The New York Yankees continued their red-hot start to the season with a 6-2 away win against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

With the win, the Yankees are now 26-9, and sit three games clear atop the standings.

As has been the story with the Pinstripes this season, their power was again the driving force in their success, with every run scoring as a result of an extra-base hit.

New York took the lead in the third inning through a Giancarlo Stanton RBI double, before Jose Trevino gave the Yanks some breathing room with a three-run homer an inning later.

Anthony Santander launched his own long-ball in response for the Orioles, making it 4-1 later in the fourth inning, and that score would hold all the way through to the ninth frame.

After Luis Severino pitched six terrific innings, allowing just one hit – Santander's home run – with two walks, the big bats came back to the plate to put the icing on the cake.

Josh Donaldson blasted the longest shot of the night for a 395-foot solo shot, before Rizzo topped it as the very next batter, sending his solo home run 406 feet through the Baltimore sky.

In a consolation for the home fans who stuck around, Santander hit his second bomb of the night in the bottom of the ninth.


Cubs go crazy in first inning

The Chicago Cubs wasted no time putting their 9-0 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates to bed, jumping out to a 8-0 lead in the first inning.

Pirates starting pitcher Dillon Peters was only able to get two outs before being pulled from the game as the Cubs piled on eight hits and two walks for their eight runs, highlighted by a grand-slam from Willson Contreras in his second plate appearance of the inning.

Cubs pitcher Wade Miley was lights-out, retiring 12 straight batters through the fourth inning, and finished with just one hit allowed, and no walks, through seven complete frames.

Brewers battle for 1-0 win

A wild pitch was the only thing that could bring in a run in the Milwaukee Brewers' 1-0 win against the Atlanta Braves.

Freddy Peralta was spectacular on the mound for the Brewers, striking out 10 batters in seven full innings, conceding just two hits and one walk.

Ian Anderson was not much worse for the Braves, giving up four hits and two walks in his six innings, but a costly wild pitch in the sixth inning while a runner was on third base gifted the Brewers the game's only run, and the win. 

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Eastern Conference Finals will be an old-school defensive slugfest, and that he feels the best two teams made it.

The Heat needed six games to triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Boston Celtics came back from 3-2 down against the Milwaukee Bucks to get the job done in Game 7.

As a reward for getting their series out of the way early, the Heat will have five days of rest before Tuesday's Game 1, while the Celtics have just one proper rest day between series.

Speaking to the media after Monday's practice, Spoelstra said it is shaping up as a series that will warm the heart of Heat president Pat Riley.

"Pat's [Riley] probably is going to enjoy this," he said. "This is like a throwback series. 

"If both teams are really on top of their games, this should be a series where neither team is scoring 130 points. Both teams hang their hats on rock-solid team defense, and making multiple efforts and being disciplined to schemes. 

"So it will be a lot of plays and things in the margins… really, we were the two best teams in the East most of the season and it's fitting that we're moving into the conference finals.

"Boston has played as well as anyone in the entire league once they got to 2022. It's not by accident. They're playing very strong basketball. They do it on both ends."

Heat star Jimmy Butler was asked about his potential matchup against Jayson Tatum, and he had nothing but praise for the Celtics' best player.

"He's one of the best in the game right now," he said. "As much attention as he draws on the offensive end – and then I think what's really impressive is the way that he's picked up his defensive intensity. 

"You got to tip your hat to that and respect him, I think those are the guys that you want to go up against."

Two years after meeting in the 2020 Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Celtics are on a mission to flip the script on the Miami Heat.

In that 2020 series, which the Heat won 4-2 in 'the bubble' to advance to the NBA Finals, the Celtics were the higher seed, and were playing in their third Eastern Conference Finals in the space of four seasons.

But in hindsight, it was Miami who were built to win that series, despite it being their first time past the second round since LeBron James carried them to the finals in 2014.

Jimmy Butler was invigorated in his first year in Miami, in his physical prime at 30 years old and was determined to show he was not at fault for pushing his way out of the Minnesota Timberwolves and being traded from the Philadelphia 76ers in the space of a year.

