Brad Stevens relishes Celts’ chances: ‘It’s a blast to have to grit your teeth’

Missed dunks and missed opportunities — that was the story of Game 4 for a Boston Celtics team that squandered a chance to put the Cleveland Cavaliers’ backs against the wall in the Eastern Conference finals.

“Very frustrating. But that’s life,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said. “You keep moving.”

Boston was a combined 1-of-6 shooting with three turnovers any time it cut Cleveland’s lead to single digits in the second half of Game 4, according to ESPN Stats & Information tracking. The Celtics never pulled closer than seven.

The settlement stemmed from Kluwe’s threat to sue the team, after special teams coordinator Mike Priefer used anti-gay language. Priefer still works for the Vikings.

“We obviously had our issues a while ago, but this is our way of looking forward and trying to figure out how we make sure that we set the stage for that not to happen again,” Kluwe said. “I think that it’s the ideal outcome in that, at the end of the day, hopefully this will help a lot of people that otherwise might not have gotten that help.”

Kluwe said he hoped Priefer will attend the event, which will feature panel discussions of how players and coaches can makes sports more welcoming to LGBTQ athletes.

Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren said the Vikings will plan on holding a similar summit in the future, and hope to involve other local teams.

“We definitely want to make sure this is not a one-time event. I can say that with confidence,” Warren said.ravens_129

Lions could find Quin’s successor at safety in draft

The Relative Athletic Score (RAS) system was developed by Kent Lee Platte in 2012 to provide fans with a contextualized score on a 0-10 scale, making it easier to understand how athletic draft prospects are when compared to their position dating back to 1987.

Whether talking about drafting someone to replace an aging starter, or trading away a player near the end of their career, the adage always has been “better a year early than a year too late.” You could probably find several ways to apply this to the Detroit Lions’ roster, but today we’re looking at the safety position.

Glover Quin is one of the most underappreciated players in the league, and one of its more versatile safeties. The team also got various returns from each of the other safeties: Tavon Wilson (7.45 RAS), Miles Killebrew (8.18), and Quandre Diggs (2.48). Diggs and Wilson are only signed through 2018, however, and with Quin now 32 years old, the team needs to look to the future.

The Lions have been linked to a few of the most athletic safeties in this draft class, prospects like Justin Reid (9.68 RAS), who rated slightly higher than his Pro Bowl brother Eric (9.59). Other top athletes in the class, such as Derwin James (9.28) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (8.38) are likely going well before the Lions pick in the first round, but the success rate of mid-range RAS safeties offers some promise later in the draft.

He followed up that Pro Bowl-caliber performance by logging a career-high 83 catches for 1,153 yards and five scores in Year 2.

However, Cooper regressed in 2017 despite finding paydirt seven times.

With the offense out of sync seemingly all season long, Cooper stumbled his way to 48 receptions for 680 yards. All told, he topped 100 yards in a game twice and managed more than five receptions in a single outing.

Earlier in the season, LeBron James and Enes Kanter exchanged barbs, with Kanter poking fun at James’ “King” nickname.

“I don’t care what you call yourself. King, Queen, Princess, whatever you are,” Kanter said. “You know what, we’re going to fight and nobody out there [is] going to punk us.”
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Chiefs lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif moonlights as journalist at Winter Olympics

Of course, those were the two big names on the move last year. The Minnesota Wild, at the time, had the second-best record in the Western Conference but still felt a need to solidify their roster down the center. In acquiring Hanzal, Minnesota surrendered a first- and a second-round pick. Hanzal had one point in a five-game playoff series with the St. Louis Blues The Wild couldn’t get out of the first round.

However, in the final period, with the game in limbo, Curry knocked down a deep transition 3 to give his team a seven-point advantage with under two minutes to play, providing the necessary separation to exit the arena victorious.

“Our defense was not very good, but our offense allowed us to stay in the game,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We had a lot of mix-ups down the stretch.”

Curry scored in the last 10 seconds of each of the first three quarters.

