Heat’s Josh Richardson blocks Richard Jefferson into oblivion

e’re currently wondering if Heat forward Josh Richardson has ever heard the phrase, “Respect your elders.”

It’s a fair question to ask, considering Richardson blocked Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson into oblivion on Saturday night.

Equally impressive was the hustle Richardson demonstrated to get to that loose ball: He jumped over Jefferson’s limp, rejected corpse.

Poor Jefferson. He was sure he had the easy basket, when out of nowhere comes Richardson to emphatically deny the bucket.

Well, Richardson has the advantage — he is 13 years Jefferson’s junior. Maybe Jefferson’s ring was weighing him down?

In any case, the Heat are taking the Cavaliers to the woodshed, and they led as much 30 in the third quarter of their Saturday showdown.

To do so, he must cash in on the vast potential he’s shown so early in his career. In 2013, he was plucked by the Bucks out of the obscurity of the Greek A2 league, a second-tier league that one scout termed, “the equivalent of Single-A baseball.” There was an air of over-hype around Antetokounmpo from the beginning—there wasn’t even agreement on how to spell his name, which showed up frequently as, “Adetokunbo”—as hazy reports of a point guard with Kevin Durant size trickled in from overseas.

For most, Antetokounmpo was too much a mystery, far more legend than reality. He would be a long-term project, scouts said, and it was assumed he would spend some time playing in Spain (he signed a contract with Zaragoza of the Spanish ACB League) before he made the jump to the NBA. One writer for a national website led off a story with the sentence, “Meet Giannis Adetokunbo, the next big European bust in this year’s NBA draft.”

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The Royals are all-in one more time with this core group

Authentic Womens Willis Reed Jersey Nightengale says Boston wants to do one-stop shopping to plug holes at third base and in the bullpen. Prado and Phelps fulfill those respective desires well. Prado is healthy after two trips to the DL because of hamstring injuries. He would be ideal for the Sox’s contact-heavy lineup (third-fewest Ks in the majors). Phelps, a right-hander, can be a multi-inning option out of the ‘pen. His poor April has mostly been forgotten; he compiled a 2.70 ERA over 30 innings from May 3 through July 9.

Seattle is in the American League wild-card race despite being a .500 team, and despite having just a middle-of-the-pack ‘pen (eighth in the AL in bullpen ERA, 10th in opponents’ OPS through July 19). The identity of the reliever possibly joining the M’s was unknown as of early Thursday on the East Coast. (UPDATE: Feinsand later reported the Mariners had been talking with the Marlins about right-hander David Phelps, but it was unknown whether Phelps was headed to Seattle.)
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The Royals are all-in one more time with this core group, and left fielder Alex Gordon and DH Brandon Moss are both hitting under .200 for the year. They could trade for McCutchen now, then move him again in the offseason. As for the Twins , Byron Buxton’s only 23 and still struggling (.216 average), and maybe he could benefit from learning from McCutchen. With the Yankees , he would be an outfield upgrade over struggling Jacoby Ellsbury, who has four homers and a .721 OPS, and then that duo could split DH duties next year after Matt Holliday’s one-year deal ends.

Point is, there are options, and it’s up to the Pirates to take advantage of those options and find a return that makes it worth trading McCutchen.

This ranking has a chance to zoom up if Deshaun Watson becomes the player

Ballard was left with a pretty smelly pile by predecessor Ryan Grigson, and he might already be regretting not staying put in Kansas City for the purge there later. He has a lot of damage to undo, in drafting and free agency. And he’s got to make a coaching decision, since Jim Irsay kept Chuck Pagano in place while making his oddly late move on Grigson.
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When the Glazers surprisingly fired Lovie Smith last offseason, a lot was lifted onto Licht’s shoulders. Dirk Koetter improved as head coach as the season went on. The additions on defense have been good enough to complement Jameis Winston and his growth. But Licht is still on the hook for the trade-up to draft kicker Robert Aguayo … who’s already being challenged for his job by Nick Folk. The competition is already making the Bucs look bad — imagine if Folk wins.

