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Orlando Magic rookie Cannady stretchered off after ankle injury

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Orlando Magic guard Devin Cannady had to be stretchered off the court Sunday after a gruesome ankle injury.

Cannady attempted to defend a layup attempt late in the first quarter against the Indiana Pacers and landed awkwardly on his right leg. He went down immediately, screaming in pain. There was blood on the court around his ankle and teammate Mo Bamba rushed to cover the injury with his own jersey.

Cannady was eventually taken off the court in a stretcher. The Magic said he suffered an open fracture of his right ankle, which will require surgery.

The undrafted rookie out of Princeton made his NBA debut earlier this month and signed a two-way contract with the Magic on April 16.

Cannady, 24, entered Sunday’s game averaging 4.9 points in seven games this season.

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Philadelphia 76ers clinch top seed in Eastern Conference

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Five years removed from a 10-win season, the Philadelphia 76ers find themselves atop the Eastern Conference.

Friday’s 122-97 victory over the Orlando Magic gave Philadelphia its first No. 1 seed in the East in 20 years, something coach Doc Rivers said the team should not take for granted.

“It’s an accomplishment. I don’t want to downplay it, but I told our guys to enjoy, I don’t want to call it a moment, I told them to enjoy the second, because it’s not what we want, but it’s part of what you can get on the way to what you want,” Rivers said. “I think for this team, as young as we are, to have home-court is really important. It’s nice to have. So we should feel proud of it.”

With the No. 1 seed in hand, the Sixers secure home-court advantage throughout the postseason, but also comes with the added benefit of being on the opposite side of the bracket from the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. The 76ers wouldn’t see either of those teams until the conference finals.

“It means what we said we wanted to do at the start of the season was get that No. 1 seed,” Ben Simmons said. “Obviously have home-court advantage. but besides that, we’ve got to get ready for the playoffs. We’ve got one more game to finish out and then the real job starts. We put ourselves in a good position but ultimately we want to win the championship.”

Home court could be big for the Sixers, though, with them holding the best home record in the East at 27-7, compared to a road record of 20-16.

“Being the top seed helps a lot from home-court advantage,” Joel Embiid said. “Definitely helps a lot as we’ve been dominant at home. We barely lose here… So it means a lot to have the No. 1 seed.”

History, however, has not been kind to No. 1 seeds out East. In 10 of the last 12 seasons, the top seed in the Eastern Conference has failed to make the NBA Finals.

As it stands now, the Sixers’ opening round opponent is still to be determined, as the four play-in teams — Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics — will face off to settle who the No. 8 seed is. Not that it matters, though, Simmons said.

“I don’t care who we play. That’s the point of having the No. 1 seed,” he said. “You feel like you’re the best team in your conference so you’re supposed to be able to play anybody. If we were scared, we shouldn’t be in this position.”

The last 76ers team to take the top seed in the East was led by Allen Iverson and coached by Larry Brown. That team went on to the NBA Finals, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. It’s been a long road back for the Sixers to the top, with the Process Era finally coming full circle to sit atop the East, something Embiid was reflective of.

“It starts from when the Sixers finished a season 10-62,” he said. “I think that’s when it started. From that time we’ve only improved.”

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ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, Mike Breen among honorees for Basketball HOF’s Curt Gowdy Award

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. — ESPN’s Michael Wilbon and Mike Breen were honored with the print and broadcast versions of the Curt Gowdy Award Friday night as part of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2020 class of inductees.

Wilbon, who spent 30 years at The Washington Post in addition to spending the past two decades as the host of “Pardon The Interruption,” among other roles at ESPN, and Breen, the longtime play-by-play man for both the New York Knicks and the NBA on ESPN, who has called the NBA Finals a record-setting 14 times since 2006, have both been fixtures in the basketball world for over a generation.

In accepting the print award, Wilbon said he was thankful that the Hall of Fame is interested in honoring the art of storytelling as part of its annual enshrinement ceremonies.

“I’m grateful the Hall of Fame sees fit to honor the best in reporting and broadcasting basketball,” Wilbon said, “especially when the art of storytelling has become so critical to consuming all the elements of sport.”