He was also supported by Goran Dragic, just two years removed from his lone All-Star appearance, who in the series averaged 20.5 points and 4.7 assists per game in 34 minutes.

As well as having two strong initiators, the Heat also had a complete mismatch in the form of Bam Adebayo against a Celtics team starting Daniel Theis at center, with no competent back-up. Adebayo averaged 21.8 points while shooting over 60 per cent from the field, with 11 rebounds and five assists per game, and was clearly the most dominant player in the series.

When taking into account an outlier 37-point showing from Tyler Herro on 14-of-of-21 shooting that single-handedly won Game 4 112-109 for the Heat – making it a 3-1 series lead instead of 2-2 heading back to Boston – it begins to become clear that there was not much the Celtics could do, given their personnel.

Fast-forward a couple of years, 22-year-old Jayson Tatum is now 24 and in the midst of a rapid ascension into the game's best players, 23-year-old Jaylen Brown is now 25 and has developed into a true number-two option, Marcus Smart is now 28 years old and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and, more importantly, the supporting cast is built for the long-haul.

 

Replacing Theis with Al Horford may be the most consequential addition or subtraction on either side, with the potential to nullify the series-altering presence of Adebayo on the inside. Horford will also have help in the form of Robert Williams III – who became one of the best defensive players in the league this season – while Theis remains as a 'break glass in case of emergency' option.

Adding to the rise of the Celtics has been the emergence of Grant Williams as a reliable two-way player, capable of slowing down Giannis Antetokounmpo while hitting over 40 per cent of his threes, as well as the trade to add Derrick White as a second defensively sound 'small' guard next to Smart.

For a team with a real defensive identity – willing to 'switch' every screen and allow their small guards to take on bigger assignments – being able to replace Kemba Walker with a trustworthy, stout defender completely takes away an avenue of attack for a sharp offensive team like Miami.

What it also means is that the Celtics will not have to waste any minutes on players who have no business in big playoff series – such as Brad Wanamaker and Semi Ojeleye, who combined for 21.8 minutes per game in the 2020 series.

A run to the NBA Finals would be fulfilling the promises of Boston's advanced numbers, which after the All-Star break had the Celtics as not just a legitimate title contender, but as the favourite, and a historic team.

During that stretch, the Celtics were the number one offense – with a gap to the Charlotte Hornets at number two – and the number three defense, with a net-rating of 12.7. The Memphis Grizzlies (7.6) were the only other team with a net-rating above 6.0.

For the Heat, Dragic has been replaced by Kyle Lowry, who is now 36 years old and recovering from his second hamstring injury of the playoffs, and the veteran presences of Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder have been replaced by a combination of Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and the shell of Victor Oladipo.

Erik Spoelstra boasts arguably the deepest bench in the entire NBA, but this is playoff basketball, which generally comes down to each side's best seven players, nullifying their advantage on the back-end of their roster.

The identity of this Miami offense through the playoffs has largely relied on the brilliance of Jimmy Butler, who at 32 years old is putting together the best playoff run of his career, averaging 28.7 points per game on 52.7 per cent shooting, with 7.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.1 steals.

 

Miami's second-best scorer this postseason has been Adebayo, way down at 14.6 points per game compared to his 19.1 for the regular season.

Butler was perfectly matched up against the Philadelphia 76ers, who have no wing defenders capable of matching the Heat star physically – but the Celtics do not have the same problem.

The Celtics have at least four players – Tatum, Brown, G. Williams and R. Williams – who match up well with Butler, and they showed against the Milwaukee Bucks that they were more than happy to play straight-up defense and force one player to try and beat them with isolations all day.

If Miami cannot figure out a way to unleash a second scorer in a real way – be it Herro, Adebayo, or even Strus, who averaged 20.5 points in his two matchups against Boston this season – they may be playing straight into the Celtics hands. 

