Jimmy Butler’s vague Instagram post had Sixers fans freaking out

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Nesbitt | USA TODAY SPORTS

It didn’t take long for Philadelphia 76ers fans to fall for Jimmy Butler after he joined the team during this past season.

They especially loved how hard he played in the playoffs before the Sixers lost that Game 7 to the Toronto Raptors.

Butler, however, is going to be a free agent when free agency begins this summer and he’s going to get a huge payday from some team looking for a star who can score like Butler can.

Sixers fans freaked out late Thursday night when Butler posted a photo on Instagram with the caption: “to Philly. and my teammates. THANK YOU.”

Did Butler just say goodbye to the Sixers?

Fans think so:

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Tyreke Evans dismissed from NBA for violating league’s anti-drug program

Jason Owens | Yahoo Sports

Tyreke Evans has been dismissed from the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug program.

The league announced the ban Friday afternoon.

“The NBA announced today that Tyreke Evans has been dismissed and disqualified from the league for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA anti-drug program,” a release reads. “Under the anti-drug program, Evans is eligible to apply for reinstatement in two years.”

The release also noted that the league is not permitted to discuss details of a player’s failed drug test other than to announce a suspension or dismissal.

Dismissal indicates drug of abuse

Per NBA policy, this ban applies to a drug of abuse, rather than a performance-enhancing drug. Had Evans been suspended for a steroid or performance-enhancing drug (SPED), the league would have identified the drug, per the anti-drug policy in the collective bargaining agreement:

“If a player is suspended or disqualified for conduct involving a SPED, the particular SPED shall be publicly disclosed along with the announcement of the applicable penalty.”

Drugs of abuse included in the CBA are listed as follows:

• Amphetamine and its analogs (including, but not limited to, methamphetamine and MDMA)

• Cocaine

• LSD

• Opiates (Heroin, Codeine, Morphine)• Phencyclidine (PCP)

The CBA also lists “marijuana and its by-products” under its list of “prohibited substances.”

Evans was about to hit free agency

Evans, 29, just completed his 10th season in the NBA. A pending free agent, Evans spent this season with the Indiana Pacers, his fourth team since being selected as the No. 4 pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2009 NBA draft.

He has also played for the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies.

Evans averaged 10.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists for the Pacers this season, splitting time between starting and coming off the bench.

For his career, Evans averaged 15.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists as a combo guard who often had the ball in his hands.

Other players dismissed by the NBA

The NBA similarly banned guard O.J. Mayo from the league in 2016 for violating the league’s drug policy. He has since surpassed the two-year time-frame to reapply for eligibility, but has not played again in the NBA.

Evans’ marks the 13th NBA disqualification since 1986. Chris “Birdman” Andersen, Stanley Roberts, Roy Tarpley (twice), Mitchell Wiggins, Lewis Lloyd, Michael Ray Richardson, Richard Dumas, Chris Washburn, Duane Washington and John Drew all received drug bans prior to Mayo and Evans.

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Seth Curry reveals how he tried to trash talk Steph in Warriors’ Game 2 win

Dalton Johnson | NBC SPORTS 

Seth Curry tried to turn back the clock and play the role of pesky little brother on Thursday night. He did it well, too, stealing the ball from older brother Steph four times and scoring 16 points off the bench in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. 

Before the Warriors eventually escaped Seth’s Blazers, 114-111, to take a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven series, the younger Curry tried to distract his elder at the free throw. Good luck with that. 

“He [Steph] made the first one [free throw] and I told him that was like 70 in a row,” Seth told reporters after the game. “I tried to jinx him a little bit. He was like, ‘Alright, it’s gonna be 72.’ He made ’em both.”

Take a look at the brotherly love below: 

“He tried to distract me at the free throw line in the fourth quarter,” Steph said, “and I knew how to kind of go back at him to stay focused on what I needed to do.” 

[RELATED: Seth impactful, but Steph wins Curry brothers’ Game 2 battle]

Older brother Steph got the better of Seth in what was truly a battle of the Curry family that has their parents on an emotional roller coaster. The Warriors’ star point guard scored a game-high 37 points and added eight assists and eight rebounds in the win. 

The brothers’ next chance to one-up each other comes Saturday in Game 3 at the Moda Center in Portland.

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HOOP HANGOUT • NBA PLAYOFFS • GAMEDAY POST • May 17th 2019

Halfway: Bucks top Raptors 125-103 for 2-0 East finals lead

Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo started the game with an emphatic dunk. The next possession, a sprawling block to deny Marc Gasol. The next possession, another dunk.

The tone was set.

And it never changed.

The Eastern Conference doesn’t belong to Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks — yet. But they’re two wins away, after Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 17 rebounds, Ersan Ilyasovacame off the bench to add 17 points and the Bucks never trailed on the way to a 125-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night and a 2-0 lead in the East finals.

“He plays so hard, he lays it all on the line, every time,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It was a great start for us. I think everybody fed off of Giannis and how he started the game.”

How he finished, too.

Antetokounmpo scored 11 points in the fourth for the Bucks, who wound up with six players in double figures — three of them reserves. Nikola Mirotic scored 15, Malcolm Brogdon had 14, George Hill 13 and Khris Middleton 12.

“We really rely on each other … especially the bench,” Ilyasova said. “The starting five set the tone.”

Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points for Toronto, which gave up the game’s first nine points, never led and trailed by double digits for the final 39 minutes. Kyle Lowry scored 15 and Norman Powell had 14 for the Raptors.

“We didn’t do much well tonight, obviously,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

“We get to go back home and protect our home court, like they did these last two games,” Lowry said. “We’ve got a chance to go home, protect home court and do what we’re supposed to do.”

