Rockets, Clippers or 76ers? Ranking three NBA teams under most pressure ahead of playoffs

first_imgThe NBA regular season can be a slog. Games in November, December and January tend to blend together and feel meaningless.But the 20-plus games after the All-Star break set off alarm bells. We’ve passed the trade deadline. The playoffs are in sight. Seeding is on the line. 2. Philadelphia 76ersShouldn’t we have learned our lesson last year? The Celtics were widely perceived as the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Poor team chemistry and a disgruntled superstar doomed their season.The Sixers entered this season in an eerily similar position. The addition of Al Horford led many to believe that Philadelphia was the best team in the conference. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were expected to take another step forward and continue improving as a duo.It hasn’t gone according to plan. Philadelphia sits at 37-23 with a tiny lead over the Pacers for the fifth seed in the East. The talent is obviously there, but the pieces just aren’t fitting.Horford has taken a step back, and the Simmons-Embiid combo is not going to work out in the long run unless there are significant roster changes around them. In the 429 minutes the trio has played together on the court, they have a 98.8 offensive rating. That would easily be the worst mark in the league.It’s so bad that Sixers coach Brett Brown made the decision to move Horford to the bench. Brown’s lineup change, while clearly needed, is also an effort to save his job.Much like the Rockets, the Sixers could look a lot different next season. The Embiid-Simmons era in Philadelphia may be coming to a close. NBA executives are reportedly already discussing the potential for an Embiid trade.A quick playoff exit will almost certainly put an end to this version of the 76ers. Recent injuries to both Embiid (shoulder) and Simmons (back) only bring more questions. Considering how good the top of the East is, the Sixers falling to the sixth seed would be disastrous.Brown better hope that Simmons and Embiid can recover quickly. He’s running out of time. As we come down the final stretch of the regular season, here are the three teams under the most pressure before the postseason begins.MORE: Can Kyle Kuzma be true game-changer for Lakers? (Getty Images) “Granted, we probably won’t play the bottom half of the league come playoff time, but it’s just about the preparation and who we need to be every night.”The window for the Clippers is much smaller than most fans want to admit. The two-year contracts for both Leonard and George are essentially a ticking clock. If the Clippers are unable to produce a title in 2020 or 2021, potential disaster awaits.Coach Doc Rivers must push the Clippers to find some semblance of continuity. Their recent three-game winning streak is a start, but a championship is the ultimate goal. 1. Houston RocketsMost playoff teams make small tweaks at the trade deadline. And then there’s the Rockets.In trading away the only true big on the roster in Clint Capela, the Rockets are throwing all their chips on the table. It’s small-ball or bust.Going all the way back to the “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has stretched the limits of how the game has been traditionally played. With general manager Daryl Morey firmly behind him, the Rockets have led the league for the past three seasons in 3-point attempts per game and are on track to retain that title this year.But this is different. Even the Warriors, the greatest example of how playing small can be successful in today’s NBA, had a roster with at least a traditional big or two.Offensively, we all know that the small-ball game is going to translate well for Houston. Opposing defenses will be stretched thin with all the shooting on the court, opening the lane for Russell Westbrook and James Harden.Defense is the real concern. The Rockets are counting on guys like Robert Covington and PJ Tucker, both under 6-8, to defend the center position. They have held up so far, but what about over the course of a long, punishing series?Traditional centers have struggled against the 6’7″ or Less Rockets.- DeAndre Ayton: 12p/6r/2b- Rudy Gobert: 12p/6r/2b- Cody Zeller: 3p/3r/0b- Enes Kanter: 0p/3r/0b- JaVale McGee: 4p/5r/1bThe Rockets are 10-2 when going small this season.— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 27, 2020″We’re just trying to really open it up for James and Russell to get to the rim so we can get layups. Those are the best shots, or fouled,” D’Antoni said last month. “That lineup permits that. Now, can you play that well enough defensively and rebound to make them blink, and then they go small? Or do their bigs impose their will? It’s a challenge. We’ll see.”Since going to the true small-ball lineup, the Rockets are 10-2, but the spotlight on D’Antoni’s gamble will only get brighter. An early playoff exit will almost certainly mean the end of D’Antoni’s time in Houston. Already in the last year of his contract, it’s no secret that he has one last chance to prove he deserves a new deal.Morey is also on the hot seat. After the stir he caused with his comments on the situation in Hong Kong, Morey has zero room for error. A deep playoff run could allow owner Tilman Fertitta to forgive and forget. An early exit could be the final straw. (Getty Images) (Getty Images) 3. Los Angeles ClippersI get it. This isn’t the team you would pick to be under any kind of pressure as the regular season winds down, but hear me out.The Clippers mortgaged their entire future last summer in acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They gave up a future All-Star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a solid wing in Danilo Gallinari and five first-round picks (plus additional pick swaps) in order to get George and guarantee Leonard signing as a free agent.George, who has played in just 37 of 59 games in his first season in Los Angeles, has had three separate injuries to the same hamstring, not to mention offseason surgeries on both shoulders. Shouldn’t this be a little troubling?When healthy, the Clippers look like the best team in the Western Conference. However, the fact that the Clippers have played less than 10 games together when completely healthy is a cause for concern.The West is deep. The Clippers are by no means locked into any playoff slot. They sit at 40-19 with only a 1 1/2 game cushion on the Rockets for the third seed, though they do now hold the same record as the second-place Nuggets. It’s imperative that Los Angeles finishes in the top three out West. A second-round series with the Lakers looms large if they fail to do so.”I think just the area to improve is if we can maintain it, we can continue to keep the consistency,” George said after a dominant home win over Denver on Friday night. “Again, it’s hard to gauge that. Every team goes on runs. Denver is a good team. They’re gonna go on runs, but it’s about how this team prepares for the non-Denvers, the non-Rockets, the non-alert [teams] if you know what I’m trying to say. It’s just about how we prepare for those teams. That’s what it’s gonna come down to.last_img read more

