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NBA-Playoffs 2018-San Antonio at Golden State game 2 preview

The second-seeded Warriors thumped the seventh-seeded Spurs 113-92 in the series opener on Saturday afternoon, putting both teams in a familiar position.

Golden State used a home win in Game 1 as a springboard to a four-game sweep of the Spurs in the Western Conference finals last season.

San Antonio, meanwhile, was drubbed 126-99 in Game 1 of the Western semifinals by the Houston Rockets last May, only to turn things around immediately with an equally decisive 121-96 blitz in Game 2 en route to an eventual six-game victory in the series.

“We’ve got to regroup, feel hurt, upset, kind of desperate,” Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili said after Saturday’s shellacking. “We don’t want to go home 0-2. So we’ll fight as hard as we can in Game 2.”

After leading the NBA in scoring during a 58-win regular season, the Warriors focused on defense in Game 1 of the postseason. Coach Steve Kerr moved super-sub Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup in an attempt to give the game a defensive tone from the start.

It worked. The Spurs shot just 35 percent in the first quarter and were held to 17 points, falling behind by as many as 14 points.

“The whole point of these games early in the series is to re-establish our defense,” Kerr explained. “You can’t win in this league in the playoffs unless you defend.”

The Spurs finished the game at 40.0 percent from the field. The Warriors held five opponents below 100 in the playoffs last season, and won all five of those games.

The Golden State defense was especially problematic to San Antonio star LaMarcus Aldridge, who was held to 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting.

Coincidentally, Aldridge also shot 5 of 12 in the Spurs’ regular-season finale against New Orleans, a loss that dropped San Antonio into the undesirable first-round matchup with the defending champs.

Aldridge averaged 23.1 points and 18.0 shots from the field during the regular season.

JaVale McGee had the defensive assignment on Aldridge at the start of the game and actually outscored him 9-4 in the Warriors’ first-quarter runaway.

Kerr declared afterward that McGee also would get the start in Game 2, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wasn’t committing to anything on his end.

Kerr switched to Pau Gasol at center in the Spurs’ turnaround against the Rockets last season, a move he also could make Monday, with the veteran having come off the bench in Game 1.

Popovich made it clear after Saturday’s loss that no one player was more responsible for the Game 1 embarrassment than any other.

“The first quarter, we looked like a deer in the headlights. Very disappointing,” he said. “I thought we were very prepared physically and mentally, but I was mistaken. That was the game right there.”

The series will shift to San Antonio for Games 3 and 4 on Thursday and next Sunday.

NBA-Playoffs 2018-Miami at Philadelphia game 2 preview

After the most lopsided Game 1 victory so far, consider the question answered. Emphatically.

The 76ers head into Tuesday’s Game 2 8 p.m. showdown with the Miami Heat riding a 17-game winning streak — including Saturday’s 130-103 win at Wells Fargo Center — and with the knowledge that Joel Embiid’s return may come sooner than later.

For their first playoff trip in more than a half-decade, things aren’t starting off so bad for Philadelphia.

“Now I think we are 26-1 at home since Christmas, we’ve won a lot of games in a row, it sort of all adds up,” head coach Brett Brown said. “We’ve talked a lot about how do we come out of halftime. Lots of times in the normal regular season it’s not uncommon for both teams to need to have the dust shaken off of them to respond and start playing competitive basketball again.”

Philadelphia seemed well-oiled — and well-prepared — against the Heat in Game 1, even after trailing by four at the half. The 76ers blitzed Miami with a 34-18 third quarter and then slammed the door shut with a 40-25 fourth quarter, hitting the 130-point mark for the third time in five games.

“They just played unbelievably,” Miami guard Goran Dragic said. “They were hitting some shots, they didn’t run away from the game. They were physical the whole game. They have some good shooters. We just fell apart at the end of third, beginning of the fourth quarter. We didn’t play defense well. Most of the shots, that’s the shots, they were making. We can do nothing about that. We need to go and see film, try to get better and get back to work Monday.”

If Embiid returns sooner than later, the Heat could be in big trouble.

Embiid cleared concussion protocol on Sunday, Brown said, though the team does not have a specific date for return. Embiid, who missed the final eight games of the regular season after colliding with teammate Markelle Fultz and suffering an orbital bone fracture and a concussion, told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that he feels ready to contribute.

“If it was my decision, I would play, but I can’t get back out on the court if I don’t have the OK from them,” said Embiid, who averaged 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 63 games in the regular season. “But everything has been going well. I’ve been able to do everything. And I feel great. So we got a pretty good chance for Game 2 or Game 3. We gonna see how it feels in the next couple of days.”

