Tag: Philadelphia 76ers

Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks Face Off For An Eastern Conference Heavy-Weight Match-Up

With the All-Star break now behind us the race for playoff positioning has begun. Teams in the playoff picture are heading into the final stretch with a winning mentality as the last month and a half of the regular season begins. It starts tonight as two of the favorites to make it out of the East in the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics face-off.

The Bucks currently hold the best record in the league at 43-14, while the Celtics are tied at the fourth seed with Philadelphia at 37-21.

Nikola Mirotic make Bucks debut

Head coach Mike Budenholzer and his coaching stuff get to unveil their newest toy in Nikola Mirotic tonight. Mirotic will take the court for the first time as a member of the Bucks after being traded by the New Orleans Pelicans before the trade deadline.

The Bucks have played in four games between the trade deadline and before the All-Star break, but Mirotic has been dealing with a calf injury that has kept him sidelined. He’s appeared in 32 games this season and is averaging 16.7 points per game (ppg) and 8.3 rebounds per game (rpg). MVP candidate, Giannis Antentkounmpo will have more help as the Bucks look to secure the number one seed in the East heading into the postseason.

Mirotic is an added bonus for Milwaukee, he’ll be able to spread the floor while Antentokounmpo draws in defenders inside the paint, which will free up shooters like Mirotic, Brook Lopez and Malcom Brogdon.

Jayson Tatum Predicts Boston to go all the way

After winning the Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend, second year player Jayson Tatum made an eye popping statement as to what he believes the future has in store for Boston.

“We’re going to win the Finals,” Tatum told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “February 16, mark it Jayson Tatum said we’re going to win the Finals this year.”

Tatum and the Celtics have a lot of work to do to get to that point as Milwaukee, Toronto and Philadelphia have added more weapons to their roster before the trade deadline.

Before the season started the talk around the league was Boston’s depth once Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returned. Boston has about nine starting caliber players on their team, which was the main reason why many picked Boston to stream-roll through the Eastern Conference. But now it seems that the Bucks, the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers have caught up, if not surpassed the Celtics.

The Raptors added Marc Gasol from Memphis and the Sixers added Tobias Harris from the Clippers. But as anonymous scout said about the Celtics it will all come down to consistently and chemistry if Boston hopes to continue playing in June.

“This team can win the East or get beat in the first round. They have great talent but sometimes they have no chemistry,” said an anonymous scout.

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King James Can’t Save The City Of Angels Alone

The Los Angeles Lakers easily were the biggest losers coming out of the NBA trade deadline after striking out of Anthony Davis. With this loss, the Lakers face the possibility of missing the playoffs.

The Lakers are at a crossroads at the halfway mark of the NBA season. They struck out on landing Anthony Davis and the chemistry of the team has been up and down. The team is so out of it that they may not even make the playoffs and not even the best basketball player in the world may be able to save them.

Lebron James, 34 years old, is easily the best player on this Laker team and has helped them to improve drastically this season, but other than Lebron what other options do the Lakers have?

Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are considered to be the two complementary pieces next to Lebron, but their play has not been up to standards this season.

The Lakers are 3-7 in their last 10 games, getting blown out by teams such as the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers.

The Western Conference has been tough and with hungry teams such as the Clippers, Kings, T-Wolves, and Mavericks creeping up to the 8th seed, this leaves the Lakers with minimal room to throw away games.

If the Lakers end up making the playoffs, it will most likely be as an 8th seed which means playing the Golden State Warriors in the first round. The Warriors are currently rolling and barring any injuries, it is more than likely they will steamroll through the Lakers and the entire Western Conference.

If the Lakers miss the playoffs, Lebron’s legacy may be called into question as this will be the first time since 2005 that he will miss the playoffs.

The young Lakers must step up and close out games without Lebron. Players such as Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Rajon Rondo has to step up as leaders. If these guys want to be Lakers next season, they have to take charge and win by any means possible.