PBSO: Sheriff Orders Investigation into Claims Epstein had Sex During Work Release

first_imgThe Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the handling or mishandling of the work-release program for Jeffrey Epstein, the Palm Beach financier and convicted sex offender who now faces federal sex trafficking charges.The sheriff’s office internal affairs will look into what happened during Epstein’s 2008 12-hour a day for six days a week work-release and whether any deputies violated any policy such as allowing him to be driven to his home rather than his office.An attorney for a woman who claimed she had sex with Epstein as a teen, said another witness claimed Epstein had sex while on work release at his office building in West Palm Beach, a claim initially disputed by the sheriff’s office.“Sheriff Bradshaw takes these matters very seriously and wants to determine if any actions taken by the deputies assigned to monitor Epstein during his work release program violated any agency rules and regulations, during the time he was on PBSO work release program,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a statement. “All aspects of the matter will be fully investigated to ensure total transparency and accountability.”In the wake of the new investigation, Alex Acosta resigned as President Trump’s Secretary of Labor. The Miami Herald reported Acosta brokered the secret deal in 2008 that allowed Epstein to plead guilty on two state prostitution charges, serve 13 months in jail, mostly on work release, register as a sex offender, but avoid more serious federal charges. A federal judge later ruled the Epstein agreement was illegal because victims were not made aware of it.last_img read more