Over those 30 years at The Washington Post, Wilbon spent time around the biggest names in basketball, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley, with whom he wrote two best-selling books. All three of them were in the audience Friday night, and he thanked them each individually.

He also thanked several people who have passed recently who had an impact on his career, including Hall of Famers John Chaney, John Thompson, Wes Unseld, Elgin Baylor and Kobe Bryant, who is part of this year’s class.

“It’s an honor to be included anywhere the memory of those men is held dear,” Wilbon said, “and that fascinating stories can be told as long as we are able to tell them and audiences get to listen.”

Wilbon, 62, thanked his wife, Sheryl, and his son, Matthew, whom he gently chided for his inclination to like players of today more than those in the past, joking that he “still has much to learn.” And he also said that he was glad to be going into the hall that represents a sport that, he said, gives minorities the best chance to advance.

“I am grateful to be standing here tonight because basketball of all sports, to borrow from my great friend Tony Kornheiser, is maybe the closest thing our society has to a true meritocracy,” Wilbon said. “Where probably more than in any industry a person of color can go from playing to coaching to being fired to being hired again.”

He also thanked his editors at The Washington Post, including longtime sports editor George Solomon, who hired him at 21 years old.

“Talk about taking a risk,” Wilbon said with a smile.

Breen, 59, has been the voice of a generation of Knicks and NBA fans, working in New York media for decades — first at WFAN, the country’s first radio station, where he started calling Knicks games on the radio, and later at the Madison Square Garden network, where he began calling Knicks games on television in 1997.

“I’ve had this enormous privilege to call so many great moments in NBA history, but the best part, the best part, has always been the lifetime of friendships that the game has given me,” Breen said. “There’s a phrase, or a wording that I’ve always loved. They say the true measure of a man’s wealth is not how much money he has, but how many friends he has. If that’s true, I’d like to thank all of you for making me feel like the richest man alive.”

Breen, who thanked Knicks owner James Dolan and several members of the front office — including president of basketball operations Leon Rose, general manager Scott Perry and front office executives William Wesley and Allan Houston — for being in attendance Friday night, also thanked his many color analysts over the years, a list that includes Hall of Famers Bill Walton, Hubie Brown and Doug Collins, before saving special recognition for his longtime partner on Knicks broadcasts, Hall of Famer Walt “Clyde” Frazier — “who has always been my basketball hero” — and longtime ESPN/ABC co-workers Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, both of whom were in attendance, as was longtime producer Tim Corrigan.

“These two always hate it and they make fun of me when I get sentimental,” Breen said of Van Gundy and Jackson, “but I hope you two know just how much you have meant to me over all these years. I laugh and learn every single game we do together. Thanks for a truly amazing ride. I’m here tonight because of our work together.”

Breen also thanked his wife, Rosanne, and his children, Michael, Nicole and Matt, all of whom were in attendance.

“I am the world’s luckiest husband, and luckiest father, because every day you fill my heart with love and joy,” Breen said.

In addition to Wilbon and Breen, TNT’s longtime pre- and postgame basketball show, “Inside The NBA,” was honored with the Hall’s inaugural Curt Gowdy Transformative Media Award for its incredibly long and successful run, primarily with Ernie Johnson hosting flanked by Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal.

“The thing about our group, I think, it’s gone through so many changes,” Johnson said during an on-stage interview of him, Barkley and O’Neal with ESPN’s Lisa Salters, who hosted Friday night’s event. “I’ve been there 31 years, and when I was doing the show by myself, then Kenny came along, and you bring on the guy that’s changed the landscape of shows we do, Charles Barkley, and you bring on the world’s biggest 14-year-old, and we have the time of our lives.

“You can’t predict chemistry, you don’t know how it’s going to work, but we love each other. I grew up with three sisters, and this is the closest I will be to having three brothers.”

Meanwhile, Jim Gray was honored with the inaugural Curt Gowdy Media Insight Award; Tim Nugent was honored with the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award; and Bill Russell, Wayne Embry and George Raveling were given the Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award.

