18+ | Please play responsibly | Terms and Conditions apply | Commercial Content

NBA Playoffs: Thunder Sweep Pelicans, Nuggets Eliminate Lakers

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander first-round playoff series in New Orleans, Monday, April 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 97-89 on Monday night to finish with a four-game sweep of their first-round playoff series. They will face the winner of the Mavs/Clippers series in the next round for a chance to make the Western Conference Finals.

Jalen Williams and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 24 points each to lead their team in scoring, while Josh Giddey and Chet Holgrem added 16 apiece. It wasn’t the team’s best day on the offensive end, shooting only 42.7% from the field and conceding 14 turnovers.

New Orleans led the game 80-75 in the fourth quarter but ran into problems in the scoring department thereafter. They could only muster another 9 points for the rest of the game as the Thunder went on an 18-2 run. 

New Orleans played the entire series without star power forward Zion Williamson who injured himself late in the season. With Williamson on the bench, the team never seemed to recover as stars Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum ended with subpar performances throughout the series. 

Much credit must be given to the Thunder defense which held the Pelicans to under 100 points in every game of the series. Going forward if they can keep up the same defensive intensity, they should be a tough matchup for any team standing in their way. With the top seed in the West, OKC will have home court advantage going into both the second round and possibly the conference finals.

Lakers Eliminated in Game 5 Versus Nuggets

Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers playoff run ended in a Game 5 loss against the Denver Nuggets, 108-106. It is the second consecutive year that the Nuggets have eliminated the Lakers from the postseason, after sweeping them last year in the conference finals.

Nikola Jokic had another stand-out performance, dropping 25 points to go along with his 20 rebounds and 9 assists. Jamal Murray had 32 points and scored the game-winning shot once again, similar to Game 2 in the series. 

Lebron fell one short of a triple-double, scoring 30 points while grabbing 9 boards and handing out 11 assists. Anthony Davis had another strong double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds, going 8-11 from the floor.

The game was neck-and-neck down the stretch but the Nuggets were able to hold off the Lakers with a Jamal Murray jumper with 4 seconds to go.

The Nuggets will now go to face the Timberwolves in the second round who swept the Suns in their first-round matchup.

Celtics Win Game 4 in Miami, 102-88

Boston beat Miami 102-88 on the road to take a 3-1 lead in their series against the Heat. The Celtics have now won at Miami for the sixth straight time and improved to 14-3 in their last 17 games there. 

Derrick White had a career-high 38 points which included eight three-pointers to lead his team in scoring. Jayson Tatum added 20 points to go with 10 rebounds and Jaylen Brown and Jrue Holiday added 17 and 11 respectively.

For the Heat, Bam Adebayo finished with 25 points, 17 rebounds and five assists to have one of his better games of the season. Unfortunately he didn’t get much help from the rest of his team which was short of injured starters Jimmy Butler (knee) and Terry Rozier (neck). The struggle to score showed in both Game 3 and 4, with Miami unable to eclipse the 90 point mark.

The one big setback for the Celtics was center Kristaps Porzingis going down in the first half with what the team reported was a right calf injury. He left the arena in a walking boot which could just be precautionary. Porzingis has been a huge part of the team’s offense and has anchored the defensive end. The injury could be a big blow in the team’s chances to win a title this year.

The Celtics will have the opportunity to close out the Heaton Wednesday when they host Game 5. If they can do so, they will meet the winner of the Cleveland-Orlando series which is currently tied at two games each.