Burlison’s title hopes are sunk at Kingswood

first_img8 Mar 2013 Burlison’s title hopes are sunk at Kingswood Robert Burlison was denied a maiden overseas victory when he lost a sudden death playoff for the Kenako South African World Juniors at Kingswood in George. South Africa’s Jade Buitendag took the title on the first extra hole after both players shot a closing 68 to finish on 210, six under par, two strokes clear of the rest of the field for the 54-hole World Junior Series event. On the first playoff hole, the par five tenth, Staffordshire’s Burlison played safe off the tee. It seemed a good decision when Buitendag drove his ball into one of the deep fairway bunkers. However, Burlison cut his second shot into water short and right of the green, which allowed Buitendag to splash out of the sand and play his third shot onto the green. After Burlison had taken a penalty drop, he again missed the green right but managed to chip and sink a fairly long putt for a one over par six, which meant Buitendag had two putts to win, which he was able to do. Buitendag, from East London, held a two-shot lead playing the par-five 16th hole and at that stage was five under par for his round. However, the 16th proved a pivotal moment as Buitendag dropped a shot and Burlison birdied, leaving the pair level on six under with two holes to play. Burlison hit his second shot through the green on the 17th but then played an exquisite chip from the downhill lie to tap in distance for par. Buitendag two-putted for par and on the last both boys played excellent shots into a very tough back pin position. After Burlison had missed his birdie attempt, Buitendag’s 15-footer for victory shaved the hole which set up the play-off. England’s other representative, Bobby Keeble from Essex, finished joint 36th on 227, 11 over par. Burlison became the second England player in less than a week to be denied an overseas title following Neil Raymond’s defeat in the final of the Spanish International Amateur at La Manga last weekend. Leading final scores 210 J Buitendag (SA) 71 71 68, R Burlison (Eng) 72 70 68 (Buitendag won playoff at 1st extra hole); 212 P Kruse (SA) 74 71 67, B Follett-Smith (Zim) 72 69 71, HP van der Merwe (SA) 68 73 71. Other English score: 227 R Keeble 75 78 74last_img read more

Body Image: The Perfect Body

first_imgContrary to popular belief, a woman’s body does not need to be perfect and probably never will be Perfect.  Some may ask, where does the pressure and thirst for perfection come from?  Well unless you are living underneath a rock, the answer is closer to home. Be assured, the size of a woman’s bottom; shape or cleavage, does not make her anything else but a female. God’s Divine creation, made to become Adams help mate. Her structure was never an important factor, yet in these times – our minds are corrupt with images of perceived beauty.  To be deemed “sexy” is more important than to be praised for having morals, values and integrity.  We have been brainwashed with ideologies about what it means to be a woman in present times; what assets contribute to our femininity and which criteria are to be met in order to be considered “sexy”.  Sadly we have allowed someone else’s opinion to become our reality.  Instead of walking around with pride and dignity, we have chosen the easy route – to get a man’s attention and to satisfy his selfish desires, by presenting ourselves as a walking, talking sexual advertisement. Until we learn; there is more to being a woman than what the media is selling to us, we will continue to be seen as objects instead of prized possessions. There is more to being a woman than a slim figure, a curvy body and exposing of the skin; we will merely be tolerated and not celebrated within our communities. To my sisters feeling pressured to be everything else the world wants you to be, remember: in order for one to be great, you must be different and do things outside the norm.  To my sisters entering their teens, don’t always believe what you see in the magazines or follow so called “public figures”.  Stay true to who you are .Dawn Gluskin wrote, “Nothing is more attractive than being your authentic self!”  That means not conforming into what society wants; stand for something and dare to be different! When we think of our mothers, these come to mind: care, approval, assurance, belonging, courage, responsibility,  wisdom, goodness,  simplicity,  strength, grace, hardworking, purity and integrity. Being an attractive woman, has nothing to do with our body and asset.   Instead it has more to do with our character, self-love, self-confidence and self-contentment.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