The last time these two teams played, Lou Williams lit up the Warriors for 50 points in a 125-106 Clippers win in the same building. He registered 21 points off the bench this time (7-of-17 field goals, 5-of-5 free throws) with 12 assists.

The sixth-man specialist wasn’t content with being close on the road against the defending champs.

“A loss is a loss, bro,” Williams said. “No moral victories over here.”

Golden State will next host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.

Rooney joined the U.S. national team in 2017. Naturally, she got the Wikipedia treatment after the game, with a creative internet user changing her job title to “Secretary of Defense.”

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored a dazzling, triple-deke goal in the sixth round of a shootout thriller, and Maddie Rooney stuffed the Canadians to wrap up a 3-2 victory over archrival Canada.

Lamoureux-Davidson executed the defining offensive moment of the game, a shootout move that kids will surely be practicing in their driveways for years — a deke to the left with a head pump, an improbable pull back to her forehand, and the slip in. It sealed the win for the U.S. in stylish fashion. What’s even better: Her sister and teammate, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, revealed that Jocelyne had been practicing this move with her skills coach for some time, and its name is: “Oops I did it again.” (A shout-out to Monique, who scored the equalizer on a breakaway with 6:21 left in the third to send the game to overtime, and was consistently one of the best players on the ice all game.)
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Stills has spent time fostering the relationship between law enforcement and children in Miami.

The postseason is here! This is great because from here on out, the games are only going to continue to get better — at least we hope. The NFL is like candy that we consume all season, and the playoffs are just that last sugar rush before we crash into an offseason nap.

Last week was a fun one to send us into Wild Card Weekend, mostly because of the dramatics that happened with the Bills, Ravens, and Bengals. The Bills won, but they needed the Bengals to hand Joe Flacco and the Ravens a loss to knock them out of contention and send the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

They did, and it also generated a bunch of donations toward Andy Dalton’s foundation. It was quite unexpected, considering the circumstances. I mean who could have imagined that the Bengals would have pulled that off(Guest picker Pete Sweeney from Arrowhead Pride was the only one to do so, congrats!)

“It’s a new wave, definitely,” says Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who has raised his fist during the anthem, starting in 2016. “Normally you get guys that are afraid to stand up, they don’t want to be released or they don’t want to face contract issues, but when I see a man like [Eagles safety] Malcolm Jenkins or [Dolphins receiver] Kenny Stills, standing up for something they believe and not backing down, to me, that is a true American.”

Last season he organized a town hall meeting with community leaders and law enforcement to discuss issues of racial inequality and how the parties could work to build understanding.

The Raiders are in the market for a new head coach after firing Jack Del Rio following Oakland’s Week 17 loss to the Chargers. A regression in 2017 pushed the Raiders to move on, while reports swirled that the team was pursuing Gruden as Del Rio’s replacement.

Why would Gruden want to coach the RaidersThe Raiders are reportedly willing to do just about anything to bring him back to Oakland. That includes potentially giving him an ownership stake in the team, according to Gruden’s colleagues at ESPN, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen.

Butler started the Darius Butler Foundation, which aims to fight hunger in underserved communities, inspire at-risk youth to achieve their dreams and improve in the classroom. The Foundation runs an academic summer tutoring camp that provides academic support to help high school students learn studying and test-taking skills. The objective is to not only help students pass standardized tests, but also equip them with the tools necessary to succeed in college.blues_1658

Melbourne United pushes NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder to limit

Melbourne United had everything from injuries, jet lag, talent and one of the NBA’s most intimidating crowds against them, but they rallied to almost pull off a stunning victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder held on to defeat Melbourne 86-85 in a thriller at Oklahoma’s Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday.

With five seconds left in the latest NBL-NBA exhibition clash United big man Josh Boone looked like he had the match-winner, but his shot close to the basket was blocked by Thunder reserve forward Josh Heustis.

Golden State’s offense might get more attention, but the team also has ranked among the top five in defensive rating over each of the past three seasons. Thompson’s ability to check the opposing team’s best perimeter threat plays a significant role in that, and if the Nuggets are going to evolve into a dynasty, Harris needs to show similar development.

