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um Hulme is attracting Premier League interest.The

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MLB.com reports outfielder , who has yet to appear in a spring game because of lingering probponed their upcoming Under-23s game against Swansea City.The Red Devils’ youngsters were set to play ll lead Juve against Lazio in the Supercoppa on Sunday in Riyadh.“I am starting to genuinely enjoy myself in our training sessions,” said the coach in his press conference.“If I do that, it’s because the team is playing or at least trying to playagainst the Swans in Premier ed Exequiel Palacios could yet be moving to Real Madrid next month.Palacios was all set to join Real a year ago, only for a knee injury to wreck his plans.The youngster is expected to join Bayer Leverkusen in January, however Gallardo dropped Real’s League 2 on Friday.But the game is now postponed for a later date.The issue is due to the visitors Swansea having an illlems with his knee, will play the field in a minor-league game Wednesday.

ea’s interest in Atalanta midfielder Ruslan Malino

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Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said MonUnited want an answer by Monday evening from Paulo Dybala about a move from Juventus.Corriere dello Sport says the Argentine must decide by Monday where his future lies, with a potential switch to Old Trafford one the United from Peter Kenyon includes highlighting manager Steve Bruce’s ‘European record’.The Sun reports former Manchester United and Chelsea chief Kenyon has been working with American firm GACP Sports – who also own Ligue 1 club Bordeaux – on a £3at involves Romelu Lukaku heading day pitcher ‘s MRI shows a mild strain where his lat and oblique meet on the left side of his body. Hoyer said Garza will rest a week to make sure he is pain-free. “What it means for the regular season, it’s too early to say. But reaalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for their shock 3-1 win.He explained that Paco López had placed particular emphasis on Ter Stegen in his pre-match planning.“I knew exactly what I had to do,” the 26-year-old said. “We had been watching videos of hlly, it’s good news,” Hoyer said.

As Phillies lose, teams hoping for Cole Hamels get a little more hope

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(AP)

NEW YORK — Another bad night for the .Another good night for potential buyers.Thursday was the perfect kind of night for teams hoping that the Phillies really will trade their All-Star left-hander. Hamels looked fine, and the Phillies didn’t, in another shot-to-the-gut 6-5 loss to the .And the second part of that is far more important than the first.It’s not as if teams are trying to judge whether Hamels can help them. Not many even sent a scout to watch him in person Thursday (although the were represented).

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What’s there to judge? He could help a team capable of winning.The only judgments that matter belong to the Phillies, who need to decide in the days ahead whether they’re capable Graham Potter is delighted with the form of Dan Burn.The towering centre-half has played every minute of Albion’s Premier League campaign so far. Potter said: “I think Dan Burn is an example to anyone to be honest.“He is one of those guys who doeof winning this year. And whether they think they can keep Hamels beyond this year.At one time, Phillies people seemed confident that they would. Now, they say things like, “You don’t know if a team is just going to blow you out of the water.”At one time, the Phillies seemed confident that they could still make something of this season, especially once and Ryan Howard rejoined the lineup. Now Utley is back, and Howard is returning Friday, but the Phillies’ confidence seems to be at an all-time low.Can you blame them?They’re back to 10 games under .500. They’re 13 games out of first place, for the first time since 2006, before this run of excellence bed turnaround that has taken him from Derby County to being an England squad member.Tomori was uncertain about his future at Chelsea this summer, despite his old Derby boss Frank Lampard taking over at the club.The 21-year-old has grabbed the chances gan. They’re 8½ games behind the Mets, and the Mets weren’t even in a playoff spot until the Giants and Reds lost Thursday night.”I think won 20 in a row once,” Hamels said.Yes, and the 2007 Phillies came from seven games back with 17 games to play, as any Mets fan could remind you. And the were 10½ games out in August last year.”We’ve got three months to play,” Hamels said.Three months to play, but maybe three weeks or fewer to decide what to do by the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.Three months to play, but the Phillies would need to play .700 ball to win 90 games. Of course, they did that over several 78-game spans last year.Is this team good enough to do it? Sure doesn’t look like it right now.Thursday, it was two ninth-inning runs off , but on other days it has been middle relief, or so-so hitting or even blown leads by big-time starting pitchers.”We just didn’t get it done,” manager Charlie Manuel said Thursday night. “That’s kind of the way our seasongue bonus as part of his Chelsea contract.The Chelsea-sealed.html”>Daily MailChelsea-sealed.html”>says Lampard is set to earn £4million-a-year to lead Chelsea – a significant amount less than a lot of other Premier League managers in the Champions L’s gone.”The Hamels decision doesn’t involve just this year because a Phillies’ July sale wouldn’t be a fire sale. There’s no chance of this team giving up on 2013 or going into a rebuilding process, so if the Phillies think they can convince Hamels to stay, there’s little reason to move him now.But can they? He won’t talk publicly about his contract, beyond saying that he likes it in Philadelphia (something people who know him believe, too).”I’ve had no indication that he doesn’t want to be here,” general manager Ruben Amaro said. “Now, whether we’re going to sign him or not — that remains the goal.”And with plenty of suggestions out there that the newly rich will do “whatever it takes” to get Hamels, it’s hard for the Phillies to be too confident.Meanwhile, teams that want Hamels can only wait and hope.They can hope for more nights like Thursday, for more defeats that drag down any confidence Phillies management has that this season can be saved.Thursday could have been such a promising night for the Phils. They beat the Mets on Wednesday, with Utley hitting a key home run. They announced after the game Thursday that Howard is ready to return.But then came another bad inning, another game that didn’t go well, another shot to the gut.Bad for the Phillies.Good for teams hoping to get Cole Hamels.

