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On Erik Spoelstra’s mind these days: A berth, and a birth

MIAMI --- Gone are the days when Miami coach Erik Spoelstra would spend the final few pregame moments wolfing down hot dogs while pulling on his suit jacket and hurrying to the court. It's all different now, and more changes are coming. Chicken fingers and coffee have been replaced by green juice and yoga, part of the reason why he's probably more fit at 47 than when he took over the Heat at 37. Spoelstra is happier and healthier --- and he's bracing for an intense next few months, with the Heat chasing a playoff spot while he and his wife get ready to become first-time parents. The baby is due around April, which is also when the playoffs start. "Am I ready? I don't know," Spoelst...Keep on reading: On Erik Spoelstra’s mind these days: A berth, and a birth.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerJan 13th, 2018

On Erik Spoelstra’s mind these days: A berth, and a birth

MIAMI --- Gone are the days when Miami coach Erik Spoelstra would spend the final few pregame moments wolfing down hot dogs while pulling on his suit jacket and hurrying to the court. It's all different now, and more changes are coming. Chicken fingers and coffee have been replaced by green juice and yoga, part of the reason why he's probably more fit at 47 than when he took over the Heat at 37. Spoelstra is happier and healthier --- and he's bracing for an intense next few months, with the Heat chasing a playoff spot while he and his wife get ready to become first-time parents. The baby is due around April, which is also when the playoffs start. "Am I ready? I don't know," Spoelst...Keep on reading: On Erik Spoelstra’s mind these days: A berth, and a birth.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 13th, 2018

LeBron s free agency decision could swing NBA s balance of power

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- These combo coronation-funerals can be tricky. Imagine the crowning of a new monarch where the royal subjects couldn’t stop chattering about the freshly deposed or deceased predecessor. Where the traditional cry of continuity and succession, “The king is dead! Long live the king!” got flipped, with what was overshadowing what is. That’s pretty much how it went Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena, with the Golden State Warriors’ latest NBA championship having to share the stage with speculation, instantly revved up, about LeBron James and the choice he’ll soon make about his next employer. The Warriors are the kings, claiming pro basketball’s throne yet again by completing a sweep of James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. But of course, James is the King, and as so many of us learned in sophomore English – thanks, CliffsNotes! – “Uneasy lies the head (of those who fret and obsess about the future whereabouts of the NBA superstar) that wears a crown.” Long live the kings! The King is ... gone? There was so much energy before, during and after Game 4 Friday (Saturday, PHL time) poured into the last game/next game conjecture about James, the Cavaliers and seismic shifts in the league’s 2018-19 landscape that even the player’s surprise reveal near the end of the night – a bruised and bandaged right hand – couldn’t derail it. Turns out, as James ‘fessed up, the sore shooting paw was an injury he had been playing with ever since Game 1 in Oakland eight days earlier. He had “self-inflicted” it in a fit of pique when he smacked a whiteboard in the visitors’ dressing room at Oracle Arena after Cleveland’s overtime loss in the series-setter, an outcome driven at least in part by some teammates’ mistakes and an arcane wrinkle in the NBA’s replay rules regarding block/charge fouls. Despite the hordes of media people chronicling every waking detail of the Finals, James had kept the injury on the down-low (along with the possibility that J.R. Smith’s nickname amongst his Cavs teammates might be “whiteboard”). The cameras zoomed in and clicked in a paparazzi frenzy of motor drives every time James raised the hand, wrapped in black tape, above the table during his postgame podium remarks. Whether a legit Page-2-the-rest-of-the-story factor in the championship series or a too-late alibi, the contused hand wound up as a sidebar to where James plans to be using it when training camps open in a few months. As of Friday (Saturday, PHL time), it had been 95 months since “The Decision,” the 2010 announcement that James made in a tone-deaf vanity TV production that he was taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. Nearly 47 months had passed since he broke the news of his return in a Sports Illustrated ghost-written essay, envisioning much of what actually has unfolded in the four years since. Now savvy insiders and casual observers alike presume James will be on the move again, pushed to leave the franchise he has defined in an urgent search for more and better talent with which he can compete. As in, y’know, some horses, some horses, his kingdom for some horses. James’ free-agency process next month (he can opt out of a $35.6 million deal in the final season of his current contract) is expected to dictate the market of player movement this summer like an oversized domino. It easily could swing the balance of power, if not quite at Golden State’s lofty level then immediately below it. The monster he helped create Dr. Frankenstein eventually was done in by his macabre creation, and it can similarly be argued that James has no one but himself to blame for the predicament in which he again finds himself. He set in motion the machinery of the super team, after all, when he chose to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami eight years ago. Oh sure, the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 got there first by luring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce, but that was about knitting together three stars, all age 30 or older, for what would be their last best chance to win in an extremely limited run. That group won one title, went to two Finals in three seasons and was done, Allen leaving to join James & Co. with the Heat while Garnett and Pierce morphed into trade chips for Boston POBO Danny Ainge. When James, Wade and Bosh teamed up, they were in their basketball primes and their initial giddy boasts of “not four, not five, not six” championships turned off fans league-wide as much for its portent as its pretension. That crew went 4-for-4 in Finals, winning two rings before James, nudged by staleness and chafing as well as his grand plan for northeast Ohio, went home. From there, a line can be drawn through the ill-conceived 2012-13 L.A. Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all the way to this season’s Houston Rockets of James Harden and Chris Paul and the talent-gorged Golden State roster. James was the centerpiece as Cleveland replicated the Big Three concept around him with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, two younger, playoff-stymied All-Stars. The new-look Cavaliers went to the Finals in their first season together and clambered atop the basketball world to win the franchise’s first NBA title by the end of the second, becoming the first team in league history to do so after digging a 1-3 hole in the best-of-seven series. In that moment, regardless of the two Finals trips that followed, James’ bill was stamped: Paid In Full. Misguided fans might burn his jersey if he leaves again, but James burned the mortgage after that Game 7 in Oakland in 2016 as far as any remaining obligation to fulfill. “I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” he said after elimination Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember. Honestly, I think we'll all remember that. It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we'll all remember that in sports history.” James added: “When you have a goal and you're able to accomplish that goal, it actually – for me personally – made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships. And I still want to be in championship mode. I think I've shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.” In other words, James intends to sustain his high level of performance. He expects to win. And he presumably will do whatever – and go wherever – is necessary to achieve that. There’s no perfect fit So what does that mean for the NBA’s best player (never mind what the annual MVP balloting says in any given season)? It means this: compromise. There is no ideal situation, certainly no easy answer to the guesswork surrounding James’ looming free agency. He could transform any of the 30 teams, but not without some trade-offs for him, for them or for both. Most of them won’t be in play. Teams in markets such as Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Sacramento, the Twin Cities and so on can’t scratch James’ itches for either championship-worthy depth chart or spotlight. New York and Chicago, among the biggies, are out of synch with his timeline. Toronto? No way James is resettling his brand north of the border, and given his stated desire for teammates who have not just sufficient basketball skills but also mental toughness, well, the Raptors teams he and the Cavs have dominated do not qualify. The Boston club that stretched Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals is built for the long haul and would have to surrender much of that to adjust to James’ career calendar. There’s a little Kyrie problem lurking there and, truth be told, the Celtics look to be on their way and are doing just fine without the 33-year-old heading, one of these years, toward decline. At some point in each of the 2018 Finals’ final three days, James spoke admiringly of the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs title teams that blocked his path whether in Miami or Cleveland. He was at it again even as the Warriors were dousing the opponent’s locker room at The Q with Moet champagne. “I made the move in 2010 to be able to play with talented players, cerebral players that you could see things that happen before they happened on the floor,” James said. “When you feel like you're really good at your craft, I think it's always great to be able to be around other great minds as well and other great ballplayers. “That's never changed. Even when I came here in '14, I wanted to try to surround myself and surround this franchise with great minds and guys that actually think outside the box of the game and not just go out and play it.” Where might James find that now or recruit that swiftly? Hard to say. There are asterisks and “buts” everywhere: * If he were to sign with the Houston Rockets, James would be hitching his star to Chris Paul, a buddy with an injury history that’s about the mirror opposite of his own. He would be teaming up with an elite coach in Mike D’Antoni, something he’s never had (though Miami’s Erik Spoelstra was just young and unproven, on his way to big things). But it also would require another big ask of James Harden, who had to adapt last summer to Paul’s arrival and need for the ball. * If James chooses the Lakers, he has the chance to hit reset with the league’s glitziest franchise, in a market that can meet his every off-court wish and where he and his family already own one or more ultra-comfortable homes. The Lakers have young talent to help James transition into a lower-usage veteran’s role, favored status as a destination team for other top free agents and the salary-cap space to get it done this summer with the likes of Paul George or his pal Paul. But that roster might not be capable of insta-contending, which could burn a season or two when James’ clock most definitely is clicking. * If it’s San Antonio, James could link up with the elite coach in Gregg Popovich, where the winning culture is in the DNA rather than some acquired taste. The Spurs have talent, particularly if Kawhi Leonard finds happiness again there. But they might not have enough to rattle the Warriors’ cage. And for all their professed admiration, James and Popovich might both fare better by keeping their relationship long-distance vs. the 82-game grind. * If it’s Golden State? Perish the thought. The NBA might have to board up itself if competitive balance were capsized to that extent. And as Draymond Green shrewdly noted on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), if James climbed aboard, it likely would require him and several other Golden State teammates to be dispatched to parts unknown. * If James prefers to stay East, where the winning comes easier, he could pick Philadelphia. The Sixers have two foundational young stars at positions that matter most, center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. But Simmons is a non-shooter at the moment, the antithesis of what makes a great complementary LeBron teammate. As for Embiid, James never has had to play off of and service a top center. And Philly might feel like a basketball-only move, with the hungriest and most demanding of any new fan base he would embrace. * If it’s Miami – wait, could it be Miami? Could he go second-home again? The Heat always strive to be competitive and offer a talent base deep enough for the East and lots of familiarity. But they also have players such as Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters whose mental approaches don’t seem to fit the model James was cooing about in Golden State and with the Tim Duncan-era Spurs. * That brings us to Cleveland, where it’s possible James might choose to remain. Staying with the Cavaliers, after leading them to four Finals and that heady 2016 title, would be the easiest choice as far as pressure to win. He owes these fans nothing anymore – in fact, had the bargain been offered to them in 2010 (“LeBron will leave and win elsewhere for four years, but will come back and deliver a championship and four Finals trips”), most would have grabbed it. Here, James and the fans who have watched him even through the interruption develop from ridiculously touted high schooler to one of the world’s most famous athletes could grow older together. Then he could partner up and buy the team from owner Dan Gilbert for a long-term future. Certainly, staying has a certain place in his and the rest of the James clan’s hearts. “The one thing that I've always done is considered, obviously, my family,” he said at series end Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I've got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.” It’s worth noting that as James contemplates his options as a modern pursuer of championship excellence, the prospect of him moving again qualifies at some level as a failure. Not just by the support system in Cleveland, where he and Gilbert have their friction and James gets snidely mentioned as the team’s unofficial GM and head coach, but by him too. He’s the one who went off to seek his “college education” in south Florida in what it takes to win, whether on the court, in the front office or in and around the seams 365 days a year, straight out of the Pat Riley handbook. The teams about which James talks so glowingly in Oakland now and in San Antonio then have cultures he covets, stability up and down the flowchart he craves. In Cleveland, for a variety of reasons, his team has been incapable of establishing and maintaining that to a lasting degree. He is part of that missed opportunity and he has to own it, no matter if he goes or stays. James is inseparable from the dynamic of the Cavaliers’ ever-changing and often melodramatic roster maneuvers. Spending big, swapping out draft picks to import current stars and supporting players, and overvaluing secondary guys like Smith and Tristan Thompson are risks the Warriors and the Spurs largely avoided thanks to shrew drafting and laudable continuity. The Cavs’ scrap heap, by contrast, is high with traded picks, scuttled plans, panic deals, short-term patches and folks such as former coach David Blatt and former GM David Griffin. And maybe James could have nurtured a little better relationship with All-Star point guard and 2016 title sidekick Kyrie Irving, enough to have kept Irving from bailing on them all with his trade demand last summer. Now he’s on the verge of casting about again, prioritizing what matters most for however long he continues to play. James is more at peace with it than he was before, particularly in 2010, and surely can enjoy the leverage he wields and the riches it delivers. But there is a burden there as well, one that could be seen as completing a circle. So many of the NBA’s greatest stars have been stuck playing and living in the Age of LeBron, right? Their paths to the Finals blocked, on one whole side of the league, by him and his? Well, LeBron James is stuck now in the Era of the Warriors, freshly swept and anxious to close the gap. What goes around comes around, though the key more pressing of the big W’s now is, where? Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

