Update on the latest sports
(Eds: Corrects NBA schedule to show Utah visits Oklahoma City with a 3-1 series lead.)
Sixers advance by whipping Heat…Celts get Smart, beat Bucks
UNDATED (AP) – The Philadelphia 76ers have advanced to the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals just two years after a 10-72 season.
The 76ers wrapped up their quarterfinal series in five games as Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a 104-91 win over the Miami Heat. Ben Simmons added 14 points and 10 boards amid a raucous crowd that included rapper Meek Hill, who sat courtside just hours after being released from prison.
JJ Redick led Philadelphia’s offense by shooting 5-for-10 from 3-point range and finishing with 27 points.
The game was tied until the Sixers outscored the Heat by 14 in the third quarter. Miami scored just 45 points in the second half and shot 39 percent for the game.
The 76ers will take on either Boston or Milwaukee in the next round.
The defending champs also moved into the conference semifinals.
Kevin Durant scored 25 points and Klay Thompson added 24 as the Warriors held off the Spurs in Game 5 of their first-round series, 99-91. Draymond Green had a great all-around game with 17 points and team highs of 19 boards and seven assists.
The Spurs closed to within two points before Green nailed a long jumper and a pair of free throws with 9.1 seconds left to close out the win.
LaMarcus Aldridge had a game-high 30 points and Patty Mills added 18 for San Antonio, which failed to get past the opening round for the first time since 2015.
The Pelicans will be Golden State’s second-round opponent.
In Boston, Marcus Smart played for the first time since mid-March and provided a big spark in the Celtics’ 92-87 win over the Bucks.
Smart came off the bench to provide nine points, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks in his first game since undergoing right thumb surgery. He played 25 minutes in helping the Celts take a three-games-to-two lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Al Horford finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who blew most of a 16-point, second-half lead before winning. Terry Rozier added 16 points and five assists to the victory.
Bucks big man Giannis Antekokounmpo (YAH’-nihs an-the-toh-KOOM’-poh) fell one assist shy of a triple-double, but he finished with a series-low 16 points.
Khris Middleton had a game-high 23 points for the Bucks, who host Game 6 on Thursday.
There are four Game 5s on the Wednesday night schedule. Washington visits Toronto and Cleveland hosts Indiana in two series that are tied 2-2. Utah takes a 3-1 lead into Oklahoma City and Houston is at home with a 3-1 lead over Minnesota.
NHL-STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS-SCHEDULE
All eyes on Boston for Game 7
BOSTON (AP) – The lone NHL playoff game Wednesday is in Boston, where the Toronto Maple Leafs try to avoid a repeat of what happened in a Game 7 against the Bruins five years ago.
Just as in 2013, the Maple Leafs have beaten the Bruins in back-to-back elimination games to force their first-round playoff series to the limit. And they want to finish the job this time. Five years ago, they became the first team in NHL history to blow a three-goal, third-period deficit and lose a Stanley Cup playoff game.
That year, the Maple Leafs won two straight and then opened a 4-1 lead in the third period of Game 7, but Boston scored a pair of goals 31 seconds apart in the final 2 minutes of regulation before winning in overtime.
Top outfileld prospect set to join the Braves
UNDATED (AP) – Top outfield prospect Ronald Acuna is set to join the Atlanta Braves in Cincinnati.
The 20-year-old teased Braves fans with a monster spring training, batting .432 with four homers, four stolen bases and a 1.247 OPS in 16 games. By delaying his promotion a few weeks past opening day, the Braves pushed back Acuna’s free-agent eligibility until after the 2024 season.
Acuna and 21-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies will give Atlanta the two youngest players in the majors.
