Thunder Seal Pelicans Sweep To Advance As Celtics On Brink

Miami, (APP – UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 30th Apr, 2024) The Oklahoma City Thunder sealed a 4-0 series sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans to book their place in the NBA playoffs second round Monday as Boston dominated Miami to move to the brink of the conference semi-finals.

Western Conference top seeds Oklahoma City finally got the better of New Orleans with a late scoring burst in the fourth quarter to complete a 97-89 road victory in Louisiana.

The Pelicans led by five points with just over eight minutes remaining before Oklahoma City responded with an 18-2 run to close out victory in a hard-fought contest that saw the lead change hands 19 times.

Jalen Williams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder scoring with 24 points apiece while Chet Holmgren and Josh Giddey each scored 14 and Luguentz Dort 11.

It was the Thunder’s first playoff series win since 2016 and leaves them facing a Western Conference semi-final against either the Los Angeles Clippers or Dallas Mavericks.

“This was probably our hardest game,” Williams said afterwards. “We weren’t hitting shots but I think defensively we locked in down the stretch.

“We’re all together through thick and thin, through the ups and downs of the season. We’ve hung in there together and now you see the result.”

Elsewhere on Monday, Derrick White scored 38 points as the top-seeded Boston Celtics dominated Miami 102-88 on the road to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series.

After a 20-point win over Miami in game three Saturday, Boston picked up where they left off with another emphatic performance over last season’s Eastern Conference champions.

White set the tone for Boston with an electric first-quarter display, rattling in 16 points in the opening frame — including four three-pointers — to help the Celtics take a 10-point lead heading into the second quarter.

Boston kept up the pressure to open up a 53-36 half-time advantage.

The Celtics stretched the lead to 28 points at one stage in the third quarter, and even though Miami rallied in the fourth, narrowing the deficit to 13 points with just over five minutes remaining, Boston’s grip on the lead never looked in serious jeopardy.

The win means the Celtics can clinch their place in the second round, where they will face either Orlando or Cleveland, with a victory in game five Wednesday back in Boston.

On Monday’s evidence, few would bet against Boston bringing the series to a swift conclusion.

“I made a couple of shots early and that always helps,” White said of his career-high playoff-scoring performance.

“Once you’ve made a couple the basket looks huge. I just wanted to be aggressive and try to make the right play every time I was on the court.”

White insisted Boston would take nothing for granted as they attempt to close out the series in front of their home fans.

“It’s going to be a tough game five. We know they ain’t going away so we’ve got to be ready to go,” White said.

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