There will be a new NBA champion and the Denver Nuggets extended their season following NBA playoff games Friday in Orlando.
The Celtics dug deep to dethrone the Toronto Raptors 92-87 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the fifth seed Miami Heat starting Tuesday.
Jayson Tatum scored 29 points and 12 rebounds and Jaylen Brown had 21 for the Celtics.
Marcus Smart added 16 points and Kemba Walker 14 for the No. 3 seed Boston for its third conference finals appearance in the last four seasons.
Fred VanVleet had 20 points to lead the Raptors while Kyle Lowry chalked up 16 and Pascal Siakam had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Boston was up by one entering the fourth 72-71 and drilled seven straight points to create an eight-point cushion 79-71.
The Celtics never relinquished the lead after that but the Raptors got to within two 89-87 with under a minute left.
A Tatum free throw hiked the lead to three 90-87 and VanVleet missed a triple in the return possession.
Walker made two free throws with 7.9 seconds left to seal the win and end Toronto’s reign as NBA champions.
The Denver Nuggets stayed alive with a 111-105 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Jamal Murray scored a team high 26 points, Nikola Jokic had 22 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, and Paul Millsap tallied 17 points for the Nuggets — still down 3-2 in the series.
Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 36 points and Paul George finished with 26. Marcus Morris Sr. had 12 and Patrick Beverley added 10.
Denver trailed throughout the game and grabbed the lead with a little over six minutes left in the game.
The Nuggets maintained the advantage from then on but the Clippers cut the lead to two 102-100 with 1:58 left.
Denver responded and led 107-100 before Kawhi nailed a three to make it 107-103. Michael Porter Jr. came to the rescue and scored two free throws to put the game out of reach.
The Clippers hope to advance to their first Western Conference final with a victory in Game 6 Monday.
On the other hand, Denver seeks a repeat of their comeback in their previous series in which they stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to stun the Utah Jazz.
Houston Rockets forward Danuel House Jr. has been evicted by the NBA for violating health and safety protocols after bringing a woman inside the bubble.
“House had a guest in his hotel room over multiple hours on Sept. 8 who was not authorized to be on campus,” the NBA said.
“Mr. House is leaving the NBA campus and will not participate with the Rockets team in additional games this season.”
House has not played in the past two games and the Rockets are on the brink of elimination by the Los Angeles Lakers, leading their Western Conference semifinal series 3-1.
What House and his companion did in their room was not disclosed.
Next season won’t begin before Christmas
The 2020-21 NBA season will not begin before Christmas Day.
The league will also move the 2020 draft Nov. 18, which was originally scheduled for June but later moved to Oct. 16 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The opening day and the draft date are likely to change again.
It was reported that by delaying the draft from October, the NBA and the players union would have additional time to amend certain aspects of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and settle on a 2020-21 salary cap and luxury tax.
Moving draft day would also shift the opening of free agency, currently set for Oct. 18, the report added.
Meet ‘Lemon Pepper Lou’
Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams is cashing on the nickname “Lemon Pepper Lou” he got when he made an infamous side trip to a strip club famous for its chicken wings in Atlanta last July.
Williams has shared screenshots on Instagram showing that he officially has the trademark.
“Y’all make jokes and T-shirts, but it’s gonna cost ya lol,” Williams said on Instagram.
Lemon Pepper Lou refers to the “Louwill Lemon Pepper BBQ” chicken wing flavor which the nightspot serves.
For his actions, Williams was quarantined for a few day and missed some games and paychecks as well.
Sonia Raman in Grizzlies coaching staff
The Memphis Grizzlies has hired another woman for their coaching staff – MIT head coach Sonia Raman.
“We are beyond excited to welcome Sonia to the Memphis Grizzlies,” said Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins.
“She has a high basketball IQ and a tremendous ability to teach the game, as well as a strong passion for the game. She is going to be a great addition to our current coaching staff.”
Raman was hired after Niele Ivey, the team’s first female assistant coach who was hired in 2019, left to coach the Notre Dame women’s basketball team last April. (Compiled by Tristan Lozano)