Temperature check at 20-game mark of 17-18 NBA season

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Twenty games is not a small sample size. At 20 games, much of what an NBA team is -- and much of what it will become -- is mostly well-established. Fourteen, 16, even 18 games into an 82-game schedule, it might be easy to understate and/or overstate a season. That round number of 20, though -- the closest a team can get in whole games to 25 percent of the regular season (24.39, actually) -- resonates. As our man John Schuhmann notes annually in his Power Rankings, what qualifies as one-fourth of the season carries a certain heft, in terms of who’s good, who’s not and who’s headed where over the remaining 60-62 games. The teams that are likely to be in the playoffs largely are known by now -- 14 of the 16 qualifiers in 2016-17 were above the lottery cutoff by Dec. 5, last season’s quarter mark -- as are those that are racing toward the bottom or merely churning about. Twenty games is no joke, in other words, which is why numerous NBA teams do some serious evaluating at this point each season. Those at or near the top (and those committed to the cellar) may not make course-altering decisions. The teams in the yawning middle might be particularly engaged right about now -- all 30 teams will have played at least 20 games by Friday morning -- in either fishing or cutting bait. The Miami Heat, at 10-9, will hit 20 at Cleveland tonight. They’re especially known for the so-called Rule of 20 owing to team president Pat Riley’s ways dating back to his New York and Los Angeles days. The thinking is, 82 games is too vast and ill-defined, splayed across six months or so, to allow for clear, concise judgments along the way. By the time you get a feel for where your team is headed, you’ve either already gotten there or been sidetracked. At 20 games -- and then again at 40 and 60 -- there’s an opportunity to correct one’s course or adjust one’s objectives. Lock into a starting lineup, pursue a trade, fire a coach, opt for Plan B or hitch up the shorts for a stretch drive, it’s only doable if the right markers are heeded. Some coaches will talk about “continuous improvement” as their overriding mission, but there are so many tiny variables from one game to the next: travel, schedule quirks, minor ailments. Better to go with a block of games. And to know when you can’t. “You have a pretty good idea of your general feel and context of your team,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But that’s not always in cement. Just look at us last year. We didn’t really understand where we were. But you have an idea of what direction, usually, that your team is going in.” The Heat in 2016-17 had one of the most unusual seasons in league annals, going 11-30 after a Jan. 13 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and then 30-11 in to finish the season. They were 7-13 after 20 games, then wound up barely missing a playoff berth on the season’s final night. This time around, the Heat seem to be a blend of last season’s good and bad, and their mediocre mark shows it. Spoelstra has rolled back a lot of the work between games to fundamentals and essentials, with the focus on building good habits. “We’ve got a ways to go,” he said. ‘We’re building habits. We’re building better behavior, all the little things that lead to winning, so hopefully we’ll be a much different team every 20-game block from here on out.” (Some even think 20 games is too many, too diffused and vague for the short attention spans players almost necessarily have to have when uploading mass quantities of opponent research for a homestand’s worth of foes. Hall of Fame coach Hubie Brown preferred to mentally break the season into eight-game chunks. Go 5-3 in enough of those, you’re almost assured of being a playoff team.) Twenty games in is a fragile time for coaches, as far as job security, as the Memphis Grizzlies’ David Fizdale found out Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). At 7-12, he and the Grizzlies had been given enough rope that management obviously felt a determination could be made. Memphis’ quick start, winning five of its first six, didn’t resonate nearly as much as its eight consecutive losses did. Not every franchise hits 20, 40 or 60 games on the nose before doing something dramatic. Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough felt he needed to see only three games to fire coach Earl Watson. In 2015-16, the Houston Rockets pulled the plug on Kevin McHale after 11 games. But the last time Miami made a coaching change in season, Riley sent home Stan Van Gundy at 11-10 in 2005-06 and took over for the final 61 games. The Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt 41 games into the 2015-16 season. And the last time each of these organizations -- Washington, Toronto, San Antonio, Minnesota, Golden State, Philadelphia, Sacramento and Chicago -- made coaching changes during the season, they did so after 17, 17, 18, 19, 23, 23, 24 and 25 games respectively. What have we learned about the league this season, with 20 games coming sooner than usual? * Boston’s acquisition of Kyrie Irving, its young starting forwards and a more tenacious defense than expected have more than made up for Gordon Hayward’s loss. * The day Philadelphia coach Brett Brown longed for finally has arrived. * Detroit, Indiana and New York might manage to overachieve their way into lower-seed possibilities. Washington’s window is closing before its eyes, and Milwaukee has flaws at both ends that won’t be solved if and when Jabari Parker returns. * Houston’s James Harden might snag the Kia MVP trophy many thought he deserved last spring. * Minnesota, Denver and Portland are for real in the West, while it’s getting late early in Oklahoma City. Carmelo Anthony was supposed to have left his sub-.500 records back with the Knicks. * The next man Memphis owner Robert Pera offers a full-time coaching position is going to speed-dial Lionel Hollins, Dave Joerger and Fizdale in some order. * A strong field of Kia Rookie of the Year candidates at least six deep from the Draft class of 2017 all might wind up slotting in behind the Sixers’ Ben Simmons. * The drama of the draft lottery might be greater than that of the playoffs decided several weeks later. * LeBron James still moves the Earth and the league when he firmly puts his foot down. Then there’s the best thing about the NBA season at 20 games: That means 62 more to go. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: 2018 pre-playoffs predictions

