Win Another One, Why Not: Hot Sixers Face Spurs at Home

Win Another One, Why Not: Hot Sixers Face Spurs at Home

I've said it before, but going into this seven-game stretch of
toughness—the "death march," as my dad refers to it—I said that the team
needed to win three games, and I hoped they would win four. Well, five
games in, and they've already taken care of the four-win mark, and still
have games against the Spurs and Clippers to possibly even add to that.
It's more than I expected, to say the least, but it's been damn fun,
even with that awful loss against Miami, and it's permanently silenced
critics who say the team isn't legit. (And by "permanently" of course I
mean "until they lose a game or two again".)

In any event, even with the stretch a success regardless, the Sixers do
have to still play the last two games, and it'd be damn good if we could
win one or two of 'em just the same. Tonight they face the visiting San
Antonio Spurs, who despite another year of tread and the loss of
All-Star shooting guard Manu Ginobili to injury for over a month, have
been just as much of a factor as always in the Western Conference,
winning five straight games coming into tonight (including one against
the league-best Oklahoma City Thunder) and posting a 17-9 record for the
year thusfar, good for the three seed in the West.

The key, as seems to be the case with nearly every team the Sixers have
faced in recent weeks, will be stopping the point guard—in this case,
firecracker Tony Parker, who proved in that game against the Thunder (42
points, nine assists, zero turnovers) how dangerous he can still be once he gets going.
Also, the Spurs' front line of the not-quite-ageless Tim Duncan and
young'n DeJuan Blair can rebound the hell out of the ball, so the Sixers
risk getting punked on the boards the way they were against the Lakers
if EB, Nik, Lavoy and company aren't rotating well and banging
bodies under the basket.

Spencer is out tonight while Elton will give it a shot.

7:00 tip from the WFC. As good as the Sixers have been of late, they
need to keep winning to stay afloat, not just in the East on the whole
but in their division specifically—with the Celtics winning nine of ten
and the Knicks seemingly reanimated by the brilliant play of point guard wunderkind Jeremy
Lin, the Atlantic may not be as easy to secure as we previously hoped.
It'd be nice to not have to obsess over the standings much this year if at all possible.

*

One awesome quote from Coach Collins pregame powwow:

Coach Collins was asked once again about the amazing atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night when his team defeated Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. He said he did savor it a bit when there was about 5 seconds left in the game.

"Bynum's shot went in the air, I saw it miss," Collins said. "It was a chance to look around a little bit like I did when we beat Miami in the playoffs. When the fans were chanting 'Beat L.A.' it reminded me of 1980 when I was here and the good feeling our guys had. More importantly, just the courage our guys played with the other night. I said it before, you have to be a strong-willed guy to be able to take the torment that Kobe Bryant will throw at you during a game."

He later added that he's not worried about what the doubters around the league may be saying about his club.

"Just to look around to see our crowd so excited, that's why I came here. I wanted these people to be excited about their team again. I know there's a lot of people out there that still think we're the little engine that can't. That's okay, we're just gonna keep chugging."

Late goal lifts Penguins over Sharks in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

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USA Today Images

Late goal lifts Penguins over Sharks in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

PITTSBURGH -- To their credit, the Sharks regrouped after a miserable first period at Consol Energy Center in which it looked like they might get run out of the building.

It wasn’t enough, though, as Nick Bonino’s late third period goal pushed the Penguins to a 3-2 win in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

On the game-winner, Brent Burns lost his stick and couldn’t prevent Kris Letang from finding Bonino in front of the net with Paul Martin defending the slot. Bonino flipped it through Martin Jones at 17:27 of the final frame.

The Sharks went to the power play with 2:09 to go, but couldn’t tie it up.

Game 2 is in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The Penguins dominated the first period, only to have the Sharks completely turn the tables in the second, resulting in a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes.

The Penguins had the Sharks on their heels for virtually the entire opening frame, outshooting San Jose 15-4 and scoring a pair.

The first came at 12:46 of the first. On a rush, Justin Schultz’s shot from the high slot hit the glove of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and rookie Bryan Rust was there to smack in the loose puck.

Just one minute and two seconds later, the Penguins upped their cushion. Sidney Crosby tracked down a loose puck in the corner ahead of Justin Braun, calmly played the puck off his backhand and whipped a cross-ice pass to Conor Sheary. Another rookie, Sheary whizzed a wrist shot past Jones’ far shoulder.