Milwaukee, an NBA-best 60-22 record during the regular season, became the 16th team to start a postseason with at least 10 victories in its first 11 games. Only three teams — the 1989 Los Angeles Lakers, the 2001 Lakers and the 2017 Golden State Warriors — opened the playoffs 11-0.

The Bucks led by as many as 28, before Toronto did just enough chipping away to keep some semblance of hope.

Eventually, Antetokounmpo decided enough was enough.

With 5:51 left to play Antetokounmpo backed Leonard down on the block, spun back toward the center of the lane, scored while getting hit and starting a three-point play. He yelled to the crowd and punched the air. The knockout blow was landed, and the Bucks are two wins from their first NBA Finals berth in 45 years.

“At times, I forget that I have to stay aggressive,” Antetokounmpo said.

Not in that moment, he didn’t.

Aggression wasn’t an issue for the Bucks at any point.

Milwaukee’s lead was 35-21 after the first, 64-39 at the half. It was the first time Toronto had been outscored by 10 or more points in each of a game’s first two quarters since May 25, 2016, against Cleveland and the 25-point halftime hole was, by far, the Raptors’ worst of the season. They trailed Houston 55-37 on March 5.

“The beginning kind of set us in a real bad spot,” Gasol said. “We couldn’t get a grip of the game early on.”

Toronto was down 21 when Lowry got his third foul with 1:27 left until the break. The Raptors left Lowry in; he wound up getting his fourth foul while battling Mirotic for a rebound 24 seconds later and let the referees have an earful as he headed to the bench. Another roll of the dice didn’t pay off, either: Raptors forward Pascal Siakamgot his fourth shortly after halftime, then got his fifth with 9:26 left in the third.

“Give them credit,” Siakam said. “They came with a lot of intensity.”

Antetokounmpo started the second half with a three-point play, pushing the lead to 28.

That’s when Toronto found a bit of a groove.

The Raptors outscored Milwaukee 31-16 over the next nine minutes, getting within 83-70 on a 3-pointer by Fred VanVleet. But a quick flurry by the Bucks restored order — Brogdon rebounded his own miss and scored, then set up George Hill for a score in transition, and Hill scored again off a Raptors turnover a few seconds later.

Just like that, the lead was back up to 19, and it was 95-78 going into the fourth.

“We came out, had a couple defensive stops that led to some transition baskets,” Hill said. “And we ran from there.”

TIP-INS

Raptors: The 14-point deficit after one quarter was Toronto’s second-largest of the season, with a 38-19 opening quarter at San Antonio — Leonard’s return there- on Jan. 3 the only one that saw them down by more. … Lowry became the second player in these playoffs with four fouls by halftime. Detroit’s Bruce Brown did it April 22, also against the Bucks. … The Raptors are 0-63 all-time when trailing by 20 or more at the half.

Bucks: Milwaukee had a big rebounding edge for the second straight game — 60-46 in Game 1, 53-40 in Game 2. … It was Milwaukee’s 70th win of the season, tying the 1973-74 Bucks for the second-most in franchise history. The 1970-71 Bucks won 78. … Ilyasova’s 15 first-half points matched a season high. … Milwaukee has won its last six playoff games, tying a franchise record. … The Bucks are 50-13 vs. the East this season.

HISTORY LESSON

The Bucks have never lost a series when leading 2-0; they’ve been in this spot 13 previous times. Toronto has never overcome a 2-0 series deficit in seven previous attempts.

AWARD FINALISTS

This series has plenty of NBA individual award finalists, revealed Friday. Antetokounmpo is a finalist for MVP and Defensive Player of the Year; Budenholzer is a finalist for Coach of the Year and Siakam is a Most Improved Player finalist. Antetokounmpo will be Milwaukee’s highest finisher in the MVP race since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won in 1974.

UP NEXT

Game 3 is Sunday in Toronto.

Blazers’ Seth Curry thinks Warriors are ‘harder to guard’ without Kevin Durant

Cassandra Negley | Yahoo Sports

Portland Trail Blazers guard Seth Curry is acting like he wants Kevin Durant back.

The Golden State Warriors superstar will not play in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals between the two teams set for Thursday night. The calf injury he suffered in the semifinals was seen as a blow to a third consecutive championship for the powerhouse but then Stephen Curry showed out. He carried the load in a 116-94 Warriors victory in Game 1.

Seth Curry has his own take on Durant vs. No Durant. He told Sam Amick of The Athletic:

“I think they are harder to guard [without Durant]. They move around faster when he’s not out there. They’re definitely not a better team, but they’re harder to guard. Obviously, they play a different style of basketball when Steph and Klay [Thompson] are the focal points offensively, and we haven’t played that team in a while. We’ve got to reshift our focus and make some adjustments coming into Game 2.”

Seth Curry made sure to add the caveat: They’re definitely not a better team without Durant. It’s an oft-discussed quandary that is seeing revived focus with Durant out. Golden State is 26-1 in games Durant doesn’t play yet Stephen Curry does.

Still though: not necessarily better.

Durant is a key asset to the Warriors’ 117.7 points per game average, second-best in the league. The 30-year-old impending free agent averaged 26 points and 6.4 rebounds per game during the regular season. He was even better in the playoffs with three 40-plus point games.

A Durant-less lineup, though, means more for the Splash Brothers combo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. And if Seth Curry sees that as trickier to guard, so be it. The two shooters take a different style of defense, as Blazers’ head coach Terry Stotts was asked about after Game 1.

The Trail Blazers last played the Warriors in the regular season Feb. 13 and won, 129-107. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was ejected near the end of the chippy match-up and the Trail Blazers capitalized on what was then a seven-point lead. Durant and Steph Curry scored 32 points each as the team’s only double-digit scorers.

Hopefully for the Trail Blazers, their focus has indeed reshifted so they can even the series.

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