Elsewhere in the majors:
– The Tampa Bay Rays face former teammate Alex Cobb when they play at Camden Yards. They had been set to meet up Tuesday night, but the game in Baltimore was rained out. The 30-year-old Cobb spent his entire career with the Rays before joining the Orioles in late March. Over six years with Tampa Bay, the right-hander was 48-35 and one of the leaders of the staff. Cobb signed a $57 million, four-year deal with Baltimore. He got off to a late start because he missed most of spring training, and since his return has gone 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA.
– Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has a 2.45 ERA after five starts, not far off his career mark of 2.36. But his won-loss record this season looks unusual – he’s 1-3. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner was a combined 67-18 over the previous four years. He’ll try to get back in the victory column when he starts against Miami at Dodger Stadium.
– Justin Verlander makes his sixth start of the season when Houston hosts the Angels. Max Scherzer, winner of the last two NL Cy Young Awards, pitches at San Francisco. Phillies newcomer Jake Arrieta faces Arizona star Zack Greinke at Citizens Bank Park.
– Yankees right-hander Sonny Gray has totaled just 16 1/3 innings in four starts this season. He’ll aim to add a little length when he pitches against Minnesota at Yankee Stadium.
Atlanta 2nd franchise for new spring football league
ATLANTA (AP) – Atlanta has been chosen to join Orlando as franchises in the new Alliance of American Football that will begin play next February.
The Atlanta Alliance has hired former NFL coach Brad Childress as its head coach, with Michael Vick serving as Childress’ offensive coordinator. Atlanta is the second city to get a franchise in the league that was created by Pro Football Hall of Fame member Bill Polian and longtime TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol. The Alliance has a television deal with CBS and plans to open its first season the week after next year’s Super Bowl.
Another veteran coach, Steve Spurrier, is in charge of the Orlando team.
The team will play at Georgia State Stadium, the former Turner Field that was home to baseball’s Atlanta Braves.
Matt Kenseth to return to NASCAR with Roush Fenway Racing
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Matt Kenseth will return to NASCAR this season in a reunion with Roush Fenway Racing, the team that gave him his Cup start in 1998.
Kenseth will split the No. 6 Ford with Trevor Bayne, who has been the full-time driver of that car since 2015. Kenseth has sponsorship from Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and his return will come next month at Kansas Speedway. Roush did not announce Wednesday how many races Kenseth will drive.
Kenseth won a Cup championship and two Daytona 500s driving for Roush Fenway. He moved to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013 and won 15 of his 39 career victories driving for Gibbs.
Kenseth lost his ride last season when Gibbs had to let a veteran go to make room for Erik Jones and a wave of younger NASCAR drivers.
COLLEGE SPORTS-MICHIGAN STATE
More turmoil for Spartans
CHICAGO (AP) – Letters obtained by The Associated Press indicate that Michigan State University maintained ties to a prominent volleyball coach long after he was publicly accused in 1995 of sexually abusing and raping six underage girls he trained in the 1980s.
The letters from advocates for the accusers reveal the school has been under pressure for at least a year to sever its relationship with Rick Butler as Michigan State reels from the sexual abuse scandal involving team doctor Larry Nassar.
Butler’s accusers say he threatened to use his national influence to thwart their college prospects if they did not accept his advances.
APNewsBreak: Hoops panel says ban cheats, end 1-and-done
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – A panel tasked with reforming college basketball says the NCAA should work to end the one-and-done era and punish coaches and programs that cheat more harshly.
The Commission on College Basketball led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is calling for sweeping reforms that include banning cheating coaches for life and certifying agents who deal with players.
The independent commission released a detailed 60-page report Wednesday, seven months after the NCAA formed the group to respond to a federal corruption investigation that rocked college basketball.
Ten people, including some assistant coaches, have been charged in a bribery and kickback scheme, and high-profile programs such as Arizona, Louisville and Kansas have been tied to possible NCAA violations.
The commission offered harsh assessments of NCAA enforcement. It says the environment surrounding college basketball encourages people to cheat.
NCAA President Mark Emmert says he hopes legislation to implement some recommendations made by the Commission on College Basketball can be voted on in August.