The rest of the Hall of Fame’s star-studded 2020 class, which is led by Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame Saturday night at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN.

All of Saturday’s inductees were honored with their blazers during Friday night’s event, with Duncan, Garnett and Bryant being honored last.

Duncan’s blazer was put on by longtime Spurs teammate Tony Parker, while Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, put Bryant’s on their oldest daughter, Natalia. The two of them also left the event with Bryant’s longtime Lakers teammate, Pau Gasol.



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NBA playoff watch – Philadelphia 76ers nab East’s top seed; Washington Wizards clinch play-in spot

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With the addition of play-in games to the 2021 NBA playoffs, the scramble for seeding is wilder — and more important — than ever, with almost every game down the stretch having significant postseason implications.

Play-in matchups after Thursday’s games

Play-in games to be held Tuesday through Friday of next week

How the play-in tournament will work

Current NBA standings

EAST

Game 1: No. 8 Charlotte Hornets at No. 7 Boston Celtics — winner is No. 7 seed in playoffs; loser moves on in play-in

Game 2: No. 10 Washington Wizards at No. 9 Indiana Pacers — winner moves on in play-in; loser is eliminated

Game 3: Wizards/Pacers winner at Celtics/Hornets loser — winner is No. 8 seed in playoffs

WEST

Game 1: No. 8 Golden State Warriors at No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers — winner is No. 7 seed in playoffs; loser moves on in play-in

Game 2: No. 10 San Antonio Spurs at No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies — winner moves on in play-in; loser is eliminated

Game 3: Grizzlies/Spurs winner at Lakers/Warriors loser — winner is No. 8 seed in playoffs


Teams that clinched Friday

Already in

EAST

Playoff spots: Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks

Play-in spots (seeds 7-10): Celtics, Hornets, Pacers

WEST

Playoff spots: Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets

Play-in spots: Warriors, Grizzlies, Spurs

TBD: Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, Lakers


Here’s a breakdown of the key games from Friday and what the results mean for the seedings:

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Joel Embiid comes up with a block as Ben Simmons goes all the way for a two-handed jam vs. the Magic.

The top seed in the East is officially settled, and it belongs to the Philadelphia 76ers. With a win over the Magic on Friday, the Sixers have clinched home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, and maybe more importantly, positioned themselves on the opposite side of the bracket from the Nets and Bucks.

It’s the first time the Sixers have been the top seed since 2001, when Allen Iverson led them throughout the playoffs to the NBA Finals against the Lakers.

Who Philly plays in the first round will be determined through the play-in, with the Celtics, Hornets, Pacers and Wizards all in play for the 8-seed.

Taking the top seed is a boost, but not necessarily an accomplishment for the Sixers, with coach Doc Rivers downplaying its importance earlier in the week.

“I don’t look at the No. 1 seed as being this great achievement,” Rivers said. “I just think it’s great to have because of home-court [advantage]. The achievement is winning [the championship].” — Royce Young

With a win against the Cavaliers, the Washington Wizards have settled the final play-in spot for the East, securing at least a top-10 seed and, therefore, eliminating the Chicago Bulls.

It has been a striking turnaround for the Wizards, who on April 5 were 17-32 and outside the East’s playoff picture. Since then, they’ve gone 16-6, which featured a seven-game winning streak, boosting them into the top 10.

With a game to go, there’s still more to play for as the Wizards are a game behind the Hornets and Pacers for the eighth and ninth spots. The difference between No. 8 and No. 9 is huge, obviously, going from a possible one-and-done game to needing to lose two games to be eliminated.

And guess what? The Wizards close the regular season against the Hornets on Sunday, while the Pacers finish with the Lakers (in what is a near must-win for L.A.). The Wizards hold the tiebreaker on the Pacers, which would bump them ahead if Washington closes with a win and the Lakers beat Indiana. The Hornets play the Knicks on Saturday, and with a win, lock up a higher spot than the Wizards by virtue of a 2-1 season series tiebreaker. But should the Hornets lose, it sets up a massive seeding game between Washington and Charlotte. — Young

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