The one advantage Miami will have is the rest-factor. It will be five days since the Heat's Game 6 win against the 76ers, while the Celtics will only have one true rest day after handling their business in Game 7 on Monday night.

For the regular season, the Heat won all three of their games with at least three days rest, although the Celtics were the fourth-best team in the NBA coming off one day of rest (28-13, .683 winning percentage).

If the Heat can take advantage of their fresh legs and win Game 1, anything could happen, but ultimately, just like the Celtics were almost helpless in 2020, the Heat just may not have the horses this time around.

Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry has been ruled out of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics with a hamstring injury.

Lowry, 36, averaged 13.4 points, 7.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in 63 regular season starts, but has been plagued by injuries in the postseason.

Miami's point guard initially suffered a hamstring injury in Game 3 of the Heat's first round series against the Atlanta Hawks, missing the remainder of the first round and the first two games of their round two clash against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Lowry scored zero points in his return for Game 3, and then re-injured his hamstring in Game 4 as the Heat lost both games before rallying back to win the series in six.

Game 1 against the Celtics will be around 10 days removed from the aggravation of the injury, and given the timetable of hamstring injuries, particularly in older players, it can safely be assumed Lowry remains at least a week away from a possible return.

Top seeds Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber strolled to straight-sets wins in the first round of the Internationaux de Strasbourg, keeping the two former world number ones on course for a final meeting.

Having endured an injury-hit season to date, world number eight Pliskova made the perfect start to her campaign in France with a routine 6-4 6-2 win over Ukrainian 19-year-old Marta Kostyuk. 

Kerber, who is only missing a victory at the French Open – which begins later this month – to complete a Career Grand Slam, overcame teenager Diane Parry 6-3 6-4 in her opener, setting up a round-of-16 clash with world number 45 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Some of the other big names participating in Strasbourg, however, were not so lucky, with 5th and 6th seeds Shuai Zhang and Sloane Stephens crashing to first-round exits.

Shuai went down 6-2 6-3 to Belgium's Maryna Zanevska and Stephens capitulated to a 2-6 6-4 6-1 loss to Nefisa Berberovic, while Heather Watson set up a last-16 meeting with eighth seed Magda Linette by beating Katharina Hobgarski 6-4 6-1.

Meanwhile, Garbine Muguruza made a winning start to her campaign at the Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Morocco, as the world number 10 builds towards a tilt at French Open glory having triumphed at Roland Garros back in 2016.

Muguruza had few difficulties in beating Anna Danilina 6-3 6-2, and will face Martina Trevisan in the round-of-16 after the Italian beat China's You Xiadoi 6-0 6-4.

Third seed Nuria Parrizas-Diaz had to come through a more difficult challenge in Rabat, overcoming Carol Zhao 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 6-2, while eighth seed Anna Kalinskaya was the highest-ranked player to fall at the first hurdle, going down 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 to Lucia Bronzetti.

Dominic Thiem will head to the French Open on the back of six consecutive defeats after he was knocked out of the Geneva Open by Marco Cecchinato.

Thiem missed the second half of last season due to a wrist injury and has won only one set in six matches since returning at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Marbella in March.

The 2020 US Open champion's latest loss came at the hands of Marco Cecchinato, who prevailed 6-3 6-4 to reach the second round on Monday.

A two-time runner-up at Roland Garros, Austrian Thiem will travel to Paris struggling to return to form following such a long absence.

Cecchinato had lost all 11 matches this year, but has won three in Geneva without losing a set after coming through qualifying and will now face Kamil Majchrzak.

Federico Delbonis, the seventh seed, beat Ricardas Berankis 6-4 6-4, while French duo Richard Gasquet and Benoit Paire made it through to the last 16 along with Ilya Ivashka.

There will be no fairytale win for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who will retire after the French Open, at the Lyon Open after he suffered a 6-4 6-4 loss to Alex Molcan.

Eighth seed Pedro Martinez was knocked out by Yosuke Watanuki in the first round, but Karen Khachanov beat Gilles Simon 6-1 6-4 and Lucas Pouille was also beaten in his homeland, falling to Oscar Otte.

