Monthly Archives: April 2018

76ers vs Heat

Ben Simmons’ 76ers suffer through cold shooting night, Dwyane Wade lifts Miami Heat to Game


The Australian point guard did his best to lead a comeback, but the Philadelphia 76ers will head to Miami having giving up home court advantage.

And it was thanks to a vintage performance from Dwyane Wade.

The future Hall of Famer had a stunning first half, and followed it up with clutch plays on both ends, as the Heat defeated the 76ers 113-103, tying their first round series at 1-1.

“I hate this feeling,” Simmons said post-game.

”But, maybe it’s a good reminder for everybody for the next game, to really focus and lock in. Every game’s important.”

Wade finished with 28 points off the bench, shooting 11-of-17 from the field in a showing that looked more like the Dwyane Wade of old.



Simmons posted a team-high 24 points, to go with eight rebounds and eight assists, but the 76ers suffered through a cold shooting night, losing a key home game.

The 76ers shot just 7-of-35 from beyond the arc, as their 17-game winning streak — one that stretched back into the regular season — came to an end.

The Heat got 20 points from Goran Dragic, as well as another impressive bench performance from Kelly Olynyk, who finished with 11 points, five rebounds, and six assists off the pine.

Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow, right, hits the court after drawing a foul on Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons.

It was the 76ers who picked up where they left off from Game 1, showing off their signature ball and player movement; a Simmons tip giving them a 15-11 lead, midway through the first quarter.

With Brett Brown’s team getting in the bonus early, they made the most of their trips to the line, with Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova leading the way as the 76ers took a 29-22 lead.

That’s when Wade and the Heat made some changes. Justise Winslow picked up on Simmons earlier up the court than usual, setting the tone for a physical brand of basketball the Heat had transitioned into.

“He’s gonna learn more about himself in this whole playoff experience than anything in the regular season teaches you,” Brown said post-game.

”For the very large majority of our NBA season, we went through defences that never left the paint, that picked up points back at the foul line while Ben was dribbling up the floor, and tonight the whole thing changed.

“I thought, for the most part, he handled it well. There’s always gonna be point guard moments… but, by and large, I thought he handled their pressure and their physicality well.”

Wade played a mixture of scorer and distributor, hitting an array of midrange jumpers to lift the Heat’s 20-2 run. A pair of Simmons free throws put a halt to the Heat’s run, but Wade continued to put his foot down, hitting a layup to end the second quarter, with the Heat entering the half with a 56-42 lead; the future Hall of Fame leading the way with 21 points, entering the main break.

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“That second quarter is definitely where they punched us in the mouth,” Simmons said.” We didn’t respond the right way. We brought it back, but it wasn’t enough.”

Wade shot 8-of-9 from the field in the first half and, in the process, the Heat legend passed Larry Bird for 10th place on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list (3,899).

With the 76ers trailing, Brown opted to start Amir Johnson at the five-spot in the second half, and the big-man immediately went to work, throwing down a dunk in traffic. Still, the momentum was all with the Heat; Josh Richardson stepping up on both ends of the floor as the his team kept their lead at bay.

T.J. McConnell provided a burst to end the third period, hitting a pair of free throws to end the quarter, but the Heat still held a 86-75 lead.

Wayne Ellington opened the final quarter with a tough three-pointer, which was follow by a James Johnson dunk — giving the Heat a 91-75 lead; their largest of the evening — but Dario Saric led a 10-2 run for the 76ers, highlighted by a timely three-pointer from the top of the key.

A Simmons basket, followed by a tip-in from Ersan Ilyasova, saw the 76ers’ deficit get cut to just 98-96, but it was Wade who was the hero for the Heat, forcing a steal for a dunk, before finding James Johnson under the rim for a slam of his own on the next possession.

From then, it was the free throw game to the finish line, with the Heat now getting the opportunity to gain home court advantage as they head to Miami.

“We brought it back, but the hit some big shots — some defensive things we messed up on — but that happens; that’s the playoffs,” Simmons said. “We learn from it, and it’s on to the next game.”

Joel Embiid sat out Game 2 with a face injury. Ersan Ilyasova started in his place.

Game 3 is on Friday, tipping off at 9am (AEST).

Trail Blazers vs Pelicans

NBA playoffs 2018: Predictions, picks for Trail Blazers vsPelicans 3-round series


The Portland Trail Blazers find themselves in an awful spot after two games against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Blazers were swept on their home floor by the visiting Pels, and in a few more days, Portland could find itself swept entirely out of the NBA playoffs.

That would be the second straight first-round exit for Damian Lillard’s Blazers, and the third in four years. But more was expected of Portland this time around, given that they are the No. 3 seed and finally put together a strong defense to pair up with their guard-led attack. Many were shocked the Pelicans even made the playoffs after being unable to upgrade the roster much last offseason, and then losing DeMarcus Cousins to injury at midseason. Few expected New Orleans to advance in the postseason once they got there.