NBA.ph blogtable 1) Which first-round series in the West is most likely to see an upset result (lower seed beating higher seed)? Enzo Flojo: For sure it’s Portland-New Orleans. I love Damian Lillard’s game, but the Pels are a really tough bunch with a lot of weapons, even sans Boogie Cousins. Jusuf Nurkic will have a really tough time containing AD; that’s one reason this has a high potential for an upset! Migs Bustos: The Jazz and Thunder matchup. It's a tale of upward momentum versus inconsistency. The Jazz have won seven out of their last 10 games, and OKC are 5-5 in their last 10. With how the Jazz are playing great team basketball, led by super rookie, Donovan Mitchell, they have a great chance of upsetting the erratic OKC Thunder. If maganda ang gising ng Utah for four games, may tulog ang OKC sa kanila. Marco Benitez: I think the Thunder-Jazz series is the one where most likely we will see an upset. The Thunder experiment of Westbrook-George-Anthony has been up and down all season, while the Jazz are a well-coached team anchored on a great defensive presence in Gobert. The Thunder win if Westbrook dominates the game and Adams is able to neutralize Gobert. But if OKC becomes stagnant on offense and their usual selves defensively, then the Jazz can wreck havoc on this matchup. Favian Pua: Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans: In order for the Pelicans to stun the Blazers, Anthony Davis must cement his status as the best player on both ends of the floor throughout the series. A Playoff Rondo sighting paired with the feisty defense of Jrue Holiday should stymie the backcourt attack of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Adrian Dy: If it turns out Kawhi Leonard was just saving himself for a postseason run, then the Spurs would absolutely wreck the Stephen Curry-less Golden State Warriors. Barring such a comeback though, I'm riding high on the Pelicans. The Blazers don't have the bigs to even slow down Davis, and the Jrue Holiday + Playoffs Rajon Rondo combo could make things really tough for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum 2) Which first-round series in the East is most likely to see an upset result (lower seed beating higher seed)? Enzo Flojo: Don’t look past the veteran-laden Miami Heat. Philadelphia is by far the deeper team, sure, but if Embiid is hampered by his injury and both D-Wade and Goran Dragic have their way, Miami can push the Sixers to the distance and an upset may not be that surprising. Also, coach Spo shines in 7-game series! Migs Bustos: In the East, it's a bit more challenging. We all know about the success of the Sixers this season; no matter what seed Lebron's team is, it will be hard to upset them; the Raptors have been long consistent at the number 1 spot all season. So, the best bet would be the Bucks overthrowing home court advantage. And this is because Kyrie is out of the season. It's just up to Giannis and Co. to take advantage of that disadvantage by the Celtics to pull through. Marco Benitez: The plague of injuries to the Boston Celtics really hurt their chances of contending in the East, much less win a championship this season. Without Kyrie, Marcus Smart, and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are vulnerable against the Greek Freak-led Bucks, who are long and talented. With that being said, Boston is still an extremely well-coached, albeit young team, and Giannis will have to be the best player on the floor for most of the series for the inconsistent Bucks to pull off the upset. Favian Pua: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat: Though the Sixers are rolling into the playoffs, only J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli can boast of a legitimate postseason resume. Led by All-Star Goran Dragic, the Heat are an unrelenting unit of two-way veterans who can both muck it up inside and bait opponents into a long-range shootout. Joel Embiid’s uncertain status will force Sixers head coach Brett Brown to find a counter for Hassan Whiteside. Adrian Dy: Though I have the 76ers advancing, it wouldn't surprise me if the Heat shut down Ben Simmons and shut up Joel Embiid. Erik Spoelstra has a knack for getting the best out of his squads, Dwyane Wade could have some clutch moments, and if the aforementioned Embiid doesn't return as soon as expected, South Beach could be singing after round one. 3) Which team that missed the playoffs has the best shot at making it next season? Enzo Flojo: I’d love to say Denver, but their being in the West really makes their window tight. That’s why I’m picking the Detroit Pistons, who have enough talent to make quite a big impact in the East, especially if their big names (e.g. Drummond, Griffin, Jackson) all stay put and stay healthy! Migs Bustos: To be honest, there are not much compelling story lines on teams that barely missed the playoffs this year. There's nothing like one of the most recent examples -- the Heat's 2016-2017 season where they made a late season run but just missed it at .500 (41-41), or how about Phoenix having a winning record at 48-34 in the 2013-2014 season missing out? The 16 teams were more or less 'predicted' to make the postseason this year so there wasn't a big surprise. Marco Benitez: I think a healthy Memphis Grizzlies team, with Conley, Gasol, Parsons and Tyreke Evans (assuming all are still with the Grizzlies next season) will be a lock to make the playoffs after a disappointing 22-60 win-loss record this season that saw a season-ending surgery for Conley happen in late January. Favian Pua: The Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic and his ragtag bunch of scorers were an overtime loss away against the Minnesota Timberwolves from getting their first taste of the postseason. To do so, the Nuggets will need to handle their business and take care of bottom-feeders, as it was backbreaking losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks in March that prevented them from securing an outright playoff berth. Adrian Dy: The Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki will likely want to go out with a bang, Rick Carlisle is still a really good coach, Dennis Smith Jr. is a fantastic attacking guard, and if the lotto balls bounce the right way, they could return to the upper echelon of the West. 4) Which team that made these playoffs has the biggest chance of missing it next season? Enzo Flojo: It may sound crazy, but the Spurs are at great risk for next season. Kawhi continues to be a huge question mark and their veterans will get even older in 2018-2019. They nearly didn’t make it this year, and next year could be the tipping point! Migs Bustos: I'd have to go with the San Antonio Spurs. No doubt all of the other teams are on the up-swing, and they all boast of youth. If Kahwi does not play for the Spurs next season, expect younger teams with great potential like the Nuggets and Lakers to overtake SAS. Marco Benitez: Depending on what happens in terms of offseason trades, and assuming that the rest of the Western Conference regains full strength next season, the two teams I feel have the biggest chance of missing the playoffs next season are Miami and New Orleans. For Miami, DWade is not getting any younger, and Hassan Whiteside has not been at a consistent All-Star level all season. With Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond getting a full year under their belt in Detroit and Kristaps Porzingis back at full strength in New York, I see Miami as the most likely team to get bumped off in the East next season. For New Orleans, the Davis-Cousins experiment did not necessarily turn them into a legitimate playoff contender in the West, and when Cousins fell to injury, they've had to rely on AD to carry them almost entirely on his shoulders. With the ultra competitive West getting healthier next season, unless the Pels are able to get better on the wings -- assuming of course Cousins doesn't bolt in the offseason -- they may find themselves out of the playoffs. Favian Pua: Cleveland Cavaliers. Hinging on the premise that LeBron James bolts for the Sixers or Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this offseason, the Cavaliers are headed for a massive nosedive towards the number one pick in the 2019 draft. No other team has more to lose than the Cavaliers this postseason, and it is highly probable that winning the title is the only way The King stays in The Land. Adrian Dy: If we get another round of LeBron James free agency sweepstakes, and he winds up getting the Banana Boat Gang together in Houston, it's hard to see the Cleveland Cavaliers being competitive, let alone back in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Should that happen, I'd expect them to trade guys like Kevin Love, and hope that lotto luck favors them anew. 5) Which team is your early favorite to win it all? Enzo Flojo: Despite all the injuries and all their inconsistencies, the Warriors are still my odds-on fave to win it all. They have four big time playoff performers, and they know this is where their real season begins. Migs Bustos: Don't count out the Warriors. Even though they have been plagued with injuries towards the end of the season, the Dubs will hope that they will be healthy in time and turn 'on' the button with their championship experience Marco Benitez: Still the Warriors. Although they'll be without Steph in the first round, I foresee the same dominant Dubs starting the second round all the way to the Finals. The regular season has been a bit of a drag for them this season, and I believe that's why we haven't seen the same Warriors squad as that of past years. But come playoffs, there's no reason why the defending champs don't get locked in; and when they do, frankly, there's still no better team in the league than Golden State. Favian Pua: The Houston Rockets. The playoffs is all about trimming the fat in the roster and letting star power take over in the biggest moments. In James Harden and Chris Paul, the Rockets will always have at least one elite shot creator and facilitator on the court for all 48 minutes. Flanked by capable three-point shooters and wing defenders acquired specifically to neutralize the Golden State Warriors’ juggernaut, Clutch City is on track for its first Larry O’Brien trophy since 1995. Adrian Dy: Yes the defending champions are banged-up and looked uninterested as the regular season wound down, but now that it's winning time, I expect the Warriors to do their thing, although there's no way it'll be as smooth as their 16-1 romp last season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

