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NBA – Philadelphia 76ers force a game 7 at the Boston Garden

by on May.24, 2012, under Basketball, Sports News

The Boston Celtics were a two-point underdog in the NBA betting lines for game 6 at Philadelphia in the second round of the 2012 Playoffs. Ahead 3-2 in the series, the Celtics had a chance to finish off the 76ers and take a well-needed rest before facing either the Miami Heat or the Indiana Pacers for the Eastern Conference Finals. For a moment there, it seemed that the Celtics were going to prevail and that the veteran squad would keep on improving their 3-point margin after the second half break. But just like they did in game 4, the Philadelphia 76ers had a brilliant second half and were able to get back in the game and take an 82-75 win at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Philadelphia 76ers relied on young and restless players to overpower the Celtics in the second half. The third quarter was vital, for not only did the 76ers cut down on the 3-point halftime deficit, but they managed to outscore the Celtics 20-27 to take the lead and never look back. Jrue Holiday guided Philadelphia with 20 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds in what is certainly one of his better playoffs matches. The power forward Elton Brand finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds while the man-of-the-hour, had 12 points and 6 rebounds, including some pace changing dunks that got the 20,000 plus fans going wild.

The big issue here is that these two teams have been playing poorly against each other, and their numbers are not exactly what you would expect of two teams going this deep into the postseason. For starters, both teams have not been able to win two consecutive games on this series and truth is that both teams have been playing so poorly that it is impossible to say that either team has been truly dominant. It’s not hard to figure out what went wrong in their last game for the Celtics. Boston numbers were as mediocre as they get all across the board. It’s hard to say what caused the loss, if it was the 33 percent shooting, the 17 turnovers or the 3 for 14 3-point shooting.

If they managed to stay in the game was basically because they have a very talented offensive end in the veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce who were both well serviced by the talented point guard Rajon Rondo. Pierce finished the night with 24 points and 10 rebounds while KG had 20 points and 11 rebounds. But let’s be clear about this one: the 76ers won, but it certainly wasn’t pretty. Just consider for a moment that Philadelphia missed 8 of their 9 shots from behind the 3-point arc, and shot a painful to watch 17 of 28 from the free throw line while stumbling into 12 turnovers. It’s almost like saying that the winning team was that who played less poorly. And it doesn’t matter whether the Celtics or the 76ers make it to the next round, that’s just not going to make the cut against teams like the Miami Heat or the Indiana Pacers.

It is still uncertain if Avery Bradley is going to be able to play in game 7. He missed game 6 and it was up to veteran Ray Allen to take his spot in the starting five. If only Allen could find his three-point shot again, the Celtics could really have a chance at greater things.

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NBA – Philadelphia 76ers defeat shorthanded Chicago Bulls

by on May.08, 2012, under Basketball, Sports News

It comes to a time when you can’t help but to realize that some things are just not meant to be. And Tim Thibodeau, the Chicago Bulls head coach, is doing his best at staying positive about this postseason. Right now, the Chicago Bulls are in what we could call survival mode. They are doing all they can to stay alive. But if we take a step back and look at this calmly, we can realize that Chicago might have had a chance when Derrick Rose got injured and he was going to be out for the season. To be quite frank, Rose had been dealing with injuries all season long and had miss half of the Bulls’ game this season. Then again, they managed to finish the regular season with the league’s best record. But on game 2, Joakim Noah sprained his ankle, and he couldn’t get in uniform for game 3. Without Derrick Rose, out for a season with a torn ACL and with Noah on day-to-day status, the 76ers manhandled the Bulls took a 89-82 win at home to lead the series 3-1.

It’s very unusual for the No.1 seed to be ousted by the No.8 seed in the Playoffs. As a matter of fact, it has only happened 4 times in NBA’s history and taking a look at the situation and considering that the Bulls will have to walk into game 5 knowing that they have to win 5-in-a-row without Rose or Noah, it look as if the 76ers are quite certainly going to make it into the second round. But that doesn’t mean that the 76ers haven’t struggled. Even in game four, the 76ers never got a clear look at a win until Jrue Holiday, a 21-year-old point guard made his first basket of the game late in the fourth quarter. Holiday had missed every shot he’d made in the game, but lock up consecutive three-pointers that stretched a one-point lead into a 7-point advantage that ultimately gave Philadelphia a 89-82 win over the Bulls.

