76ers

NBA Notes: Nets to play 2 regular-season games in Mexico City

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NBA Notes: Nets to play 2 regular-season games in Mexico City

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets will travel to Mexico City in December for two regular-season games as part of the 25th anniversary of the first NBA game in Mexico.

The league announced Wednesday that the Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder will play in Mexico City on Dec. 7. The Nets will play the Miami Heat on Dec. 9. Both games will be in Arena Ciudad de Mexico.

It's all part of the NBA's emphasis on expanding the popularity of basketball in Mexico. Last season, the Phoenix Suns played the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs in Mexico City. The league has played 26 times in Mexico dating back to 1992, the most games held in any country outside of the U.S. and Canada.

The games will be televised on ESPN.

Clippers: Reed’s wife wants domestic battery charge dropped
MIAMI -- The wife of Los Angeles Clippers center Willie Reed said Wednesday she does not wish to press battery charges against her husband after an argument between the couple led to his weekend arrest.

Jasmine Reed said in statement issued by her attorney, Ivlis Mantilla, that the situation was blown out of proportion and that she never called police. Willie Reed, who played last year for the Miami Heat, was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge after the argument Saturday night with his wife at their Miami residence.

A police report quoted Jasmine Reed as saying her 6-foot-11 (2.1 meters), 245-pound (111 kilograms) husband pulled her hair, grabbed her wrists and dragged her in a struggle over her purse. She also told officers she hit Willie Reed with a glass candlestick holder.

On Wednesday, she called Willie Reed "a good man and a great father." The couple has two children.

"This is a private matter between my husband and I and for the sake of our family I would like to keep it that way," Jasmine Reed said (see full story).

Hawks: Veteran Babbitt signs 1-year contract
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks have signed veteran forward Luke Babbitt to a one-year deal.

The Hawks announced the deal on Wednesday. Babbitt will earn about $1.9 million, the league minimum for a player entering his eighth year.

Babbitt has averaged 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds during his NBA career. He will bring experience to a young rebuilding Hawks roster. The 6-foot-9 forward started 55 games for the Miami Heat last season and shot 41.4 percent from 3-point range. He started 36 of the final 41 games when the Heat finished the season 30-11.

Babbitt believes his ability to shoot the 3-pointer is why Atlanta signed him. He says "the way the game is played now, it's so much about shooting and spacing and giving guys room to make plays."

Before his time in Miami, the 28-year-old Babbitt spent three seasons each with New Orleans and Portland.

NBA stars taking notice of Sixers' rise

NBA stars taking notice of Sixers' rise

The Sixers have been rising steadily in the standings and players around the league are taking notice. 

The young squad improved to 31-25 with a victory over the Bulls Thursday. They have won six straight and have not lost at the Wells Fargo Center in 2018. That totals up to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, only two games behind the Wizards for the fourth spot and two games ahead of the Heat for the eighth. 

"I like them," Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler said at the All-Star break. "They've got a lot of great young talent. We do as well. But I think the way that they're going and how they play so hard and play so together, that's how you win basketball games. They're going to be really, really good for a long time."

The Sixers turned heads with a statement win over the Rockets in only their seventh game of the season. From there, they have defeated playoff teams, including a rare sweep of the Spurs, while struggling against sub.-500 opponents. 

They have 26 games remaining to make a postseason push. Of their upcoming opponents, only 10 games are against current top-eight teams in their conferences. Brett Brown has emphasized they can't take any team lightly. This is the time for the Sixers to maximize their schedule and show they learned from previous letdowns.

"They look good," Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard said. "Obviously as a young team, it takes time to learn how to win. ... The mature, really high-level teams, they find a way to get it done. I think for them, that's what their record shows. You play against them and it's hard to play against them. 

"They're really talented, they play hard, they play for a great coach. It's just those nights where you might not have it, having that understanding and that experience that'll lead you to more wins. I think once they get to that point, that's when maybe nine or 10 games that they've let slip, maybe they win those games."

The Sixers wrapped up the majority of their Western Conference schedule prior to the All-Star break. They have only the Timberwolves, Nuggets and Mavericks left to play. Those in the conference still are keeping an eye on the Sixers' progress, even if they may not face off again for months. 

"Everyone definitely sees the talent there," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. "Any time you've got Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid to build around, they've got a very bright future. I think everyone had very high expectations, but it's hard to have high expectations with a team that's got a lot of first-, second-year guys that have never been in the playoffs. 

"But you can tell that they're going to be in the playoffs for, shoot, the next decade or so, probably be upper echelon pretty soon."

Leave the NBA playoffs alone

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USA Today Images

Leave the NBA playoffs alone

You can't kill NBA commissioner Adam Silver for trying.

Last week, Silver announced to the media during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles that he's considering a change to the playoffs, where rather than the top eight seeds in each conference competing to determine a conference champ, playoff teams will be seeded 1 through 16.

More recently, ESPN reported that the league is kicking around a "play-in tournament" to determine the final two seeds in each conference.

Let's take these ideas one at a time:

Re-seeding the postseason may sound fun, and even kind of fair, but it completely dissolves conference rivalries that the league has celebrated for decades. Looking for the Warriors and Rockets in the Western Conference Finals? Sorry. Under the new format, there would be no more West Finals. Right now, those are the two best teams in the NBA. So you might see them in the Finals in that format — if they both get that far.

I could understand this argument in years when the disparity in balance of power is egregious. That's not the case this season. If the NBA season ended today, one team would reap the benefits of a 1-16 playoff format: the 9-seed in the West, the Clippers, who are a half-game better than Eastern Conference 8-seed Miami.

(Psst, right now the 5-12 matchup in a 1-16 format would be Sixers-Cavaliers. But let's stay on topic.)

As for the play-in tournament, this completely contradicts the re-seeding idea. The NBA wants the best teams in the playoffs, right? Is a Pistons-Hornets play-in game must-see TV? Or what's left of the Clippers vs. the Jazz?

And how long do you want the postseason to be? Last season, the playoffs lasted nearly nine weeks. It was only that "brief" because the Finals didn't go the full seven games. Adding another round could extend the NBA season into July (unless it corresponds with a shortening of the schedule). We have seen what happens in Olympic years when players don't get enough offseason rest and it ain't pretty.

I'm guessing this is a backhanded way for Silver to keep more teams from tanking for better draft picks. "Hey, you may be 11th in the conference, but you're one 3-game win streak away from a shot at the postseason!!"

I'm all for change, but in the case of the NBA playoffs, commish, I think we're good for now.