Should Embiid return, the 76ers will add to their decisive front-court advantage over the Heat. Miami’s best offensive post player may be reserve forward Kelly Olynyk, who had 26 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench in Game 1.

Center Hassan Whiteside had just two points and six rebounds in 12 minutes in the first game.

“It’s not about him,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game. “This series and this game are going to move quickly. There are a lot of substitutions both ways and there is not a lot of time based on the flow and the matchups. It’s not necessarily an indictment to his first four minutes but we all have to collectively be better on Monday.”

NBA-Play offs- Spurs and Cavs open with losses,interesting post season expected

Western Conference First Round
No. 5 Utah at No. 4 Oklahoma City (TNT, 6:35 p.m. ET)

2017-18 Regular Season (Thunder 3-1)
Dec. 23 Thunder (+1.5) at Jazz 103-89 (Under 197.5)
Dec. 20 Thunder (-8) vs. Jazz 107-79 (Under 196.5)
Dec. 5 Thunder (-8) vs. Jazz 100-94 (Under 199)
Oct. 21 Jazz (+4) vs. Thunder 96-87 (Under 200)

— As of early this morning, most betting shops had Oklahoma City (48-34 straight up, 34-47-1 against the spread) installed as a 3.5-point home favorite for tonight’s series opener vs. Utah. The total was 206 points and the Jazz were +145 on the money line (risk $100 to win $145).

— These franchises haven’t met in the playoffs since 2000 when Utah defeated the Seattle Supersonics 3-2 in the opening round.

— Billy Donovan’s club compiled a 27-14 SU record and a 16-24-1 ATS mark at home during the regular season.

— OKC star guard Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the second straight season. The UCLA product averaged 25.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 10.2 assists per game. Westbrook also averaged 1.8 steals per game, but he commits 4.8 turnovers per contest. Paul George averaged 21.9 PPG during the regular season, shooting at a 40.1 percent clip from 3-point land. Carmelo Anthony, another star player acquired during the offseason, averaged 16.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

— OKC veteran center Steven Adams (13.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG) made 62.9 percent of his field-goal attempts during the regular season, but he’s a liability at the free-throw line (55.7%). Adams is one of The Association’s best offensive rebounders, pulling down 5.1 per game.

— After the veteran swingman was released by the Lakers back in early March, Corey Brewer reunited with Donovan, his head coach in college at Florida when the Gators won back-to-back national titles. Turns out, the 32-year-old from Portland, Tenn., does have some gas left in the tank. In 18 games with the Thunder, Brewer has averaged 10.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.3 APG. However, Brewer is listed as ‘questionable’ tonight vs. Utah due to a knee injury.

— Oklahoma City limped to a 3-6-1 spread record in its last 10 regular-season games.

— Utah (48-34 SU, 43-39 ATS) closed the regular season on an incredible 29-6 run in its last 35 games. The catalyst in the late-season surge has been rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell, who set an NBA record for first-year players with 187 makes from 3-point range. Since entering the starting lineup in November, Mitchell has averaged 21.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

— Utah’s Joe Ingles finished fourth in the NBA in 3-point accuracy by burying 44.0 percent of his attempts. He was 10th in total treys made with a franchise record 204 makes. Ingles joined James Harden, Damian Lillard and Kyle Lowry as the league’s only four players to tally 200 3-pointers, 300 assists and 300 rebounds.

— Utah veteran point guard Ricky Rubio (13.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG) is set to make the first postseason appearance of his career. He led the Jazz in assists (5.3 APG) and steals (1.6 SPG). Rudy Gobert (13.5 PPG, 10.7 RPG) averages team-highs in FG percentage (62.2%) and blocked shots (2.3 BPG), while Derrick Favors (12.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG) converted 56.3 percent of his FGAs and averaged 1.1 blocked shots per game.

— Utah is 20-21 SU and 21-20 ATS on the road.

— Utah is ranked second in the NBA in scoring defense, limiting opponents to 99.8 PPG. The Jazz are sixth in FG percentage ‘D’ (44.9%).

— All four regular-season meetings between these teams came before Christmas. OKC won the season series 3-1, but that was before the Jazz’s furious finish. The ‘under’ cashed in all four encounters. The first meeting took place in Salt Lake City on Oct. 21 when Utah captured a 96-87 win as a 3.5-point home underdog. Ingles led five players in double figures with 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting from downtown. Rubio produced 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Gobert finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Anthony had a game-high 26 points and George contributed 22 points, five boards and five steals. Westbrook had one of his worst performances of the year with more turnovers (seven) than points (six). Westbrook had 13 rebounds and nine assists, but he was only 2-of-11 from the field.