Mariners demote Hector Noesi

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The have demoted pnchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor is being linked with a move to Aston Villa.The 36-year-old has been absent from the Premier League for a few years.But he could be in line for a shock return, per The Sun.Villa are goal-shy in the league this sitcher .

In 17 starts this season, Noesi taken fresh aim at vice-chairman Ed Woodward.Scholes insists Woodward is not a “football man” – and pleaded for former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be given help at Old Trafford.He said: “Weed are watching Kalidou Koulibaly’s situation at Napoli.Koulibaly could become available for just £69million, says Il Mattino.The 28-year-old is said to be one of the Napoli stars who have hired bodyguards to protect themselves and their families fr know behind the scenes there is help needed, especial — acquired in the Michael Pineda deal — went just 2-11 with a 5.77 ERA. 

The Mariners have called up outfielder Carlos Peguero to take Noesi’s roster spot. The 25-year-old Peguero has hit for a ton of power in Triple-A. He has 17 home runs in just 209 plate appearances this season. 

Noesi’s demotion highlights the struggles of the four players involved in the Pineda trade. Pineda and pitcher Jose Campos are on the disabled list for the . With Noesi in Triple-A, the only player contributing in the majors is Mariners’ catcher . But Montero has failed to live up to expectations this season, hitting just .245/.281/.376.

A Torre-Jeter reunion in 2012 WBC? Plenty of decisions to make

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Joe Torre, whose duties as executive vice-president of baseball operations already include overseeing umpires and reviewing disputed official scoring decisions, now adds one more job to his bucket:Managing Team USA next March in the World Baseball Classic, a tournament in which the United States has .”I’m going to have to be careful when I argue with the umpires,” Torre quipped on a conference call Thursday afternoon shortly after his selection as manager was announced. “I may have to bring them a drink of water or something.”Torre’s other duties for Commissioner Bud Selig will not cease. Rather, he’ll be one extremely busy 72-year-old “retiree.”And though Davey Johnson, 69, wound up parlaying the WBC managing gig in 2009 — Team USA was eliminated in the semi-finals — into a re-entry into the majors piloting the Nationals, Torre says he has no aspirations to do th Raul is delighted taking the Castilla job.Raul was named new coach of Castilla last week, having been promoted by the Juvenil B team.”I am very happy and excited for this opportunity that the club gives me after achieving the (coaching) license and e same.He’s done as full-time manager, he said.”First of all, I don’t miss it,” Torre said. “So the question could be, ‘Why are you doing this?’ This is certainly different.”What happens managing a big-league ballclub is it’s a commitment for 12 months a year. I didn’t feel I could give people a fair shake in doing that. This is an opportunity, once presented, I felt honored by. I have no ambition to audition for another job.”Winning the WBC and returning players to their original clubs in “better” shape than he took them will dfielder has hailed the “inexhaustible” work ethic of Liverpool’s front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.“[Jordan] Henderson and [James] Milner know how to transmit motivation. The team is receptive because it’s very professiobe his two priorities, Torre said.”I think I’m going to have to give them back players in better shape than when they left because they’ll be ready to start the season,” Torre said. “My priority is to make sure I can assure the managers of that. … I was always skeptical when my players left me, because I lost control over them. …”I have to make sure managers and general managers know that [their players] will be in shape and a little further along tha defender Jean-Clair Todibo has detailed their plans for next season.The defender has been linked with Napoli ahead of the summer market.”I have spoken to Barcelona, and nothing has been decided about [Todibo’s] future,” Tobido’s agent Bruno Satin san when we took them because it will be later in spring training.”Torre has yet to name a coaching staff, let alone pick a team. He acknowledged the potential for a reunion with shortstop , the captain during Torre’s years.”Obviously, Derek is special,” Torre said. “Everything he does, he does one way: Go out do the best he can to try and win a ballgame.”Beyond Jeter, the thought of the Nationals’ Bryce Harper and the Angels’ Mike Trout in the same outfield is tantalizing. But we’re a long way away from locking in combinations.”I’ve always been a believer that experience is very important to any winning ballclub, but you certainly can’t ignore the number of young players who have really gotten people’s attention here in last few years,” Torre said. “I’m really looking to put a roster together that makes sense. You can pick all names people recognize, but when you try and make it work on the field, that’s when you may run into trouble.”

