Russell Westbrook wouldn’t be denied in Philly. The trash talk from Joell Embiid seemed to fuel the reigning MVP even more.
The Thunder won 119-117 in triple overtime, and Westbrook recorded yet another triple-double by scoring 27 points with 18 rebounds and 15 assists. Westbrook is now averaging a triple-double against the 76ers dating back to the 2013-14 season.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 16, 2017
Paul George and Carmelo Anthony chipped in with 24 points apiece, and the three stars accounted for 23 of the Thunder’s 25 points in extra time.
Joel Embiid helped Philly erase an eight-point halftime deficit, scoring a game-high 34 points with eight rebounds and six assists, but it wasn’t enough to stop them from picking up their fifth loss in six games.
Embiid continued to take shots at Westbrook after the game. “They won the game, I give them a lot of credit, they did a lot of (good) things, but I mean, the guy shot 10 for 33, I wish I would have shot 33 times, I guess we would have had a better chance of actually winning the game,” Embiid told reporters after the game.
— Akron Hoops (@Akron_Hoops) December 16, 2017
Even Lebron James chimed in about the game.
After the game, Westbrook waved goodbye to Embiid and his trolling.
“I was telling him, `Go home,” Westbrook said.
Tom Brady Leads Another Comeback To Lead The Patriots To The Superbowl
The Jacksonville Jaguars had a 14-3 lead going into halftime. The New England Patriots were slow coming out at Gilette stadium. In But Tom Brady we trust.
Brady led the Patriots back from the brink. With less than 3 mins left to go, Brady found Danny Amendola in the back of the endzone to steal the win and secure Brady’s 54th comeback win.
WHAT A CATCH BY @DannyAmendola!!
— NFL (@NFL) January 21, 2018
“It’s pretty crazy,” Brady said. “It’s pretty amazing. Just to be on a team that wins these kinds of games, it’s just a great accomplishment. I’m just so proud of everyone on our team, we made so many great plays. Defense played so great when they needed to. Just an amazing game.”
Brady went 6-for-6 for 57 yards on the Patriots’ opening drive and finished with 290 yards on 26-of-38 passing. Another great pass that may get lost his flee flicker pass to Phillip Dorsett on a third and 18.
Oh heyyyyy @Dorsett_4!
FLEA FLICKER! pic.twitter.com/HCxmyJ0lJT
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 21, 2018
The play allowed the Patriots to cash in with a 9-yard touchdown to Amendola
Predictions for Sunday’s Conference Championship Games
If I told you coming into this NFL season that Tom Brady would be competing for a Super Bowl, you probably would have said something along the lines of “what else is new?”. If I told you back in August that Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles would be competing for a Super Bowl, you probably would have laughed in my face. Fast forward to today and that is exactly what we have. Keenum, Foles and Bortles have combined for just 5 playoff game appearances in their career whereas Brady has played in 35 career playoff games. So, if there is anything that these playoffs have taught us it’s that you do not necessarily need an elite franchise quarterback to be successful in the NFL. Stout defense, a good running game and seizing your opportunities can be just enough to get your team over the hump. The question before today’s conference championship games is this: who is going to do just enough to get over that hump and head to Minnesota for Super Bowl LII? Here are my predictions for Sunday’s games:
AFC Championship Game:
Jaguars @ Patriots – 3:05 PM on CBS
Most of the media noise in the AFC this season has been about Blake Bortles. Bortles’ inconsistent play has made him arguably the most polarizing player in the NFL and while he has been very bad at times this season, he has also had a lot of bright spots. Last week against the Steelers in the Divisional Round, Bortles went 14-26 for 214 yards and a touchdown. While this may seem like fairly pedestrian numbers, it is exactly what the Jaguars’ team and fans alike were hoping to see out of their signal caller. Decisive throws, good mobility and no poor decisions is what we saw from Bortles last week and it is what we’re going to need to see today if the Jags are going to stand any chance against the Patriots. Something to look for in this game is whether the Jaguars are able to get out to a quick lead like they did against Pittsburgh last week. Bortles ranks 4th in the NFL in total quarterback rating this season when his team is leading, so if the Jaguars are able to go up early, it could mean good things for Blake. Despite all the talk about the quarterback play for the Jaguars, the key to them winning today is their defense. While the Jaguars did give up 42 points to the Steelers last week, they do have one of the best defenses the NFL has to offer. They are opportunistic, dominant and, as Jalen Ramsey shows below, confident. However, will the Jaguars defense be able to do just enough to pull out a victory against Tom Brady and the Pats?