— OKC beat Utah by a 100-94 count but failed to cover the number as an eight-point home favorite on Dec. 5. The 194 combined points ‘under’ the 198.5-point tally. The Thunder trailed by seven at intermission and 11 going into the final stanza, but they outscored the Jazz 32-14 in the fourth quarter. Westbrook stole the show with 34 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds. George added 21 points and Adams finished with 20 points and nine boards. Mitchell had 31 points, five steals and four assists in the losing effort.

— Oklahoma City destroyed Utah 107-79 as an eight-point home ‘chalk’ on Dec. 20. The Thunder raced out to a 25-9 lead to end the first quarter and coasted to victory. Westbrook had 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists compared to merely one turnover. George and Anthony added 18 points apiece.

— Three days later on Dec. 23, OKC captured a 103-89 win at Utah as a 1.5-point road underdog. Westbrook led the way with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while George tallied 26 points, six steals, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Mitchell had a team-best 29 points in defeat.

— has OKC as the -135 favorite to win the series, leaving the Jazz at +115 on the comeback.

— The ‘under’ finished the regular season on an 8-2 run for OKC. The Thunder has seen the ‘under’ go 46-36 overall, 23-18 in its home outings.

— The ‘over’ went 8-3 in Utah’s last 11 games despite back-to-back ‘unders’ to close the regular season. The Jazz have watched the ‘under’ go 42-39-1 overall, but the ‘over’ cashed at a 23-17-1 clip in its road assignments.

Western Conference First Round
No. 8 Minnesota at No. 1 Houston (TNT, 9:05 p.m. ET)

2017-18 Regular Season (Rockets 4-0)
Mar. 18 Rockets (-7) at Timberwolves 129-120 (Over 222.5)
Feb. 23 Rockets (-7.5) vs. Timberwolves 120-102 (Under 223)
Feb. 12 Rockets (-3.5) at Timberwolves 126-108 (Over 224)
Jan. 18 Rockets (-5.5)vs. Timberwolves 116-98 (Under 225)

— As of early this morning, most spots had Houston (65-17 SU, 41-40 ATS) listed as an 11-point favorite with a total of 216.5. The Timberwolves were +700 on the money line (risk $100 to win $700).

— has the Rockets as enormous -3500 favorites to advance to the West semifinals. The T-wolves are +1500 underdogs to pull the upset over the conference’s No. 1 seed (risk $100 to win $1,500). The offshore shop also has adjusted line for the series opener. If you’re really bullish on Houston, you can take it -17.5 points for a +200 payout. On the flip side, the T-wolves have +220 odds as 5.5-point underdogs.

— Mike D’Antoni’s squad went 34-7 SU and 17-23-1 ATS at home this year.

— Houston limped to a 9-17 spread record in 26 games as double-digit ‘chalk’ during the regular season.

— Although it had the top seed in the West wrapped up and wasn’t motivated to play at full tilt, we’ll nonetheless note how Houston finished the year without covering in four straight games and six of their last seven.

— Houston is dealing with a couple of key injuries. Ryan Anderson, who averages 9.3 points and 5.0 RPG while shooting at 38.6 percent clip from long distance, is ‘doubtful’ with an ankle injury. Luc Mbah a Moute, one of the team’s premier defenders, is ‘out’ for Game 1 with a shoulder injury and isn’t expected to be available for the entire series. Mbah a Moute averages 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 SPG.

— Houston star guard James Harden appears to be in a two-man race with LeBron James for The Association’s MVP honors. Harden averaged 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 SPG in 72 regular-season contests. Chris Paul averaged 18.6 points, 7.9 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 58 games played. Eric Gordon (18.0 PPG) is the Rockets’ third-leading scorer, while Clint Capela (13.9 PPG) paces the club in FG percentage (65.2%), rebounding (10.8 RPG) and blocked shots (1.9 BPG).

— Minnesota (47-35 SU, 37-42-3 ATS) had to win each of its last three regular-season games to lock up the franchise’s first playoff berth since Kevin Garnett led it to the 2004 Western Conference finals. The T-wolves beat out Denver for the eighth seed thanks to a 112-106 win over the Nuggets in overtime as 3.5-point home favorites in the regular-season finale. The extra session allowed for the 218 combined points to slip ‘over’ the 216.5-point total. Jimmy Butler led the way with 31 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Karl-Anthony Towns added 26 points and 14 boards. Andrew Wiggins had 18 points and Jeff Teague tallied 17 points and seven assists compared to only one turnover.