Andrew Bailey to disabled list?

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Possible bad news in : Closer might be forced to , reports WEEI’s Alex Speier. When asked about fresh injury concerns within the bullpen, manager Bobby Valentine’s response was, well, beautifully cryptic: “If I add to that the way I should answer it,” Valentine said, “you’ll be confused because you don’t have all the information, and I don’t know that I can give you all the information. The answer is yes. Don’t be confused by that answer. There might be a health situation.” Got that?In any event, Bailey’s uncertain status has cascaded through the rest of the Boston roster. Valentine acknowledged that the situation with his closer played a role in to the bullpen to start the season. Beyond that, Valentine might also be prompted to go with a 13-man staff in the early going. Earlier in the spring, Bailey battled a lat injury and has been limited to just 6.0 innings of Grapefruit League play. While Bailey’s status and timetable aren’t yet known, it’s possible that, if he does go on the DL retroactively, he’ll be able to return by April 10. If healthy, Bailey is potentially the equal of the departed Jonathan Papelbon, which is another way of saying he’s a true “shutdown” closer. On the other hand, Bailey does hhis style of play.The now retired Bulgarian was always a polarising figure among fans of the club, as some felt his style was too lazy compared to forwards Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney.But Berbatov considers himself “an artist on the pitch” and had ave a bit of an injury history. In 2011, he missed more than 50 games blly scored twice in their 3-0 win against Tottenham.Potter said, “Aaron [Connolly] has had quite a few weeks. We have to look after him and mo Rossi says Daniel James will improve greatly with Manchester United.The Italian was able to assess James up close and personal when Hungary secured a surprise victory over Wales in a Euro2020 qualifier last month.It was a match also watched closelyake sure he has a long and successful career. “He was great for us in terms of his overall contribution to thecause of a forearm strain, and he’s also had some elbow concerns over the years, including a 2005 Tommy John procedure when he was in college. Since Bailey’s alleged thumb soreness is on his throwing hand, it’s likely making it difficult for him to grip the ball properly. At least, however, it’s not an elbow or shoulder issue.In any event, it’s possible that Aceves will receive the save opps in Bailey’s absence, should there even be an absence of Bailey.

Pacers’ Vogel to team: Stop airing ‘in-house stuff to media’

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Every team, at some point or another during the season, has its struggles. The timing of the Pacers’ recent slump isn’t ideal – they’ve won seven of their last 17 games – and, not surprisingly, they’ve had to navigate significant not-so-internal bickering all while trying to stave off the surging Heat. 

Maybe you saw Roy Hibbert’s quotes about on the Pacers, or perhaps you caught a whiff of Indiana’s discontent when Hibbert spouted off that his team was “splintering” and “spiraling”.

Miss the quotes? Maybe you saw that George Hill and Lance Stephenson had to be physically separated as the Pacers were getting pummeled by San Antonio earlier this week.

“The Pacers are experiencing a leadership void at the moment,” , “and the only thing they’re racking up faster than turnovers and bad shots is finger pointing.”

Lance Stephenson takes too many ill-advised shots. Paul George is having trouble adjusting to his new-found stardom as evident with several off-the-court incidents. The Danny Granger trade shook-up locker room chemistry. And on and on.

Frank Vogel’s tired of it, and he said as much to the .

“It bothers me,” Vogel said of the public bickering from his team. “Guys ed are eyeing Newcastle United midfielder Mo Diame.The 31-year-old’s future is up in the air.He needs to start the next two games to trigger a contract extension clause of one-year but it’s understood that the midfielder would like a two-year-deal.Dishould never air in-house stuff to the media. I talked to the team about it [on Wednesday].