Surging, spry Sixers aim to shut down hard-working Heat

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com This is The Bonus Series, a matchup of two Eastern Conference teams whose success stories for 2017-18 largely have been already written. The Philadelphia 76ers, fully hatched from their "Process" days, have shown themselves to be a contender of the future based on the talent and potential of young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and coach Brett Brown’s chemistry with the group. Finishing with the No. 3 seed in the East and reeling off 16 consecutive victories to end the regular season qualified as overachieving, and even a loss in the first round wouldn’t steal much luster from the promising crew. Similarly, Miami again worked hard to boost itself to the No. 6 spot in the East. And the Heat did so with a whole greater than the sum of its parts. They don't have eye-popping talent, but thrive on cohesiveness, effort and the work of coach Erik Spoelstra exploiting the right matchups and flaws in opponents. The Heat aren’t so much feared as they are respected as a foe unlikely to beat itself. The teams split their four meetings in the regular season and -- with Embiid (orbital fracture) unlikely to be available any time soon -- there’s little reason to think Philadelphia’s higher seed would qualify as much of an upper hand. This could be a gritty, grimy series that shows the strengths of both teams. 3 quick questions and answers 1. Who guards Ben Simmons? The favorite to be named Kia Rookie of the Year, Simmons is a matchup nightmare. He is a 6-foot-10 point guard who probably will draw one of Miami’s frontcourt players like James Johnson as a primary defender, rather than stick any of the Heat guards in that size disadvantage. Simmons has triple-double potential, limited only by a shooting range that keeps him inside the arc. 2. Which attack is more balanced? Led by Wayne Ellington -- who sank more 3-point shots this season than any reserve in NBA history -- Miami had five shooters who each hit at least 100 from downtown. The Heat also have nine players who averaged in double digits this season and eight who led the team in scoring at least once. Then there is Philadelphia, which was the only team in the NBA this season to boast five players who scored at least 1,000 points. 3. Will we get to see the matchup that oozes personality and one-upsmanship, namely, Joel Embiid vs. Hassan Whiteside? This doesn’t depend solely on Embiid’s ability to play with a protective mask, something he figures to try at some point in the series. It also hinges on Whiteside earning time in Spoelstra’s rotation after a disappointing season -- Whiteside’s intensity waned too often, making Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo more satisfying options many nights. That said, it would be fun to see the 7-footers go at it, both in the paint and with verbal salvos before, after and between games. The number to know 113.1 -- The Sixers scored 113.1 points per 100 possessions over their 16-game winning streak to close the season. That was the second best mark in the league over the last four weeks. The Sixers were a good defensive team all season, but it was on offense where they saw the most improvement. Some of that was schedule-aided, but they were the only team that ranked in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency after the All-Star break. They were without Embiid for the final nine games of the streak (including the game in which he was injured), played at the league's fastest pace over that stretch, and managed to cut down on turnovers. The Heat held them to just 101 points per 100 possessions in their four meetings, but the Sixers, who led the league in passes per possession and ranked second in player movement, have since become more difficult to defend. -- John Schuhmann Making the pick Truth be told, these Sixers are a little ahead of schedule -- the playoffs were a legit goal ... but the No. 3 seed? This roster and coaching staff will be learning on the postseason fly. Truth be told, this Miami team isn’t as good as the group that finished the second half of last season with a 30-11 mark. But the Heat’s success was ground out this time around, and that style should make this a fairly lengthy, exhausting series. Sixers in 6. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 13th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Playoffs first-timer you re most eager to see?

NBA.com blogtable Which first-time playoff performer are you most eager to see? * * * David Aldridge: Why, Mr. Process, of course! How can you not be geeked to find out what Joel Embiid will do on the big stage? There's so much that he (and Ben Simmons) have to learn about playoff basketball, and there will no doubt be stumbles and fumbles along the way. But Embiid has Finals MVP talent; he's capable of dominating games at both ends of the floor and handling the media crush that comes in the postseason with charm and aplomb. He is, as Erik Spoelstra likes to say, built for this. Steve Aschburner: Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio, if only because there’s some justice for the feisty point guard in reaching the postseason a few days ahead of the team that discarded him (assuming Minnesota gets there Wednesday night). Rubio has improved as a shooter for the third consecutive year and has had a solid season overall for Utah, a team that potential Western Conference foes are smart to dread. The difference in Rubio’s production from Jeff Teague, the point guard who replaced him in Minnesota (at a considerable bump in pay), was slight, with Teague more stylistically suited to Tom Thibodeau’s Wolves but Rubio the better defender. Based on seeding, Rubio’s season is likely to last longer, too. Shaun Powell: Joel Embiid is the choice, if only because of everything he has gone through, injury-wise -- and continues to go through, given his eye socket injury. He's made for the spectacle because of his massive talent and robust personality, which should play favorably on the big stage. The NBA playoffs are better off with the league's young stars still around to get some shine, and the spotlight will love Embiid. And vice versa. John Schuhmann: Ben Simmons. I not only want to see how he performs, but also how opponents defend him. Will he be able to play with the pace that he wants to when defenses are more focused on getting back in transition? How will his inability to shoot from distance affect the defense when he doesn't have the ball? The Sixers have improved offensively as the season has gone on and they keep the ball and bodies moving, so it will be interesting to see what opposing defenses try to take away from them. Sekou Smith: The more I see from Ben Simmons, the more intrigued I am by his game. What will his limitations as a perimeter shooter mean for the walking triple-double? How will he adjust in a playoff atmosphere to defenses designed (and daring him) to beat them with outside shots? Is he capable of adjusting and remaining just as effective with the added pressure of the postseason? I apologize for answering a question with a couple questions of my own, but it's strange for there to be this must intrigue about a player we've studied so intently all season. That said, Simmons and Joel Embiid together make the Sixers a must-watch for as long as their maiden playoff voyage lasts......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2018

Clamping down: Wade, Heat stymie Cavaliers, 98-79

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points, Dwyane Wade blocked a pair of shots by LeBron James as part of a stifling defensive effort by Miami, and the Heat had little trouble on the way to beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-79 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Josh Richardson and James Johnson each scored 15 points for Miami, which led 54-34 at halftime and has won 10 of its last 11 home games. Wade finished with 12 against the team he spent part of this season with before getting traded back to Miami. Goran Dragic added 10 for the Heat, who could clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot by week's end. James finished with 18 points for the Cavaliers, whose previous season-low for points was 88. The Cavs are 1-13 this season when held under 100; they're 43-17 when scoring more than 100. It was the 865th consecutive regular-season game in which James scored at least 10 points, putting him one shy of tying Michael Jordan for the longest such streak in NBA history. James can tie the mark in Charlotte — against the Jordan-owned Hornets — on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Rodney Hood added 15 for Cleveland, which lost Kevin Love at halftime to a loose tooth. He finished with only one point in seven minutes. It was Miami's 14th consecutive home win over the Cavaliers, including a 4-0 mark when James plays in Miami since leaving the Heat after the 2014 NBA Finals. Wade blocked his close friend once in the second quarter, once more in the fourth, both times from behind — and finished with four of Miami's nine blocks in the game. Cleveland came in averaging 31 points per quarter over its last five games, then managed only 34 in the first half against the Heat. They shot 30 percent in the half, just nine percent — 1-for-11 — from the three-point line and were an awful 9-for-22 inside the paint. James had 13 points, four assists and three rebounds by the break; the other four Cavs starters combined for seven points, two assists and four rebounds. It was great for Miami, ghastly for Cleveland. Love got hurt while committing a foul 1:22 into the game, taking an elbow from Heat center Jordan Mickey and getting a loose tooth in the process. Love returned to start the second quarter, then was ruled out after being evaluated again at halftime. Cleveland showed life in the third, getting within 13 late in the quarter and then having three shots to cut even more off Miami's lead. But Miami was still up 75-59 going into the fourth, after Wade — moments after checking in for the first time in about an hour of real time — connected on a step-back jumper with 17 seconds left in the third. TIP-INS Cavaliers: James has played in all 74 Cavs games, matching his total from last season. It was his first time playing at Miami since March 19, 2016. ... Cleveland changed its starting lineup, with Jeff Green in for Larry Nance Jr. ... Kyle Korver remained away from the team, one day after the funeral for his brother. Interim coach Larry Drew said Korver is expected back soon, though the team has not revealed if an exact comeback date has been determined. Heat: Coach Erik Spoelstra was back with the team, two days after he and his wife Nikki's first child — Santiago Ray Spoelstra — was born. ... Miami was down two centers — Hassan Whiteside (left hip) remains out, and Bam Adebayo missed the game with a sprained ankle that the Heat think will be better in a few days. LONG BENCH In three games against Miami this season, the Cavaliers used a total of 20 players. The only Cavs to play in all three meetings were James, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson. GO TIME Miami's next five games are all against teams well out of the playoff picture, with the next three of those games — against Chicago, Brooklyn and Atlanta — all at home. After road games at Atlanta and New York, the Heat then finish at home against Oklahoma City and Toronto. UP NEXT Cavaliers: Visit Charlotte on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Heat: Host Chicago on Thursday (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 28th, 2018

