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LeBron predicted playoffs would be different against the Celtics

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Back in February over All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, I got the chance to ask LeBron James about the Heat’s struggles with the Celtics. Up until that point, Boston had defeated Miami in all three of the teams’ meetings during the first half of the season,  and it appeared as though the Celtics’ style of play, along with the fact that they had been together as a cohesive unit for more than three seasons, would be too much for Miami to overcome in a seven-game series.

Well, as we saw on Wednesday, the playoff series only went five. And LeBron now looks to be prophetic in his answers to my February questions, specifically when talking about how the playoffs would be very different from how things played out against the Celtics during the regular season.

“We’ve struggled, we definitely have,” James said of his team’s first three regular season games against Boston.  “But we understand that every game is its own game, and regular season games aren’t playoff games, either. I go back to the year we swept the Spurs in the regular season (in 2007), and they swept us in the Finals. You want to play good in the regular season, (but) I’ve been around this league long enough to understand that the playoffs are totally different.”

When I asked what the Heat needed to fix to get by Boston, LeBron was quick to point out that his team didn’t need any fixing, only improved execution to get past the defending Eastern Conference champs.

“It’s not about fixing anything,” James said. “We have our system in place. It’s about improvement, on every aspect of our game, offensively and defensively. As we continue to improve, as practices and games continue to wear down, as we’re getting into late March and April, we’ll be fine.”

At the time, and given the way the Celtics had played against Miami in those early meetings, this seemed like nothing more than blind faith from James. But as it turned out, he was dead-on with his assessment.

Video of LeBron’s comments can be seen in the clip below.

Zaza Pachulia lays out Russell Westbrook, stands over him (video)

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Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.

Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.

Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.

Report: 76ers’ Ben Simmons sitting entire season still on table

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?

It just won’t die.

Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.

Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.

76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.

It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.

Roy Hibbert passes ball into hoop, reacts with perfect facial expression (video)

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The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.

Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).

Dario Saric blocks back-to-back Raptors dunk attempts (video)

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Norman Powell – get out of here.

Jared Sullinger – get out of here.

Dario Saric blocked consecutive dunk attempts in the 76ers’ 94-89 win over the Raptors. Philadelphia has won seven of nine and looks suddenly revitalized.

The best part of all this? Saric’s teammates’ reactions – though the actual blocks were pretty great themselves.