Boston Celtics Are Still The Beast Of The East

The talk around the league after the trade deadline was the moves made by the Philadelphia 76ers and how they are the favorites to come out of the East. Last night, the Boston Celtics, without Kyrie Irving, faced off against the newly formed big four in Philly of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Needless to say whenever Boston goes against a championship level team they bring their A-game, and last night was no exception. Boston overcame Philly 112-109, led by Gordon Hayward’s game-high 26 points, Jayson Tatum had 20 points and Al Horford chipped in with 23 points, five assists and eight rebounds.

The Celtics are the Sixers Kryptonite

In their last 19 games, including the playoffs, Boston has a 17-2 record against Philadelphia, their only two losses came on January 18, 2018 when they lost by nine and in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when they lost 92-103.

Even with Irving, who’s out with a strained left knee, the Celtics played as perfect as they could against the 76ers. It helped a bit that Embiiid was in foul trouble throughout the game while shooting 9-22 from the field. Harris and Butler had better games as they shot a combined 11-26 from the field, Butler also missed important free throws in the fourth quarter that could’ve tied the game at 106.

With Embiid in foul trouble, Marcus Smart slammed down a vicious dunk through Embiid who decided not to contest with five fouls, which put Boston up 110-107. Tatum would ice the game with two clutch free throws to put Boston up 112-109, with no timeouts remaining Butler couldn’t get the shot up in time in hopes of sending the game to overtime.

Are the Celtics Better without Kyrie?

The numbers don’t lie, the Celtics have played better when Irving has missed games, they’re 8-2 when Irving’s out of the lineup. Last night, the ball moved around more then with Irving on the floor, Hayward had his best performance again a championship level team, Tatum reminded everybody why Danny Ainge wants to keep him in Boston and Horford had a big game on both sides of the floor.

With Irving in the lineup the team is 28-19, a small difference but we can’t deny what we saw from the Celtics young core last season in 60 games without Irving. Over the span of three rounds in the postseason, the Celtics went 14-8 and eliminated Philly in five games.

Boston is averaging 112.9 points per game this season in 57 games played, when Irving is out of the line-up the numbers jump to 113.5 ppg.

Irving will miss his second game tonight as Boston takes on Detroit at TD Garden, their last game before the All-Star break.

The Celtics stay intact, While the East Stacks up

The trade deadline came and went without any moves from Boston as General Manager Danny Ainge and the rest of the Boston Celtics front office have decided to stick with the nucleus intact in hopes of a trip to the Finals.

With many speculations now in the rear view about whether or not Ainge was willing to deal Kyrie Irving before the deadline after his questionable comments about his commitment to Boston last Friday. The Celtics will now make a run at the top spot in the East with the same roster with less than three months remaining in the regular season.

Making a Run at the top spot in the East

We can’t say whether or not Boston has finally found some consistency, we’ve seen them go on a winning streak and then lose a couple of games to team not in the playoff picture.

Boston has won 10 of their last 11 games, with the only lost coming against the Golden State Warriors. They’ve shown us they can be a championship level team based on their brilliant performance against the Warriors and against Oklahoma City Thunder last Sunday. They outlasted the dynamic duo of Paul George and Russell Westbrook, who both have been in the MVP discussion this season.

Boston currently sits in the third seed in the East just three and a half games behind Toronto for second place and five and a half games behind Milwaukee for the number one seed. Milwaukee currently has the best record in the East and NBA at 40-13, and the Philadelphia 76ers can’t be slept on after making a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, who’s averaging a career high 20.9 points per game this season.

Boston’s Marcus Morris Sr, isn’t sold on the new look Sixers, “Great pick up, not enough though,” wrote Morris on the comment section of a Belcher Report Instagram post.

Are the Celtics still the Clear Cut Favorite to win the East?

