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Miami Heat clinch playoff spot, top Hawks 101-98

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MIAMI (AP) Hassan Whiteside‘s tip-in with a minute left put Miami up for good, Josh Richardson blocked a potential go-ahead shot in the final seconds and Heat clinched their 20th playoff spot in 30 seasons by rallying to beat the Atlanta Hawks 101-98 on Tuesday night.

The Heat trailed 98-90 with less than 3 minutes left, then finished the game on an 11-0 run.

Tyler Johnson‘s 3-pointer got Miami within one, and Whiteside tipped in Josh Richardson’s miss on the next possession. Atlanta had a chance to take the lead when Damion Lee got into the lane and tried a 10-footer with about 5 seconds left, but Richardson blocked it and the Heat controlled the rebound.

Richardson made a pair of free throws with 0.6 seconds left. The Hawks’ last-ditch 3-point try by John Collins was well short, wrapping up the postseason spot for the Heat.

Miami will open the playoffs on the road on either April 14 or 15.

Goran Dragic scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Miami, which got 18 points and 12 rebounds from Whiteside in his first game since angrily saying he wanted more playing time. Tyler Johnson scored 12, Dwyane Wade had 11 and James Johnson finished with 10 for the Heat.

Collins had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who got 18 points from Tyler Dorsey and 16 from Damion Lee. Isaiah Taylor added 15 and Mike Muscala scored 13 for Atlanta.

“It’s an honor for us to be in the playoffs,” Wade said.

The Heat were not sharp; shots were short, the occasional pass would bounce off someone’s head, and balls were dribbled off of feet more than once.

And a few great minutes to start the fourth put the Hawks in total control.

Wade opened the final quarter with a basket to break a 78-all tie, only to have it answered by an 11-0 run for Atlanta. Dorsey made a pair of 3-pointers during the spurt, Muscala made another to cap the burst and just like that the Hawks were up 89-80.

But the Heat had just enough at the end, and now can finally think about the postseason.

TIP-INS

Hawks: Collins, who grew up playing in nearby Palm Beach County, is essentially assured of having the best field-goal percentage for a rookie in Hawks history. He’s now at 58.3 percent this season; the best shooting year by an Atlanta rookie was Antoine Carr’s 52.8-percent clip in 1984-85. … Dewayne Dedmon was ruled out with a sore rib, meaning the Hawks had six players out with injuries.

Heat: Rookie C Bam Adebayo didn’t play for the second consecutive game. … The Heat were 8 for 33 from 3-point range.

WADE MARK

Wade’s fourth assist of the night came late in the first half, going to Whiteside – and giving the guard 5,000 assists in a Heat uniform. He’s the ninth player to score 20,000 points and collect 5,000 assists with one team, joining Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.

CHASING HISTORY

Heat G Wayne Ellington now has 204 3-pointers in games that he didn’t start this season. That’s two away from the NBA single-season record for a reserve, set last year by Houston’s Eric Gordon. Ellington has 213 overall for the season, moving him 12 away from tying the Heat single-season record set by Damon Jones in 2004-05.

LONG YEAR

Only four teams haven’t had longer than a two-game winning streak this season – Atlanta, Sacramento, Phoenix and Brooklyn. The Hawks are now 3-19 in games following a win.

UP NEXT

The Heat visit the Hawks in Atlanta on Wednesday night, a game that wraps up the final back-to-back of the season for both clubs.

Report: Doc Rivers accepts deal to become Philadelphia 76ers head coach

Doc Rivers philadelphia
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Doc Rivers was not out of a job long.

Considered an elite coach and leader of men, a guy pushed out the door in Los Angeles by a frustrated owner in Steve Ballmer, Doc Rivers has accepted a deal to become the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This was expected, and it came together fast. Rivers was let go by the Clippers on Monday and by Thursday had agreed to the deal with Philly.

Philadelphia had been looking for not only a coach but other voices in the front office to work with GM Elton Brand. Rivers, who had been team president in Los Angeles at one point, had that kind of voice with the Clippers in a collaborative front office. He likely will assume a similar role with the Sixers, having input on player and personnel decisions, not just Xs and Os.