“It was a weird thing. Roy said it a couple days ago [after the loss to the Wizards] and nobody really caught onto it until [recently]. So I made sure to tell them that A) I don’t believe we have ‘selfish dudes’ in our locker, and B) whatever you might want to say about your teammates, don’t say it to the media. We have to get that stopped.”

Vogel’s even had to manage a rather poignant jab at himself from his boss, team President Larry Bird. In mid-March, Bird told the that he wanted Vogel to hold his players more accountable.

“I think he’s got to start going after guys when they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do,” Bird said of Vogel. “And stay on them. Whether you’ve got to take them out of the game when they’re not doing what they’re sup to be presented at Juventus stadium on Thursday, the Bianconeri have slapped in an offer for Marquinhos.Le 10 Sport says a €55m bid has been tabled to PSG for the Brazil international.PSG have since turned down the proposal, though they expect Juvposed to do or limit their minutes. I will say he hasn’t done that enough.”

Asked specifically if those comments irked Vogel, and he said no.

These are choppy times for the Pacers, who aren’t accustomed to being the hunted. But that’s part of maturing and progressing, and something their primary competition, Miami, had to deal with as well. 

The Pacers, now one game behind Miami in the loss column, can still right the ship with six games left, including one massive matchup at Miami on April 11. But it’s going to take ent Herbert Hainer admits they’ve considered bringing Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola back to the club.It was confirmed on Friday that Hans-Dieter Flick will remain in charge of Bayern until at least the winter break, but speculation is continuingrestraint and discipline — two pillars that one of the league’s model franchises has been sorely lacking in recent weeks. 

d has had the same warning.Solskjaer has been back

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guard mayLingard to focus on his football.The Sun says Marcus Rashford has had the same warning.Solskjaer has been backed up by No 2 Mike Phelan as the pair keep working on improving the spirit in their dressing room.Solskjaer and Phelan are understood to hadbe be one of the frontrunners for RoG for €15m on transfer deadline day on Monday. It was a deal that upset many inside the Real dressing room.That’s according to Okdiario’s pundit Eduardo Inda, speaking on El Chiringuito.Inda revealed: “Keylor Navas was very loved in the locker roomokie of the Year, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have room to improve. Magic general manager Rob Hennigan told the Orlando Sentinel in Thursday’s exit interview Oladipo will yet again, but may not be used in every game this time around.

Oladipo ended up playing in 80 games for the Magic, and finished in the top-five in most major categories among rookiesChelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has taken another step on his long road to recovery.Loftus-Cheek has been sidelined with a heel injury since May.He took part in Chelsea’s development squad friendly against Brentford B on Tuesday.The 24-year-old played 60 minutes of the match.. He averaged 13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. He also played the most minutes total among rookies. 

inst the Magic, as he deals with an illness.

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center has been ruled out for the second game in a row Wednesday against the Magic, as he deals with an illness.

Thoudefeat to Tottenham was expected given their fitness levels.Juve lost 3-2 after ultimately being undone by Harry Kane’s lob from the halfway line. “It was a see the club now buying this summer.This term, his new midfield partner will be £63million record signing Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon, a real statement by Spurs after three transfer windows without signing anyone.”The gaffer has proven he can develop difficult game against a renowned team,” ard slope. The Spaniard was sacked in December after a disappointing first half of the season, following a debut campaign which ended in a fifth-placed finish and Europa League final loss.And Emery says his star players that “did not have a good attisaid Sarri.“They were quicker and more explosivegh he was under the weather for a second straight day, this does not appear to be a serious issue moving forward. The Nets have just four games remaining before the postseason after Wednesday, beginning with Friday’s tilt against the Hawks.  

Russell Westbrook doesn’t need to change, just needs to be better

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A lot of people want to change . They want him to be less of a chucker and more of a fluid player. They want him to defer to while still taking over games when it’s working. They want him to be a passing point guard. When it comes down to it, the  don’t want Westbrook to change his game and they don’t really need him to change his game. His game is a perfect amalgamation of fury and athleticism.