But here we are, with Portland heading down to the bayou with their season on the line. Here are the three major reasons the Blazers are on the precipice of doom:

When Dame is stifled, there is no Plan B

The Pelicans have a smart defensive gameplan: focus on slowing down Damian Lillard, the Blazers’ best player and one of the league’s top guards. If you can make life difficult for Dame or get the ball out of his hands, Portland’s offense will be less effective.

Portland’s offense has, in fact, crumbled without an effective Lillard.

New Orleans is trapping Dame on every high pick-and-roll. This is like 75 percent of the Blazers’ normal offense (or at least that’s what it feels like watching Portland). Lillard is rarely able to attack through the double — he has gotten free a couple of times in the series, and he made some clever passes to rolling big men other times. But, largely, the Blazers’ reaction to the defensive focus on Lillard has been for Dame to force up bad shots (more the case in Game 1, where he shot 6-23), lose control (seven turnovers in Game 2) or to let others, primarily C.J. McCollum, run the offense.

McCollum running the offense essentially means McCollum running isolation or draw-and-kick against Jrue Holiday or E’Twaun Moore, both strong defenders. McCollum did have six assists on Tuesday and finished with a fair 22 points on 22 shooting possessions. But the Blazers need production like that in addition to production from Lillard. If only one performs, Portland is in trouble.

This is a failure of coaching and team-building, straight up. Trapping a star point guard hard isn’t exactly some avant-garde defensive strategy. The Blazers should have an answer. They don’t.

Devils vs Lightning

Devils vs Lightning Live online :

NHL playoff action continues at the Prudential Center where the New Jersey Devils host the Tampa Bay Lightning in game four.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning meet the New Jersey Devils in what figures to be as genuine a representation of the conference-leader-meets-wild-card matchup as we’ve seen. This isn’t a pretty strong No. 1 seed meeting a known commodity that happened to drop to the wild-card spot.

It’s Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, who have been dominating the rest of the league since day one, meeting a Devils team that looked more likely to finish as the league’s first 31st team than an eventual champion.

Tampa Bay might have won the Atlantic to set up a first round playoff series with New Jersey but the Devils have played the Lightning tough the past several years. That trend continued Monday with Tampa Bay absorbing a 5-2 defeat that cut their series lead to 2-1.

The Lightning received power play goals from Alex Kilhorn and Steven Stamkos with both adding assists. Nikita Kucherov logged a pair of helpers and the Lightning saw Andrei Vasilevskiy allow three goals on 39 shots.

The balanced New Jersey attack produced goals off the sticks of Taylor Hall, Will Butcher and Stefan Noesen with Blake Coleman and Ben Lovejoy hitting the empty net in the final minute. Hall gave the Devils a pair of helpers to make the 34 save effort of Cory Schneider a winner.

Lightning are 0-7 in their last 7 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game and under is 3-0-1 in Lightning last 4 following a loss of 3 or
Lightning are 0-7 in their last 7 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game and under is 3-0-1 in Lightning last 4 following a loss of 3 or more goals and over is 5-0 in Lightning last 5 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game.

Over is 3-0-2 in Devils last 5 Conference Quarterfinals games and over is 4-0 in Devils last 4 overall and over is 4-0 in Devils last 4 vs. Eastern Conference. Over is 5-1-1 in the last 7 meetings and home team is 17-5 in the last 22 meetings and Lightning are 5-17 in the last 22 meetings in New Jersey.

The over and New Jersey have been the moneymakers here and I’ll go with the over for now

New Jersey swept the season series against the Lightning, but that’s a bit misleading when it comes to projecting how these two stack up against each other — the Devils squeaked by with one-goal wins every time, and were outshot in all three games, most notably in the second meeting, which saw Tampa Bay fall despite amassing 51 shots to the Devils’ 28.

If Keth Kinkaid continues his standout year and the Lightning’s stars stumble in the bright lights of the playoffs, the Devils can put together an epic first-round upset. But if things keep going as they have when the two clubs have met so far, you have to assume things eventually swing Tampa Bay’s way over the course of a seven-game stretch

Tampa Bay Lightning Outlook: Nobody could beat Tampa Bay at the start of the season, as they went 27-8-2 from October through December. But while they’ve still been a difficult team in the second half (26-15-3) team defence has become a problem.

New Jersey Devils Outlook: One of the best stories in the league this season, the Devils benefitted from a strong 11-4-2 start, but they haven’t coasted into the playoffs.

On the contrary, the Devils faced a difficult six-game road trip in mid-March that included games against Nashville, Vegas, Pittsburgh and the three California teams, which could have been the disaster that allowed the streaking Florida Panthers to catch up. But New Jersey managed to go 4-2-0 in those games, then won two in a row upon returning home. The road trip turned out to be a defining moment for the young team.