Rivers also jumps from one roster expected to contend for a title but having fit and chemistry issues to another.

Doc Rivers needs to find an offensive system in Philadelphia where both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can thrive next to each other, along with Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford. There’s not much spacing or shooting there, which is why Shake Milton was getting a lot of run from former coach Brett Brown.

Roster tweaks would be coming, but with Rivers the idea will be making better use of the existing roster — and the style of play it forces.

Vince Carter wins NBA Sportsmanship Award

Hawks forward Vince Carter
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Vince Carter’s 22-year NBA career ended amid the chaos of coronavirus, preventing him from getting the deserved fanfare.

But fellow players will send Carter into retirement with the NBA Sportsmanship Award.

NBA release:

NBA players have selected Vince Carter as the recipient of the 2019-20 NBA Sportsmanship Award, the NBA announced today.

Carter, who spent the 2019-20 season with the Atlanta Hawks, announced his retirement from the NBA in June after playing a league-record 22 seasons.  He receives the Joe Dumars Trophy as the winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award.  Dumars, a two-time NBA champion and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, played 14 NBA seasons and won the inaugural Sportsmanship Award in the 1995-96 season.

Each NBA team nominated one of its players for the NBA Sportsmanship Award, which is designed to honor a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.  From the list of 30 team nominees, a panel of league executives selected one finalist from each of the NBA’s six divisions.  Current NBA players selected the winner from the list of six finalists, with more than 250 players submitting their votes through confidential balloting conducted by the league office.

Full voting (with first-, second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place votes and voting points):

1. Vince Carter (Hawks): 143-70-34-13-4-2-2,520

2. Garrett Temple (Nets): 22-78-63-52-25-26-1,746

3. Steven Adams (Thunder): 34-57-41-52-58-24-1,632

4. Harrison Barnes (Kings): 24-25-75-48-35-59-1,418

5. Langston Galloway (Pistons): 23-22-29-60-79-53-1,244

7. Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): 20-14-24-41-65-102-1,016

What a nice honor for Carter, who gracefully aged from high-profile star to veteran mentor.

Heat: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic doubtful for Game 2 of NBA Finals

Heat players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic
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Bam Adebayo‘s and Goran Dragic‘s injuries… not looking great for the Heat approaching Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Heat:

This is a disaster for Miami. The Lakers dominated Game 1, and now the Heat have two starters hobbled at best. At worst and more likely, Adebayo and Dragic are out.

Adebayo would be the bigger loss. Miami was completely overmatched when facing Anthony Davis without a center. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard can try to keep up, but they’re far from great solutions.

At least the Heat have more options at point guard. Kendrick Nunn can get an elevated role (especially after excelling in garbage time of Game 1). Jimmy Butler can become the de facto point guard. Tyler Herro can also play the position. But Dragic was playing so well during Miami’s run through the Eastern Conference. This is also a major setback.

 

Report: Tyronn Lue ‘early favorite’ to become Clippers head coach

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Doc Rivers is gaining momentum in the 76ers’ coaching search.

As for the job Rivers left behind with the Clippers… Clippers assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, unsurprisingly, has the inside track.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Clippers are planning to interview other candidates, starting soon, sources said.

The New Orleans Pelicans are planning to interview Lue in the near future too, sources said.

Lue would be a sensible hire. He has championship experience, which would help the Clippers hit the ground running in a make-or-break season before Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can become unrestricted free agents. Lue managed stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The Clippers must improve their chemistry around their stars. And the last time Lue got promoted from assistant to head coach, his team won a title.

New Orleans also has an appealing job. But the Clippers are far closer to championship contention. And if both teams want Lue, I bet Clippers owner Steve Ballmer would outspend Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.

Still, the Clippers are conducting a coaching search. Other candidates could emerge. This isn’t necessarily Lue’s job for the taking.

How long would he wait on L.A. if the Pelicans make an offer? Lue has shown he values being entrusted.