It was evident early in the second, though, that San Jose had regrouped, as Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski both had good looks at the net. They broke through on an early power play courtesy of Tomas Hertl, who curled in a pass from down low off of Olli Maatta at 3:02.

Pittsburgh withstood a continual push from the Sharks for much of the period until Marleau’s late score. After Couture outworked Maatta deep in the offensive zone and pushed the puck to the point to Burns, Marleau secured Burns’ rebound and wrapped it around at 18:12.

Burns had two assists, and made a strong defensive play with about three minutes left in the first, backchecking hard and lifting up Carl Hagelin’s stick on a breakaway.

Special teams

The Sharks were 1-for-2 on the power play, on Hertl’s second man advantage goal of the playoffs. They are 18-for-65 in the postseason (27.6 percent).

Pittsburgh went 0-for-3, generating five shots on goal. The Pens are 15-for-67 overall (22.3 percent).

Marleau was whistled for an illegal check to the head of Rust in the third period, sending the 24-year-old to the dressing room for a brief stretch.

In goal

Jones and Murray were each making their first career starts in the Stanley Cup Final. Jones took the loss with 38 saves, while Murray stopped 24 San Jose shots.

Lineup

Sharks forward Matt Nieto remained out with an upper body injury.

Pavelski saw his seven-game point streak (5g, 5a) come to an end. Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz increased his point streak to six games (3g, 4a).

Up next

The Sharks are 5-11 all-time when losing Game 1 of a playoff series, but 1-0 this year as they came back to defeat the Blues in the Western Conference Final.

Teams that win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final have gone on to win the championship 78 percent of the time (59-18). The last team to win the Cup after losing Game 1 was the 2011 Bruins.

Warriors complete comeback, oust Thunder in Game 7

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The Associated Press

Warriors complete comeback, oust Thunder in Game 7

OAKLAND – They beat the odds, clobbering them into submission.

Facing a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors rallied to take three successive games over Oklahoma City, finishing the epic comeback with a 96-88 victory in Game 7 Monday night before a delirious sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry scored 36 points and Klay Thompson fired in 21, as the Warriors become the 10th team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA playoffs – and the first to do so in the West finals.

Draymond Green added 11 points and also had a team-high nine rebounds, as the Warriors battled the bigger Thunder nearly even on the glass, 47-46.

Curry splashed 32 3-pointers in the series, the most ever for a player in a seven-game playoff series.

Ratcheting up the defense, the Warriors overcome a 42-point first half, their lowest total at home all season. They trailed by as much as 13 before storming back.

Kevin Durant scored 27 points to lead the Thunder. Russell Westbrook added 19.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

When his team needed him most, Curry was at his MVP best.

Curry’s line: 36 points (13-of-24 shooting from the field, 7-of-12 from beyond the arc), eight assists and five rebounds. He played 40 minutes and finished plus-18 for the game.

TURNING POINT

After OKC took a 54-48 lead on a Durant fadeaway with 8:15 left in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 23-4 run to go up 71-58 on an Anderson Varejao floater with 58.3 seconds left in the quarter.

Six different Warriors scored during the run, lead by Curry with six points. They held the Thunder to 2-of-11 shooting, with three turnovers, during the run.

The Warriors outscored the Thunder 29-12 for the quarter.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors on Thursday play host to Cleveland in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm.

Joel Embiid declares himself '#FinallyHealthy' on Instagram, creates great new hashtag

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Joel Embiid declares himself '#FinallyHealthy' on Instagram, creates great new hashtag

When will Joel Embiid be cleared to make his NBA debut? That question still remains.

But the big man is making it known, he is setting his sights on that game (whenever it may be) and being part of the Sixers’ new chapter.

Monday night Embiid posted a photo of himself in a Sixers jersey with the caption “Wish we could fast forward to next season #FinallyHealthy#TrustTheNewProcess.”

Wish we could fast forward to next season #FinallyHealthy #TrustTheNewProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

That second hashtag, though? Just tremendous.

Yes, even in the midst of an electric Western Conference Finals Game 7 between the Warriors and Thunder, Embiid is thinking ahead to next season.

Embiid, the third overall pick in 2014, has yet to play in an NBA game because of foot injuries. He has been going through non-contact drills during his rehab, teasing viewers with videos of his three-point shooting, and dabbling in soccer moves.

Embiid has been expressing his excitement of playing next season on social media. Seven weeks ago, a caption included “We'll see y'all next season. ME PERSONALLY.”