Wholesale Miami Heat Jerseys

The Miami HEAT defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-79 Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Kelly Olynyk led the way for the HEAT with 19 points.

1. JJ Accepts The Challenge

You could tell from the start that James Johnson was ready for this matchup.

How so?

Well, less than two minutes into the game he came through with this nice block on LeBron James after recovering well from the King’s initial move:

As the game progressed, Johnson limited LBJ about as well as you can and made life absolutely miserable for him.

I mean, just look at this great defensive sequence in the third quarter:

That wasn’t all, though.

On the offensive end, Johnson was aggressive as usual and had this impressive finish over James earlier in the third:

Talk about accepting the challenge.

In all, Johnson tallied 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, nine boards, five assists, three blocks, two steals and a plus-16 rating.

2. KO Keeps Cleveland Guessing

Although Kelly Olynyk really made some noise in the second quarter with 10 points, including this easy jam off a fake handoff…

…he made sure the Cavs wouldn’t mount a comeback in the fourth.

In fact, he scored a team-high nine points on 3-of-3 shooting in the final period thanks to some great feeds from Dwyane Wade.

When it was all said and done, Olynyk amassed five rebounds, three assists, a team-high three steals and a plus-19 rating to go along with his team-high 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting overall.

3. Wade Shines On The Defensive End

There’s a reason why no other player in NBA history 6-foot-4 or under has as many blocks as Dwyane Wade.

While a lot of that has to do with his athleticism, his high basketball IQ and ability to time his jump perfectly also have a lot to do with it.

Let’s look at all four of his blocks against the Cavs, shall we?

Oh yeah, Wade also did his thing offensively in the fourth quarter with this nifty give-and-go with Olynyk:

Wade finished with 12 points, four assists and a team-high plus-22 rating to go along with his game-high four blocks against Cleveland.

Game Note:

-The HEAT held the Cavaliers to a season-low 79 points on 36.5 percent shooting.

-Derrick Walton Jr., Bam Adebayo (right ankle sprain), Hassan Whiteside (left hip flexor strain) and Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery) were inactive.

Looking Ahead:

-The HEAT will continue their homestand on Thursday against the Bulls at 7:30 PM. Tickets for that game can be found

Wholesale Minnesota Timberwolves Jerseys

The Minnesota Timberwolves have had a tough stretch so far in March, and with such a close Western Conference playoff race these next few weeks are going to be the most important of the season.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have had a season that has impressed beyond anything their fans have seen in quite some time.

Already in possession of what will be a winning record come end of season, the Timberwolves have had their best season since they won 44 games in the 2004-05 campaign. That year, they finished ninth and missed the playoffs for the first of what has now become 13 consecutive years.

The Timberwolves have eight games remaining this season, and as of this writing sit tied for seventh in the Western Conference, just 1.5 games above ninth-place Denver. The tenth-placed Clippers are a further game and a half behind Denver, but are far from excluded from the playoff race.

While the Wolves have eight remaining games to solidify their spot in the playoffs, Utah and Denver have nine remaining in their playoff hunt, while the Clippers have 10 games to chase a spot in the postseason.

Above the Timberwolves, fifth and sixth-placed Pelicans and Spurs, respectively, are each one game ahead of the Wolves, but also have eight remaining games to finish their playoff pushes. No. 4 Oklahoma City also has eight games remaining and sits two games above the Wolves, while No. 3 Portland is three games clear of the Wolves with 10 remaining appearances for the season.

First and second-placed Houston and Golden State are well out of reach of the Wolves, of course, however with both teams having remaining games against the Wolves’ Western Conference playoff competitors, their results will matter to the Wolves.

In the last few weeks of the season, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, New Orleans and Utah all have at least one game against one of those aforementioned leaders in the Western Conference. This is good news for the Wolves, who’ve already faced both teams for the last time this season.

The Wolves do, however, have a few games of their own against these Western Conference rivals, which may be integral to win to cement their place in the playoffs over them. The Wolves remaining games for the playoffs should all be treated as must-win. Many are against lower-tier teams, and one game may be all that separate eighth and ninth seeds at the end of the season.

The Timberwolves’ remaining path to the playoffs begins in Minneapolis, with the game against the Grizzlies on Monday. The Grizzlies currently sit with a 19-54 record and come to Minnesota on a four-game losing streak.

