A look at where things stand in the NBA playoff picture Todd Gurley Jersey , with five days remaining in the regular season:
The top two seeds are locked up: Toronto is No. 1 going into the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and Boston will open the playoffs as the No. 2 seed.
Everything else is unclear.
Philadelphia (49-30) now leads in the race for the No. 3 spot, passing Cleveland (49-31) by beating the Cavaliers 132-130 on Friday night. The 76ers, who haven’t been a top-three seed in the East since their run to the NBA Finals in 2001, would finish third if they end the season with wins against Dallas, Atlanta and Milwaukee.
The Cavaliers have two games left, both against New York. So if Philly slips even once, Cleveland could return to No. 3 by sweeping the Knicks.
Indiana (47-33) still has a chance at No. 3; to get there, the Pacers have to win out and have both the Cavaliers and 76ers lose out. That seems unlikely, and Indiana is probably heading for the No. 5 spot.
Miami, even after a bad loss in New York, controls its fate in the race for No. 6. Milwaukee is No. 7 for now, and Washington – a loser of four straight, including a head-scratcher against Atlanta on Friday – has slipped to No. 8.
Five days left Authentic Robert Golden Jersey , five spots left to clinch, and six seeds left to decide.
A frantic finish is coming to the West.
Portland controls the race for the No. 3 seed, and Utah knows that if it wins out the worst it can finish is No. 4 – which is astounding, considering it got off to a 19-28 start and was 10 games out of the fourth spot.
New Orleans (45-34) beat Phoenix to jump two spots to No. 5, and Minnesota (45-35) topped the Los Angeles Lakers to remain a half-game ahead of Denver for No. 8. Those two results mean four teams have exactly 45 wins going into Saturday, with Denver currently at 44 wins and the Los Angeles Clippers still able to get to 45 if they win out.
Some clarity might … finally … come to the West.
– Denver at L.A. Clippers: The Clippers have to win out, or the season ends. Denver must try to match that desperation.
– Milwaukee at New York: Milwaukee is 10-12 since the All-Star break. Some momentum might help the playoff cause.
– Oklahoma City at Houston: Means nothing to Rockets. Means plenty to Thunder, who still could get home-court.
– New Orleans at Golden State: The Warriors embarrassed themselves at Indiana on Thursday. Will this be more of the same?
– Portland at San Antonio: The Spurs are trying for a 21st consecutive playoff spot, and the Blazers are trying to lock up the No. 3 seed.
– Brooklyn at Chicago has no playoff implication.
First-round matchups if the season ended Friday …
East: 1-Toronto vs. 8-Washington, 2-Boston vs. 7-Milwaukee, 3-Philadelphia vs. 6-Miami, 4-Cleveland vs. 5-Indiana.
West: 1-Houston vs. 8-Minnesota, 2-Golden State vs. 7-Oklahoma City, 3-Portland vs. 6-San Antonio Authentic Troy Apke Jersey , 4-Utah vs. 5-New Orleans.
NOTE OF THE DAY
Philadelphia has a chance to set an NBA record – the longest winning streak to end a regular season.
The 76ers have won 13 straight and have three games left. Win them all, and they would top the 15-game season-ending stretch by the Rochester Royals in 1949-50.
The last double-digit streak to end a season was posted by San Antonio in 2011-12, when the Spurs won their final 10 games. Philly coach Brett Brown was an assistant under Gregg Popovich on that Spurs team.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
”You’ve got to go through whoever it is anyway.” – Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue, asked about the Eastern Conference seeding jumble.
From the time James Bettcher was hired as defensive coordinator by Pat Shurmur, there has been speculation whether the New York Giants were switching from a four-man front to a three-man look.
After all, it’s what the 39-year-old Bettcher ran with the Arizona Cardinals last season.
Bettcher dropped a hint Wednesday in his first interview since taking the job: He is not into labeling defensive schemes.
The Giants are going to use a lot of formations, including three- and four-man fronts. Sometimes, they are going to put five up front. They are going to keep offenses guessing, and they are going to attack.
”What it is about is playing relentless,” Bettcher said. ”The game is about playing hard. The game is about playing physical. The game is about playing smart. Those are things that our guys are going to do whether we are bringing five or six or dropping eight, whatever we are doing, whatever the field position is. The thing our fans are going to see, they are going to see a defense that is going to run around, that plays hard Authentic John Franklin-Myers Jersey , plays fast and plays smarts and plays physical. That’s what playing defense is about.”
Bettcher will start laying the foundation for his defense Monday when players show up for organized team activities. The OTAs are a time that most coaches and coordinators begin discovering what they have, especially with a new team.
”Right now, if you asked me who we are on defense, I have no clue,” Bettcher said, adding by the end of training camp he will know.
The Giants certainly will have a different look, at least based on personnel.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last month. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was released and fellow CB Ross Cockrell was signed by Carolina as a free agent. The Giants added Alec Ogletree in a trade with the Rams and signed fellow linebacker Kareem Martin as a free agent. LB Devon Kennard signed with Detroit as a free agent, while defensive captain Jonathan Casillas, also a linebacker, remains a free agent.
The mainstays up front will be tackles Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson along with end Olivier Vernon. Ogletree and Martin will be the core of the linebackers, and cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Landon Collins will anchor the secondary.
”This isn’t going to be James Bettcher’s defense,” Bettcher said. ”This is going to be our players’ defense, this is going to be these assistant coaches’ defense, this is going to be our defense.”
The process of putting the defense together will be done over the next five-plus months Justin Jones Jersey Elite , and a version of the final product will be rolled out in early September. Bettcher said everyone is starting with a clean slate. There are some who need that.
There was squabbling among the defensive backs last season, and 2016 first-round draft pick Eli Apple miffed some teammates with his attitude and play.
Defensive end Josh Mauro, who played for Bettcher in Arizona before signing with the Giants as a free agent, will sit out the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancers.
Bettcher called Apple a very talented player who can do everything expected of a cornerback.
”He’s a guy that, I think it’s a guy that has expectations for himself and that’s the most important thing,” Bettcher said.
In his three years as Cardinals defensive coordinator, Bettcher’s unit was consistently among the NFL’s best in yardage allowed and run defense. Arizona led the league in sacks (48) in 2016, and Chandler Jones had a league-high 17 last season.
”I just love football, I love watching football, I love talking about it, I love being around it,” Bettcher said. ”I probably tire my wife out very much when we watch football. We’re home and it’s in-season and it’s a Saturday afternoon when we have some time and we have college football in the house and we’re watching ball. So it’s an exciting time.”
And a time to build a defense.
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