Author: Brett Pollakoff

Boston Celtics Vs. Philadelphia 76ers Exhibition Game

Sixers favored to win a game for first time this season


The Sixers were the team who, at the beginning of the season, gave clear signs of being uninterested in winning, in order to obtain the best possible chance of landing the most ping pong balls in this summer’s draft lottery process.

Because of that very public strategy, Philadelphia has been fielding lineups that were questionable at best, and has come away as losers more often than not.

But hosting a game against a Knicks team that has embraced that strategy midseason, the Sixers are expected to win by the oddsmakers — for the first time all year.

From CSN

The Sixers are favored in an NBA game.

Yep, for the first time all season, the Sixers have the support of Las Vegas, sitting as 6.5 point favorites to beat the Knicks tonight, according to’s RJ Bell.

It helps matters that the Knicks have been the only team in the league more consistently terrible on a nightly basis than the Sixers. New York sits two games behind the Sixers in the standings (or two games ahead in the quest for the most ping-pong balls in the draft lottery, depending on your perspective).

Part of this is that the Knicks will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back set in Philadelphia, after falling at home the night before in overtime against the similarly lowly Timberwolves.

The other part is that the Sixers have been competitive recently, even in losses.

I’m not sure that the Sixers shouldn’t be favored in this situation, but if you feel the need to actually put money on this one, I would advise you to seek help, and seek help fast.

Andrew Wiggins finds Zach LaVine for the alley-oop slam against Knicks (VIDEO)

Los Angeles Clippers v Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves may have had to rush out and sign a guy within driving distance of New York just so they’d be able to suit up the minimum of eight players required for Thursday night’s contest against the Knicks.

But two of them might be cornerstones of the franchise for years to come.

Andrew Wiggins is working on finishing up a Rookie-of-the-Year-type season, and Zach LaVine has already gained national attention by winning the Slam Dunk Contest.

The two connected on a nice alley-oop play that gave LaVine the opportunity to once again show off his leaping ability in NYC.

The reverse angle in slow motion is even more impressive.

Marco Belinelli upset by flagrant foul from Bucks’ Jerryd Bayless

Jerryd Bayless, Marco Belinelli

Early in the fourth quarter of the Spurs’ win in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Jerryd Bayless charged hard into Marco Belinelli as he elevated for a three-point shot.

It didn’t appear to be a legitimate attempt at defending the shot, and the referees ruled it to be a flagrant foul following a video review.

Belinelli was still upset by it afterward, and believes it was intentional.

From Dan McCarney of

“That was a really bad foul,” Belinelli said. “This was my first time that I get fouled like that. I know competition is part of the game, but that was really bad.” …

“I knew it was coming, yes,” Belinelli said. “That’s why I took the 3. I think before, when I cut (off the ball) like I do always, he said I tried to break his elbow or something like that. I don’t know. That was a really bad foul.” …

Bayless described the situation as a “misunderstanding” and left before taking further questions.

It sounds like Bayless believed Belinelli did something dirty on a previous possession, and this was his chosen form of retaliation.

Cavaliers’ Timofey Mozgov accidentally answers reporter’s question in Russian (VIDEO)

Cleveland Cavilers V Miami Heat

Timofey Mozgov is Russian, and showed it here during a sideline interview when he unexpectedly turned to his native language to answer the reporter’s question.

I think I like the way she initially just rolled with it, as if she completely understood what Mozgov had to say. But once Mozgov realized what he had done midway through answering the second question in English, the reactions were priceless.

[via Triangle Offense]

Kevin Durant held out of practice, timetable for return to Thunder lineup in question

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors

Kevin Durant was practicing with the Thunder, and a return to the lineup seemed somewhat imminent, considering the team’s timetable that was set eight days ago at one-to-two weeks.

But that’s in some jeopardy now, as Durant was held out of practice on Thursday after experiencing some additional soreness.

From Royce Young of Daily Thunder:

“Experiencing a little bit of soreness,” Brooks said. “That’s expected. We have some peaks and valleys, and we always have a cautious approach, so today he didn’t do anything.” …

Asked if he’d classify Durant’s soreness as a setback, or how he’d classify it, Brooks worked around the edges of answering that.

“Just he experienced some soreness,” Brooks said. “I think when you go through rehab, we all know through the rehab process you’re going to have some peaks and valleys, and you just have to adjust accordingly. That’s why he was off today, and he’s definitely not playing tomorrow. That’s all part of the process with his rehab.” …

Again, Durant was given a timetable of “a week or two” eight days ago, which suggested he would be back soon. Him not practicing today is certainly a step in the wrong direction of returning, and it certainly appears he’s not on track.

This is one reason I don’t think it matters at all for the Thunder exactly when Durant returns, or whether he does at all this season.

Oklahoma City is battling just to make the playoffs as an eight-seed, and if the team achieves its goal, the reward is a first round date with the Warriors — a team that’s been a cohesive unit since the season began, and has looked like world-beaters more nights than they haven’t.

The Thunder, meanwhile, are cobbling together lineups and barely hanging on. They made a midseason trade to send Reggie Jackson packing, and brought in both Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter as a way to fortify the roster. Those moves have worked to varying degrees, but what’s important is just how disjointed the team has been for the bulk of the second half of the season.

Even if Durant comes back and is 100 percent, he still has to find a way to coexist with Russell Westbrook — who’s been playing fantastically, but also has been using a ton of the Thunder’s offensive possessions.

There will be an adjustment period, and should the Thunder be fortunate enough to figure things out in time to string together some regular season wins and sneak into the playoffs, there’s absolutely no chance they beat the Warriors four times in a seven game series.

Best wishes and godspeed to Durant on his overall health and return to the lineup. I just don’t see it making one bit of difference for the Thunder’s chances this season.