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Sports Corner

By: Rob Bishop

Back again, and as expected, Cleveland’s disappointing season took an odd turn as head coach John Beilein resigned 54 games into a five-year contract.  Expected to develop the team’s collection of young talent, Beilein instead clashed with veterans while also seeing the team’s two most recent top-ten picks—Collin Sexton and Darius Garland—show zero signs of development. His abbreviated tenure with the Cavaliers will go down as a total failure. J.B. Bickerstaff, who has served as an assistant with the Cavaliers this season, will take over as the team’s head coach.
               Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who earlier in the week seemed to be heading to another stint on the sidelines, will officially miss the rest of the season. Irving will have surgery on his ailing shoulder, ending his first season in Brooklyn with a whimper. For the franchise, this puts Irving on the same timetable as Kevin Durant—debuting as teammates to start next season, with the sights set on a championship. Of course, now the Nets will be looking to remain in the playoff field without Irving. Brooklyn enters Friday with a 4.5-lead over the Washington Wizards.
               Any hopes of seeing Clint Capela in an Atlanta uniform in the near future were quashed on Thursday as the team announced he remains weeks away from returning to the court. Battling a heel/plantar fascia issue, Capela is expected to serve as a foundation piece for the future in Atlanta, and though the Hawks aren’t contending this season, getting him on the court is important. The Hawks need to gauge his fit alongside fellow big man John Collins, as well as getting a feel for the effect Capela’s presence in the paint will have on rookie DeAndre Hunter’s defense.
               While Capela remains without a timetable to return, Warriors guard Stephen Curry has a re-evaluation scheduled on February 28. Depending on how this goes, Curry could return to Golden State’s lineup as soon as a March 1 showdown against the Washington Wizards. Obviously, Golden State won’t be making a charge into the Western Conference playoff field with Curry back in tow, but the Warriors will suddenly become a team opponents dread seeing on the upcoming schedule. Plus, Golden State will get the added benefit of watching Andrew Wiggins operating as a complementary piece alongside Curry, something of great importance as the Warriors look to rejoin the championship contenders next season.
               Doing his best impression of Curry, Hawks guard Trae Young had a career night on Thursday, going for 50 points in an upset win over the Miami Heat. Young made his All Star debut this season, and though he didn’t exactly generate headlines over the weekend, the second-year sharp-shooter did just that in his team’s first game back from the break. Young may be a defensive liability, but he has quickly established himself as one of the NBA’s best play-makers and long-range shooters. His presence alone makes Atlanta Hawks games must-watch contests.
               With Ben Simmons sidelined with a back injury, 76ers big man Joel Embiid was the focal point of Philadelphia’s offense on Thursday night, and the All-Star big man rewarded his team with a season-high 39 points. Embiid also pulled in 16 boards while seemingly toying with Brooklyn’s over-matched frontcourt defense. Tobias Harris also had a nice game, scoring 22 with 12 boards and six dimes, as did recent acquisition Alec Burks (19 points on 6-of-11 shooting). Don’t look now, but the 76ers have won four straight games to move to within half-a-game of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference standings.