The Cardinals can hardly run the football, which prompted a trade for Adrian Peterson. But I’m not forecasting that to change dramatically, which works in Ellington’s favor. He’s an excellent pass catching back, with consecutive nine-catch games and over 150 receiving yards during that same stretch. While Peterson is an upgrade over Chris Johnson, the totality of the running woes for Arizona don’t figure to evaporate any time soon, thus meaning they’ll continue to lean heavily on Ellington in the passing game. In points per reception scoring, he already has RB2 upside.ravens_006

Ezekiel Elliott’s appeal will hone in on ex-girlfriend’s statements

When Ezekiel Elliott appeals his six-game suspension on Tuesday, much of the counter-argument will focus on his ex-girlfriend’s testimony.

According to documents obtained by the Star-Telegram, Elliott will say that Tiffany Thompson made multiple threats to “ruin his career.”

Aguayo clanged a PAT attempt off the right upright after a Bucs touchdown late in the first half, then missed a 47-yard field goal wide right on Tampa Bay’s final possession of the game.

The Florida State product did make a 20-yarder on Tampa Bay’s first series of the game, but his struggles afterward, paired with competitor Nick Folk making a 45-yard field goal in the third quarter, were just the latest fuel for Bucs fans’ ongoing frustration with their kicker.

Aguayo, the first kicker drafted as high as the second round since 2005, made just 22 of 31 field goals as a rookie, with a long of 43 yards. He made 32 of 34 extra points last season.

Tampa Bay had to stick with Aguayo in 2016 after spending such a high pick on him, but the leash figures to be much shorter this preseason with the veteran Folk on hand.

“We have laid the foundation for what we hope will become the next championship-caliber Suns team,” McDonough said. “There is still a lot of work to be done to reach our ultimate goal of bringing a championship to Phoenix so we are thrilled to add James Jones to our staff.

“James has a wealth of experiences that will greatly benefit our organization. He is a three-time NBA champion and has been one of the top executives with the National Basketball Players Association over the past few years. We welcome ‘Champ’ and his family to our Phoenix Suns family.”

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert released a statement Wednesday evening wishing Jones, who has been an NBA players union representative over the last eight years, well in his new position. dolphins_077

Some think Belichick is committed to keeping Garoppolo around.

Hali said on Facebook Live that he did not call out Robert Kraft, but was just trying to illustrate his point about Paterno.

“I said, well, I guess if you’re Mr. Kraft, and you hire someone like Hernandez, and then he commits a crime such as he did, so are we going to point fingers at Mr. Kraft and say he’s to blame for why some individual chose to be unstable and and do something that’s totally — basically none of us would agree with going and killing innocent people,” Hali said.

Some think Belichick is committed to keeping Garoppolo around. CSNNE’s Mike Giardi talked to scouts, a former Patriots player, and an AFC front office staffer, and the consensus was that Belichick probably thinks Garoppolo is the Patriots quarterback of the future.

“Bill thinks he’s got the next great one,” an AFC scout said. “I watched his snaps. I think he can be that. [Garoppolo] has a great base, and his mechanics are close enough to [Brady] that you appreciate his willingness to learn and the coaching he’s gotten there.”

If the Patriots do want to keep Garoppolo beyond 2017, it’s not going to be easy. They could use their franchise tag on him, but that’s going to carry a price tag of around $24 million in 2018. That’s an unreasonable amount of cash to shell out for a backup quarterback who has no shot of starting until Brady’s career is over.

So even if Belichick does want to keep Garoppolo around to develop behind Brady in an Aaron Rodgers-Brett Favre situation, it’s not financially feasible.

The other option is for the team to extend Garoppolo, but that’s a scenario Garoppolo may not be willing to agree to considering his potential for a sizable payday in free agency.
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our Stud honor goes to the league’s star among stars.