EU Conference on Ebola Affected Countries Begins Today

first_imgPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her delegation will today participate in a major conference, organized by the European Union (EU) in Brussels, Belgium to discuss the way forward in the economic and social recovery of countries affected by the deadly Ebola virus.President Sirleaf, according to a statement from the European Union, will serve as a spokesperson on behalf of the three Mano River Union countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Presidents and Ministers of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Togo as well as representatives of the African Union Commission, the UN, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the European Union will all be attending.The Conference is taking place at the historic Egmont Palace in Brussels, and will be attended by Queen Mathilde . The main focus is to maintain current efforts of preventing the spread of the Ebola virus and to also put in place a plan to help Liberia and the other main African countries to recover and also plan for the future. During the conference, the 11th European Development Fund National Indicative Program for Liberia 2014-2020 will be signed between Liberia and the EU.  This is the most important support program of the EU to Liberia for the coming years. This Fund is allocating EUR 279 million (USD 326 million at current exchange rates) to Liberia, which will be divided into four areas, including Good Governance, Energy, Education and Agriculture.  The EU and its member states have so far pledged about EUR 1.2 billion to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.The EU Ambassador to Liberia, Ms Tiina INTELMANN, said “For us it is crucial to assess the priorities and envisaged action presented by Liberia and to find a way that we can all work together, in the immediate and longer term, for recovery in Liberia and in West Africa.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Kuru Kururu residents call for frequent Police patrol

first_imgResidents of Kuru Kururu, on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway, have expressed concern due to the increased number of crimes in the area; as such, a call has been made for more frequent Police patrols in the evening.One resident, 54-year-old Glen Ramdass, was on Tuesday evening attacked by two armed bandits as he was about to make his way into his Lot 33 Kuru Kururu home.The man said that at about 20:10h, he opened his gate and was about to drive in his car when two dark skinned males, armed with guns, pounced on him and demanded that he lie down on the ground.Adamant to do so, the man began shouting “bandits” to alert his family members.His reputed wife, Diana Thakurdin, shared with this newspaper that she and herKuru Kururu resident, Glen Ramdass, who was attacked by banditsthree daughters were at home watching the news with their doors wide open when she heard her husband shouting in the yard.“We hear he holler ‘bandit, bandit close up de door’ so we close up de door,” the woman recalled. She added that her nephew, who was over at their house at the time, grabbed two cutlasses and ran out to rescue his uncle.Seeing this, the two bandits ran for cover, forgetting they were in the middle of a robbery and armed with a gun.Thakudin explained that a report was subsequently made to the Kuru Kururu Police Outpost, which resulted in the officers visiting the area.The woman said she believes that the men did not have a real gun since they did not hurt her husband. Nevertheless, she said, “We would like Police patrol in the night because in here got a lot of strange people walking up and down who you won’t even know because them two people he (Glen Ramdass) said he never see them.”Neighbours also joined the call for more frequent Police presence in the area.Earlier this month, at about 04:30h, the lifeless body of 46-year-old legal clerk Gregory Frank, also called “Wayne”, was found lying face down in a pool of blood in the sitting room of his home at Lot 686 Kuru Kururu, Soesdyke/Linden Highway.The man was suspected to have been killed during a robbery.A post-mortem examination later performed on the body of Frank determined that the man died as a result of asphyxiation due to compression injury to the neck compounded by blunt trauma to the head.last_img read more

Morata clarifies Juventus comments

first_img0Shares0000Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata celebrates at the end of their UEFA Champions League match against Atletico Madrid, at the Metropolitan stadium in Madrid, on September 27, 2017LONDON, United Kingdom, Oct 31 – Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has had to backtrack on an interview in which he said he misses Juventus and never should have left Italy.The Spain international spent two successful seasons in Serie A before returning to boyhood club Real Madrid, where he felt that he was right back at square one despite proving his quality with Juve. He went on to have a prolific season in his second spell with Los Blancos, but was never first-choice, hence his transfer to the Blues.“There were contractual agreements to respect,” he said of his return to Madrid. “The disappointment was huge: I went right back to the start.“They treated me like the kid I was before the two seasons in Italy. I arrived [in Italy] feeling like a boy and I returned feeling like a true player. I should never have left Italy and Juve.”Despite saying he would “like to live in Italy”, Morata insists he is happy at Stamford Bridge, and thinks they had “a communication problem with this interview”.“All I said was I was very happy at Juventus,” Morata insisted. “In the interview I wanted to say probably after my career I don’t live in London. But I’m really happy in London.“I really like London now, but probably in the future when I want to bring my children to school I prefer to go back to my country. I’m talking only about the traffic & lots of people. But it’s a great city… I really enjoy London.”Morata even said that he would happily extend his stay in England. “If they offered me 10 years, I’d probably sign.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