— Butler averages 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 SPG. Towns led the NBA in double-doubles with 68. The seven-foot center who is in his third season out of Kentucky is averaging 21.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per contest. Wiggins (17.7 PPG), Teague (14.2 PPG, 7.0 APG), Taj Gibson (12.2 PPG) and Jamal Crawford (10.3 PPG) are also averaging in double figures.

— Minnesota is 17-24 SU and 17-23-1 ATS on the road.

— Minnesota failed to cover the spread in its only double-digit underdog role of the season. In fact, the T-wolves went 0-6 ATS when listed as ‘dogs of seven points or more.

— Houston won all four regular-season meetings over Minnesota both SU and ATS. Totals were a split (2-2), but the ‘under’ cashed in both games played at Houston. The Rockets won 116-98 and 120-102 in a pair of games played at home. They won by scores of 126-108 and 129-120 at Minnesota.

— The ‘under’ has been a money maker in Houston games all season, cashing tickets at a 48-33-1 overall clip. The Rockets saw the ‘under’ go 22-19 in their home games. They finished the regular season with four consecutive ‘unders’ and seven in their last eight contests.

— The ‘over’ is 45-36-1 overall for the T-wolves, 21-20 in their road assignments

NBA-Tuesday night-Regular season is already over,few more spots to be taken

The Thunder, Spurs and Pelicans all clinched playoffs spots in the West with double-digit wins last night. Denver kept its playoff hopes alive with a home win over Portland on Monday and will now play in an elimination game on Wednesday at Minnesota, with the winner earning the last spot in the West.

In the East, Cleveland captured the Central Division and at least the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Seeds 6 through 8 in the East are still jumbled and with Miami losing last night and Milwaukee winning. Washington is the other team in the mix and it plays tonight. The Heat control their own destiny and hold tiebreakers over both teams, however most pundits believe the No. 7 seed is the best option against No. 2 Boston. Instead of playing No. 1 Toronto or No. 3 Philadelphia/Cleveland.

Tuesday’s card has six games on tap and below is my quick handicap.

Meaningful Games

Philadelphia (50-30 SU, 46-33-1 ATS) at Atlanta (24-57 SU, 39-39-3 ATS)

The 76ers have been on a mission lately, winning 14 straight games and if the club captures two more wins then they’ll lock up the No. 3 seed in the East. During this winning streak, six of those victories have come away from home and they’ve produced a 10-4 ATS mark but they have failed to cover the number in their last two wins. Wins are wins in the NBA but of the 14, only one came against a playoff team and they barely held on to beat Cleveland last Friday at home. They did notch victories against Minnesota and Denver, but neither of those clubs have locked up a spot yet.
One of the victories during their current winning streak came against the Hawks, a 101-91 decision at Atlanta on Mar. 30. Including that outcome, these teams have only met twice this season and the 76ers won and covered both games, both decisions decided by exactly 10 points.

Despite playing with a short-handed roster filled with raw talent, the Hawks have gone 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS in their last five games which included impressive road wins over the Wizards (103-97) and Celtics (112-106). This will be the home and season finale for Atlanta, who will be missing the playoffs after clinching a spot in the 10 previous postseasons. The Hawks haven’t been in great form lately at home, going 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS in their last five games.

Philadelphia hosts Milwaukee at home on Wednesday and the 76ers have gone 9-4 this season in front end of back-to-back spots and that includes a run of seven straight wins (6-1 ATS).

Golden State (58-23 SU, 34-46-1 ATS) at Utah (47-33 SU, 42-37-1 ATS)

It’s rare to see Golden State listed as an underdog but that’s the case tonight when it meets Utah (-7) at Salt Lake City. This game is much more important for the Jazz, who can keep hopes for claiming the No. 3 seed in the West alive. Portland sits ahead in the standings by a game but Utah owns a 2-1 season edge versus the Trail Blazers and the pair meet on Wednesday from the Moda Center. If the Jazz win tonight, tomorrow’s game will be for the third seed.

With nothing to play for, Golden State might rest a ton of players since it’s the last game of the season for them. The Warriors did right the ship on Sunday with a 117-100 win at Phoenix but in their two recent games against playoff clubs, they were outgunned by the Pacers (126-106) and the Pelicans (126-100), the game versus New Orleans coming at home.

