston Celtics, who played their usual rotation, to leapfrog them in the standings.

This decision is why Game 7 will be played in Boston on Sunday afternoon.

“Good old Game 7. Beautiful,” Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said after Game 6. “You don’t know if you’ll ever be part of a Game 7…so don’t ever take it for granted.”

Each team had no problem winning at the other’s buildings during this back-and-forth series. The road team have won four of six games so far, including three in a row. Milwaukee has experience winning a Game 7 on the road in the second round, beating the Nets in Brooklyn last year to advance in a series similar to this one.

But the Bucks face an even tougher challenge this year, trying to move forward without forward Khris Middleton, whose absence is becoming more evident with each game.

The Bucks posted the lowest offensive rating of any team in the second round. Antetokounmpo scored 44 points in Game 6. The rest of the Bucks combined for 51 points. Milwaukee was 29-under in 22 minutes with Grayson Allen on the ground and 22-under in 19 minutes from Brook Lopez. George Hill hasn’t scored a field goal in three of the four games he’s played in this series.

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Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo combine for 90 points in an incredible Game 6 that sees the Celtics win.

Antetokounmpo remained dominant and found a way to make his mark against the stifling Celtics defence. He averaged 35.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists during this series, including three consecutive games with 40 points and 10 rebounds, making him one of the four players in history in the NBA to do so, and the only player to do so twice (last year’s Finals).

However, his brilliance was matched recently by Celtics star Jayson Tatum, who responded well to a clunker in Game 3, where he finished with 10 points on 4 of 19 shooting. Since then, Tatum has been displaying averaging 36.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists and his 46-point performance in Game 6 will carry over into Celtics lore if Boston wins the series. For Milwaukee to win this series, it will take better performances from its cast to complement Antetokounmpo.

For Boston to move forward, it will continue to rely on stifling defense and sharp shooting from Tatum to get them out of offensive ruts. Tatum and Antetokounmpo have engaged in a duel for the history books already in this series. Game 7 could be the chance for one of them to cement a legendary performance.

–Jamal Necklace


All the pressure is on one side at Suns-Mavs

The Mavericks gained “a little more playtime” with their rout of the Suns in Game 6, as Jason Kidd said during his post-game locker room interview.

It’s an intentionally playful way to frame a Game 7. It’s the highest-stakes situation in the NBA. But Kidd and the Mavs’ loose group of underdogs seem to believe there will only be pressure on one team Sunday afternoon at the Footprint Center in Phoenix.

That, of course, would be a Phoenix team that just made the NBA Finals, had the league’s best record this season, and is led by a 37-year-old legend in Chris Paul, who is chasing his first championship. ring.

“We’re young,” Kidd said. It doesn’t matter that six of the Mavs’ first eight-minute playoff point guards are at least 29 years old. This fact does not match his account. “We have a 23 year old star who plays at a high level every night, fun to watch, people love to play with him. It’s a great learning experience for us. We’ll be better but it’s not That’s the start of the trip. Again, no one had us here but ourselves, and we believe we can do something special.

Prior to Game 6, Kidd pretended to be confused by the term “elimination game”, as the coach insisted during his first season in Dallas, “We’re just getting started, and that’s fun.”

It’s been an oddly straightforward streak so far, one that will be decided in Game 7 although none of the previous six contests have come close. Both teams protected their home turf with relative ease, a trend the Suns certainly hope to continue in the series finale.

“I think we’ve worked all season to get home-court advantage and get the last game in our house, and that’s exciting,” Suns star Devin Booker said. “It’s Game 7, man. I’ve never been in a Game 7.”

Booker, however, proved himself as the closer in his first look at the playoffs last season. Kidd has often referenced Booker’s 47-point performance that he witnessed as an assistant on the Lakers’ bench when the Suns walked out on them last season. The Suns’ starting lineup from that Finals remains intact, led by Paul and his 141 games of playoff experience.

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Luka Doncic will pick up 33 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Mavericks to a dominating victory in Game 6.

But the Mavs’ young stars — and yes, Brunson has risen to that status — are no strangers to performing under pressure. Brunson won two NCAA titles at Villanova. Doncic has racked up a collection of championships with Real Madrid and the Slovenian national team.

How is it for an example to grow big in a hostile environment with high stakes? Doncic scored a 31-point triple-double as Slovenia clinched their first men’s basketball Olympics bid by defeating Lithuania on Lithuanian soil. He longs for these kinds of opportunities.

“Before the game you have this feeling – like butterflies in your stomach, as they say,” said Doncic. “I like that feeling. It’s a basketball feeling, a great feeling for me.”

–Tim Mac Mahon

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