Wade hurt, but Heat roll past Wizards 129-102

By TIM REYNOLDS ,  AP Basketball Writer MIAMI (AP) — An easy win still presented the Miami Heat with some potential issues. James Johnson scored 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting, the Heat piled up 76 points in the paint and rolled past the Washington Wizards 129-102 on Saturday night. Miami's starting five shot 77 percent, with Johnson and Josh Richardson — the Heat starting forwards — connecting on a combined 14 of their 15 shots. "We were very detail-oriented," Johnson said. But the postgame mood was at least somewhat tempered by injury concerns. Dwyane Wade left early in the fourth with a mild hamstring strain, and doesn't expect to play on Monday when the Heat start a three-game road trip in Portland. Justise Winslow left the floor with the final seconds running off the clock after appearing to have some sort of problem with his right knee, but the Heat believe he's fine. And those were preceded by Hassan Whiteside being unable to play at all because of hip soreness. "I won't be in the lineup against Portland," said Wade, who described the strain as feeling like a slight cramp that wouldn't go away. "I can probably guarantee that. I'll have time to get treatment, take it day-to-day and see when I can get back. Hopefully I'm not out too long. These things suck, no question about it." Wayne Ellington scored 17 for Miami. Kelly Olynyk had 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder and Richardson all scored 13 for the Heat, who never trailed and outscored Washington 43-28 in the third. That was Miami's highest-scoring quarter in a regular-season contest since Oct. 30, 2013 — 394 games ago. "Our depth, and multiple guys being able to contribute, is the strength of our team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. Jodie Meeks scored 23 for the Wizards, whose five-game winning streak was snapped. Bradley Beal scored 14 for Washington, which needed overtime to beat Miami on the second night of a Heat back-to-back earlier in the week and was coming in off a win Friday at New Orleans. "It's definitely embarrassing," Meeks said. "There's no excuses for being tired." Washington was within two points at 46-44 with 3:51 left in the second quarter, and from there it was all Heat. Over the next 16 minutes, Miami outscored the Wizards 71-35. "I'm disappointed," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "I'm disappointed in myself. I'm disappointed in our guys. ... Not too many guys in the history of this game can go out and play the way we did tonight and have success. It's not acceptable." It was Miami's 11th consecutive game scoring at least 100 points, tying the third-longest such streak in team history. Miami (36-31) carved out a split of the four-game season series with Washington, plus got within two games of the Wizards (38-29) in the Eastern Conference playoff race. A loss on Saturday and the Heat's chances of catching the Wizards would have taken a serious hit — since they would have been four games down and with no hope of winning a tiebreaker. "Everybody's on the same page," said Heat guard Goran Dragic, who scored 10 points and was one of eight Miami players in double figures. "Every night, somebody else is going to have a big scoring. It's awesome to have this kind of rotation." TIP-INS Wizards: Washington plays only three games in the next 10 days, and two of those are on a back-to-back. ... The Wizards waved the white flag in the third, and both benches were emptied for the fourth. Heat: Richardson now has 890 points this season, which is 10 more than he had in his first two seasons combined. ... Miami's only longer streaks of scoring 100 points were a 14-game run in 1994, and a 12-game streak last season. The Heat also had an 11-game streak in 2016. ... The Heat were averaging 100.4 points before Wade returned. In his 12 games back, they've averaged 111.5 per game. WADE MILESTONE Wade's first basket of the night was the 8,000th of his career. He's also now six points shy of 22,000. GRINDING Washington is now eight games through a stretch of 13 consecutive games against teams with winning records — all without All-Star guard John Wall. The Wizards are now 4-4 in those games, and won't face a sub-.500 team again until hosting New York on March 25. UP NEXT Wizards: Host Minnesota on Tuesday. Heat: Visit Portland on Monday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 11th, 2018

Goran Dragic scores season-high 29, Heat beat Suns 126-115

By Jose M. Romero, Associated Press PHOENIX (AP) — Former Phoenix guard Goran Dragic scored a season-high 29 points in the Miami Heat's 126-115 victory over the Suns on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). The Heat made 12 three-pointers, shot 53.1 percent overall and never trailed. The Suns lost their fourth straight. Dragic scored 10 points in the third quarter. The Heat took a 94-86 lead into the fourth and opened the final period with a 7-0 run. Phoenix made it 112-106 on Devin Booker's jumper with 2:53 to play, but got no closer. Hassan Whiteside added 23 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots for Miami. Booker led Phoenix with 30 points, and Mike James had 18. Guard Dion Waiters, playing in his first game since last Friday (last Saturday, PHL time), made a layup to give the Heat a 47-31 lead with 9:18 to go in the second quarter for Miami's largest lead of the first half. Waiters was away from the Heat for the birth of his daughter and returned to score 16 points. The Suns went on an 11-1 run to cut the lead to six, but Waiters' three-pointer with 10.8 seconds gave the Heat a 69-54 halftime advantage. The 69 points was the highest total in a half for the Heat this season. The Heat led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter. Phoenix hit five of its last seven shots of the quarter, and cut the lead to 36-27. STAREDOWN Whiteside blocked James' driving dunk attempt with 4:56 to go in the first half, then stopped and stared down the fallen James. Whiteside was a tough matchup inside for Phoenix without big man Tyson Chandler (back spasms) in the lineup. TIP-INS Heat: Justise Winslow started at power forward for the first time this season and had 14 points and six rebounds. ... Miami's 17.1 turnovers per game were the third-worst in the NBA entering the game, so coach Erik Spoelstra said he'd like to simplify things on offense. "Hopefully that can help, but the responsibility and the accepting of that responsibility is the most important thing," Spoelstra said. The Heat had 14 on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). ... G Tyler Johnson did not play due to illness. Suns: Alex Len made his first start of the season at center, in place of Chandler. ... Newly acquired C Greg Monroe has yet to report to the team. Monroe, who arrived in Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) trade that sent Eric Bledsoe to Milwaukee, is dealing with a calf strain. ... Before the game, F Derrick Jones Jr. was recalled from the Northern Arizona Suns of G League. UP NEXT Heat: At Utah Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Suns: Host Orlando on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 9th, 2017

10 things to know going into the 2017-18 NBA season

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Happy New Year, NBA. The 72nd regular season starts Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time), when Boston heads to Cleveland and Houston goes to Golden State. Fans in Cleveland will boo Kyrie Irving, fans in Oakland will cheer the Warriors’ latest championship banner, and the march toward April will finally be underway. The offseason was loaded with changes. Carmelo Anthony and Paul George went to Oklahoma City, Gordon Hayward and Irving went to Boston, Isaiah Thomas got sent to Cleveland, Jimmy Butler is now in Minnesota and Paul Millsap calls Denver home. That’s seven All-Stars who moved, a record for an NBA offseason. Every coach who started last season will start this season. That’s an NBA first. Here’s 10 things to know about the NBA season that is finally here: ___ 10. QUICK STARTERS San Antonio, Toronto and Miami will likely start 1-0 — because under current management, San Antonio, Toronto and Miami almost always start 1-0. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is 18-2 on opening night, Raptors coach Dwane Casey is 7-1 and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is 7-2. Spoelstra has started 1-0 in each of the last six seasons, the longest such run in the NBA. A coach in need of a 1-0 start? Try New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry. He’s dropped five straight openers and is 2-9 on opening night. Brooklyn, Orlando, Milwaukee and Utah have the league’s longest current opening-night losing streaks, starting 0-1 in each of the last four seasons. 9. FROM DISTANCE Last season was the third straight where the NBA’s team single-season three-point record fell, starting with Houston (933 in 2014-15), Golden State (1,077 in 2015-16) and Houston again (1,181 from 2016-17). Between the Rockets, Cleveland, Boston and the Warriors, four of the five highest single-season three-point totals in history came last season. Don’t expect the 3-ball to go away anytime soon, either. 8. LEBRON’S MARKS LeBron James’ list of milestones is about to get longer. He comes into this season 1,213 points shy of becoming the seventh NBA player to reach 30,000, meaning it should happen by about the All-Star break barring any extended absence. He’s also on pace to eclipse the 8,000-rebound and 8,000-assist marks this season. The only other player in NBA history with 25,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists is Kobe Bryant. James already has all those numbers, and counting. 7. WHERE’S THE DEFENSE? In 2014-15, half the league — 15 teams — held opponents under 100 points per game. Two seasons later, San Antonio and Utah were the only teams that managed the feat. The league’s planned crackdown on traveling this season might help, but it’ll be interesting to see if defensive numbers improve in this era of three-point-reliant, pace-and-space basketball. 6. MAYBE MINNESOTA Think about this, with apologies to fans in the Pacific Northwest: There have been more NBA playoff games in Seattle over the last 13 years than in Minneapolis. This will finally be the year that changes. The Timberwolves, who last reached the postseason in 2004, should return this spring even in a loaded Western Conference with Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and new addition Jimmy Butler leading the way. 5. SPURS CHASE HISTORY If the Spurs win 41 games this season — a safe bet — it’ll be the 21st consecutive season where San Antonio finishes the regular season at .500 or better. That would tie the NBA mark in that department, matching the feat set by the Utah Jazz from 1983-84 to 2003-04. The Spurs set a record for consecutive winning seasons last year with their 20th. (Utah was 41-41 in 1984-85.) 4. DIRK’S LONGEVITY Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki enters this season 31 games away from passing Kevin Willis for No. 6 on the NBA’s all-time list. At 48,673 minutes, he’s also within striking distance of No. 5 Elvin Hayes (50,000), No. 4 Jason Kidd (50,111) and No. 3 Kevin Garnett (50,418). 3. STEPH WATCH Stephen Curry will have just turned 30 when this regular season ends. And by then, he legitimately could be No. 3 on the NBA’s all-time three-point list. Curry starts this season No. 10, and at his current pace will pass Ray Allen for the top spot sometime in the 2019-2020 season. 2. NEW DEADLINE No longer will the All-Star Game be overshadowed by talk of who’s getting moved where (like last year, when DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the Pelicans while players were still in locker rooms in New Orleans immediately after the game). The trade deadline will now be 10 days before the All-Star break, so this season that means Feb. 8 (Feb. 9, PHL time). 1. AND THE WINNER IS ... How can anyone pick against Golden State right now? The Warriors will get their third title in four years, which is the easiest prediction possible. So we’ll finish this with some probably less-than-chalk picks: LeBron James is going to reclaim the MVP award, the Rockets will have a game where they connect 30 times from three-point range and Charlotte’s Steve Clifford will be coach of the year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2017