On Wednesday, the Atlanta Hawks visit Target Center. Similarly to Grizzlies, they’re far removed from playoff contention and sit last in the East with a 21-52 record.

Friday, the Wolves will head to Dallas to take on the Mavericks to close out this ‘easy’ trio of games, which the Timberwolves should make a certainty to emerge from with a 3-0 record. Dallas has a 22-51 record and is just above Memphis in the standings, and are similarly excluded from playoff contention.

It’s yet to be seen if these teams will be tanking and looking themselves to lose, or whether the Wolves will need to work hard for these wins, but a 3-0 record in this stretch is the start the Wolves need to set themselves on the right track for the remainder of the season.

April gets a little tougher for the Timberwolves, however.

Their five remaining games will kick off Sunday April 1 against Utah in Minneapolis, who currently sit in a tie with the Timberwolves and will be treating this game as do-or-die, much like the Wolves. While it’s yet to be seen how the standings will have shaken out by this point, Utah have upcoming games against Boston and Golden State, and getting a game up on the Wolves could be the make or break for the team.

 

After the game against Utah, the Wolves have a three-day break to rest, recover and prepare for a doubleheader on the road, which starts with Denver on Thursday.

Denver in in a similar position as Utah, and may be fighting for their playoff position. While Denver has no remaining games against Golden State, Houston or Boston, they do have Toronto to face, as well as games against other contenders such as Oklahoma and Portland before season’s end, not to mention two games against the Wolves.

After the game in Denver, the Timberwolves will head to L.A. to take on the Lakers. As of writing, the Lakers are not yet excluded from playoff contention, but are excruciatingly close, sitting 8.5 games behind the eighth seed.

By the game against the Wolves, the Lakers will likely be out of the playoff hunt, and the Timberwolves will hopefully be able to capitalise for a win after the two (more) difficult games prior.

The Timberwolves’ penultimate game of the season takes place Monday, April 9 when the Grizzlies return to Minneapolis, for what the Wolves will be hoping is another win.

The season finale takes place Wednesday April 11, in what theoretically could be a play-for-playoff game against Denver, which fortunately is again in Minneapolis. The Wolves will have to dig in deep for this one to finish the regular season out on a high.

With five of their remaining eight games coming at home, the Timberwolves will need to capitalise on their home-court advantage to secure some much needed wins.

The Minnesota home crowds will surely be getting behind our Wolves in this stretch of the season where every game counts.

With just five games separating the fourth and tenth seeds in the West and the Timberwolves sitting right in the middle of that bunch, every game could be a difference-maker, and certainly needs to be treated as such.

The two games against Memphis, the Dallas game and the Atlanta game should all be must-wins and fill in another four for the wins column for the Wolves, but it’s likely that a 4-4 record wouldn’t be enough to cement a playoff spot, nor should the Wolves accept a .500 record over the last eight games.

The Timberwolves have already proven this season they’re a better team than the Lakers, and should collect a fifth win against L.A. The games against Utah and Denver will certainly be much tougher, but as long as we don’t have an 0-3 record throughout then the Timberwolves will hopefully be in a position to be making their first playoff appearance since 2004.

Each game remaining in the Timberwolves’ schedule needs to be treated as a must-win, as each may be the difference maker for the Timberwolves playoff hopes. The Timberwolves’ need to capitalize on their impressive season to secure a postseason appearance that the fans and the team itself so desperately deserves.

Wholesale Milwaukee Bucks Jerseys

Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo did not return to Wednesday night’s 127-120 loss to the LA Clippers due to a right ankle sprain.

Bucks coach Joe Prunty did not have an official update on Antetokounmpo’s injury postgame.

Antetokounmpo appeared to get hurt in the second quarter when he tripped over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under Milwaukee’s basket. He stayed in the game for a brief period, but hobbled around the court while grimacing. He went to the locker room with about four minutes remaining in the second quarter and did not return.

The team downgraded him to out at halftime.

He’s averaging 27.5 points and 10.1 rebounds this season for Milwaukee, which is eighth in the Eastern Conference. He had 12 points before leaving.