With the East as stacked as ever, do the odds still play in the Celtics favor to represent the East in the Finals. We can argue that the top four teams in the East, in the Bucks, Sixers, Toronto Raptors and Celtics have a shot at giving Golden State fits in the Finals, even potential push them to seven games.

Head coach of the Bucks, Mike Budenholzer has unlocked the Bucks offense with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way putting up MVP numbers with 27 ppg, 12.4 rebounds a game and 5.9 assists per game. Before the deadline the Bucks added Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans. Mirotic was an important piece for the Pelicans during the postseason last year and has continued to play well this season averaging 16.7 ppg and 8.2 rpg.

The Sixers have formed their own big four of Harris, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. General Manager, Elton Brand and the front office will stick with these four players alongside JJ Reddick for the foreseeable future, and will look to resign both Harris and Butler this off-season.

Just an hour before the trade deadline the Raptors landed Marc Gasol from Memphis, which improves their center position as opposed to having Jonás Valanciunas, who was included in the trade. A starting five of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka and Gasol will be interesting to see as the goal for President, Masaji Ujiri, is to make the Finals in hopes of resigning free agent to be, Leonard.

As for Boston, chemistry and consistency is what’s keeping this team from competition night in and night out at a Golden State Warrior level. We’ve seen them pick up big wins against the Sixers, Raptors and even sweeping the Thunder this season, but it’s their inconsistency that’s kept Boston from being mentioned as a clear cut favorite from reaching the Finals. Gordon Hayward has yet to find his groove, but on the bright side Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier have found their role coming off the bench.

The Celtics play LeBron James and the Lakers tonight at TD Garden, and will test out the newly formed big four in Philadelphia on Tuesday the 12.

Kevin Knox Scores Career High, 31 points, in loss to Philadelphia

In today’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks 2018 first round draft pick Kevin Knox finished the game with a career high of 31 points.

Knox had shot a total of 23 field goals in the game but only made 12 of them , shooting 52% from the field. 12 out of his 31 points scored came from three-pointers as he shot a total of 4 for 9 (42%) from behind the arc. Along with his 4-9 three-point shooting, Knox tallied three free throws in today’s game.

“We’ve been trying to build his tank up to be this guy that can play big minutes and really perform throughout the game. I thought tonight was the first time in the second half he didn’t fade when he started off with a double-figure first half. He actually scored more in the second half. That’s a big step.”-Coach Fizdale

Knox netted 13 points in the first half and 18 points in the second half of his 44 minutes played. He played a huge factor for the Knicks as he helped them come back from a 24 point deficit. 

With the comeback that the Knicks went on, the game still did not go well for New York as they lost in a final score of 108-105. 

They were outplayed by Philadelphia’s young core in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid finished the game with 26 points and 8 rebounds as Simmons finished with 20 points, 22 rebounds (career high), and 9 assists.

After this 31 point outburst by Knox, he is now the 6thyoungest player in NBA history to score at least 30 points in a game (19 years and 155 days). 

“I know it’s my career high, but it shows I have a lot of room to improve. I’m only 19. I want to keep getting better and keep learning every single year. It’s cool to see but I’m still trying to get that win.”-Kevin Knox

Knox has proven to be a consistent scorer in the NBA and could be a part of the Knicks upcoming future. With a lot to learn and the rest of the season remaining, we hope to see Knox become the player that we were promised back in June.

Kyrie Lights up TD Garden in OT win over 76ers

Down by two with less than 30 seconds to go in regulation the Boston Celtics turned to their closer/superstar in Kyrie Irving. With Jimmy Butler playing air tight defense on him, Irving used his signature turn around fade away jumper to send the game into overtime. In overtime Irving would carry the Celtics to a 121-114, victory over Philadelphia, finishing the game with 40-points and 10-rebounds.

“I’m about used to it now,” said Marcus Morris, “when he first came, it was crazy. But some of the s— don’t even surprise me no more with how often he does it.”