Less time, fewer timeouts among adjustments for NBA coaches

em>By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press /em> NEW YORK (AP) — Mike D’Antoni ran an offensive system known as seven seconds or less, so he likes things fast. Good thing, because NBA coaches find things come at them more quickly this season. They are losing time and timeouts, with fewer days to prepare before the regular season and fewer chances to talk things over during games. Throw in new rules legislating how they can rest players, and there are plenty of adjustments even for veteran coaches. “I think it’s good,” said D’Antoni, the NBA coach of the year with Houston last year. “Take stuff out of coaches’ hands, because we just screw it up anyway. So it’s better for the players.” Among the changes: — Next Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) start is the NBA’s earliest since 1980. It’s a week earlier than normal, with the maximum number of preseason games cut from eight to six. — Timeouts are reduced from 18 to 14, with each team having seven. They will be limited to two during the last three minutes of games, instead of the previous rule that permitted three timeouts in the final two minutes. — Teams can be fined $100,000 or more for resting healthy players during national TV games, and are discouraged from resting multiple healthy players in the same game or sitting them in road games. — Halftime will be 15 minutes for all games — and the league plans to be diligent about starting the clock as soon as the first half ends. There previously was a minute or two longer for national TV games, and sometimes the clock wouldn’t start until all players had cleared the floor. That change caught the attention of D’Antoni, who noted that in some arenas there is a longer walk from the benches to the locker rooms. “So instead of showing 10 clips at halftime, you might only be able to show two or three,” D’Antoni said. Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations, said the goal wasn’t to shorten the length of games, which run about 2 hours, 15 minutes. He said the league wanted the games to have a better flow, and worked with the coaches and Competition Committee, which includes some coaches, during the summer on the changes. Spruell said coaches were fine with the removal of the under-9 minute timeouts in the second and fourth quarters, feeling they came too soon after the quarters started. There will now be two mandatory timeouts in each quarter, at the under-7 and under-3 minute marks. Even at the end of games, coaches acknowledged there were too many stoppages. “As a head coach you always want more timeouts. You want to have that flexibility at the end of the game to be able to help your team,” Miami’s Erik Spoelstra said. “But when I’m watching games, I want there to be less. I do. I want there to be less timeouts and for the games to go a little bit quicker, particularly at the end. You want to just see the action.” All timeouts will now be 75 seconds. Full timeouts were formerly 90 seconds. “Before you have the little pow-wow for a long timeout, the coaches try to get reacquainted and figure out where you’re going to eat dinner,” D’Antoni joked. “But now you’ve got to go in and actually coach.” Spruell said the league didn’t get a lot of pushback from coaches on the suggested changes, even coming around on the resting rules. “I’m just happy Adam Silver gave us some good guidelines to follow when it comes to that so we don’t feel like we’re cheating our fans,” Memphis coach David Fizdale said. “That was one good thing that came out of the coaches’ meetings, Adam Silver’s leadership on that.” Player health was one reason for the shorter preseason. By adding the extra week to the regular season, the league reduced back-to-back games and has no teams playing four in five nights for the first time. Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said the shorter preseason wouldn’t matter to most teams, since they usually run a similar system from year to year unless there was a coaching change, and there were none. His team is different. The Knicks are largely scrapping the triangle offense they ran when Phil Jackson was president and redefining roles with leading scorer Carmelo Anthony traded. They’ve had a number of nagging injuries and may not see some combinations play together until the games count. “It’s one of those years that maybe you wish there was eight exhibition games, but it is what it is and we just have to work,” Hornacek said. There’s also a change for general managers in the form of an earlier trade deadline. Previously the Thursday (Friday, PHL time) after the All-Star Game, now it’s the Thursday (Friday, PHL time) 10 days before it. Spruell said in discussions with GMs, they felt that would benefit the traded players, who would have the break to acclimate themselves to their new cities. So there’s plenty that’s new, but Spoelstra said they will all catch on. “Whenever there’s rules changes, regardless, players or coaches, you eventually adapt and we’ll do that as well,” he said. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Rest: Frowned upon when NBA games count, not in preseason

em>By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press /em> MIAMI (AP) — There is no NBA mandate urging teams to not rest players in the preseason. Good thing. The dog days of the exhibition schedule have arrived, with plenty of stars sitting out Monday night's (Tuesday, PHL time) games. Among those getting the night off to rest: Boston stars Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, Miami's Goran Dragic and the Orlando trio of Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and Bismack Biyombo. Indiana rested a half-dozen players, as did Sacramento — including Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph. 'It's hard to play 14 guys,' Kings coach Dave Joerger said. Houston's Chris Paul didn't play in New York because of a right shoulder contusion, the Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis (hip) and Frank Ntilikina (knee) sat out that same game with soreness, Detroit's Avery Bradley was sidelined by a turned ankle and Orlando's Evan Fournier (ankle) and Terrence Ross (hamstring) also didn't play because of minor injuries. Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox was out with a sore back. When the regular season starts next week, resting players who are healthy enough to play will be officially frowned upon by a new NBA policy. But for now, it just makes sense for clubs to either limit minutes or not take unnecessary risks. That being said, teams are still working. Joerger knows his team needs a day off — but the Kings are practicing Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) anyway. 'We have way too much stuff to do, and not just for opening night,' Joerger said. In Dragic's case, Miami is being smart since he played for two months this summer, helping Slovenia win the European championship and returning to Miami just two days before the first practice of training camp. He hasn't played much in the preseason. 'This is all relatively part of the plan I had sketched out,' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. 'I wanted him to be in training camp ... and he really wanted to be there too, just to establish the right tone out of camp. We want to try to strike that balance of keeping him in shape and making sure he's peaking for the first game, not going the other way. I think we're headed that way.' Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the lineup he went with Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) allows him to take a good look at what will be Boston's second unit. 'I feel really good about where we are, considering we're 13 days in,' Stevens said. 'I don't think we're by any means a finished product and I think we can get better.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 10th, 2017

An NBA first: Every coach who started last season is back

em>By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press /em> MIAMI (AP) — Dozens of NBA players found new homes this offseason. A few front offices dealt with hirings and firings. There’s a new arena in Detroit and an ownership change looms in Houston. The league’s logo was even tweaked. Change was everywhere. That is, except the coaches’ offices. Here’s a first for the NBA: Every coach is back. From the start of last season to the start of this season — barring something happening in training camps, anyway — not a single NBA team has changed coaches. That’s an unprecedented run of retention and an obvious source of pride for coaches across the league as the first practices of the season get set to occur this weekend. “I think what people are seeing is what this league needs, what these players need more than anything, is stability and a consistent message,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, who’s going into his 10th season. “Otherwise we’re just losing ground if you have to start all over every year. That’s a tough way to win in this business. That’s a tough way to build any sort of culture or consistency.” No one is starting over in the next few days, at least in the sense that a new staff is taking over a team. Last season was the first since 1963-64 — and only the fourth in league history — where there were no in-season changes. The league was much smaller back then as well, with only nine coaches having to keep their bosses happy. It’s a 30-team league now, and a year ago at this time 10 of those clubs had a new coach. “From top to bottom, we have a very high quality level of coaching,” said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, the president of the National Basketball Coaches Association. “This is as stable as our profession has been in decades. Contracts are strong, the league is constructed in a way now where coaching is extremely important and ownership understands the importance of the coaching process.” There hasn’t been a coaching hire since Jeff Hornacek was formally announced by the New York Knicks on June 2, 2016 — which might not sound that long ago, but in a field without any real job security that’s an eternity. So when coaches gathered last week for their annual preseason meeting, they celebrated the fact that there were no new faces in the room. “We’ve talked about the importance of supporting one another — and at the same time, the need to try to beat each others’ brains in,” Carlisle said. “It’s a conflicting sort of concept from afar, but internally we are the only ones that know all the challenges that head coaches in the NBA face. And because of that, there’s a real healthy respect for one another.” Summer vacations are ending now. Coaches will all be grabbing their whistles in the next few days, starting with Golden State’s Steve Kerr and Minnesota’s Tom Thibodeau on Saturday when the Warriors and Timberwolves open training camp — those teams can start early because they’re going to China in the preseason. The other 28 teams start practice on Tuesday. “In team-building and pro sports, a lot of times the methodical long game is what’s necessary,” said Spoelstra, the second-longest-tenured coach in the league behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich. “But you’re seeing less and less of that. That’s why last year was such a pleasant surprise. I think it really was a celebration of stability and an acknowledgment of how complex this position can be.”   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 21st, 2017

PBA: Simpson says 2018 Aces better than 2010 Fiesta Cup champs

The first time Diamon Simpson was in the PBA, he led Alaska past Ginebra, Talk 'N Text, and San Miguel to win the 2010 Fiesta Conference. Eight years later, Simpson is back to help the Aces seal the no. 2 seed in the 2018 Commissioner's Cup. The Alaska that Diamon used to know is no longer here. However, with a new batch of Aces, Simpson is confident that the 2018 version is better than the 2010 group that won a title. "This team is really talented. I would say that our team is better than when we won it a few years ago," Simpson said Friday after his first PBA game in eight years. "Talent-wise, there's a lot of players like tonight I didn't have to work as hard because a lot of players are good so that's a plus," he added. Simpson played 34 minutes and scored 18 points on top of 19 rebounds. Top local Vic Manuel led the Aces with 28 points. While Diamon acknowledges Alaska's current talent, a new title is not in his mind just yet. His focus is to have the Aces playing up to their potential as the playoffs are literally just a couple of days away. "If we win that's a plus but I think we should focus on playing hard, playing as hard as we can," he said. "There's some pretty good teams here and we are in second place, which is easier that when I was here the last time so we'll see," Simpson added.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 6th, 2018