After a year away from the sport and with his broadcast career seemingly suffering a setback, Drew Brees teased a potential NFL return on Sunday.

Future Hall of Famer Brees posted on Twitter that he was "undecided" on his future amid reports of his time as an analyst for NBC coming to an end.

He wrote: "Despite speculation from media about my future this fall, I’m currently undecided.

"I may work for NBC, I may play football again, I may focus on business and philanthropy, I may train for the pickleball tour, senior golf tour, coach my kids or all of the above. I'll let you know."

Brees called it a career after the 2020 season - his 15th with the New Orleans Saints - and, while the competitive fire may still burn for an all-time great, the numbers suggest the correct course of action for the 43-year-old would be to stay retired.

Unlike Tom Brady, who swiftly unretired 40 days after announcing his decision to quit in the wake of one of the best seasons of his storied career, Brees endured one of his most underwhelming campaigns in 2020.

Brees remained extremely accurate, completing 70.5 per cent of his passes and delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball on 81.1 per cent of pass attempts.

However, he averaged only 6.41 air yards per attempt, the fourth-fewest among quarterbacks to attempt at least 50 passes.

His 31 completions of 20 yards or more were fewer than that of then-San Francisco 49ers backup Nick Mullens (33). Brees attempted just 21 passes of 21 air yards or more, illustrating an inability to push the ball downfield as his arm strength faded in the final years of his career.

Were Brees to make a comeback, he may not be able to do so with the Saints, who re-signed Jameis Winston to a two-year deal this offseason.

Saints head coach Dennis Allen said of Brees' tweet about a possible comeback: "I think it was a comment made in jest, and we certainly haven't had any conversations in that regard."

Given the age and the numbers from his most recent season, talk of a Brees return is indeed tough to take seriously.

Marcus Smart is questionable for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a mid-foot sprain.

Head coach Ime Udoka revealed the Boston Celtics star suffered the injury in their blowout win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7 of their semi-finals series.

Smart is, therefore, a doubt to face the Miami Heat in the series opener in south Florida as the Celtics aim to steal the initiative against the East's one seed.

The 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year, Smart has arguably not had the impact he would have desired so far in the postseason.

However, he played an instrumental role in forcing Game 7 against the Bucks, scoring 21 points and recording seven assists and five rebounds to help the Celtics set up a decider.

Smart had 10 assists and seven rebounds in Game 7, finishing with a plus-minus of plus-18 that was second only to Grant Williams (+25) as the Celtics routed the Bucks 109-81.

Perhaps his biggest influence in this postseason has been on the glass.

During the playoffs, opponents are averaging 43.6 rebounds per 100 possessions when Smart is on the court and 46.7 when he is off the court.

Similarly, opponents have averaged 13.5 second-chance points per 100 possessions with Smart out there compared to 15.3 against Celtics line-ups not including him in the playoffs.

The Celtics also do a better job of stealing the ball with Smart on court (7.3 per game) compared to when he is on the bench (6.2).

Boston will hope to have him out there to prevent Jimmy Butler and Miami from getting hot, and the Celtics will have center Rob Williams, who has not featured in any of the last four games due to a bone bruise, available with no minutes restriction.

Jhaniele Fowler’s West Coast Fever defeated the Sunshine Coast Lightning 74-65 at the USC Stadium in Queensland in round nine of the Suncorp Super League on Sunday thanks to a perfect 66 goals from 66 attempts from the Jamaican goal shooter.

Fowler’s Fever now has seven wins from nine games to lead the eight-team table with 28 points

Jamaican goal shooter Shimona Nelson was on fire to help the Collingwood Magpies secure a 71-67 win over the Queensland Firebirds at the MyState Bank Arena in Tasmania.

Nelson scored 65 goals from 66 attempts to help the Magpies move to sixth in the table with 16 points from nine matches.

