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 The countdown 
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Post The countdown
Maybe this is the year.

Maybe the Golden State Warriors Josh Tomlin Cleveland Indians Jersey , opening the postseason without Stephen Curry or any momentum, won’t be the best of the West, where there’s a Houston team that can run and gun as well as they do.

Maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers, starting from the middle of the pack in the East, just have too big a hill to climb, even with LeBron James carrying them.

Or perhaps none of that matters, and the NBA is headed toward Round 4 of its reigning rivalry.

The postseason opens Saturday and it’s far from a guarantee it ends with a record fourth straight NBA Finals matchup between the Warriors and Cavaliers. Neither was the best team in its conference during the regular season – the Cavaliers were only No. 4 in the East – and it’s not hard to envision a Houston to Toronto trip replacing what’s become an annual Oakland, California, to Cleveland itinerary.

Then again, the Warriors could be as dangerous as ever once Curry returns from a knee injury that could have him back for the second round. James has played in the last seven NBA Finals, so nobody knows how to get to the finish line better Adam Boqvist Blackhawks Jersey , no matter from where he starts.

And the other top contenders have to overcome their history of disappointments. Houston’s Mike D’Antoni and James Harden have never won, and Chris Paul hasn’t even gotten out of the second round. The Raptors had their best regular season ever, but they were last seen in the postseason getting stomped in four straight by James and the Cavs last year in the second round.

Golden State faces No. 7 San Antonio on Saturday in the postseason opener, followed by the top-seeded Raptors and No. 8 Washington Wizards in the East. Sixth-seeded Miami and No. 3 Philadelphia are then followed by Portland-New Orleans in the other 3-6 matchup.

On Sunday, it’s No. 7 Milwaukee at No. 2 Boston, and the Cavs hosting the No. 5 Indiana Pacers in the East, followed by No. 5 Utah at No. 4 Oklahoma City. The Rockets wrap up opening weekend against No. 8 Minnesota, ending the NBA’s longest playoff drought with its first playoff appearance since 2004.

A look at some things to watch in the first round:

GOLDEN AGAIN?

Curry’s injury is the only one that remains, but the Warriors at one point down the stretch were also without Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, too. Even the champions couldn’t overcome that Cheap Sam Darnold Jersey , dropping six of their final 10 games, but they start against a San Antonio team whose injury problems are every bit as bad, assuming Kawhi Leonard doesn’t return after missing almost the entire season.

STREAKING SIXERS

Philadelphia is the hottest team in the postseason, winning its final 16 games to finish 52-30. But the 76ers are led by postseason newcomers in Joel Embiid and rookie Ben Simmons – and Embiid is still recovering from a broken orbital bone and concussion as the postseason begins – and will have to overcome their inexperience and a rugged Miami team.

THUNDER STRIKE?

It was an up-and-down regular season for Oklahoma City, which acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to play with Russell Westbrook but finished well back of Houston and Golden State. But the Thunder might be one of those teams better built for the postseason, and they got an easier road when they won three straight to grab home-court advantage against a Utah team that would have had it before a season-ending loss at Portland.

BANGED-UP BOSTON

There’s no more Kyrie Irving and there was only Gordon Hayward for a few minutes all season, so the Celtics are being overlooked despite their No. 2 seed in the East. But there’s plenty of young (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) and veteran (Al Horford, Marcus Morris) talent on a 55-game winner that features one of the league’s best coaches in Brad Stevens.

WHO WINS?

As good as Toronto is, it seems futile picking against James and the firepower around him to get to the NBA Finals. But the Cavaliers don’t defend well enough and can be picked apart by top offenses, so go with the West champion to win the title, particularly if it’s Golden State or Houston.

Take it from another champion.

”I like Houston and Golden State Pernell McPhee Color Rush Jersey , pending their health, as being my top two favorites,” five-time winner Kobe Bryant said during a conference call to promote his new basketball analysis show ”Detail” that will run on ESPN during the postseason.




WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Nobody needs to tell Winnipeg Jets fans what happened the last time their team had a 3-1 lead in a playoff series.

After Dave Ellett scored in double overtime in Game 4 of their first-round matchup against the Edmonton Oilers in 1990, Jets 1.0 went on to lose three consecutive games, continuing their decade-long heartbreak against their hated rival.

The other time the Jets were up 3-1 in the postseason, against the Vancouver Canucks in 1992, they promptly went on a three-game losing streak, too.

In fact, you have to go back to Winnipeg’s days in the World Hockey Association to find a killer instinct.

During the 1978-79 season, the Jets Troy Apke Color Rush Jersey , led by super Swedes Kent Nilsson and Lars-Erik Sjoberg as well as Terry Ruskowski, took a 3-1 lead against 18-year-old Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers. They lost Game 5 on the road but locked up their third AVCO Cup championship in four years in Game 6 with a 7-3 victory.

If the Jets are to exorcise some demons Friday night against the Minnesota Wild at Bell MTS Place, they’re going to have to do it without defenseman Josh Morrissey, who was suspended one game for a vicious cross-check to the face of Wild forward Eric Staal during the Jets’ 2-0 victory Tuesday night.

When you factor in the absence of Toby Enstrom, who has been out for several weeks with a bad ankle; Dmitri Kulikov, who had back surgery in March; and Tyler Myers, who was hurt in Game 3, three of the Jets’ top four rearguards are expected to be out for this all-important game.

“It doesn’t really cross my mind,” Bryan Little told The Winnipeg Sun after practice Thursday. “It’s going to take a lot more for us to get nervous about that.”

Staal told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he wasn’t spending any time worrying that Morrissey didn’t receive a longer suspension.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said after Thursday’s practice at Xcel Energy Center. “Regardless of what (the NHL) decided, it wouldn’t have made a difference. I’m worried about trying to help our team win the game up there and take (the series) home. That’s all I’m focused on.”

The Jets recalled defenseman Sami Niku from the Manitoba Moose Derrick Nnadi Color Rush Jersey , mere hours after dipping into their farm club for fellow D-man Tucker Poolman. The young Finn made his NHL debut two weeks ago, scoring his first goal against the Montreal Canadiens.Image

The Wild will continue to be without two of their best players, too — defenseman Ryan Suter, who broke an ankle April 2, and forward Zach Parise, who is out long term with a broken sternum.

Ryan Murphy will step in on the Wild blue line for Carson Soucy and play his first NHL postseason game. He told the Star Tribune that he sees a pattern.

“I actually made my NHL debut against the Winnipeg Jets, too, and my Minnesota debut against the Jets,” he said. “So it’s Winnipeg all the time.”

.


Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:59 am
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Post Re: The countdown
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Thu Aug 30, 2018 11:08 am
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Post Re: The countdown
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Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:42 am
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