Wholesale New Orleans Pelicans Jerseys

Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry

On the key to the win tonight:

“Oh I thought that…for some reason these guys shoot the heck out of the ball against us. We were trying to take away the three’s and force them into you know the mid-range twos, and they made a ton of those, but I thought we did a good job of running them off the line or shooting contested ones…you know they got up 35 and made 10 so were pretty happy with that. I thought defensively we picked it up. From the last five minutes of the second quarter for the rest of the game, I thought we were pretty good defensively, even some of the tough shots that they made. And offensively I thought we did a good job, once again moving the basketball. You know 33 assists again. I thought we did a good job in cuts; I thought we did a good job of reading situations, especially when AD (Anthony Davis) had the ball and they tried to double him. I thought we had some good cuts. You know we had guys step up. With Jrue (Holiday) not here, we had to have guys step up. You know I think Ian (Clark) is playing really good basketball. I thought (Rajon) Rondo really closed the game great, and then Cheick (Diallo) continues to play great for us off the bench. So those are the kind of things you got to have at this stage to try and stay in the race.”

On the managing of the game tonight:

“Well pretty much so. You know we had to put AD probably back in a couple minutes…you know we were really trying to keep him under 34, try to keep him at 32 or something and we just…we held him as long as we could. And then we had to put him back. Most of the other numbers you are pretty good. You know E’Twaun (Moore) just had 35 minutes, which we were kinda forced into that because we needed him out there. You know we’ll meet here tomorrow, and once again you know we’ll line up. We’ll try to do a bit better job tomorrow of shortening consecutive minutes. I thought we did a pretty good job today and we used our timeouts strategically to kinda get rest in that fourth quarter. But you know we have to try to find a way to win the game. That’s the most important thing.”

Pelicans Forward Solomon Hill

On the Pelicans’ bench play tonight:

“People just stepped up. With Jrue (Holiday) out, Ian (Clark) did a great job for us on both ends of the court, he came out ready. That is all we can ask for, when one guy goes out, it is an opportunity for another guy showcase and go out there and play hard. Cheick (Diallo) is playing some really good basketball. Another double-double for him. That is huge in a game like that when we are fighting for our lives and every game matters.”

On guarding Harrison Barnes:

“I feel good. I think it was my first time coming out and from the start and having a matchup like that. I respect Harrison Barnes and what he does for his team. I just wanted to go out there and compete and do as much as I could for the team win.”

On how he is feeling after playing 11 minutes and if he can play more tomorrow:

“You know we will see. I always feel good after the game, but we will see tomorrow morning when I wake up and get back into the gym. The plan is to stay prepared and take every day serious to increase that minimum.”

Pelicans Guard Ian Clark

On his play tonight and his confidence:

“I am really confident. These guys in this locker room they give me the most confidence. They have been telling me to play my game and be aggressive. I just want to do anything I can to help this team.”

On what has changed with his game:

“I think it was just me being more comfortable. I really didn’t know where my shots would come from. Obviously playing with AD (Anthony Davis), he makes everything look so easy, so you want to feed him the ball all the time, but he encourages me to be aggressive and play my game and that is what I have been trying to do.”

 

Pelicans Forward Anthony Davis

On the Pelicans’ play tonight without Jrue Holiday:

“He is our second leading scorer, so with him gone and not on the floor, we need guys to step up. The second unit, Ian (Clark), Niko (Nikola Mirotić) and Cheick (Diallo) brought a lot of scoring mentality and energy. Once we got in that rhythm, we kind of forgot that Jrue was not playing. Of course we need him, he is a key component to our team and hopefully he gets well and he can play tomorrow, but guys just have to step up.

On the Pelicans’ bench tonight and the importance of their play over the last month:

“It is very important. Especially late in this stretch and you are playing so many minutes. When you come out, you either want to lead or be right there when the bench comes in. When we make those substitutions, we want the bench to come in and maintain the lead or give us the lead. They have been well all season and they are playing their butts off.”

Wholesale Oklahoma City Thunder Jerseys

Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s just like Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti probably always envisioned it: a quality win over a current Western Conference playoff team, a balanced scoring attack across the board with Corey Brewer leading the way.

Wait … what?

It’s true, Brewer led the Thunder in scoring with 22 points in their 121-113 win to complete a three-game season sweep over the LA Clippers on Friday, even making the two biggest plays of the game: a corner 3 with 1:44 left to put OKC up 10, and a steal with 26 seconds remaining after the Clippers had cut the lead to six. The impact Brewer has made since joining the Thunder is real, and it’s been shockingly spectacular, with them going 5-0 since he was inserted into the starting lineup.