Goal defence Lattanya Wilson and goalkeeper Shamera Sterling each snatched three rebounds but they weren’t enough to prevent their Adelaide Thunderbirds from going down 40-54 to the New South Wales Swifts at the Ken Rosewall Arena.

The Thunderbirds are now seventh in the table with 12 points from nine games.

The Vegas Golden Knights have fired head coach Pete DeBoer.

DeBoer's exit was announced on Monday and comes after the Golden Knights failed to make the playoffs for the first time in their brief history.

He replaced Gerard Gallant in January 2020 and led the Golden Knights to the Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the Dallas Stars in five games.

They progressed to the Stanley Cup semi-finals the following season, losing in six games to the Montreal Canadiens, but a 43-31-8 record in 2021-22 meant the Golden Knights missed the playoffs having reached the postseason in each of their first four campaigns after joining the NHL in 2017. 

"We would like to thank Pete DeBoer for his commitment to the Vegas Golden Knights over the past three seasons," said Vegas Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon.

"Since joining the organisation, Pete and his staff have guided us through some of the most unique and challenging circumstances we've witnessed since our franchise entered the NHL.

"After lengthy discussions over the last two weeks, we believe that a new coach will put us in the best position to succeed next season."

DeBoer had a 98-50-12 record with the Golden Knights in the regular season.

Tiger Woods says he got "a lot stronger" since making an incredible comeback at The Masters as he prepares for the US PGA Championship this week.

The 15-time major champion returned to action at Augusta 15 months after he was involved in a car accident that left him with serious leg and foot injuries.

Woods almost lost a leg in that crash, but made the cut in the first major of the year before falling away to finishing 47th.

The legendary American has not played in a tournament since then and says he was understandably in pain after four rounds in Georgia.

Woods is feeling much better as he gears up for another major at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa.

He said: "I've gotten a lot stronger since the Masters. We went back to work on Tuesday [after the Masters]. Monday was awful. I did nothing and Tuesday was leg day. So, we went right back after it."

Woods knows he will never be fully mobile after such a horrific accident.

"Am I ever going to have full mobility? No. Never again," Woods said.

"But I'll be able to get stronger. It's going to ache, but that's the way it's going to be

"I'm excited about [the US PGA]. I'm not going to play that much going forward, so anytime I do play, it's going to be fun to play and to compete. There are only so many money games you can play at home."

Joe LaCava, Woods' caddie, also provided an encouraging assessment of one of the all-time greats' condition.

"I think the endurance is there now. I don't think he's getting quite as tired as quickly." he said.

"Other than the fact he won here 15 years ago, I think it's the stamina and endurance thing that excites him the most."

The Green Bay Packers have agreed a four-year contract extension with Jaire Alexander to make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.

According to multiple reports, Green Bay and Alexander have come to terms on a deal worth $84million.

The Packers have made that commitment to the 2018 first-round pick despite him playing just four games last season.

Alexander suffered a sprained shoulder in the Week 4 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and underwent surgery.

He did not play again in the regular season. Alexander was activated for the Divisional Round game with the San Francisco 49ers but played only eight defensive snaps as the Packers lost 13-10 at home.

Despite his injury-hindered 2021, Alexander is still tied for 14th among all corners for pass breakups since 2018, registering 44 in that time.

In his last full season in 2020, Alexander was arguably the top corner in the NFL.

He allowed a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted, on just 30.6 per cent of targets, the second-best ratio among corners with at least 50 targets.

Alexander was first in burn yards per target (5.22), burn yards per snap (0.84) and second in big-play rate allowed (13 per cent).

And he will now be paid at a rate that reflects his importance to the Packers, Alexander's deal set to pay him $31m in year one, $45m through year two and $61m through year three.

Formula One's governing body the FIA could have taken a "different approach" to enforce the jewellery ban on drivers, even if it is right to impose the ruling.

That is the message from Alex Wurz, who is regularly involved in education on driver safety in his role as Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) chairman.