"We goin' to the Super Bowl. AND we gon' win that b—h"
— Jalen Ramsey to the crowd of Jaguars fans at EverBank Field pic.twitter.com/fE2jSx3Pj1
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 15, 2018
Tom Brady, in my humble opinion, is the greatest quarterback of all time. As stated above he has appeared in 35 playoff games and is looking to expand his impressive resume today by clinching his 8th Super Bowl appearance, the most ever by a quarterback in NFL history. There has been a lot of hubbub this week about Brady’s hand and whether he is going to be healthy enough to play today. However, that was all for not as it was announced yesterday that he will start. The key for the Patriots in this game though is not Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, but rather their play on the defensive side of the ball. The Pats have a very porous defense, ranking 20th in overall run defense and 30th in passing defense. This is a troubling statistic when going up against an offense with a runningback like Leonard Fournette, who ran for over 1000 yards in this, his rookie season. Tom Brady is always going to do his thing on the offensive side of the ball, but the key for New England in this game is their defense and getting into the head of Blake Bortles. Bortles is excellent when his team is leading, but his quarterback rating is one of the worst in the NFL when his team is trailing. So, if you’re the Patriots you need to try to jump out to a lead early and then you can almost rely on Bortles turning the ball back over to you in a comeback effort.
Prediction: The Jaguars will jump out to an early lead and behind the strong running of Leonard Fournette and their defense adding an interception late against Tom Brady, the Jags will shock the world and earn a spot in their first ever Super Bowl. Jaguars 24 – Patriots 21
NFC Championship Game:
Vikings @ Eagles – 6:40 PM on FOX
For the second straight week, the number 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles are underdogs at home. Despite a 15-10 victory last week against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, the Eagles still don’t seem to be getting enough credit for what they are doing with backup quarterback Nick Foles. Foles was very impressive last week against the Falcons, throwing only 7 incompletions and racking up 246 yards through the air. However, it was the Eagles defense that won the game last week. They held Matt Ryan to just over 200 yards passing, surrendered only 10 points to a high-flying offense and even held up on a goal-line stand to win the game. This was a bit of a surprise as the Eagles passing defense ranks in the bottom half of the NFL. This is going to be the key if the Eagles are going to come out on top today. Case Keenum threw for just over 3500 yards this season for the Vikings, while boasting a 22/7 touchdown to interception ratio. The Eagles will need to break Keenum’s composure if they’re going to win today. On the other side of the ball, you have one of the better offenses in the NFL, especially running the football. Despite losing Carson Wentz for the remainder of the season, Philly has still done an admirable job of moving the football with Nick Foles. If they’re going to pull off a victory today at home, Philadelphia is going to need their quarterback to play out of his mind against the buzzsaw that is the Minnesota Vikings defense.
We all know how the Vikings got to where they are today. A buzzer beating 61-yard touchdown from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs sent the Vikings through to the NFC Championship game and sent the New Orleans Saints packing. Despite needing a miraculous play to win last week, the Vikings offense played better than expected. Case Keenum threw 25-40 for 318 yards and that one touchdown and for the Vikings to win today, they’re going to need more of the same. As I stated above, the Eagles passing defense is subpar at best, so Keenum is going to have ample opportunities to move the football and score points. The onus is on the Vikings stellar defense today and if they can continue the play that has made them one of the most feared defenses in the league. Minnesota ranked first in points and yards allowed per game this season and rank 2nd in both passing and rushing defense. For the Vikings to win today, they are going to need their defense to get to Nick Foles early and often and give Case Keenum opportunities to tear up the poor Eagles passing defense.
The Vikings led the NFL in total defense this season. The Eagles are 0-3 in postseason play against the leader in total defense. pic.twitter.com/F6tauKd55A
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 21, 2018
Prediction: The Vikings defense will be far too much for the Eagles to handle and will continuously give the ball to Case Keenum and the Vikes offense. Keenum will have another good day through the air and will make the Vikings the first team to ever compete for a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Vikings 27 – Eagles 17
Harden Returns To Lead Rockets To Win Over The Dubs
On Saturday the Rockets took a big leap forward with their 116-106 win over Golden State.
Houston now has swag and looks like the biggest threat to dethrone the reigning NBA champions. The victory gives Houston a 2-1 series advantage over Golden State after the reigning NBA champions had won the series the previous three seasons.
“Obviously they’re a championship caliber team for the past four years … and that’s what we’re trying to build our way up to,” Harden said.
Paul scored 33 points with 11 rebounds, Harden bested Steph Curry twice in the final seconds and finished with 22 points.
Harden stepped back from Curry for a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to make it 114-108 with 1:10 left, then blocked Curry’s 3-point attempt after a timeout.
— NBA (@NBA) January 21, 2018
Kevin Durant led Golden State with 26 points, Draymond Green had 21 and Curry added 19 on a night he went 5 of 15 on 3-point attempts and 6 of 20 overall. It was just the sixth time in his career that he’d attempted 20 or more shots while making six or fewer.
“It was just one of those nights where I personally didn’t have the right vision on the floor,” he said. “So I’ve got to take that responsibility for that one. It was pretty bad”
The Warriors are not viewing the game regular season with the same importance as the Rockets.
“The season starts over when you’re in the playoffs anyway, so it doesn’t matter. You’re going to have to get through these teams to get to where you want to go. You have to play at home and on the road, so it really doesn’t matter.” said Durant” We just want to be playing good basketball when it comes down to that point.”
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