There’s a clear sense of normalcy and chemistry that’s returned to the team with Brewer’s activity providing a tangible spark. It was a shock to their system after Andre Roberson was lost for the season, and there was some clear wandering going on after it. Brewer has infused the Thunder with loads of energy, but it’s not just empty play-harding. Brewer is contributing in real ways, hitting corner 3s, slashing off the weakside, running the floor with Russell Westbrook, and playing quality defense.

“When you’ve got a guy out there doing everything he can to get extra possessions and energize the team, it’s contagious,” Paul George said. “We feel that energy. And you’ve got to match it. You’ve got to match how hard he’s playing. If a guy’s going to play that hard for you, you’ve got to play just as hard for him.”

Whatever it is, it’s come right on time for the Thunder. Capping the 5-0 stretch was especially important with what’s ahead — road games against the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics — with 10 of their final 11 against teams over .500 and in the playoff hunt. With the West logjammed in the middle with a loss potentially swinging you from fourth to ninth, the Thunder are in need of accomplishing what they’ve said they’ve been trying to do all season — come together and play their best basketball at the right time.

“Just knowing the importance of what’s going on, our situation, knowing that it’s coming down to crunch time, the end of the season,” Carmelo Anthony said. “Just kind of gearing up mentally and emotionally for the postseason. Now we’re just playing basketball, we understand how we need to win. When we lose games we understand why we’re losing, so it’s not like we don’t understand why we lose games. We control that.”

It’s been a process for the Thunder to get to that point, with the peaks and valleys coming in obvious waves, but if they’re going to be for real, this is their time to prove it. They can look at the schedule ahead and see a snake pit, or they can see it as an opportunity to rise to the occasion. They’ve played their best when their backs are pushed to the wall, and when they’ve played higher level competition. They’ve seen themselves as a sleeping giant, on the cusp of something great. Whether, ahem, Corey Brewer is what actually restores them to believing in that or not, there’s a true confidence emanating out of the locker room again.

It’s also (mostly) Westbrook. He’s triple-doubled in four consecutive games — 16-10-11 against the Clippers — and has gotten back to the kind of stuff that made him the MVP last season. He’s taking smart shots, attacking relentlessly, and accessing all the weapons he has around him.

The fun is back, and there’s some swagger. They’ve teetered over to unearned arrogance at times, but confidence is never a bad thing. Except when Westbrook is trying to hammer a lob from George, which he fired off the back of the rim in the third quarter.

“That was all Russ,” George said with a smile. “We’ve been trying to connect on lobs since I’ve been here. As powerful as he is as a dunker, you’ve got to tone it down just a little bit.”

Westbrook tone it down? Maybe there still are a few things to figure out apparently.

But if the Thunder are built for the postseason, like they believe they are, they’re going to get a preview of it the next few weeks. The road ahead is a gauntlet that could prop them up as a threatening 4-seed or 5-seed, or drop them to a ugly first-round matchup against one of the two juggernauts (or out altogether).

They’ve clearly found something again, with a rhythm and flow building among the starting five, and a second unit that has drastically improved over the past month. They look … good. Is this finally the time it sticks?

Wholesale New York Knicks Jerseys

Nigel Hayes
Nigel Hayes

Nigel Hayes isn’t short on cockiness and said he believes one day the Knicks will regret not keeping him in the organization.

Cut out of training camp, the undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin joined the Westchester Knicks, excelled and moved on. He signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers in January and now is with the Raptors.

Hayes came in for five minutes Sunday in the fourth quarter and drilled both of his 3-pointers. After making his second one, he whirled his finger and yapped at his former Westchester teammate Trey Burke, whom he claimed taunted him.

“I think it was Trey who yelled something,” said the always chatty Hayes, who buried New York City for its lack of cleanliness ahead of a 2017 NCAA Tournament game at the Garden. “I’m like, you didn’t just yell that. You didn’t because we played together in the G-League and you were passing me for 3s. It was friendly, playful banter.’’

Burke, whom the Knicks signed out of Westchester in January, said it was Kyle O’Quinn who had taunted Hayes.

“Wasn’t me, but if he wants it to be me, it was me,” Burke said.

The Knicks have made several roster additions, including signing small forward Troy Williams out of the All-Star break. Hayes, also a small forward, had just returned from his Lakers stint but says he’s not angry at another Knicks snub.

