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    The last time Wayne Ellington played any meaningful minutes in a postseason game was nine years ago.

    At the Final Four.

    Ellington was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2009 NCAA Tournament after leading North Carolina to the national title. But since turning pro Randy White Jersey , postseasons have marked the start of vacations for Ellington, who has been in only two NBA playoff games, logging 13 1/2 minutes – all in the fourth quarters of blowouts.

    That’s about to change.

    Coming off a record-setting regular season, Ellington will play a vital role for No. 6 seed Miami in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series that starts Saturday in his hometown of Philadelphia against the third-seeded 76ers.

    ”It’s so sweet the way it’s coming,” Ellington said. ”I don’t want to get religious, but I really feel like it’s God’s plan the way that everything’s worked out, where I ended up at and where I’m headed to. I’m appreciative. After all this time, now to be here, I don’t think a player could be more grateful. You couldn’t script this.”

    Ellington set Miami’s single-season 3-point record with 227, and also set an NBA record for 3-pointers by a reserve with 218 (he made nine in his two appearances as a Heat starter this season). He’s going into the postseason coming off the best game of his pro career, a 32-point night that tied the franchise mark for scoring by a reserve in a game.

    As Ellington goes, Miami goes: In his two Heat seasons, they are 34-7 when he makes at least half of his 3-point tries Womens Deryk Engelland Jersey , 43-54 when he does not.

    ”None of them come easy,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. ”He has to work for his shots, he really does. It is great to have a guy that has that ability. When he gets hot, there’s not much you can do about it.”

    Before Wednesday’s regular-season finale victory over Toronto, which sealed the No. 6 seed for Miami, Ellington was slumping – shooting 14 for 48 from 3-point range in those games, or 29 percent. The Heat gave players Tuesday off as a needed rest day, and coach Erik Spoelstra was lured out of his office at one point by the sounds of dribbling and sneaker-squeaking on the practice floor.

    It was Ellington, putting himself through a 45-minute workout with Heat assistant coach Octavio De La Grana. Their routines, whether it’s on an off day or a half-hour before game time, are always the same: cut, catch, shot Johnny Unitas Jersey , swish, over and over and over. And as he watched, Spoelstra found himself simultaneously worried and impressed.

    ”I almost thought it was too much on a day before a game,” Spoelstra said. ”But that’s the vision of a champion before you’re a champion, drenched in sweat, totally exhausted, empty gym with a coach, working your (butt) off.”

    The result: Ellington was 8 for 12 from deep on Wednesday, leading the Heat rally to a win over the top seed in the East.

    What happened Tuesday was not uncommon. The Heat didn’t make the playoffs last season, and Ellington was back in the gym about a week after the regular season ended – even though at the time, there was no guarantee he’d be back with Miami this season. He would put himself through intense workouts, sometimes to the point where De La Grana would quietly suggest he take the next day off and enjoy life.

    The Heat locker room is filled with hard workers, but teammates say Ellington stands out.

    ”Wayne’s like my right-hand man Womens Ryan Kerrigan Jersey ,” rookie center Bam Adebayo said. ”He does everything that he needs to do behind closed doors. He takes care of his body, eats right, and I’m learning from him.”

    And now, the playoff chance is finally here for Ellington.

    He sat at his locker for a few postgame minutes after the regular season ended, his thoughts drifting back to that Final Four run and championship moment.

    ”Up until now, that’s been my best experience as a player,” Ellington said. ”I’m looking forward to trumping that.”

    Marco Gonzales was looking for some retribution against the Kansas City Royals.

    Gonzales (8-5) pitched a six-hitter for his first career complete game in the Seattle Mariners‘ 4-1 victory on Friday. The left-hander struck out seven and didn’t issue a walk while throwing just 96 pitches.

    ”My last outing against these guys didn’t go great – my second start of the year, I think – so I was looking for some payback, too. So I was a little more amped than usual,” Gonzales said.

    Mitch Haniger and Mike Zunino homered for Seattle.

    Gonzales had been chased after just 2 1/3 innings of what became a 10-0 loss on April 9, but Friday’s start was much different. Gonzalez, who’d never taken a game into the eighth inning until going 7 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay earlier this month, didn’t need more than 13 pitches to finish any inning against the Royals.

    ”He has a lot of confidence right now because everything that’s happened to him this year http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/jabaal-sheard-jersey , he’s earned,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

    Whit Merrifield singled to lead off the game and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Rosell Herrera. Gonzales picked Merrifield off second base to erase the baserunner and would retire nine straight batters before running into a spot of trouble in the fourth.

    Herrera doubled off the glove of left fielder Denard Span with one out. An infield single from Mike Moustakas put runners on the corners, but Gonzales induced an inning-ending double play from Salvador Perez to keep the Royals off the board.

    ”The way that we’ve been playing and the fun that we’ve been having, I can’t wait for my fifth day to come,” Gonzales said. ”To be able to go out there and contribute in a positive way and have these guys rally behind you is pretty incredible.”

    Royals starter Ian Kennedy (1-8) retired the first 10 batters he faced before running into trouble in the fourth. Jean Segura reached on an infield single to give Seattle its first baserunner of the game. Haniger followed with a two-run blast over the center-field wall to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead.

    After fouling off three straight pitches with a 2-2 count, Zunino blasted a solo home run two rows from the top of the upper deck in left field to extend the Mariners’ lead to 3-0 in the fifth.

    Kennedy left after five innings due to tightness in his left side that surfaced on the last pitch to Zunino.

    ”I felt it grab,” Kennedy said. ”And then the rest of the inning it stayed tight. The last couple pitches I was compensating for it, so I knew … the right thing to do is to say something.”

    Segura added a two-out RBI single in the seventh inning off Brandon Maurer to give Seattle a 4-0 advantage.

    Adalberto Mondesi doubled to open the ninth and Moustakas delivered a two-out single to center field to drive home the only run of the game for the Royals.

    BONIFACIO RETURNS

    Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio was recalled and back in the lineup for the Royals on Friday after completing an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Bonifacio was suspended in March after testing positive for Boldenone, which is an anabolic androgenic steroid. Bonifacio started the game in left field and went 0 for 3 with a strikeout. He hit .255 with 17 home runs and 40 RBIs in 113 games as a rookie in 2017. OF Ryan Goins was designated for assignment on Thursday to clear a roster spot. ”It was a tough time down there in Arizona. But I learned from it. It’s never going to happen again,” Bonifacio said.

    TRAINER’S ROOM

    Royals: C Perez was back in the lineup after exiting Wednesday’s game in Milwaukee in the ninth inning after taking a foul ball off his right leg.

    Mariners: 3B Kyle Seager was back in the lineup after making only a pinch-hit appearance in Baltimore on Sunday. Seager has an ”avulsion fracture” in his big toe and was given the day off in the field to rest. It’s not expected to require a disabled list stint and Seager is planning to play through the injury.

    UP NEXT

    Royals: RHP Jason Hammel (2-9) will make his 17th start of the season on Saturday. Hammel has lost four straight starts and has allowed at least three earned runs in three of the four outings.

    Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez (7-6) will take the hill for the 18th time this season as he looks to continue a run of strong starts. After a rough first two months of the season, Hernandez has allowed just one earned run in three of his five starts in June.

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