Regardless of who plays for Golden State, the Jazz should have confidence knowing that they’ve won two straight against the Warriors which includes a 129-99 home win on Jan. 30. All three encounters between the pair this regular season have gone ‘over’ the number.

Golden State, due to injuries, hasn’t been sharp in the second-half of the season and a 7-9 record in its last 16 games is a bit alarming. Steve Kerr’s team still owns the second-best road record (29-11 SU, 18-22 ATS) in the league but when listed as underdogs, they’re just 1-4 both SU and ATS this season.

This is the regular season finale at Vivint Smart Home Arena tonight and the Jazz have gone 27-13 SU and 21-19 ATS overall. Utah is 8-2 SU in its last 10 at home but they’ve been pedestrian (5-5 ATS) for bettors.

Sort of Meaningful

Boston (54-26 SU, 49-29-2 ATS) at Washington (42-38 SU, 36-43-1 ATS)

This is an intriguing matchup because the pair could also be meeting in the first round of the playoffs and I’m guessing the Wizards would rather play Boston than Toronto. The only way it could happen is if Washington wins tonight and then defeats Orlando on the road Wednesday but the final outcomes for the Bucks and Heat also changed things up as well.

Even though the Celtics are locked into the No. 2 seed, Brad Stevens said he’s playing his starters major minutes tonight and getting ready for the postseason. Boston has gone 14-7 this season without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving but they limp into this game with a 1-3 record in their last four.

Backing Washington right now doesn’t appear to be a sound investment with the club dropping four straight (1-3 ATS) and eight of their last 10. Last Friday’s 103-97 home loss to Atlanta as a 10 ½-point favorite was embarrassing and it was their fourth defeat to a non-playoff team in the last two weeks.

These teams met in the playoffs last season and the home team won all seven of the games as Boston advanced. However, the trend has flip-flopped this regular season and the visitor is 3-0 this season. The one consistency between the pair has been scoring and that’s helped the ‘over’ go 8-2 in the last 10 meetings.


There will be a lot of rested players in the below games and I would tread lightly on all of them.

Charlotte (35-46 SU, 33-44-4 ATS) at Indiana (48-33 SU, 47-34 ATS)
Phoenix (20-61 SU, 36-42-3 ATS) at Dallas (24-57 SU, 41-38-2 ATS)
Houston (64-16 SU, 41-37-2 ATS) at L.A. Lakers (34-46 SU, 41-39 ATS)

NCAAB-March Madness 2018-Brunson and Wilson win the Awards for national players of the year

Jalen Brunson of national champion Villanova and A’ja Wilson of South Carolina won the John R. Wooden Award as national players of the year Friday night.

They received their trophies during the fourth annual College Basketball Awards in a nationally televised show from The Novo in downtown Los Angeles.

Brunson also claimed the Bob Cousy point guard of the year award, having averaged over 18 points while helping Villanova win its second national title in three years. Brunson claimed a slew of honors, including The Associated Press men’s player of the year. He helped the Wildcats spend a nation’s-best eight weeks at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 this season.

Brunson is the second player to win the national title and Wooden Award in the same year, and the first Wildcats player to earn the Wooden honor.

”It really truly does mean a lot,” he said. ”There’s been so many great players that have come through Villanova. Being the first one is something I take great pride in.”

Wilson helped South Carolina to its first title last year and averaged 22.6 points and 11.8 rebounds for the team this season before the Gamecocks lost to UConn in the NCAA Tournament regional final. She was also the AP women’s player of the year and is expected to be the first pick in the upcoming WNBA draft.

Wilson finished her college career as South Carolina’s scoring and blocks leader.

”I’m just blessed to win this award,” she said. ”This is something huge, this is something deeper than basketball.”

Villanova’s Jay Wright received the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching honor.

Other winners were:

– Purdue’s Carsen Edwards won the Jerry West shooting guard of the year for his team-leading 18.5-point average to go with 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. West presented his namesake trophy.

– Angel Delgado of Seton Hall received the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar center of the year. He was the Big East’s top rebounder for the third time in four years, averaging 11.8 rebounds. He also averaged 13.6 points.

– Villanova’s Mikal Bridges received the Julius Erving small forward of the year for a season that saw him average 17.7 points and shoot 51 percent from the field.

– Deandre Ayton of Arizona accepted the Karl Malone power forward of the year award from the Hall of Famer. He was the Pac-12 player of the year and led the league in rebounding. The 7-foot-1 freshman had 24 double-doubles, the most in school history.