Paris Saint-Germain to snatch Arsenal transfer target?

first_img Stephan Lichtsteiner 1 Paris Saint-Germain have joined Arsenal in the race for Juventus full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner, according to reports in Italy.talkSPORT told you last week that the Gunners were weighing up a move for the Switzerland international, who has eight months to run on his current contract.Lichtsteiner is reportedly unwilling to sign a new deal with Juventus and as such the Serie A champions are ready to consider bids for the 30-year-old in January, rather than lose him on a free next summer.And now, according to Tuttosport, PSG are preparing to take the right back to the French capital by offering him a significant pay rise.Lichtsteiner currently earns around £1.5m-a season, but PSG are willing to nearly double that amount.last_img read more

‘Has there been any progress at Man United?’ – Riled Van Gaal reacts to press probes

first_imgManchester United manager Louis van Gaal reacted angrily to questions following Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton regarding the team’s progress during his reign at Old Trafford.In their first home defeat since the opening day of the season, the Red Devils failed to register a single shot on target against the Saints, who snatched victory thanks to substitute Dusan Tadic’s second half goal.The result saw the south coast side leapfrog Van Gaal’s men into third place in the Premier League, while also leaving United with the same amount of points they had at the same stage last season under David Moyes.And when posed the question about why fans should feel there has been progress under his leadership compared to Moyes’ doomed reign, the Dutchman was less than impressed.He said: “So, you have waited until the moment you can ask this question? At the moment I have less, or the same, points as David Moyes?“Does that mean I haven’t made [the team] better?”It’s a change of tact from the manager, who has been critical of his team throughout the season even when they have squeezed out some good results.When that was pointed out, Van Gaal replied: “Yes, that is why I’m always saying we have to be better and we have to improve.“We are working very hard. All the training sessions, all the team meetings, all the individual meetings, we are working at that all the time.“But I have also said today that we were the dominant team, though we didn’t create many chances despite dominating the game. We gave them a chance in the opening minute, but after that we dominated the game and we created chances at the end.“We played with our heart and I put [Marouane] Fellaini in the top [up front] and we made three big chances but that was not enough.“Mata had three chances and he could have scored one of these chances, but you cannot change this result any more.“The goal we gave it away I think. First of all the header and we have to push forward instead of running behind.“What we did wrong is that we didn’t make the right decisions in the final phases of our attacking moves, but have always to take into account that Southampton played well, and they defended well and were well organised.“I think they came here for a draw and they’ve got away with a victory.“It’s a little lucky for them and a little bit unlucky for us, but it’s exactly what happened for us at Southampton five weeks ago [when United secured a fortunate 2-1 win].”last_img read more

Ronaldo taking lessons from Zidane! See Madrid legend take training for the first time

first_img Click the arrow above, right, for more pictures 5 Zidane and Ronaldo pictured during the Frenchman’s first training session as manager – click the arrow above for more pictures 5 5 Click the arrow above, right, for more pictures center_img 5 Click the arrow above, right, for more pictures Less than 24 hours after replacing Rafael Benitez as Real Madrid boss, Zinedine Zidane took his first training session as manager.The Frenchman won the Champions League with the club as a player and is now tasked with trying to claim an 11th success in the competition, as well as hunting down Barcelona in La Liga.Zidane’s playing credentials are impeccable, so it will be fascinating to see how he does in his first managerial role, in arguably the toughest job in football.What do you think about Zidane’s appointment? Comment below. 5last_img read more