Pacers-Hawks Playoff Preview: Five Key Factors

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yawnDo they have to play this series? Do we really have to watch it and pay close attention?

Look, we all know how bad the Leastern Conference was this season, and we all knew that there would be at least one bad team crashing the party. And the one we ended up with is an Atlanta Hawks team whose general manager, Danny Ferry, said a few weeks back that it really didn’t matter if the Hawks qualified for the postseason or not.

Way to set the bar high, Danny.

So the Hawks come in after having gone 38-44 in the regular season, although they did finish with a flourish by defeating Indiana, Brooklyn and Miami during April. They go up against an Indiana Pacers team that has been going through such a crisis over the past month that coach Frank Vogel benched all of his starters a week ago for a game against the Milwaukee Bucks that the Pacers needed to have to stay in contention for the No. 1 seed.

Nowitzki, Conley, Dragic, Stoudemire key for NBA Teams Chasing Final Playoff Spots

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With one week left in the NBA regular season, the pressure is on for two Eastern Conference teams and four Western Conference teams fighting for the final playoff spots. Millions will intently watch what transpires over the next seven days as teams face must-win games, and the effort and intensity pick up.

Each of these half-dozen teams have a player who will greatly impact the fate of their clubs the rest of the way.

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SH Blog: Cuban to fund HGH study; Jackson speaks about Melo’s year

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Mark_Cuban_2011Mark Cuban is putting his money where his mouth is.

And it has nothing to do with the Dallas Mavericks or the refs or David Stern.

It has everything to do with the future of sports medicine and the potential inclusion of HGH in the professional world of sports. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas, Cuban is funding a study on the potential benefits of HGH use for recovering athletes. Here’s more from the story: 

Bernucca: Spurs Aren’t Streaking, They’re Gliding

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lebron-wade1There have been some fair comparisons drawn between the current 17-game winning streak of the San Antonio Spurs and the remarkable 27-game run put together a year ago by the Miami Heat.

Both teams expect to compete for the NBA championship. Both teams found their rhythm at the most opportune time of the season. Both teams stormed to the league’s best record and home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

There are obvious differences as well. For one, San Antonio still needs 10 straight wins – a run reached by only three other teams this season – to merely match Miami’s streak. Even if they win out, the Spurs will still come up one short of the Heat and have to resume the chase next season.

But here’s the biggest difference. The Heat were somewhat consumed by their streak. The Spurs are not consumed by theirs.

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Tweet of the Day: Evan Fournier Takes Shaqtin’ Joke in Stride

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fournier-mcgee
It’s not easy being openly clowned in a very public forum.

However, such is the life for NBA athletes who fail in magnificent ways, as they fall prey to Shaqtin’ A Fool, a top-5 video showcase of weekly NBA bloopers compiled by the guys on Inside the NBA on TNT with commentary provided by Shaquille O’Neal himself.

O’Neal is known for his sense of humor and is frequently given to clowning and/or pranking others—all in good fun, mind you.

He and the producers at Inside the NBA put a number on Denver Nuggets shooting guard Evan Fournier, who turned the ball over by throwing an errant inbounds pass to no one in the left corner. This unforced error occurred in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks while only down by four.

Not the best time to get your Shaqtin’ A Fool highlight.