Sixers-Nuggets preview, featuring the worst defensive play of the 76ers' season

Sixers-Nuggets preview, featuring the worst defensive play of the 76ers' season

Have we mentioned the Philadelphia 76ers are now officially as bad as we expected them to be this season? If not, well then: The Sixers are now officially as bad as we expected them to be this season. We're 2-9 in our last 11 games, with the only two wins coming at home against the even woefuller Bucks and Magic--two wins that took a combined three overtimes and several Spencer Hawes miracles to secure. Last night's loss to the Bobcats wasn't the worst, but it was pretty bad--105-88 in a game that was never really in question at any point in the second half.

But at the very least, it's usually an entertaining awful--high-scoring affairs in which it's always just higher-scoring for the other side, which is always an easier tanking pill to swallow to a team that just can't put the ball in the basket. Still, it does mean that every now and then--and really, each and every now and then--you watch a defensive sequence with this team that just makes you want to fast forward the calendar to June.

The nadir probably came last night in the fourth quarter Charlotte. It didn't really matter, because the game was already well over, but still, it was the kind of defensive breakdown that was so bad that you couldn't help but see the objective hilarity in it:

That's right: One, two, three, FOUR Sixers surround Al Jefferson, who dumps off to Gerald Henderson for the easiest half-court bucket of the Charlotte Bobcats' or anybody else's season.

Now, Jefferson was having a good game against the Sixers, but 1962 Wilt Chamberlain he is not, and if the Sixers' post defense is really so bad that we need to send THREE help defenders at Big Al, we have problems much bigger than losing to the friggin' Bobcats by 17 on the road.

Sixers get to make up for it tonight against the Nuggets, 7:00 from the Wells Fargo Center. What should have been a matchup of young star point guards will instead be our old friend Andre Miller vs. our new soulmate Tony Wroten, as both Ty Lawson and Michael Carter-Williams are out tonight with injury. The 12-9 Nuggets are way better than we are, but they did just lose to the Cavs and Celtics in back-to-back games, so maybe lousy East teams are their kryptonite. Hollis Thompson 4eva.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).

NBA Playoffs: LeBron James makes history as Cavaliers roll into Finals

NBA Playoffs: LeBron James makes history as Cavaliers roll into Finals


BOSTON -- LeBron James scored 35 points and passed Michael Jordan to become the NBA's all-time playoff scoring leader as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 on Thursday night to claim their third straight Eastern Conference title and a return trip to the NBA Finals.

Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Kevin Love finished with 15 for the Cavs, who never trailed and led by as many as 39 points in one of their most dominating wins of the series. The Cavs set an NBA record by winning their 13th consecutive series closeout opportunity.

Cleveland's 4-1 series' win gives it a 12-1 record this postseason and sets up a third consecutive matchup with Western Conference champion Golden State, the team it beat in the Finals last season to claim the franchise's first championship.

It will mark the seventh straight trip to the Finals for James.

Avery Bradley led Boston with 23 points.

The Cavaliers basically conceded the East's top seed to the Celtics at the end of the regular season by opting to rest its starters in advance of the playoffs. But they displayed their superiority over the final two games to wrap up the series.

After allowing the Celtics to seize the early momentum in Game 4, the Cavs barely gave them the chance in Game 5.

Led by its Big Three, Cleveland quickly built a 21-point lead in the first quarter, while getting lots of contributions from their teammates.

Love continued to knock down shots from the outside, Irving sliced his way into the lane to the rim and James got free for several of his one-handed, tomahawk dunks.

It was a very welcomed sight in Irving's case, after he rolled his left ankle in the third quarter of Cleveland's Game 4 win. He showed no signs of lingering issues, though, beating several defenders off the dribble and handing out seven assists.

Meanwhile, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver all helped spread out Boston's defenders by connecting on several wide-open scoring opportunities.

Deron Williams, who had been quiet for most of the series, also got in on the act with a series-best 14 points for Cleveland.

The Celtics did their best to keep up, but the consistent outside shooting, bench scoring and defense they relied on to stun Cleveland in Game 3 wasn't there Thursday night.

Cavaliers: James has scored 30 or more points in 11 of Cleveland's 13 games this postseason. ... Improved to 36-5 against Eastern Conference opponents in the playoffs since 2015. ... The 43 points Cleveland scored in the first quarter set a team postseason record for points in a quarter.

Celtics: Injured point guard Isaiah Thomas led his teammates in a pregame huddle before they took the court for warmups. Thomas sat out the rest of the series after aggravating a hip injury in Game 2. ... Held a pregame moment of silence for the victims of the Manchester bombing. ... Were whistled for 16 fouls in the first half.