Golden State Warriors have overcome the first-half ejection of Draymond Green to edge Memphis Grizzlies 117-116 in Game 1 of the NBA’s Western Conference semi-finals.
Klay Thompson hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 36 seconds left which proved decisive in Memphis on Sunday night while Jordan Poole led the Warriors with 31 points off the bench, hitting five of 10 3-pointers.
Stephen Curry added 24 points, Andrew Wiggins had 17 and Thompson finished with 15.
For Memphis, Ja Morant finished with 34 points and 10 assists, and Jaren Jackson Jr. matched his season high with six 3-pointers and had a career-high 33 points. D’Anthony Melton added 14, and Brandon Clarke had 12.
Green was ejected for a flagrant foul 2 just before halftime after originally being called for a foul on Clarke.
Officials reviewed the play where Green had hold of Clarke’s jersey after a missed layup. Clarke went down on his stomach, though it appeared Green tried to help hold him up as Clarke hit the court.
Officiating crew chief Kane Fitzgerald said it was deemed a flagrant-2 foul rather than a flagrant-1 because “the contact in total was considered unnecessary and excessive”.
“We knew that was a tough break that didn’t go our way. We were all kind of shocked by the decision,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
“But we were confident and determined and the guys stayed with it.”
The Grizzlies, for their part, saw little controversy in the decision.
“He’s been known for flagrant fouls in his career,” Clarke said. “I’ve watched them on TV my whole life, it feels like. … It’s not shocking that he did that.”
The Grizzlies came in leading the NBA in the fourth period with an average of 33 points and outscoring opponents by 10.3 points a game.
This time, they could only match the Warriors point for point in that period.
The Warriors mixed up their lineup, benching Poole in favour of Gary Payton II to focus on defending Morant, the Grizzlies’ All-Star point guard and the NBA’s Most Improved Player this season.
In Boston, Giannis Antetokounmpo notched his second career postseason triple-double to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 101-89 win over the Boston Celtics in game 1 of their Eastern Conference semi-finals series.
Antetokounmpo had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists as the defending NBA champions triumphed in Boston and swiped home-court advantage.
Jrue Holiday had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Bobby Portis had 15 points and 11 boards for the Bucks, who are back at the TD Garden for Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Jayson Tatum scored 21 and Jaylen Brown had 12 points, but the two Boston stars combined to shoot 10 for 31 in the game. Al Horford added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who fired up 50 3-pointers, making 18, and shot 33 per cent from the floor as a team.
“Offensively, not our best night. I thought we guarded well enough,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “To lose a 12-point game when we shot so poorly bodes well for us. In a way it’s good to get this dud out of the way, offensively.”
Boston won 26 of their last 32 games in the regular season and were the only team to sweep their first-round playoff series. Now Milwaukee have won four in a row, having won the last three in the first round to eliminate the Chicago Bulls in five games.