New race director Niels Wittich, who replaced Michael Masi at the start of the season, reminded drivers at the Australian Grand Prix in early April that the FIA's code prohibits drivers wearing jewellery in the car.

Wittich reiterated the same message before the Miami Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton was embroiled in a stand-off with the FIA over piercings that he has raced with for years and says he cannot remove.

The FIA prohibits wearing body piercings or neck chains in competition, but offered Hamilton a two-race grace period to remove all of his jewellery before the Monaco Grand Prix on May 29.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, who agreed to remove his earrings in the car for the Miami race, insisted Formula One risks taking "a step backwards" with "bigger fish to fry" in the sport.

Wurz believes the ruling, which has been in place since 2004, should be enforced, but suggested the FIA could have handled the matter in a different fashion.

"It is a rule for the right reasons," said ex-driver Wurz. "I would have probably liked a slightly different approach of how to deliver the message.

"I don't want to end up in football where there are more hands in the air and verbal abuse...you have to work together. It's a style I would have preferred in this case."

Wurz also said he could not forget a talk he attended in his younger days by Danish former driver Kris Nissen, who had a serious crash involving a fire accident at the Fuji circuit in Japan in 1988.

"He showed his body and said 'look at this'," Wurz added.

"For him the absolute most painful thing after fire, and it wasn't a long fire, was the rubber [elastic] in his normal pants being burnt into the skin. He said [it was] for years agony and pain. And it educated me.

"At this moment I said I don't want to live these consequences, only for [not] taking my pants off and putting fireproof underpants on. The same with jewellery."

Formula One next heads to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Grant Williams scored a career-high 27 points as the Boston Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, defeating the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks 109-81 in Game 7 on Sunday.

Williams went seven-of-18 from the perimeter to lead the Celtics, with four others scoring in double digits in Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Payton Pritchard, who added 14 points off the bench.

The 23-year-old's seventh triple of the night came at an important time, too, with the Bucks starting to gather momentum at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Tatum was pivotal on both ends despite seven turnovers, putting up 23 points on 50 per cent shooting, eight assists and six rebounds.

The Celtics were able to restrict Giannis Antetokounmpo from scoring easily, with the reigning finals MVP getting 25 points but on 10-of-26 shooting, along with his 20 rebounds and nine assists.

With the series-deciding win, the Celtics have set up a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals, facing the first-seeded Miami Heat.

Doncic dominates as Mavs demolish Suns

Both of the contestants in the 2021 NBA finals were knocked out in same night in Game 7s on Sunday, with the Dallas Mavericks blowing out the first-seeded Phoenix Suns 123-90.

The Suns scored a disappointingly low 27 points on their home floor in the first half, as threes rained in on the other end, and the Mavs went into the main change with a 30-point lead.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker went missing when they were needed most, generating little in terms of dribble penetration and combining for 21 points on seven-of-22 shooting.

Conversely, Luka Doncic had come into Game 7 with shooting splits of 45.7 and 29.6 per cent but lit the Suns up with the season on the line, finishing with 35 points on 12-of-19 shooting.

More importantly, Doncic was able to get his teammates good looks, with Dallas shooting an 48.7 per cent from the perimeter.

The Mavericks will now face the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals. 

It almost feels as though using the Ron Burgundy 'boy, that escalated quickly' GIF would be a little too on the nose.

The NBA Conference semi-finals proved to be just as dramatic as we all hoped, with two of them going all the way to all or nothing Game 7s.

In the East, despite a bit of a comeback once Joel Embiid returned from injury, the Philadelphia 76ers were unable to halt the number one seed Miami Heat, while defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks are also out after going down in Game 7 to the Boston Celtics.

Over in the West, the Golden State Warriors overcame the Memphis Grizzlies in a tempestuous series defined by Ja Morant's knee injury, while a sensational performance from Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks saw them destroy the Phoenix Suns in their own backyard in Game 7 on Sunday.

They may not be the Conference Finals many predicted, but they will be absolutely covered in compelling narratives, so Stats Perform is here to take a look at what should be two fascinating contests to determine this year's NBA finalists.