You don’t really want to will return after the international break.The pair have missed the last two weeks of action.”Yeah, they’re not ready for tomorrow,” the manager revealed ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Bournemouth.”Probably after the intesday for less than a year, but according to Chronicle Live, he could already be set to move clubs again this summer.The departure of Rafa Benitez from Newcastle United has opened the door for a sensational return to his home city for Bruce.It is belernational break. That is alwchange it because the polarizing fashion in which he plays brings us everything we love about the spectacle of sports. He can wow us and frustrate us on the same play in spectacular fashion. He can wow and frustrate us with his “spectacular fashion” as well. But his game is explosive because he is a flying powder keg on the court, which is part of what gives him such a huge impact in these games.

The problem with the Western Conference Finals so far is that he hasn’t had much of an impact. His 25-point effort in Game 1 was good, but it came on 21 shots and it needed to be more. In Game 2, he was so much worse. He had just 15 points on 7-of-24 shooting. He didn’t attempt a sinHoldings have expanded their commercial partnership contracts with Everton reports www.fcbusiness.co.ukThe 2019/20 season will see Fratelli Beretta named as Everton’s first Official Academy Partner, just a year after becoming an Official Partner of Egle free throw and the team only attempted 10. Including the playoffs, Westbrook has had at least 10 free throw attempts in a game 13 times and the Thunder have won nine of those games. 

I don’t want Westbrook to change his game, . I’m on board with “Let Westbrook be Westbrook” and celebrating his style of play as something good for the league and good for his team. I don’t want Westbrook to be somebody else; he just has to be better than what he’s been. Without helping spread the floor, attack the glass, and turn away shots at the other end, the Thunder are being forced to figure out another identity on the fly without a safety net because the keep burning it up.

His shots weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great either. He did manage to get 10 attempts in the restricted area, making just four of them. He’s getting to the basket a fair amount of times, but he’s not finishing. When he finishes at the rim, the defense gets worried about him dominating the paint on his drives. When that happens, it gives him space for the jumper. When he has space for the jumper, it makes the defense uneasy and they start cheating up on the jumper. Then he drives past them and starts dominating the paint.

This is the vicious cycle of Westbrook attacking and being effective, and defenses rarely can handle it. But the Spurs are handling it right now and they’re forcing him to be ordinary on the court. That’s not how we know him, good or bad. We know him as the lightning rod of the Thunder. 

If he can’t be better, then it’s unlikely his teammates can be better. And they’ll be wishing the Spurs good luck on their return to the Finals, something the Oklahoma City Thunder are struggling to reach.

amstring strain.Lampard said, “I spoke to N’Golo a

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guard wilLille.Kante missed victory over Brighton yesterday with a hamstring strain.Lampard said, “I spoke to N’Golo about it and I didn’t want to take the risk. “He’s so important for us but it’s been difficult for him to get going because of the break-up ofl miss his first game of the season Wednesday, as a quad injury will keep him out vs. the Knicks. Thomas has been unable to practice as a result of the injury, ans League gis contemplating a different role for Ruben Loftus-Cheek in his Chelsea team.As the 23-year-old recovers from injury, he may find himself in a different role than his previous spot in the side.According to The Sun, Loftus-Cheek could play as a false roup is a “tough” one.Juve are in Group D with Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.Nedved said, “It’s a tough group for me, not easy at all, but it’s the Champions League and there are no easy groups.“The objective isd was held out of Wednesday’s shootaround as well, so this does not come as much of a surprise.

Thomas will be considered day to day moving forward, with the Kings’ next game set for Friday in Oklahoma City. 

NBA Playoff Picture and Magic Numbers: It all comes down to this

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 Pacers, , , , , , , , , Rockets, , Trail Blazers , , 

 Pacers, Heat, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder, Raptors

Pacers, Heat, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder, Raptors, Bulls, Rockets

 vs. 

 vs. Bobcats (7)

Raptors (3) vs. Wizards (6)

Bulls (4) vs. Nets (5)

 vs. Grizzlies (8)

Thunder (2) vs. Mavericks (7)

Clippers (3) vs. 

vs. 

Locked matchups: 

Season record: Split season series 2-2. Hawks with a plus-3.8 point differential. 

Atlanta matches up great on paper, considering their blowout of Indiana latefielder is in his second season on-loan with the Oribici, contributing to their Champions League qualification this term.Atalanta’s board have seen enough and want to bring forward June plans to buy Pasalic outright, says Tuttosport.Pasalic’s loan de in the season at home. In a playoff series, you have to believe it will be different, even if Indiana is still struggling. 

If were playing, this would be a great series, and the Hawks would have a punchers’ chance. But will likely be negated by , and can stretch the floor but not enough to make up for the Pacers’ superior firepower. The Hawks have no one to guard . It’s going to take a crazy team effort for the Hawks to make this a series. 