Matthysse intends on retiring Pacquiao in Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR--It's going to be "war" in Malaysia as WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse didn't hide his intentions of defending his championship belt by retiring boxing's living legend Manny Pacquiao nine days from now here. Just right after landing from a grueling 18-hour journey from the other side of the Pacific, Matthysse and his team buckled down to work, hitting the gym and tried to shake the effects of jet lag in his system on Thursday evening. Fight day will be on July 15 at the Axiata Arena with three other world championship fights adding drama to the roadshow presented by Pacquiao's own MP Promotions. So focused is Matthysse that he only has Pacquiao on his mind. How to beat the fighting Senator from the Philippines, the only eight-weight division champion of boxing, is the only order of business for him. "Manny Pacquiao. I want to defeat a legendary fighter like Manny. This is not Judah, Alexander, Postol or Garcia," said Matthysse, who planed in together with manager Mario Arano, trainer Joel Diaz, Golden Boy Promotions PR man Ramiro Gonzalez and three others who are helping out in training. Matthysse has a 39-4 win-loss record with 36 of these fights ending by spectacular knockouts. Incidentally, (Zab) Judah, (Victor) Postol, (Devon) Alexander and (Danny) Garcia are the only boxers who have beaten the 35-year-old fighter in the past. For Arano, Matthysse has gotten over these losses and has become a more dangerous and complete fighter since last losing to Postol in 2015. His lean but mean entourage pales in comparison to Pacquiao's own team, which will arrive on Monday--a whole plane-load of trainers flying on a chartered flight from General Santos City, including utility persons and fans and supporters. Matthysse's early arrival signified his desire to leave nothing behind and ensure victory for Argentina. "This is Manny Pacquiao, and this is the quest for anyone in boxing (to defeat Pacquiao,)" said Matthysse. - RELEASE   Catch Fight of Champions: Pacquiao versus Matthysse at 10:00 AM on ABS-CBN channel 2! Replay at 7:00 PM on S+A channel 23. You can catch the whole card LIVE on SkyCable Pay-Per-View. CLICK HERE for more information!.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 6th, 2018

Continuity

Five days ago, Paul George shocked the hoops world by making a decision few foresaw. It wasn’t that he chose to re-up with the Thunder; it was that he did so under startling circumstances. First, he announced his choice well before any other big-name commitment — particularly LeBron James’ — had been finalized. Second, he made up his mind before taking meetings with potential suitors, among them the very Lakers he said he would be joining when he spurned the Pacers last year. And, third, he signed on the dotted line of a contract that binds him for four years, eschewing a shorter deal that would have netted him more options, not to mention an even bigger paycheck, moving forward......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJul 5th, 2018

Guide to 2018 contract options, qualifying offers

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com Before free agency officially tips off at midnight ET on Sunday morning (Sunday afternoon, PHL time), players and teams had to make decisions on contract options, qualifying offers, and contracts that were either partially or non-guaranteed. Here's the low down on who's staying and who could be going. Player options These players had an option in the final year of their contract. If they exercised it, they were in for one more year. If they declined it, they become free agents Saturday.. Exercised (under contract for one more year) Darrell Arthur (DEN) Ron Baker (NYK) Wilson Chandler (DEN) Dewayne Dedmon (ATL) Danny Green (SAS) Wesley Johnson (LAC) Cory Joseph (IND) Enes Kanter (NYK) Kosta Koufos (SAC) Wesley Matthews (DAL) Jodie Meeks (WAS) Mike Muscala (ATL) Austin Rivers (WAS) - Exercised option prior to trade to Washington Iman Shumpert (SAC) Jason Smith (WAS) Milos Teodosic (LAC) Garrett Temple (SAC) Thaddeus Young (IND) Declined (free agents) Jamal Crawford (MIN) Kevin Durant (GSW) Rudy Gay (SAS) Paul George (OKC) LeBron James (CLE) DeAndre Jordan (LAC) Joffrey Lauvergne (SAS) Kyle O'Quinn (NYK) Early termination options Early termination options are the opposite of a player option, where you have to exercise the option to become a free agent. Declined (under contract for one more year) Carmelo Anthony (OKC) Team options Here, the decision lies with the team. If they exercised the team option, they keep the player for another year. If they declined it, they allowed him to become a free agent. Exercised (under contract for one more year) Richaun Holmes (PHI) Aaron Jackson (HOU) T.J. McConnell (PHI) Nikola Mirotic (NOP) Note: Mirotic's option was picked up as part of the trade that sent him from Chicago to New Orleans. Declined (free agents) Nikola Jokic (DEN) - Restricted Jordan Mickey (MIA) Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) Lance Stephenson (IND) Joe Young (IND) Note: The Nuggets declined their team option on Jokic, but because he has played just three seasons, they had the ability to issue him a qualifying offer and make him a restricted free agent (see below). That's what they did. The Heat and Pacers could have done the same with Mickey and Young, but did not, so they're each unrestricted free agents. Qualifying offers Some players were eligible for restricted free agency. This group includes 2014 first round draft picks who had their third and fourth-year options picked up and just completed their rookie contract, as well as other players who have played three or fewer seasons in the league. Restricted free agency allows the team to match any offer the player receives from another team. But in order to have that right, the team must have issued the player a qualifying offer by Saturday night (Saturday afternoon, PHL time). If a qualifying offer wasn't issued, that player is an unrestricted free agent instead. The qualifying offer is binding as a one-year contract. If the player signs it, he's under contract for next season. He could also sign an offer sheet from another team (which his team would have the ability to match), and he and his team could agree on a new, multi-year contract. The team also has the ability to rescind the qualifying offer going forward (the list below is as of July 1, PHL time) Issued (restricted free agents) Kyle Anderson (SAS) Davis Bertans (SAS) Nemanja Bjelica (MIN) Clint Capela (HOU) Dante Exum (UTA) Yogi Ferrell (DAL) Bryn Forbes (SAS) Aaron Gordon (ORL) Montrezl Harrell (LAC) Rodney Hood (CLE) Zach LaVine (CHI) Patrick McCaw (GSW) Raul Neto (UTA) Jusuf Nurkic (POR) David Nwaba (CHI) Jabari Parker (MIL) Julius Randle (LAL) Marcus Smart (BOS) Fred VanVleet (TOR) Not issued (unrestricted free agents) Bruno Caboclo (SAC) Pat Connaughton (POR) Malcolm Delaney (ATL) Marcus Georges-Hunt (MIN) Jonathan Gibson (BOS) Traveon Graham (CHA) Aaron Harrison (DAL) Andre Ingram (LAL) Amile Jefferson (MIN) Damion Lee (ATL) Doug McDermott (DAL) Salah Mejri (DAL) Shabazz Napier (POR) Lucas Nogueira (TOR) Elfrid Payton (PHX) Nik Stauskas (BKN) Noah Vonleh (CHI) Travis Wear (LAL) Waived The following players have been waived so that their contracts didn't become guaranteed (or fully guaranteed) and have been added to the free agent list (or will be added once they've cleared waivers)... Cole Aldrich (MIN) Thomas Bryant (LAL) Tyler Ennis (LAL) Omari Johnson (MEM) Shelvin Mack (ORL) Tyler Ulis (PHX) Two-way free agents This past season was the first with two-way players that can go between the NBA roster and the G League. Some two-way players are still under contract for next season. Those that aren't can be restricted free agents if they were on the NBA team's active or inactive list for 15 or more days of the NBA regular season and if their team issued a qualifying offer. Here's a rundown of two-way free agents... Restricted Ryan Arcidiacono (CHI) Jabari Bird (BOS) Markel Brown (HOU) Torrey Craig (DEN) Milton Doyle (BKN) Isaiah Hicks (NYK) Darrun Hilliard (SAS) Derrick Jones Jr. (MIA) Luke Kornet (NYK) Malcolm Miller (TOR) Xavier Munford (MIL) Georges Niang (UTA) Marshall Plumlee (MIL) JaKarr Sampson (SAC) Tyrone Wallace (LAC) Derrick Walton Jr. (MIA) Unrestricted Jamel Artis (ORL) Anthony Brown (MIN) Charles Cooke (NOP) Jack Cooley (SAC) Matt Costello (SAS) P.J. Dozier (OKC) Kay Felder (DET) Daniel Hamilton (OKC) Danuel House (PHX) Demetrius Jackson (PHI) Josh Magette (ATL) Erik McCree (UTA) Ben Moore (IND) Marcus Paige (CHA) Gary Payton II (LAL) Alec Peters (PHX) James Webb III (BKN) Andrew White III (ATL) C.J. Wilcox (POR) John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