Eastern Conference Final

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics

Perhaps this pairing was to be expected given they are the one and two seeds respectively in the East, but with Giannis Antetokounmpo in their corner and an NBA championship to defend, many will have expected the Bucks to get the better of Boston.

The Celtics showed their mettle, though, in particular Jayson Tatum, who is averaging 28.3 points per game (PPG) in the postseason.

Tatum's 6.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game are supported by an impressive average of four turnovers as the 24-year-old has set about trying to drag his team all the way.

He has not been alone though, with Jaylen Brown averaging 22.2 PPG, while an unlikely hero emerged in the 109-81 win against the Bucks on Sunday as Grant Williams top-scored with 27, the first time he has done so for the Celtics. Williams hit seven of the Celtics' 22 made three-pointers in an incredible shooting barrage.

 

The Heat took full advantage of an Embiid-less Sixers in the opening games of their series with Philadelphia before losing their 2-0 lead, only to see it out 4-2.

Jimmy Butler shone throughout and is averaging 28.7 PPG in the playoffs so far, as well as 5.4 assists and 7.5 rebounds.

His 32 in Game 6 helped ease any nerves about going to a decider, while even the 40 he managed in defeat in Game 4 made the Sixers work harder than they should have had to.

The Celtics won two of their three meetings with the Heat in the regular season, but Miami were triumphant last time out in late March, winning 106-98 at TD Garden thanks to 24 from Butler and 23 from Kyle Lowry, who may not feature in Game 1.

Lowry injured his hamstring in Game 3 of the Heat’s first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, and is a doubt for the start of this series.

Western Conference Final

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors

Can you stop Luka Doncic, or do you just watch in awe and hope the ball pops before he can score?

That probably won't be the question Steve Kerr and the Warriors will be asking, but they will certainly have to come up with some way of dealing with the dangerous Slovenian.

Doncic is averaging 31.5 PPG from his 10 playoff games so far and was unsurprisingly trending on social media on Sunday as his own personal scoring was such that he was single-handedly matching the Phoenix Suns in the first half at Footprint Center.

His 6.6 assists and 10.1 rebounds per game in the postseason also show how dominant he has been, but that should not take away from the fine work going on elsewhere in Jason Kidd's team.

Having had to carry the Mavericks through most of the first round against the Utah Jazz in Doncic's absence, Jalen Brunson demonstrated his worth with 24 against the Suns in Game 7, while Spencer Dinwiddie posted 30 points of his own too.

 

The Warriors are unsurprisingly just as good at spreading the wealth, even if Stephen Curry – like Doncic – is leading the way with his 26.9 PPG in the playoffs.

The three-point assassin is tied with team-mate Klay Thompson for shots from beyond the arc, with both sinking 42 efforts in the postseason so far, which emphasises the importance of Thompson as well, who has averaged 20.4 PPG.

Jordan Poole is playing his part too with 19.3 PPG, including a 50 per cent success rate on field goal attempts, making 74 from 148.

Dallas may have the upper hand going into this one, not just because of their complete undressing of the Suns in Game 7, but also because they won three of the four games against Golden State in the regular season, with Doncic scoring 41 in their last meeting in early March.

Daniil Medvedev remains hopeful he can feature at Wimbledon despite Russian and Belarusian players being banned from the tournament due to the conflict in Ukraine.

The All England Club, along with the Lawn Tennis Association, confirmed in April that Russian and Belarusian players would not be permitted to play this year, due to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

That means unless the ATP and WTA can convince tournament organisers to rethink, men's world number two and reigning US Open champion Medvedev will not compete at Wimbledon.

The decision has split opinion in tennis, with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev questioning the ruling, while Andy Murray expressed his backing.

However, Medvedev has not given up hope that Wimbledon may opt for a late change of heart and allow him to play.

"I don't know if this decision is 100 per cent and it's over [for me]," the Russian said.

"If I can play, I'm going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament. If I cannot play – well, I'm going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play."