This ranking has a chance to zoom up if Deshaun Watson becomes the player — and franchise quarterback — most believe he will. As it’s been mentioned more than Smith surely ever wants to hear, everything else is in place for the Texans to make a Super Bowl run. However, Bill O’Brien is on the hot seat, because of the quarterback quagmire, and Smith will be judged on how he handles the head coaching situation, if it becomes one.
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Whether their impending quarterback problems land in Keim’s lap or Bruce Arians’, the Cardinals are going to have to address the position before the roster Keim built misses a golden opportunity. The clock is also ticking on Larry Fitzgerald’s career, but the drafting (David Johnson, mainly) and signings have been so solid that the Cardinals have a chance to keep contending.

Oops, Britney Spears, 35, hopes to play Super Bowl halftime again, report says

Britney Spears’ dream of playing a Super Bowl halftime again has at least reached the point where her associates have held secret discussions with TV and advertising executives tied to Super Bowl 52, the New York Daily News reported, citing an unidentified source close to the situation.

Britney has made it clear to her team that it is a dream to perform at a Super Bowl. She has the hits package and appeal to be a headliner, the person described only as an insider told the Daily News.

While talking about Joe Montana’s comparison of Colin Kaepernick to Tim Tebow, athletically speaking, Schlereth gave his two cents on Tebow’s football skills. He said said the former Heisman Trophy winner is already a better baseball player than he was a professional quarterback, but what he said next he fully acknowleged he would get killed for on Twitter and he totally did.

Limited Womens Frank Zombo Jersey Schlereth referenced a day when he was watching Tebow practice with the Broncos and revealed an honest thought he had.

Are you sure you’re left handed? he said. It was that bad.

Tebow completed 47.9 percent of his passes in his NFL career, but he did take the Broncos to the playoffs and won a playoff game over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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That, however, apparently did not sway Schlereth’s opinion of the man as a QB.

He did go on to say that he loved Tebow as a person and that he was a hard worker, but acknowledged that no one would focus on that — and he was right.

Stevens didn’t change that outlook after the game.

“It’s a difficult time for Isaiah and his family, and for us as well,” forward Al Horford said. “We wanted to come out and be able to win this game, because there are bigger things than just basketball. For us, we are not taking it for granted, and we need to really pull through at this time. I feel like this will make us stronger, and we are going to be there to support Isaiah.”

That Thomas played at all was remarkable. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Thomas was “struggling,” but that the decision was left to Thomas. “As he goes through it,” Stevens said before the game, “if he feels the need to not (play), whatever he wants. One of the things I’ve learned having been through situations in the past, there’s really no right or wrong answer. It’s whatever is right for him.”

Stevens didn’t change that outlook after the game. He said the team would do whatever Thomas needed, and would free him to return home should he choose to do so. Thomas declined to speak with the media after the game.

This is a big departure for Wall, who has typically struggled in the postseason. In his two previous playoff stints, totaling 18 games, Wall averaged 16.7 points and shot 37.6 percent from the field, 20.4 percent from the 3-point line. He appears to have put those struggles behind him, and has been one of the most productive postseason guards when it comes to running the pick-and-roll (12.3 points per game from the play, fifth in the league).

That is a big challenge for the Celtics, who will throw a combination of Avery Bradley and Smart at Wall, who struggled against Boston in the four regular-season games (17.8 points, 37.3 percent shooting, 15.4 from the 3-point line). Wall will attract plenty of defensive attention, but Boston will have to find ways to recover for help on Beal (22.0 points, 47.8 percent 3-point shooting) and Otto Porter (17.0 points, 67.4 percent shooting), because each was especially strong against the Celtics this season.jets_002

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NBA playoffs 2017: Celtics in historic hole, but series far from over

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The Celtics are the second No. 1 seed to go down two games to none to a No. 8 seed in NBA playoff history. The only other 1 seed to lose the first two games was the 1993 Suns, who came back to win a best-of-five series over the Lakers.

We knew Boston wasn’t a strong top seed, but what we’ve seen has been shocking. The Bulls barely made the playoffs with a 41-41 record, which included a midseason social media fight among Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler. Fans were coming at the organization from the top down, saying changes needed to be made. Now, their team might win a playoff series.

Victor Hedman Authentic Jersey We stayed calm, DeRozan told reporters afterward. They fought extremely hard. We knew they would make it hard and we just had to sustain. We didn’t expect to be down and fighting back in the last couple of minutes, but we stayed calm and executed. We got buckets when we needed to.