“Obviously they didn’t’ see the value of bringing me in,’’ Hayes said. “They felt they could get a better addition to the team by bringing someone else in. No need to get personal feelings in it. I made improvements the way they suggested when they waived me after preseason. I met those adjustments to help myself grow and exceeded them.”

Hayes has no issues of talking about himself in the third person.

“I can’t worry about comparing myself to another player and saying I’m better than him,’’ Hayes said. “I have to focus on Nigel. I bloomed a little too late. If I was this version of Nigel on draft night, I’d been on a roster rotation. I’m an NBA player. I took the stairs instead of the elevator but I will make it to the top floor.”

Hayes also was highly complimentary of Knicks assistant Kurt Rambis, who said he helped him improve his shot immensely with shoulder balance and said he’s a vital part of the staff.

“I love him,” Hayes said. “There’s one coach that keeps everything relaxed and chill and happy-go-lucky.”

Forward Isaiah Hicks is another player the Knicks valued over Hayes. Hicks signed a two-way contract with the Knicks after he was in training camp with the Hornets. Hicks had an interesting commute after Friday’s game in Milwaukee. Instead of flying home with the club, he took a 90-minute drive north to Oshkosh, Wis. to suit up Saturday for Westchester against the Wisconsin Herd.

Hicks racked up 29 points as Westchester (league-best 39-26) clinched a playoff berth. The undrafted rookie out of North Carolina is allowed 45 days with the Knicks under the new two-way contracts. He has appeared in seven games and played 11 minutes Sunday (1-of-3 from the field, three points) and probably will see more action as the Knicks’ tank rolls on.

With Hayes and Hicks, that means all five of Westchester’s starters at the season’s outset are on NBA rosters now. The other three are Luke Kornet, who started Sunday, Trey Burke and point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who recently signed with Memphis.

“We had the best starting five and our whole starting five is not even there right now,” Hicks said. “It shows how talented our starting five was. We just weren’t winning every game. We were winning, winning — double-digits.”

Wholesale Orlando Magic Jerseys

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic placed forward Aaron Gordon in the NBA’s concussion protocol on Thursday.

This is Gordon’s second concussion of the season and his third concussion during the past 23 months.

Gordon collided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Julius Randle during the second half of Wednesday’s loss at Staples Center. But Gordon remained in the game and played a total of 36 minutes.

He started to experience concussion symptoms after the game and on the team’s flight to Sacramento, a team official said.

On Thursday, Gordon watched his teammates practice at the Golden 1 Center.

An NBA player may not return from a concussion until he completes a series of progressively more strenuous physical tests and remains symptom-free during and after each test. Members of the team’s medical staff must consult with an independent neurologist before the player can be cleared to play in a game again.

Gordon missed two games in mid-December because of a concussion and missed three games late in the 2015-16 season due to a concussion.

 

Wholesale Philadelphia 76ers Jerseys

However the 2017-2018 season ends, the Philadelphia 76ers are built so well that the team should compete for a 2018-2019 NBA Championship

Each year Philadelphia 76ers fans find themselves caught in that annual struggle: optimism or fatalistically pragmatic. And for years the fatalists/pragmatists have won the battle – so to speak. The Philadelphia 76ers, investing heavily in youth with tremendous talent, had struggled to compete with the seasoned and pedigreed teams.

It was more than simply a youth movement, as the Philadelphia 76ers have been, unquestionably, one of the most injury plagued teams since head coach Brett Brown has run the team. By design? By accident? It’s tough to parse out a cause and effect. What is clear is that the team did not win many games. But that is all changing in the 2017-2018 season.
Peaking at the right time

Right now the team is 34-27 and faces just 21 more games. Playing at a 4-2 clip since the All Star Break, the team has finally won back-to-back games, a bane on the season so far. And by all rights the team has one of the strongest starting five lineups in the NBA today. This team boasts center Joel Embiid, power forward Dario Saric, small forward Robert Covington, shooting guard J.J. Redick, and point guard Ben Simmons.

Is it the fact that nobody took this team seriously until now? Or is it the unique skills and dimensions of the Sixers which make them such a very dangerous opponent this season? Now with a bench bolstered with the additions of double digit scoring Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, the team is as strong as ever. In any case, head coach Brett Brown has this team playing some of the best NBA defense and offense in the league. Win projections for this team have landed anywhere from the mid 40’s to 50. That’s good enough for an NBA playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Quite an improvement from a 28 win team a season ago, and 10 wins just two years ago, eh? Still, what of next season?