Questions remain as to a potential backlash should Wimbledon exclude the two countries' players from appearing, with reports suggesting the ATP and WTA may remove ranking points from the tournament.

"I tried to follow what's happening because I don't have any decisions to make. It's right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved," Medvedev added.

"It's a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody's going to give a different opinion.

"[When] you show a tennis ball to 100 people, I'm sure some of them are going to say it's green and not yellow. I think it's yellow. [But] if somebody tells me it's green, I'm not going to get in conflict with this person."

Medvedev returns to action this week at the Geneva Open, where he faces Richard Gasquet or Australian John Millman in his opening match after recovering from a hernia injury that kept him out for six weeks.

Luka Doncic lauded the belief in the Dallas Mavericks dressing room after playing a starring role in a 123-90 thrashing of the Phoenix Suns.

The Mavs advanced to the Western Conference finals, where they will face the Golden State Warriors, courtesy of a dominant showing in Game 7 against the top-seeded Suns.

Doncic had as many points as Phoenix in the first half, making a mockery of the Mavs' status as supposed underdogs.

And it came as no surprise to Doncic, who finished with 35 points on 12-of-19 shooting.

“I know we were the underdogs,” he said.

"Everybody had the Suns to win this one, but the whole locker room believed and that's what won us the game."

Asked whether he knew he alone had matched the home team's total first-half points tally, Doncic said: "Yeah, of course.

"I'm having fun. I always say when I'm having fun it is the way I best play.

"Honestly, I'm really happy, man. You can't get this smile off my face right now.

"I think we deserve this. We were playing hard the whole series – maybe a couple of games here we were not ourselves.

"But we knew we came here with a statement Game 7. We believed, our locker room believed, everybody believed, so I'm just happy."

Chris Paul vowed to carry on playing after the Phoenix Suns suffered more playoff heartbreak by going down to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference semi-finals.

A year ago, the Suns blew a 2-0 lead to lose the NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks but responded by recording the best regular-season record in the league this campaign.

Once again the Suns were heavily fancied and even more so after taking a 2-0 lead against the Mavs.

But on Sunday it was a feeling of deja vu as the Suns were blown out of the water in a 123-90 defeat to crash out of contention.

At one stage the Mavs led by 46 points, while the Suns had just 27 in a disappointing first half – veteran Paul not registering his first field goal until the third quarter.

With Paul now 37 years of age, and reportedly playing with a quad issue, naturally there was talk of retirement, but the 12-time All Star plans to continue as he chases that elusive first NBA championship.

"You play long enough and you don't win, every time you lose, they're going to say it was your best chance," Paul told reporters.

"But I think for me, us, it's we'll be right back next year. I'll tell you that much.

"I'm not retiring tomorrow, thank God. Hopefully, I'm healthy coming back. But I'm [going to] keep playing."

Paul's series mirrored the Suns' fortunes. He averaged 23.5 points and had just two turnovers in the Suns' opening two victories but in the following five that slipped to just 9.4 points and an average 3.6.

Paul said now the Suns simply have to "get back to work".

"It was just a tough game. All season long, we tried to lean on our defence and tonight our defence wasn't there and our offence wasn't there either," Paul said. 

"I think coach [Monty Williams] said a lot of it. You play all season to be in this situation and it didn't work out for us.

"There's probably no greater message than get back to work. At the end of the day you at least had a shot at it, one of 16 teams in the playoffs and a great regular season, but we didn't reach our goal.

"I don't think anything matters except everybody just trying to get a little bit better for next season.

"It's tough. Obviously we got further last year, but we didn't reach the goal. We've got a lot of young guys on our team and I think, even just this experience of this playoffs is better than not. It's unfortunate in the fashion that we lost, but we've got to try to figure out ways to get better.

"At the end of the day, they just executed better than we did. Defensively, we just never caught up with the ball.

"They were making tough shots, they were getting threes, lay-ups, a little bit of everything and we never made the game competitive."

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