, No. 2 Heat (LOCKED)

Raptors and Bulls won, so Toronto’s magic number for the 3-seed and a potential matchup with Miami in the second-round is one. A win or Bulls loss Wednesday and Toronto is the 3, Chicago the 4. 

A Raptors loss and a Bulls win and the Raptors move into the four-spot as the Bulls take third. 

Interestingly, the Nets seem to be tanking to move to six and avoid Chicago. The Bulls tip an hour earlier than the Raptors so if they’re winning handily over the Bobcats (who may rest starters), and the Nets are losing to Cleveland, Toronto could tank their fourth quarter and put the Nets against the 3-seed Bulls, just to show ’em, and give themselves the Wizards. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible. 

who beat them two weeks ago in Toronto. is out and is expected to rest, with the Knicks on a back to back. 

The Bulls are in Charlotte to take on the Bobcats. 

The Nets loss Tuesday sets up these scenarios: If the Nets lose their final game, and the Wizards wins Wednesday, the Wizards get fifth, the Nets get sixth, the Bobcats get seventh. 

If the Nets win their final game and Washington wins its final game, the Nets get fifth, the Wizards sixth, the Bobcats seventh.

If Washington loses and the Bobcats win, the Nets get fifth, the Bobcats get sixth via tiebreaker and the Wizards get seventh.

If the Bobcats lose, the Wizards clinch no worse than sixth.

The Bobcats can’t finish higher than sixth.

Washington tips at the same time as the Nets, so they won’t know the outcome of either that game or Bulls-Bobcats or Raptors-Knicks when they they play. But if in the fourth quarter, they’re in a close game with Boston (I know, but it’s in Boston, and the do weird things), then they’ll know by the end of the game whether the Bulls have won. If the Bulls have won, that means the Cats will have lost, and they can safely sit starters, get the sixth seed, and face presumably Toronto (assuming the Raptors beat the Knicks). 

If the Bobcats beat the Bulls, clinching the Bulls as the fourth seed, Washington won’t have a choice. They’ll have to beat Boston to make sure they don’t fall behind the Bobcats and wind up facing Miami.

So if the Bobcats win, the Nets can safely tank and not have to worry about facing Chicago unless the Wizards lose.

Brooklyn plays Cleveland. 

The reality is the teams will mostly just kind of do whatever they need for rest and let everything else sort itself out. 

The Hawks finished 2-2 against Indiana in the regular season. 

Season series: Rockets won 3-1, with a plus-6.5 point differential. 

Portland doesn’t have home court advantage, so that’s bad. The Rockets overall have a lot of matchup advantages. An example? It’s regulars season, so that comes with caveats, but has a plus-15.5 net efficiency in four games vs. Portland this year. Lin’s supposed to be the weakspot. The Blazers can score a little bit on Houston (as most teams can) but can’t stop them at all. averaged 25.5  points per game vs. Portland, averaged over 30. This is a nightmare matchup for Portland, at least from the outside. 

The Spurs win over Phoenix on Friday clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. 

The Thunder’s loss to the  on Monday made this more interesting. The Clippers still have a very real shot at the 2-seed. 

If OKC loses Wednesday, the Clippers can clinch the two-seed by beating Portland. 

If OKC wins Wednesday vs. Detroit, or if the Clippers lose to the Blazers, the Thunder clinch the No. 2 seed. 

 Oklahoma is at home vs. the . I’d say there’s no way they lose that game, but the Thunder just lost to the Pelicans. 

The Clippers face the Blazers who have nothing left to play rofile names this summer.Gazidis has set out owners Elliott Management’s plans for the coming years.“Elliott’s vision is clear: to take away the financial burden from Milan and put them back in the right direction, letting them grow and making themfor and will be resting starters most likely.

The Rockets clinched the No. 4 seed with their win vs. San Antoni points as last season to win the Premier League next term.The Reds are hoping to end their decades-long league hoodoo and topple Manchester City in the coming Premier League season.However, Van Dijk knows that it may take last season’s 97 points hauo, which rested some regulars, on Monday. They have home court in the first round. Game 1 is at Houston this weekend. 

The Warriors win vs. Minnesota on Monday clinched the sixth spot. They’re locked there and will play either the Clippers or Oklahoma City on the road in Game 1. 

Memphis beat the  on Monday, eliminating Phoenix. 

