NBA

76ers star Embiid to undergo surgery after tearing ligament in left hand

By Sports Desk January 09, 2020

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid will undergo surgery on Friday after suffering a torn radial collateral ligament in the fourth metacarpal in his left hand.

Embiid, who was already ruled out of Thursday's NBA showdown against Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics, will be re-evaluated in 1-2 weeks.

The All-Star dislocated his left ring finger in the opening quarter of Monday's 120-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Embiid, however, continued and finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Philadelphia.

"All of a sudden, we're different," 76ers head coach Brett Brown said prior to Thursday's game. "We're just different. I look at this as an opportunity.

"Nobody's crying. This is not a 'woe is me' moment, not for me, at all. And not for my players. We'll take what we have, and what we have, I love."

Embiid has been averaging 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for Eastern Conference contenders the 76ers (24-14) this season.

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    When billionaire owner Steve Ballmer opened his cheque book to sign Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers were immediately elevated into the championship picture.

    Leonard was fresh off guiding the Toronto Raptors to a first NBA title, while six-time All-Star George finally landed in a big city after starring in Indiana and Oklahoma City.

    The Clippers went all-in to build a super team to outshine LeBron James and iconic neighbours the Los Angeles Lakers, but time is already running out to win championships after sensationally capitulating against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort.

    As head coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers try to pinpoint what went wrong for the second seeds, we review the team's 2019-20 season using STATS data.

    Postseason hurdle too great

    The star-studded Clippers cannot translate their regular-season form to playoff success, having finished behind only the Lakers in the west.

    This campaign was the ninth consecutive season they finished with a winning record (49-23) but failed to reach the Conference finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history.

    The Clippers' postseason woes were compounded by a horrific series loss to the Nuggets, having led 3-1 and stood on the cusp of an all-Los Angeles Western Conference final.

    One of three franchises that joined the NBA as an expansion team in the 1970-71 season, the Clippers – formerly known as the Buffalo Braves – have never won a championship or conference title.

     

    George and Kawhi incompatible?

    The Clippers gave up a lot to pair George with Leonard.

    Los Angeles sent five first-round draft picks, plus Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, to the Thunder in exchange for 2018-19 MVP finalist George.

    But George – who averaged 21.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists in the regular season – struggled to produce when it mattered most and shot the ball much worse this season when he shared the court with two-time champion Leonard. The difference was even greater during the playoffs.

    With Leonard on the court in the regular season, George's field-goal percentage was 41.1 compared to 48.2 without him. During the playoffs, George boasted a 53.8 shooting percentage while Leonard was sidelined, a significant improvement on the 36.8 per cent he managed together with the former Raptors superstar. 

    Combined, George has a 48.8 percentage while Leonard is off the court, compared to 39.9 during the duo's time together.

    Zubac over Harrell

    The Clippers could well build their team around Ivica Zubac and not 2020 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell.

    In the playoffs this season, the Clippers were great with Zubac on the court but not so good with fellow center Harrell, who is set to become a free agent.

    Zubac (110) had the third-highest plus-minus in the postseason, behind Lakers pair Anthony Davis (131) and Danny Green (118). Harrell was among the lowest with -68 – only Tim Hardaway Jr. (-82), Monte Morris (-82), Tyler Johnson (-73) and Maxi Kleber (-72) were worse.

     

    Ageing Clippers over-reliant on starters

    One of the Clippers' biggest strengths is their bench, averaging over 50 points per game in each of the past two seasons – the only times any team have done that in the past 35 years.

    But in the playoffs this season, the Clippers relied much more heavily on their starters as their bench averaged only 36.5 points per game in the postseason.

    With the Clippers built to win now, their ageing roster also presents a problem. They are one of the oldest teams in the league, fourth and only behind the Houston Rockets (30 years, 179 days), Milwaukee Bucks (29 years, 321 days) and Lakers (29 years, 201 days) with an average of 28 years and 153 days.

  • Warriors stars Curry and Green to miss minicamp Warriors stars Curry and Green to miss minicamp

    Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have been excused from the Golden State Warriors' voluntary minicamp due to family reasons.

    Warriors head coach Steve Kerr confirmed the absence of stars Curry and Green following Golden State's first practice session on Wednesday.

    The Warriors have returned to training after their 2019-20 season was cut short amid the coronavirus pandemic – Golden State not qualifying for the Orlando bubble at Walt Disney World Resort with a league-worst 15-50 record.

    Curry only made five appearance last season due to a broken left hand sustained in October, while Green was restricted to just 43 games for the injury-hit Warriors.

    "First of all, I want to make clear that this is a voluntary camp," Kerr said. "And so [general manager] Bob [Myers] and I have both been in touch with Steph and Draymond and we are well aware of their circumstances.

    "And so they both have important family issues to attend to and so they have excused absences."

    Kerr added: "Would I like them to be here? Of course. We know, we're watching all these teams in the bubble; the ones that didn't make the playoffs, even they got six weeks together to practice and play games and try different combinations and line-ups.

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    "He's doing well," Kerr said. "He worked out here at the facility for several days in a row, maybe four or five days in a row with [assistant coach] Chris DeMarco, and Chris gave me really positive updates.

    "I was here for a couple of those days and got a chance to see him, and Klay looks great. And he's anxious to play, so we're excited about that."

  • Jamal Murray: Nuggets should be up 2-1 over Lakers Jamal Murray: Nuggets should be up 2-1 over Lakers

    Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray believes his team should be 2-1 up in their best-of-seven series with Los Angeles Lakers after a devastating Game 2 defeat.

    Murray starred with 28 points, 12 assists and two late three-pointers to earn the Nuggets a 114-106 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals in Florida.

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    "We had Game 2. I thought we played great in Game 2, we just had a couple of moments that really hurt us," he told reporters. "So we feel like we should be up 2-1 right now." 

    "We have to move on to Game 4 now. In the Clippers series we dropped Game 3, so we have to take care of stuff that we can control. We've got to do that if we want to win."  

    The Lakers entered the game on a six-game winning run and closed to within three points of Denver in the final quarter, only for their opponents to pull away.

    "We're in this series," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after the vital win.

    "We let them know we're not going anywhere. That's what you guys have done this whole post-season.

    "That's why everybody is rooting for us. Keep on showing that grit and resilience and playing for each other."

    James led the Lakers with a 26th career triple-double, which included 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, but the Lakers star conceded the better team won on the day.

    "We turned the ball over too much and we put them on the free-throw line," he said.

    "I give credit where credit is due. They played better than us. They were more aggressive than us for three quarters."

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