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Deandre Ayton scored 25 points, Devin Booker added 23 and the top-seeded Phoenix Suns rolled to a 121-114 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

The Suns never trailed, jumping to a 9-0 lead in the opening minutes and rarely let off the gas. They shot 50.5% from the field, won the rebounding edge 51-36 and beat the Mavericks for the 10th straight time, counting regular season games.

Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 45 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. It’s the first time Dallas has advanced to the postseason’s second round in Doncic’s four-year NBA career.

Doncic and Maxi Kleber looked ready for the challenge but the rest of the Mavs didn’t do much until it was too late. Kleber finished with 19 points.

Game 2 is on Wednesday in Phoenix.

Booker missed three games during Phoenix’s first-round win over the New Orleans Pelicans because of a strained right hamstring suffered in Game 2. He returned for the closeout Game 6 and scored 13 points, but looked a little more cautious than usual in his effort to stay healthy.

That hesitancy was gone in the first quarter on Monday: Booker scored 13 points on 4 of 8 shooting and added six rebounds and four assists.

Ayton dominated in the paint and mid-range, hitting his usual array of turnaround jumpers, runners and dunks. The 6-foot-11 center shot 12 of 20 from the field. Chris Paul added 19 points and Cam Johnson had 17 off the bench.

All five Suns starters scored in double figures.

The Suns’ opening salvo was highlighted by a Jae Crowder 3-pointer and Booker’s lob pass to Mikal Bridges for a dunk. Phoenix extended its lead to 18-6 midway through the first quarter before a discombobulated Dallas called timeout.

The Mavericks stayed in the game for a while thanks to Doncic and Kleber, who hit his first four 3-pointers. The pair helped Dallas pull within 51-47 midway through the second but the Suns finished the half with another run, going into the break with a 69-56 lead.

76ers fall to Heat without Embiid

Tyler Herro scored 25 points, Bam Adebayo finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, and the Miami Heat topped the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers 106-92 on Monday night in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Jimmy Butler added 15 points for the top-seeded Heat, who got 10 from Gabe Vincent and P.J. Tucker.

The 76ers were without Joel Embiid, the MVP finalist who isn’t even in Miami while recovering from an orbital fracture and concussion — injuries suffered in Philadelphia’s first-round-clinching win at Toronto. He’s not expected to play in Game 2.

And as would be expected, he was missed. Tobias Harris scored 27 points for Philadelphia, which got 19 from Tyrese Maxey and 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists from James Harden.

Game 2 is Wednesday in Miami.

Heat centre Bam Adebayo, left, moves to the basket as 76ers forward Georges Niang defends during the second quarter of Miami’s 106-92 home win over Philadelphia in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series on Monday night at FTX Arena. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Miami came out as aggressive as could be, putting Tucker on Harden and having him guard him the entire 94 feet of the floor in a similar approach to what the Heat utilized against Atlanta’s Trae Young in the first round series.

It worked — for a while. Miami led by as many as 12 in the opening quarter, then a 10-2 run fueled by eight points from Herro gave the Heat a 13-point edge at 37-24 to mark their biggest of the half. The margin was still 46-36 midway through the second after another Herro basket.

The rest of the half was all Philly.

Miami went 1 for 9 from the field over the final 6 minutes of the half, with four turnovers in there as well, and Philadelphia went on a 15-4 spurt. Harden’s shot in the lane with 28 seconds left put the 76ers up 51-50, their first lead of the night and the score that they took into the locker room.

The 76ers scored the first four points of the second half, going up by five. That was as good as it got for the 76ers.

Adebayo took a bullet pass from Tucker for a dunk that put Miami up 62-61, and that would be the final lead change of the night. It was the start of a 10-0 run that built a cushion, and then an 13-2 run early in the fourth decided matters and pushed the Heat edge out to 98-77.

Philadelphia fell to 6-9 without Embiid this season


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