The Grizzlies are tied with Dallas at 49-32 and play the Mavs on Wednesday. After Golden State’s win, Dallas and Memphis decide Nos. 7-8 on Wednesday. 

The winner faces Oklahoma City or the Clippers, with the loser getting the top-seeded Spurs. 

Memphis faces Dallas with the seventh seed and the chance to get out of the Spurs’ way at stake. Both teams have a puncher’s chance vs. the Thunder based on matchups. They have almost no shot vs. San Antonio, and they both know it.

Are the Pacers done? Not in this unpredictable postseason

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It’s open season on the Pacers. They are a snap, crackle and popping dumpster fire. Their identity is lost. Their Hall of Fame president in the stands Thursday night in Atlanta, Larry Bird, looked as though he’d rather be playing H-O-R-S-E in his driveway in French Lick. Their coach, Frank Vogel, is clinging to his job, while the general manager, Kevin Pritchard, tweets that, hey, everything is cool over here.

And yet the Pacers, who stumbled backwards into the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, are in better shape than some in these unpredictable 2014 playoffs and, at this writing, no worse shape than others. As I contemplated how far the Pacers have fallen on Thursday night after a 98-85 loss that dropped them into a 2-1 hole against the eighth-seeded Hawks, lo and behold: The Thunder fell just as far with a 98-95 loss in Memphis that put them in the same 2-1 deficit in that series. The Clippers held on against the Warriors in Game 3 to avoid a similar fate.

On Saturday in Dallas, the Spurs — the infallible, top-seeded Spurs — will find themselves in the same predicament as the Pacers if they’re unable to put together all the necessary ingredients for a road victory against the pesky Mavs. No easy task, by the way.

The Bulls, meanwhile, would give Joakim Noah’s hair bun to be down 2-1 in their first-round series against the Wizards. Same with the Rockets and James Harden’s beard.

Welcome to the 2014 playoffs, where anything goes.

The Pacers’ woes are magnified for several reasons. After falling short against Miami two years in a row in the postseason, this was supposed to be their year. They steamrolled through the first four months of the season before stumblinster City will cast a wide net in their search for two new centre-halves this summer.The Times says City have identified Villarreal’s Pau Torres, Benfica’s Ruben Dias, Brighton’s Lewis Dunk and Inter’s Milan Skriniar as defensive targets for the summg to only 10 wins in their final 23 games. Since trading the revered Danny Granger for Evan Turner in February — a transaction that yours truly thought would be beneficial — the Pacers have been psychologically fragile, to say the least.

The only implosion of similar magnitude I can think of was the 2003-04 Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton. Those Lakers won 56 games in the regular season, just as these Pacers did, and went down fighting — with each other — with a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Pistons in the Finals.

Then again, at least those bickering Lakers made it to the Finals. For the Pacers, it’s a monumental challenge just to get out of the first round.

But that’s just the way it is this year in the NBA playoffs. Road teams reign supreme, and the 1-8 matchup isn’t must-change-the-channel-TV anymore. Why that is might make an interesting discussion for another day, but for now, the point is that the Pacers aren’t finished. They’re one revised, well-executed game plan away from going home with a chance to go up 3-2 in the series.

Given how focused everyone is on the Pacers’ flaws — and there are a lot of them, along with some underestimated strengths belonging to the Atlanta Hawks — that seems like a ridiculously optimistic interpretation of this series’ events to this point. But it’s all true.

Even on Thursday nighort on Gareth Bale’s latest injury.Bale picked up an injury in action for Wales against Croatia last week.However, details have not been released – on orders of the player, says El Chiringuito. Bale has insisted the injury be kept private.However, itt, when Roy Hibbert played only 19 minutes (none in the fourth quarter) and the Pacers were largely a lost cause again, they were one shoeprint on the sideline away from possibly being up 2-1 heading into Game 3 on Saturday.

With 2:49 left, Jeff Teague launched a wild, off-balance 3-pointer that went in, giving Atlanta an 87-78 lead. At the next play stoppage, it was 87-80 when the officials went to the video replay review to determine if Teague was behind the 3-point line.

He was. The only problem was, the replay showed he’d also stepped out of bounds — an aspect of the play that, under the NBA’s well-intentioned but overly complicated replay rules, was not reviewable outside of the two-minute mark on the game clock.

Had the 3-pointer been taken off the scoreboard, as it should have been in a perfect world, the Pacers would’ve been down 84-80 with 2:10 left and Teague at the line shooting free throws. But the knowledge that the Hawks had gotten three points they didn’t deserve proved to be more than these fragile Pacers could handle. 

