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Nikola Jokic’s Triple-Double Leads the Nuggets to Win Over the Trail Blazers

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The Denver Nuggets headed into Portland this week with the expectation that they would return home with at least one win.

Well they accomplished that feat Sunday night, as they defeated the Trail Blazers on the road in Game 4.

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were once again the leading forces in the win for the Nuggets, as Murray led the team in scoring and Jokic notched yet another triple-double.

By recording his fourth triple-double of the postseason, Jokic passed Fat Lever to become the Nuggets franchise leader in that category.

Jokic is not only making franchise history with his triple-doubles, as he is also making NBA history.

Although Denver came away with this victory, this series continues to be the most tightly contested among all of the second round matchups.

Portland played a good game, but they did not make quite enough plays late to win. Still, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for nearly 60 points.

The Trail Blazers also got great contributions for Seth Curry off of their bench, as he knocked down four of his six three-point shots.

Curry would finish with 16 points, but they were not enough to topple the Denver Nuggets.

These two teams will play again on Tuesday night, as the series returns to Denver for Game 5.

Basketball

The Process May Be Complete But It’s Also Really Expensive

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When Sam Hinkie was hired to be the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, he declared that there would be a process to making them a championship-caliber team.

In turned out, “The Process” was to lose as many games as possible to have the best odds to win the lottery and draft franchise-altering talent.

Throughout that process, there was plenty of swing-and-misses along the way, such as top picks Jahlil Okafer and Markell Fultz. But the net result was two superstars capable of being top-10 players in this league.

Joel Embiid, 25, has embraced “The Process” mantra, even turning it into his nickname. When he is healthy, Embiid may just be the best center in the NBA.

He has the ability to shrink the floor as an exceptional rim protector on the defensive end, meanwhile being an all-around offensive weapon. Embiid could easily be the league MVP one of these days if he puts it all together and stays on the court.

The same can be said for Ben Simmons, as the 6-foot-10 point guard brings a rare combination of size and skill to his game. Simmons needs to develop an outside shot, but it is not a stretch to put him in the conversation for being a top-five point guard in the NBA right now.

The Sixers have now built a roster around those two superstars, in an offseason that has seen them give out over $450 million in contracts.

Philadelphia’s first big move in free agency was to acquire veteran big man Al Horford, signing him to a four-year $109 million deal. Next the Sixers resigned Tobias Harris to a five-year $180 million contract.

The last piece in their offseason spending spree, was giving Simmons a $170 million contract extension to lock up their roster long-term.

The core of Simmons, Harris, Embiid and Horford are exceeding the NBA’s current salary cap of $109 million by $10 million themselves. Because of those deals, the Sixers are surely to be paying heavy luxury taxes for years to come.

While the team is going to cost a lot, they have a chance to become a dynasty in the Eastern Conference, with potentially the best starting five in the NBA.

A big underrated addition of the offseason, was acquiring shooting guard Josh Richardson in a sign-and-trade deal that sent Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat.

Richardson, 25, led the Heat in scoring last year and is the final piece in the Sixers starting five. Richardson is a career 37% three-point shooter and a great on-ball defender on the other end.

More importantly, Richardson is only in the second year of a reasonable four-year $42 million extension that he signed with the Heat.

While he may not be the same caliber player as Butler, Richardson will fit nicely with the rest of the Sixers young core and he comes at a much cheaper price tag.

Now it is up to this Sixers team to prove that they are worth the money and deliver the first championship to Philadelphia since 1983.

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Basketball

Ben Simmons Signs a Five-Year Max Contract Extension with Philadelphia 76ers

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The Philadelphia 76ers believe that “The Process” is complete and their time to win is right now and for good reason. After years of tanking, the Sixers hit on two of their draft picks.

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have provided Philadelphia with two homegrown All-Stars to build around.

While there is certainly flaws in both of their superstars, they both still warrant max level money for their production. And as of today, that is exactly what Simmons is going to get.

Simmons has only played two full seasons in the NBA, after missing his first year due to injury, and now has signed a nine-figure deal.

The 2018 Rookie of the Year has earned that payday after a great start to his career. Simmons certainly knows how to stuff a stat-sheet as he is averaging 16.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game in his young career.

While Simmons has led the Sixers to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, there is still a lot of question about his game, due to his inability to play away from the basket.

Simmons has still never made an NBA three-pointer, in a day and age where everyone seems to be living behind the three-point line.

Simmons gets by with explosive athleticism, great basketball I.Q. and his exceptional skills as a passer. Those traits, along with his ability to run the point despite being nearly seven-feet tall, has made Simmons one of the most rare talents in the NBA.

Still, there are limitations to his game, which have become more obvious in the playoffs when the game is played more in the half court and less in transition.

For him to really unlock his game, Simmons needs to develop a jump shot that the defense at least has to respect.

While that will not be an easy task, Simmons still offers the Sixers endless potential as he is still a week away from his 23rd birthday.

If Simmons does unlock his full potential, the Sixers have to be considered a favorite to complete the process and win the championship next year.

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Basketball

Cavaliers Waive J.R. Smith

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are continuing their transition away from the LeBron James-era and took another step in doing so today.

Cleveland decided to waive-and-stretch the remaining partially guaranteed money on J.R. Smith’s contract, making the former champion a free agent.

Smith, 33, was traded to Cavaliers in 2015 and was part of the team that went to four-straight NBA Finals from 2015-18. Smith provided Cleveland with a heat check scoring threat and was an integral piece to winning their championship in 2016.

After winning the title, Smith famously had his shirt off for months while he was soaking in the celebration of being an NBA champion.

Because of that championship, Smith will always be revered in Cleveland. Just last week, Smith was representing Cleveland at the Celebrity Softball Game that took place as part of the MLB All-Star Game festivities.

While Smith will always have love for Cleveland, it was nothing but love lost with the Cavaliers, after the two agreed to part ways last November.

Smith was outwardly opposed to Cleveland’s strategy to tank games last season and the team essentially dismissed him because of it. Smith played in just 11 games and averaged 6.7 points on 34% shooting.

Still, Smith is just a year removed from shooting 38% from three on nearly five attempts per game back in 2017-18. There will be plenty of suitors who will look to add Smith to their contending team for a vet’s minimum salary.

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I can’t even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now. It’s been one heck of a journey Oklahoma! When I came here, I was 18 years old, bright eyed, and completely unaware of all the amazing things that would soon take place. I grew up in Oklahoma with an amazing bunch of people. The people here are what makes this place so special. From the fans, my coaches, my teammates, the entire Thunder organization, Mr. Bennett, Sam Presti, my friends, and everyone in the entire community. You are all what makes Oklahoma such a beautiful place, and the reason I’ve loved playing here all of this time. You have supported me through all of the ups and the downs, and stood by me through the good times, and tough times. For that I am eternally grateful to you. I’ve met so many amazing people who have helped shape me into the man that I am today. I hope I have impacted the Oklahoma community as much as Oklahoma has made an impact on me and my family. 
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