The Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz on Wednesday powered into the conference semi-finals of the NBA playoffs as an electrifying display from Luka Doncic took the Dallas Mavericks to the brink of a series victory.
Seth Curry’s 30-point display helped the Sixers shrug off the injury absence of Joel Embiid as the top seeds completed a 4-1 playoff series win over the Washington Wizards with a 129-112 win in Philadelphia.
The fifth-seeded Hawks brought the New York Knicks’ season to an end with a 103-89 victory at Madison Square Garden to clinch the best-of-seven series 4-1 after a bruising contest.
Photo: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY
The Sixers and Hawks are to meet for a place in the Eastern Conference finals.
In the Western Conference, top seeds Utah outclassed the Memphis Grizzlies 126-110 to wrap up a 4-1 win in the best-of-seven series, with Donovan Mitchell’s 30-point haul steering the Jazz into the next round.
The individual performance of the night came at the Staples Center, where Slovenian prodigy Doncic erupted for 42 points to help the Mavericks to a 105-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
It was the fifth straight road victory of a roller-coaster series and leaves the Mavericks 3-2 ahead in the best-of-seven series.
“I played terrible at the end, but we got a win and that’s all that matters,” said Doncic, who wants Dallas to replicate their away form in Game 6 in Texas.
“We’ve got to play like we play on the road,” he said.
Tim Hardaway Jr was the only other player to crack double figures for Dallas with 20 points.
The Clippers were left ruing a costly late missed layup by Nicolas Batum with less than 10 seconds remaining that would have given them a 102-101 lead.
Instead the Mavs defense held firm to leave the Clippers needing to win their final two games to stay alive.
Elsewhere, the 76ers shrugged off the news of Joel Embiid’s knee injury to dispatch Washington.
“It was a great team win,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said afterward. “I just love how we played. We got down early, but no panic set in.”
“They really believed they were the better team today. They played with that kind of confidence. It was what you would call an all hands in, team win for sure,” Rivers added.
After a tight first half, Philadelphia pulled clear in the third period, outscoring the Wizards 38-31.
Another burst of scoring midway through the fourth period sealed the contest, with Curry, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris scoring six unanswered points to put Philadelphia 118-100 ahead with just under six minutes to play.
In New York, Trae Young delivered a 36-point masterclass for Atlanta in an ill-tempered victory at the Garden.
Players from both sides scuffled as they left the court at halftime in a game peppered with technical fouls.
In Utah, the Jazz proved too strong for Memphis, with Jordan Clarkson (24 points) and Rudy Gobert (23) backing Mitchell.
Utah face either the Mavericks or the Clippers in the conference semi-finals.
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