Spencer Hawes scored 22 points and recorded 8 rebounds for the 76ers. At the end of the night Holiday had 20 and 8 boards to put the Sixers one win away from reaching the second round. Andre Iguodala chipped in with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Sixers, who have won the last three games after losing Game 1. That is, they’ve won every game they’ve played against the Rose-less Bulls. It was a bumpy start for Holiday, who went 7-of-21 shooting for the night, but he regained his game late in the third quarter and got things moving for the 76ers.

The Bulls on the other hand are reluctant to let the fact that they are playing without their best scorer and their top rebounder be an excuse and they are giving it all they’ve got. Even players who had been somewhat kept in the shadow during the first three games of the playoff series stood up, like Carlos Boozer and his 23 points and 11 rebounds for example. Taj Gibson chipped in 14 points and 12 rebounds. “Bottom line, we’ve got to play better defense without fouling,” Boozer said. “You can’t cry about the referees. It’s the playoffs. If we could hold them to 17, 18 points in the fourth quarter, maybe we win that game.”

NBA – Philadelphia 76ers defeat shorthanded Chicago Bulls

 

It comes to a time when you can’t help but to realize that some things are just not meant to be. And Tim Thibodeau, the Chicago Bulls head coach, is doing his best at staying positive about this postseason. Right now, the Chicago Bulls are in what we could call survival mode. They are doing all they can to stay alive. But if we take a step back and look at this calmly, we can realize that Chicago might have had a chance when Derrick Rose got injured and he was going to be out for the season. To be quite frank, Rose had been dealing with injuries all season long and had miss half of the Bulls’ game this season. Then again, they managed to finish the regular season with the league’s best record. But on game 2, Joakim Noah sprained his ankle, and he couldn’t get in uniform for game 3. Without Derrick Rose, out for a season with a torn ACL and with Noah on day-to-day status, the 76ers manhandled the Bulls took a 89-82 win at home to lead the series 3-1.

It’s very unusual for the No.1 seed to be ousted by the No.8 seed in the Playoffs. As a matter of fact, it has only happened 4 times in NBA’s history and taking a look at the situation and considering that the Bulls will have to walk into game 5 knowing that they have to win 5-in-a-row without Rose or Noah, it look as if the 76ers are quite certainly going to make it into the second round. But that doesn’t mean that the 76ers haven’t struggled. Even in game four, the 76ers never got a clear look at a win until Jrue Holiday, a 21-year-old point guard made his first basket of the game late in the fourth quarter. Holiday had missed every shot he’d made in the game, but lock up consecutive three-pointers that stretched a one-point lead into a 7-point advantage that ultimately gave Philadelphia a 89-82 win over the Bulls.

Spencer Hawes scored 22 points and recorded 8 rebounds for the 76ers. At the end of the night Holiday had 20 and 8 boards to put the Sixers one win away from reaching the second round. Andre Iguodala chipped in with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Sixers, who have won the last three games after losing Game 1. That is, they’ve won every game they’ve played against the Rose-less Bulls. It was a bumpy start for Holiday, who went 7-of-21 shooting for the night, but he regained his game late in the third quarter and got things moving for the 76ers.

The Bulls on the other hand are reluctant to let the fact that they are playing without their best scorer and their top rebounder be an excuse and they are giving it all they’ve got. Even players who had been somewhat kept in the shadow during the first three games of the playoff series stood up, like Carlos Boozer and his 23 points and 11 rebounds for example. Taj Gibson chipped in 14 points and 12 rebounds. “Bottom line, we’ve got to play better defense without fouling,” Boozer said. “You can’t cry about the referees. It’s the playoffs. If we could hold them to 17, 18 points in the fourth quarter, maybe we win that game.”

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NBA – The Lakers beat the Mavericks without Kobe Bryant

by on Apr.18, 2012, under Basketball, Sports News

The LA Lakers are wise enough to realize that there is really no point in making this more than what it is. Sure enough they managed to crush the defending champions, the Dallas Mavericks, in every game they played during the regular season. Sure enough, they managed to pull this off without the NBA leading scorer Kobe Bryant who hasn’t been playing since April 5th as he’s been resting his bruised shin. Still, the Lakers have learned how to pull of a win even when they go missing their biggest scorer and team leader. And what a better way to prove that this season they are for real than to defeat the squad that beat them to the National Title last year. At the end, it would be up to Andrew Bynum to lead the Lakers effort and get things rolling down the stretch. The Lakers big man finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds to take a 112-108 win at home.

