The Toronto Raptors will challenge the Golden State Warriors for the NBA crown after reaching the finals for the first time.
Scenes of jubilation broke out at the Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night after Kawhi Leonard led the home side to a 100-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the final minute, sealing their position as Eastern Conference winners.
Music superstar Drake was seen among the bench players and coaching staff who celebrated before the clock had completely run down, although Leonard’s efforts had lifted Toronto into safety.
The Raptors forward racked up 27 points with 17 rebounds as Toronto took the playoff finals series 4-2.
It had not been plain-sailing on the night for the hosts, who found themselves 15 behind in the third.
But a 10-0 run cut the gap down to 76-71 by the break and a further 8-2 burst tied it up.
Pascal Siakam put the Raptors in the lead, the score 80-78, and Toronto remained in front.
Along with Siakam’s 18 points, Kyle Lowry had 17 and Fred VanVleet 14 for the Raptors.
For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds, while Brook Lopez added 18 and Khris Middleton 14.
Golden State earlier beat the Portland Trail Blazers to reach the NBA finals, which will begin on Thursday.
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The National Basketball Association (NBA) and StryxSports, one of the UAE’s leading sports providers, have announced the launch of the first NBA Basketball School in the region, to be held in Dubai.
The tuition-based basketball development programme will feature two camps (March 2-9; July 7-13) for young male and female players aged six-18.
Registration for both camps is now open by visiting uae.nbabasketballschool.com.
“We’re excited to partner with StryxSports to bring the first NBA Basketball School to Dubai,” said NBA associate vice president of basketball operations, Neal Meyer.
“Through this programme, our goal is to inspire more young boys and girls across the region to develop their skills under the guidance of experienced coaches using the NBA Basketball School curriculum.”
“We are very excited about our partnership with NBA and to offer this great opportunity to the UAE youth,” said StryxSports CEO, Seif Tawfik. “This is another great platform for StryxSports to provide unique training and competition programmes for all abilities to empower each child to reach their full potential in the sport they love.”
The NBA Basketball School curriculum, which is designed to develop players and provide parents, coaches and organisations with a better understanding of the process of improvement, has been developed by the NBA’s elite basketball development team in consultation with current and former NBA coaches, NBA players and player development experts.
The comprehensive curriculum covers on-court training, strength and conditioning and basketball education for young players aged six-18 and is delivered by NBA’s international basketball operations staff and coaches from around the world and local coaches.
The initiative adds an additional layer to the NBA’s existing basketball development efforts in Europe and the Middle East, including the Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball programme for boys and girls that features 50 leagues in 22 European countries; and Basketball Without Borders (BWB), the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach programme that has been held in Europe 17 times, with a record 27 former BWB campers featuring in the NBA this season.
In April 2017, the NBA launched the NBA Basketball School, a network of tuition-based basketball development programmes open to male and female players from outside the US aged six-18.
NBA Basketball Schools have since been launched in Brazil, Greece, India and Turkey. Fans in the UAE can follow the NBA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and download the official NBA App on iOS and Android for the latest news, updates, scores, stats, schedules, videos and more.
The Cavs suffered their first loss in round one for eight years, a valiant rally in the second half not enough to overtake the on-point Pacers.
On top from the start, Indiana eventually led by 23 by the third quarter, with racking up 32 points.
LeBron James scored 24, with 12 assists and 10 rebounds and Cleveland came within seven points of the visitors, although Indiana pulled away to convincingly secure game one.
Former Indiana star Paul George scored 36, including a franchise play-off record of eight three-pointers, as the Oklahoma City Thunder held the Utah Jazz at bay to take their Western Conference opener 116-108.
A new arrival at OKC this season, George had eight of 11 long-range shots on-target and smashed the Thunder’s previous three-pointer playoff record of five.
The Houston Rockets edged out the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-101 in the opening round of their Western Conference play-off series.
James Harden provided the power in a fourth-quarter surge that saw him notch up 13 points, bringing his total to 44.
The effort helped Houston keep the Timberwolves from the door – the visitors coming to within three points in the last minute of the game.
Back in the Eastern Conference and the Boston Celtics were victorious in their opener with the Milwaukee Bucks, beating them 113-107 in overtime.
Kris Middleton beat the buzzer to level for the visitors and take the score 99-99, but in the end it was Al Horford and company’s night.
He scored 24 points and had 12 rebounds and three blocks, while team-mate Terry Rozier added 23 points, four rebounds and three assists on top.