This is how close these playoff games are, how little difference there is between the teams — whether they won 56 games in the regula by manager Unai Emery.Their frailties were ­exposed as soon as they came up against a top team, with ­ Liverpool beating them 3-1 last weekend. Petit told the Mirror: “I’ve not been impressed with what I’ve seen from Unai Emery in Arsenal ‘s oper season or 38.

As vulnerable and lost as the Pacers look, can anyone envision them turning it around and making it out of his series? If you can’t, you haven’t been paying attention. Anything goes in this NBA postseason, and what happened in the previous game or possession means nothing.

Even for a mess like the Pacers. 

st the Pistons, as guard (illness) is listed as p

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The should get at least one backcourt contributor back Saturday against the Pistons, as guard (illness) is listed as probable after missing the team’s previous twod defender Nacho admits the players are unhappy with the timing of the El Clasico against Barcelona.There has been a debate over the kick off time for December’s Clasico as Barcelona will go into the match on December 18 with 29 extra hours of rest c games. Accosays he’s determined to repay Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season.The £52m from last summer endured an underwhelming debut campaign and was linked with a move to Galatasaray.He then missed the start of preseason due to his wedding, but Solskjaer was unrding to the Orange County Register, fellow guard is still listed as a , as he continues to deal wi.The club’s transfer ban has somewhat forced Lampard’s hand despite netting over £100m for Hazard in the summer, with young stars Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori all earning rave reviews.Hazard has joined the chorus of impressive admireth a calf injury. 

Report: Lakers, hoping for LeBron, dragging out coaching search

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USA Today reports that the are going slow with their coaching search in the hopes of using it to land a marquee free agent in … or . 

The slow pace of the Lakers’ coaching search that began April 30 when Mike D’Antoni resigned has been timed deliberately with the upcoming free agency period in the NBA, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Specifically, the idea that the Lakers could beat the odds and land the likes of the ‘s LeBron James, the ‘ Carmelo Anthony or any of the other superstars who may be free agents on July 1 has led the Lakers to plod through their process so as to not limit their potential options. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the search.

via .

The Lakers had been thought to have given up on the chase for James for a while, holding cap space open but resigned to ther impressed for City’s Under-23s before going out on loan to Oldham Athletic last term is now excelling as a regular starter for third-tier leaders Rotherham.“It feels really, really good to sign a contract with Leicester,” a delighted Iversen told unlikelihood of landing a star, given the situation. But there’s been no indication that Carmelo Anthony is excited and on board with the situation in New Yleave Barcelona in January.Vidal says he wants to feel important and, should he not get that at Barcelona, he is not afraid about parting ways with the Catalan side.”I would like to be here forever, but I have to be objective and live day to day,” Viork under Phil Jackson, who hired a guy still under contract as a player in Monday. Anthony has a long-standing relationship with , and LA would give him a place with a winning history and somewhere his wife LaLa Anthony would be on board with moving (unlike, say, anywhere that isn’t Los Angeles or New York). 

For James, it’s an… interesting idea, I guess. Do you want to leave the organization that has given you two championships (should the Heat lose the Finals, which is considered to be a key cog in this process, spurring him to look at his options elsewhere), give up the $20 million next season when you can bring back the band for one more run next season, and go join a team whose only long-term piece is Kobe Bryant, who is making $24 million per season and is unlikely to relinquish control of the ball or the team? 

Doesn’t sound exactly intriguing. But USA Today also reports that the Lakers could use their cap space to sign Anthony at a discount this summer, clear everything else, and then sign James in 2015, as James is reportedly keen on playing with Anthony at some point. The Knicks have a similar hope, looking to re-sign Anthony this summer, then add James next summer when , , and other dead weight contracts come of the books. The biggest obstacle may honestly be Bryant, whose approach to wooing free agents has been to try and make them beg, basically. 

There’s a lot riding on these Finals, and big decisions ahead for James. No matter what the next Decision brings, he’ll havecelotti admits talks are continuing for Real Madrid attacker James Rodriguez.Ancelotti was speaking after their friendly defeat to Benevento.He said, “James can play in many positions behind the centre-forward. He is a Number 10 accustomed to playi the power and authority to shape the face of the league for the next four years. 

The Lakers would give James close proximity to Hollywood as  he looks to expand his empire as a media and entertainment entity. James has been reportedly linked to several film projects. His brand power may have hit a plateau in the league… everywhere outside of the Lakers, which are the league’s most iconic, and objectively popular team.