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Sixers’ Joel Embiid cruises to playoff career-high 36 points in rout of Washington Wizards

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Getting little resistance and confident in deploying his full array of offensive skills, Joel Embiid unleashed a crushing performance Saturday night as he posted a playoff career-high 36 points in just 28 minutes to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 132-103 victory over the Washington Wizards.

He made 14-of-18 shots, with a stream of power moves, fadeaway jumpers and 3-pointers as the 76ers took their first 3-0 lead in a series since 1985.

The Wizards, who have matchup issues all across the floor against the bigger and deeper 76ers, didn’t double team Embiid as aggressively as they did in Games 1 and 2 as they looked to deploy attention elsewhere. Embiid crushed the strategy, piling up 25 points in the first half.

He’s averaging 30.6 points on a relentless 67% shooting including 55% on 3-pointers after making 3-of-4 in Game 3. His dominance and confidence against the Wizards’ attempts to deal with him were personified in two possessions late in the second quarter.

In open space at the 3-point line, Embiid pump-faked and easily got past Daniel Gafford, his defender on the play. When Embiid got into the lane the backline defender, Rui Hachimura, bailed and got out of the way. Embiid rose up for a power dunk but missed, maybe surprised it came so easy.

Two possessions later, seeing no reason not to, he tried the exact move again. Gafford was lost on an Embiid pump fake, Hachimura bailed when Embiid came rolling down the lane and this time the MVP finalist got the timing right, polishing off a highlight jam before posing.

It wasn’t just Gafford and Hachimura, Embiid whipped about half the Wizards roster on the night. Washington came in ranked 13th in defense among the playoff teams and didn’t show much vigor, allowing the 76ers to get a stream of clean 3-pointers in transition and halfcourt sets.

Ben Simmons, who had 14 points and nine assists, repeatedly set up teammates for 3-pointers, namely Embiid and Danny Green, who made five of them. The 76ers made 17-of-33 3-pointers and shot 59% overall.

Russell Westbrook, playing through a sprained right ankle, had his best offensive game of the series with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as he tied Jason Kidd for third all-time in playoff triple-doubles with his 11th. Bradley Beal had 25 points but made just 1-of-8 3-pointers.

“Joel was special, special tonight,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “We had one of those nights where everything fell for us.”

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Top NBA draft prospect Jalen Suggs signs multiyear deal with Adidas

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Jalen Suggs has landed a multiyear footwear and apparel deal with Adidas ahead of his anticipated selection early in the 2021 NBA draft on Thursday.

“I’m so excited to be with the brand,” the former Gonzaga star said. “I grew up inspired by D-Rose and Dame [Lillard] and want to follow in the steps of the young Adidas family coming up now like Trae [Young] and Don [Mitchell].”

After a breakout freshman season leading the Nike-sponsored Bulldogs to the national championship game of the NCAA tournament, Suggs became one of the most sought-after players entering shoe deal talks this spring.

The deal was negotiated by Wasserman, with Suggs and the agency holding a series of seven presentations — most in person, some virtual — in Los Angeles to begin the process. Adidas ultimately emerged as Suggs’ choice.

Along with outlining product plans for Green in both basketball and lifestyle footwear categories, the brand committed to funding a court refurbishment in his hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and mapped out a pathway to a potential signature shoe down the road.

Adidas currently makes signature footwear for James Harden, Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell and Trae Young, with each product being released during the player’s second or third season with the company.

In addition to Suggs, Adidas has finalized endorsement deals with three other players expected to be selected near the top of the draft, signing explosive wing Jalen Green, versatile big man Evan Mobley and scoring guard Sharife Cooper.

“Each individual brings something unique to our team,” Eric Wise, global GM of basketball at Adidas, said in a statement. “From their talent and work ethic on the court, to a community-first mindset, values and openness to collaboration, we cannot wait to see where this week takes them.”

Behind the scenes, the brand recently merged its Originals and Basketball departments to work more closely together, as the culture of the sport has continued to blur the lines between performance and lifestyle in recent years.

Another factor in swaying players to land with the brand has been the recent appointment of designer Jerry Lorenzo, founder of high-fashion brand Fear of God, to help lead the creative and business strategy of Adidas Basketball. Lorenzo has launched coveted crossover basketball sneakers with Nike in the past, while also carving out his own sought-after footwear category at Fear of God, before signing a long-term partnership with Adidas in late 2020.

With new designers at the helm and a new hybrid marketing approach, along with existing signature athletes he has long looked up to, Suggs is looking ahead to a future with Adidas as he begins his NBA career.

“We will create culture together,” Suggs said. “And if you give me some time, I will pursue greatness like them.”

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Nets announce Mike D’Antoni’s departure from coach Steve Nash’s staff

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NEW YORK — Mike D’Antoni is leaving the Brooklyn Nets, forcing Steve Nash to make another change on his coaching staff.

Nash announced the 70-year-old D’Antoni’s decision in a statement Wednesday, saying having the two-time Coach of the Year was “invaluable” in his first season as a coach.

“I will be forever grateful for his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together,” Nash said in the statement. “Our players and staff all benefited from this time in Broolyn and we wish Mike, Laurel and their family the very best in what lies ahead.”

D’Antoni won the 2005 Coach of the Year award in Phoenix when Nash was his point guard, then another in Houston in 2017. He has long been regarded as one of the NBA’s best offensive coaches and helped the Nets reach the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to eventual champion Milwaukee in seven games.

The Nets already lost one assistant this offseason when Ime Udoka left to become Boston Celtics coach. David Vanterpool was hired to replace him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Mike D’Antoni announces departure from Nets coach Steve Nash’s staff

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NEW YORK — Mike D’Antoni is leaving the Brooklyn Nets, forcing Steve Nash to make another change on his coaching staff.

Nash announced the 70-year-old D’Antoni’s decision in a statement Wednesday, saying having the two-time Coach of the Year was “invaluable” in his first season as a coach.

“I will be forever grateful for his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together,” Nash said in the statement. “Our players and staff all benefited from this time in Broolyn and we wish Mike, Laurel and their family the very best in what lies ahead.”

D’Antoni won the 2005 Coach of the Year award in Phoenix when Nash was his point guard, then another in Houston in 2017. He has long been regarded as one of the NBA’s best offensive coaches and helped the Nets reach the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to eventual champion Milwaukee in seven games.

The Nets already lost one assistant this offseason when Ime Udoka left to become Boston Celtics coach. David Vanterpool was hired to replace him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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