The Spaniard Pau Gasol had a brilliant performance, stepping up when the squad needed him most, scoring consecutive back-to-back three pointers in overtime to give the Lakers the winning margin. By the way, these where Gasol’s 6th and 7th three-pointers of the season. Gasol again proved that when his mind is set to it, he can be as aggressive and tough as any player in the league. He was the game’s top performer with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Then again, right after the team finished with the celebrations, Gasol knew well that they were probably going to face each other in the first round of the Playoffs.  “This team eliminated us last year, and they’re the champs right now,” said the Spaniard” If we face them again, I don’t know if this 4-0 in the regular season will be worth a whole lot. We’ll have to start over and make sure we play as hard as we’ve been playing lately.”

But perhaps what makes this a little more significant for the Lakers is that head coach Mike Brown had a chance to realize that when needed the supporting cast can be just as efficient without Kobe. As a matter of fact, the Lakers improved to 4-1 without the Black Mamba and had plenty of help from Matt Barnes and Metta World Peace. Barnes, for starters scored 11 points and recorded 11 rebounds, 8 assists and was the man of the hour with his defensive move over the Mav’s Jason Terry, who couldn’t complete an easy tying layup with 5 seconds left. Metta, on the other hand added 18 points to the Lakers case.

Dirk Nowitzki, the NBA finals MVP, leaded the Mavericks with 24 points on a somewhat weak 9-of-28 shooting and 14. Delonte West scored 20 points, and Jason Terry had 21 before overthinking his drive and jamming a layup into the underside of the rim while trying to avoid Barnes’ defense. But it is Dirk Nowitzki who should have his aim checked later on this week. He used to be the go-to man for the Mavericks in the final seconds of the game. Now he is a guy who has completed only  36 of the 95 shots he’s made over the last five games.

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NBA Playoffs – The Lakers swept from Playoffs by Dallas Mavericks

by on May.09, 2011, under Basketball, Sports News

It got ugly: the Mavericks were brilliant; the Lakers were an embarrassment to the sport and the franchise. Let’s get this straight: the Mavericks bench alone managed to outplay the LA Lakers team in the first half of a crushing 122-86 with which the Dallas Mavericks swept the defending champions out of the Playoffs. It was a sad, very sad, and somewhat embarrassing day to be a Lakers fan. Not only did the Mavericks outplay the Lakers in any positive statistic, they also exposed the Lakers as a group of insecure and at times unprofessional players that really never bounded as a team. Those cheap shots by Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom where nothing short of embarrassing and quite simply proved that the Lakers are in deed, sore losers.

For Phil Jackson, considering what his Lakers did out there, this was also a disappointing departure. Don’t get me wrong, I do realize that he is the most successful coach the NBA has ever seen. And yes, he has more championship rings that he can wear on his fingers, but this is certainly not that way that Phil Jackson deserved to say goodbye to the sport. The 65-year-old legend leaves the NBA with the sour taste of receiving his first sweep in 21 postseasons, and loosing by the second biggest margin (36 points) in his career. Some detractors would say that he isn’t that great of a coach. He just happened to coach three of the most talented players the sport has seen: Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. But there is certainly much more to his success as a coach then what meets the eye.

The Lakers are now in a complicated position. Perhaps it’s going to be more complicated for the Lakers fans than for the organization itself. It’s time to regroup and find a new direction. Jackson is now officially done with the Lakers so not only do they need to figure out who is going to step in and succeed Jackson, but also figure out what’s going to happen this summer. The Lakers need to rebuild their team from its foundation. At this point it seems that every player except for Kobe Bryant could be wearing a different shirt next season.

The last time the Lakers championship reign came to an end, that is, back in 2003, the Lakers responded with adding two veterans and future hall of famers into the team. They brought in Karl Malone and Gary Payton. It wasn’t like bringing together an all-star player and the league’s MVP together (as it seems to be the cool thing to do these days) but it was enough of a change to get them into the NBA Finals on the following season.

What happens this time around is that there are no good prospects out in the market. All eyes are out on Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Derron Williams. They will not become free agents until next year, but, the Lakers have at least three players who could easily give them some leverage for very decent trade. The trick here is that there might be a tougher salary cap starting next year, after the new collective bargaining agreement settles in, and the Lakers already have a 88.5 million payroll next season. So it’s not looking good. Let’s face it: the Lakers need to find a talented player to trade in. They need younger talent, a guy who can really step up and take the place of the aging Kobe Bryant. Because there is one thing that very few Hollywood stars know how to do well: age well. The Lakers are not too suave at getting old. The Lakers have not learned how to grow old and that’s going to hurt them in the next few years.

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