It would be the second time in a Christmas Day match-up against a playoff opponent where Irving would lead his team to victory. In 2016, Irving hit a similar shot over Golden States Klay Thompson, to give Cleveland the victory. Even before the game Irving told his teammates he was going to be “acting up”, “I told my teammates, ‘My family is here to watch me play. I have 20-lpus people from my family here, so I’m acting up,” said Irving. “

“I don’t really get a chance to have family all in one place, and most my family came tonight, so it means a lot to me. To have them here on Christmas, I was like a kid…. its Christmas spirit, man, and I missed it.” 

To Embiid there is no Rivalry with Boston

The second meeting between these two teams ended in the same result as the Celtics once again overcame the Sixers in a thriller, Joel Embiid once again reiterated his comments that the Sixers and Celtics isn’t a rivalry. “We lost again. Like I said at the beginning of the season, I don’t know what a rivalry is. I think I do, but this is clear as day, this is no rivalry,” said Embiid.

Embiid first made those comment on opening night at Boston, when he said that he does not consider the Sixers and Celtics a rivalry because they always lose. Despite the loss, Embiid was still his usual self, notching 34-points and 16-rebounds.

Players and Coaches Praise Kyrie’s Performance

Even Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown had to praise Irving’s clutch performance, “Kyrie was elite tonight,” said Brown. “That’s what people, and there aren’t many, in his sort of weight class do.”

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Kyrie shows emotion after scoring a game high 40-points in a win over the Sixers. (Photo credit, NBC Sports)

For teammate Al Horford he’s glad Irving is now in his team and is doing it for their club, “I remember Kyle Korver when we played with Kyrie (in Cleveland), one of the things he told me was he makes shots in big moments,” Horford said. “He’s the guy that we would go to here, and it’s just great because Ky, taking those big shots, making the right play, just having the ball in his hands. It was a lot of fun. The crowd went crazy for the second (overtime 3-pointer). So just emotions running high.”

Irving is no stranger to big time moments, his 41-points in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals to force Game 6, his 57-point performance against Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs in 2015 and who can forget his shot over Stephen Curry in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals that brought a championship to Cleveland.

“I always talk about being on those big stages, said Irving. “It’s just so much fun. It’s competition at its highest. I love going against the best.”

 

 

Boston Shakes off Three Game Skid with Win over Hornets

The return of Al Horford into the lineup was a much needed boost for Boston’s frontcourt after getting blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. Boston picked up a wire to wire victory on Sunday against Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets, 119-103, it was a big victory to get them back on track before their Christmas Day showdown with Philadelphia.

Kyrie Irving led the way for Boston with 25 points, 17 of those points came in the first quarter where he shot 7-9 from the field. Horford picked up 10 points and six rebounds in his return, while Marcus Morris had 12 points and eight rebounds in his first game back.

The Celtics Air out Frustration

After getting run off their home floor on Friday the Celtics closed their locker room doors for 36 minutes following the 13 point loss. They held a player only meeting to clear the air and find solutions to what can be done to improve their poor performances. Irving spoke gave little to no detail on the meeting, “I think everyone can see that we’ve obviously had some inconsistencies regarding our play, so I think it was just time to address it,” said Irving. He pointed out some critical points about the team’s recent play saying a lack of “cohesion” and there being “some selfish plays” among his teammates.

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The point of emphasis for Boston has been their lack of ball movement and too much iso-plays, and coming out the gates on Sunday you can just see a different Boston team. The Celtics dished out 30 assists as a team against Charlotte, compared to their 22 against the Bucks on Friday. The play of the night for Boston had to be the alley-oop play between Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier, a similar play that Irving and Hayward ran last year that resulted in Hayward’s season ending injury.

Boston improves to 19-14 with the win and sit in the fifth spot in the east. The Christmas Day match-up with the 76ers is a huge test for Boston, the 76ers are coming off a huge win against the top seeded Toronto Raptors on Saturday.