What’s gotten into John Wall, anyway? We are accustomed to Wall as an ultra-quick ballhandler capable of barreling to the basket through a sea of defenders, but Wall’s weak spot — perimeter shooting — has been a strength in the postseason. He shot 47.4 percent from behind the 3-point line in six games against Atlanta, averaging 29.5 points and 10.3 assists. He has been just as good with his midrange game, making nearly 50 percent from 16 feet out to the 3-point line.

On a Sunday replete with excellent performances from a variety of NBA stars, our Stud honor goes to the league’s star among stars. LeBron James had 35 points, nine rebounds and six assists in leading the Cavaliers to a 109-102 Game 4 win over Toronto to complete his NBA-record 11th playoff sweep.

James can now sit back and relax while the Wizards and Celtics battle for the right to play his Cavs in the East finals. As for his preferred opponent, James deadpanned, “It doesn’t matter.”

He’s probably right: James’ seventh straight NBA Finals appearance feels like a forgone conclusion, regardless of his next opponent.

While Tony Parker has been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs, the Rockets are dealing with an injury to key player of their own. Center Nene left Game 4 in the first quarter with a groin injury and was taken to a hospital for an MRI. His status for Game 5 is not promising.

The series may be tied, but none of the games have been close. In fact, the Spurs’ 11-point win in Game 3 marks the narrowest margin of victory yet.

Hopefully, fans will be treated to more excitement when the teams meet Tuesday in San Antonio.
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NBA free agency 2017: Miami Heat get first crack at wooing Gordon Hayward

In what has turned into a three-way, free-agency war for Gordon Hayward between the Heat, Celtics and Jazz, it appears Hayward will take his talents to Miami, first — for a visit.

Pat Riley and the Heat will meet with Hayward on Saturday, with the Jazz set to sit down with their star forward on Monday, according to the The Salt Lake Tribune.

Aside from the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Hayward is considered the top prize of the 2017 free agent class.

With Chris Paul off the market after joining the Rockets, the pursuit of both Hayward and Griffin will be even more of a priority for clubs competing for their services.

It has been rumored that Miami wants to sign both Hayward and Griffin, and if that happens, the Heat will be major winners this offseason.

However, Tannehill wasn’t bulletproof. Despite throwing fewer pass attempts per game than any other season in his career, he still threw a dozen interceptions in 13 games, leading to a career-worst interception rate. He threw picks at a rate higher than Blake Bortles or Landry Jones and equal to Brock Osweiler — not the company a franchise wants from a quarterback it’s slated to pay $77 million over the next four years.

A steadily gelling offensive line helped keep him upright in the pocket, dropping his sack rate from 9 percent in 2013 to 6.9 in 2016. While that mark still ranked 27th in the league, it was another improvement on a continuing trend for the Dolphins.
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Bears are quickly becoming the NFL’s biggest punchline

What if we told you there’s an NFL team coming off a three-win season, and they’re going into 2017 with a mess of a quarterback situation? And the general manager and head coach don’t seem to be on the same page? And their splashy move on draft day made them a laughingstock?

Up until this year, we might have been describing the Cleveland Browns. But now we’re talking about the Chicago Bears.

After parting ways with Jay Cutler, the Bears signed Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract with $18.5 million guaranteed. Then they shocked everyone, even Mitchell Trubisky, when they traded up from No. 3 to take the quarterback with the second overall pick.

So what happens if Watson isn’t the guy?

Well, they might be OK in 2017 anyway. The defense can keep games close, and maybe they’ll eke out another 9-7 year if the AFC South is down again. But that feeling of deja vu is already starting to linger and will only intensify if Houston sold out its first-round pick for a dud.

We’ve seen the Texans’ ceiling without a competent quarterback. We haven’t seen their ceiling with one, and that’s reason enough to be excited for the future. There’s a lot of pressure on Watson, but he’s used to handling pressure.

O’Brien and Smith are going all-in on Watson, if not in Week 1, then in the near future. If their gamble pays off, they could be looking at a Super Bowl contention window. If it doesn’t, they’ll probably be looking for new jobs. That’s the risk you take when you’re pursuing a franchise quarterback in today’s NFL.
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