Outgoing envoy of Norwegia hails ties with Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Norway doesn't mind Malacañang's "Norwegia" flub , it seems, and would rather discuss resuming peace talks with communist rebels.  Outgoing Norwegian Ambassador Erik Førner said he remains optimistic about peace talks between the Philippine government and communist rebels responsible for Asia's longest-running insurgency. "Although there has been a postponement of the planned formal round ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

Vice Ganda silently flexes affinity for retro NBA jerseys on It s Showtime

Don’t look now, but Vice Ganda, arguably the brightest star on noontime TV has been flexing an assortment of retro NBA gear that would make even the most hipster of basketball fashionistas drool. ABS-CBN’s unkabogable ‘It’s Showtime’ star may not immediately register as the biggest celebrity hoops fan, but he’s nonchalantly showing off his array of retro NBA swingman shirts and outer wear on national TV.  Let's check out the comedian's hardwood classics-inspired fits from the past four days:   GOLDEN STATE OF MIND His choice of NBA-related pieces really started last June 11. Vice Ganda, real name Jose Mari Viceral, wore a 90’s era Golden State Warriors bomber jacket on the show. Whether it’s a tribute to the very fun Run TMC trio from the late 80s to the 90s, or a silent congratulations  of sorts to the 2018 NBA Champs, it still has our thumbs up.  Ganown yown! 😂😂😂#ShowtimeHappinessLunes pic.twitter.com/WQRAPDXQzX — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 11, 2018 Sinabi na kasing hindi pwede! 😂😂😂#ShowtimeHappinessLunes pic.twitter.com/MrNsIx3L5O — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 11, 2018 Beklamation na!#ShowtimeHappinessLunes pic.twitter.com/0hJLx4SXWd — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 11, 2018 Yieeeee meron nga ba? ❤️#ShowtimeHappinessLunes pic.twitter.com/URrhkw1DgT — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 11, 2018   LARRY LEGEND Then the box-office star followed it up with an oversized Larry Bird Celtics shirt in its insanely clean home colorway the day after.  There’s just something about Celtics green on immaculate white that harkens back to the days of Larry Legend that’s classic and always stylish. Ang mga tawa eh! Nakakahawa!#ShowtimeArawNgKaLayaan pic.twitter.com/JKM6ZutBIG — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 12, 2018 Nakakagigil!#ShowtimeArawNgKaLayaan pic.twitter.com/ocjAZrYrFx — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 12, 2018 Kasheee nemen! ❤️#ShowtimeArawNgKaLayaan pic.twitter.com/U2884ZNP1z — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 12, 2018   BAD BOY The next day, Vice then donned a Detroit ’Badboys’-era Dennis Rodman jersey shirt that complements his wildly colored hair.  The huge Pistons type in bold red pops out from the dark blue base of the shirt, and it just goes well with Vice’s dreamy pink hair. May paghawak oh!#ShowtimeHunyoPanaLo pic.twitter.com/wkSf068jdz — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 13, 2018 ❤️❤️❤️#ShowtimeHunyoPanaLo pic.twitter.com/QqW4VKKVWq — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 13, 2018 Chismisan eh 😂😂😂#ShowtimeHunyoPanaLo pic.twitter.com/LBZsynkppA — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 13, 2018   SHOWTIME INDEED In his latest flex, Vice stayed consistent with his retro vibe the whole week with a regal Magic Johnson Lakers away jersey in dark purple. The gold lettering with white shadows definitely shout ‘Showtime Lakers’, and it’s a pretty apt jersey to wear on the noontime show. Squat nga kasi besh! 🤣🤣🤣#ShowtimeHuweBestDayEver pic.twitter.com/Vpc3woTIJu — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 14, 2018 Lukso ng dugo besh eh!#ShowtimeHuweBestDayEver pic.twitter.com/JRgTt1TZx7 — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 14, 2018 🤣🤣🤣#ShowtimeHuweBestDayEver pic.twitter.com/nuJpQ2vPxa — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 14, 2018 Tag mo pinaka maganda mong friend!#ShowtimeHuweBestDayEver pic.twitter.com/fRFawqhhVO — ItsShowtimeNa (@itsShowtimeNa) June 14, 2018 While most of the ‘It’s Showtime’ members’ threads are more daring and fashion-forward, NBA fans should probably keep their eyes peeled for Vice Ganda and his next retro flex......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018

Tiger Woods digs for the week is more than a dinghy

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Tiger Woods brought his yacht, Privacy, to a U.S. Open in New York and missed the cut for the first time in a major. That was 12 years ago when the Open was at Winged Foot. He can only hope for a different outcome at Shinnecock Hills. "Staying on the dinghy helps," Woods said with a grin. The 155-foot yacht is said to include a Jacuzzi, gym and movie theater. It doesn't sound as though Woods has spent much time ashore except for being at Shinnecock Hills for his first U.S. Open in three years. "Sag Harbor is a cute little town," he said. "I've only been there for a few days now. I haven't really got a chance to walk about a little bit, but certainly will this week. So far, it's been nice to kind of get away from the tournament scene and go there to my dinghy, and just really enjoy it." Woods at least has been able to avoid the traffic that has led to commutes of close to two hours from the official hotel depending on the time of morning. Most players have rented homes in the Southampton area. Woods said he stayed with Shinnecock Hills members when he played as an amateur in the 1995 U.S. Open, and near the course in 2004. The Hamptons has no shortage of yachts, and someone suggested to Woods that it must feel odd not to have the biggest ship in New York. "I'm not opposed to that," Woods said. ___ PLAYOFF FEVER Jordan Spieth now knows that when he's tied for the lead after 72 holes on Sunday, his work is not done. The USGA has changed its playoff format for all its open championships. If the U.S. Open goes to a playoff, it will be a two-hole aggregate playoff (followed by sudden death if still tied), instead of an 18-hole playoff. Spieth was asked about the two-hole playoff. "It's the first I've heard of that being an option," he said. "It's still 18 holes, right?" Wrong. "I guess the strategy changes a little from an entire round, but I honestly had no idea that it even changed," he said. "I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday, thinking, 'What's it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff?' So shows you what I know." He wasn't alone. Justin Thomas was asked about the new format and conceded that he wasn't aware it changed to a two-hole aggregate until he was at lunch. It wasn't clear if he read a memo from the USGA or the transcript of Spieth's news conference about four hours earlier. ___ BACK TO NO. 2 If you blinked, you might have missed Justin Thomas' reign atop golf's world ranking. The PGA champion took the top spot in May. It's gone, with Dustin Johnson's win at Memphis last weekend catapulting him to No. 1, with Thomas just behind. Of course, a win at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open this week would push Thomas back to the top. "It didn't affect me, or it wasn't that hard on me because I couldn't do anything about it," Thomas said. "I wasn't playing. I played one tournament and had a good tournament, finished eighth. And D.J. won, so it's not like he didn't play well and didn't earn it or anything. He won a golf tournament and a great tournament. So there's nothing I can be upset about for that." Thomas could even laugh a bit about the ranking. "I saw something that was just hysterical on social media," he explained, "how a lot of the times, you know, when teams or players or whatever it is go on long runs, like the last time this happened. I mean, a little biased but often a scenario is last time Tennessee beat Alabama in football, you know, like iPhones weren't alive yet and stuff like that." So what was Thomas' "last time" moment? "I saw something so funny yesterday," he said. "It was like the last time that I wasn't ranked No. 1 in the world, and it was like (Alex) Ovechkin didn't have a Stanley Cup and Rickie (Fowler) wasn't engaged. That was it. I thought it was pretty funny, whoever came up with that." ___ SPIETH AND HIS PUTTER For all the attention on the short putts Jordan Spieth has missed this year, he still is regarded as one of the best putters in golf. That's the club that effectively won the British Open for him last summer. Spieth faced a tough question Tuesday, however, when asked if there was someone he regarded as better. He paused. "A lot of great putters out here," he said, buying time. "That's why they're out here," he said, buying even more time. He finally took the safe way out by saying that no single players come to mind, though he made it clear his confidence isn't shaken on the greens. "I'd still like to bet on myself, if I can," he said. Spieth said he prefers to think about who makes putts in big moments, and whether the ball is holed with the right speed and right break. He has made plenty of those, not only at Royal Birkdale last summer but at Chambers Bay on the par-3 16th and even at the Tour Championship in 2015 when he won the FedEx Cup. And he hasn't forgotten Tiger Woods. "Nobody's done that better in the last 20 years than Tiger as far as clutch putting goes," he said. ___ TRAILER LIVING Jason Day has learned that life in a motor home can be rewarding on the PGA Tour. He also has learned it can be messy when Bubba Watson is around. Day is staying in what he calls "the bus" in a parking area close to Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open. The Australian uses the RV for about 15 tournaments a season, and several other tour golfers have joined him. One is Watson. "Bubba just got one this year, and I'm very kind of more private, and he's, yeah, he's a little bit more outgoing," Day recalled, a wide smile on his face. "And I think we're at Augusta, and he walks under my bus, and he's like, 'Hey, man, what are you doing?' "I'm just sitting in the bus watching TV. He's like OK. And he's standing there. And I'm like, do you want to come inside? And he's eating a burrito, and he decides to come in and talk to me for about 30 minutes. He gets his burrito all over the ground and then just leaves. "Actually, it's nice to have people like that around, you know, to mess your bus up when you need them to." ___ AP Sports Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018