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While there was some of that, there was also some relief, the Lakers getting the time they need to reset before trying for another title.Charlotte Hornets Face Coverings

James, who pulled off something unprecedented in league history last season -- becoming the first player ever to win a Finals MVP with three different franchises -- ended his 2020-21 season with some personal history.

The Hawks were on fire early and took a commanding halftime lead in Game 1. The Sixers fought back in the second half, but the deficit was too much to overcome in a Hawks 128-124 victory.Atlanta Hawks Face Coverings

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After seeing his team get blown out by the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, Malone lamented what he felt was his team's "soft mentality" while watching the Nuggets -- who led 58-57 at halftime -- get outscored 65-47 in the final 24 minutes.Portland Trail Blazers Face Coverings
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"I guess his neck collar feels great now," Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. quipped. "That’s our guy. We’ll do whatever we can to back him up in any situation and any given moment. With the performance he had today, it would’ve sucked if we didn’t come out with a victory."

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The Sixers aren’t attempting to pull off anything terribly scandalous. Much of the sport comes down to probabilities, as president of basketball operations Daryl Morey knows better than most. Teams consider how likely a certain opponent is to make an open three-pointer from the right corner; whether an Embiid post-up tends to produce more points late in games than a Tobias Harris isolation on a smaller defender; what odds a roster has of winning a game, a series, a championship. Cleveland Cavaliers Face Coverings

"I think we've shown as a group that every time we hit adversity, most times, we never run from it," said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. "We buckle down, we embrace it, we find a way."