In Memphis, the Spurs rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final 5:50 to beat the Grizzlies 103-96 and win their series, 4-2. While Kawhi Leonard was his usual stat beast (29 points and nine rebounds), veteran guard Tony Parker proved the difference down the stretch for the Spurs, finishing with 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

My teammates were setting great picks for me and my shot was going in, Parker told TNT afterward.

Talk this week has been about how the other dominant team in these playoffs, the Cavaliers, have flipped the switch from regular season to playoffs. The Warriors have perfected that movement during the postseason, in particular in this series.

That’s a weird thing to say given that Golden State trailed only in Game 3 of this series and clearly flipped a switch then, but in all the games there were bursts followed by lulls, followed by decisive runs:

Thomas said he was not surprised by anything he saw from the Cavaliers.

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We know Isaiah is dangerous, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. When he gets going, the crowd really gets into it, their team gets into it and it opens up a lot of things. When you try to take him out of the series, try to make it tough on him, you’ve got to give up something else. . . . But our main objective (was) to make it physical on Isaiah, try to take him out, and we did a good job of that.

Thomas said he was not surprised by anything he saw from the Cavaliers. They played how they played throughout the season, he said. I just missed shots. Didn’t get a rhythm. Next game, I will definitely be more aggressive to get into the paint, make plays and make stuff happen.
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Tyler Dorsey played well in five-on-five Thursday, and measured out longer than expected (albeit still not great) at 6-foot-4.5 with a 6-5-plus wingspan. You wish he had more positional size, but he might be able to play next to a true point with these measurements as a scoring guard.

Tony Bradley came in at nearly 6-11 with a 7-5 wingspan, a good measurement for a player whose athleticism will likely confine him to the center position in the NBA. Still, he also came in at a 12 percent body fat, and will need to get into better shape to reach his ceiling.

Zach Collins was measured publicly for the first time, coming in at 7-foot with a 7-1 wingspan. Those numbers aren’t great, but if the 9-3 standing reach he came in with ends up being true, then he’ll be fine.

Gordon Hayward signing closes door on Celtics’ past free-agency issues

There was a time, not long ago, when folks in Boston lamented the fact that no NBA free agents ever wanted to play for the Celtics. The team’s major acquisitions over the year, from Bill Russell through Larry Bird and on to Kevin Garnett, came through trades, and until last summer, it could be argued that the most significant free-agent signing in team history had been someone in the range of Jason Terry or end-of-career Dominique Wilkins.

So maybe it is a good sign for the franchise that the complaint about Boston’s offseason forays is not the fact that the team has not signed big-time free agents, but that the locals want to see bigger transactions paired with those deals.

O.J. Mayo did help Memphis make the 2011 and 2012 playoffs, but he left the organization in 2012 via free agency. After short stints with Dallas and Milwaukee, Mayo was dismissed from the NBA for a drug violation last year. He is eligible for reinstatement in July 2018.

Love went on to be a two-time All-NBA selection with Minnesota. In 2013-14, he became the first player in NBA history to notch 2,000 points, 900 rebounds and 100 3-pointers in a season. He established himself as one of the top 20 players in the NBA, and in August 2014, he was traded to the Cavaliers for No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins.
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Love was a key part of Cleveland’s 2016 NBA championship run, and Wiggins is a cornerstone piece of the Timberwolves’ future. If the Timberwolves did not trade for Love in 2008, then it is unlikely Wiggins or Butler are ever acquired, and one of the brightest young cores currently in the NBA is never formed.
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Already a six-time NBA All-Star, Jermaine O’Neal had two years and $44 million remaining on his contract, and the Pacers did not want to pay that much. So Indiana traded O’Neal and a second-round pick to Toronto for T. J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the No. 17 pick (Hibbert).

Nick Young once tweeted his hate for Golden State fans

What a difference a year makes. During the 2016 NBA Playoffs, Nick Young tweeted his hate for Golden State fans.

If the Boston Celtics’ assembling of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett introduced the term “Big Three” to everyday NBA conversation, the Miami Heat popularized the term unlike any team before or after. Search the phrase “Big Three NBA” on Google Trends and the results shows the use of the term peaked in July 2010, when Wade, James and Bosh signed with Miami.

Oscar Robertson was the original Russell Westbrook, averaging a triple-double in his second year in the NBA. The Bucks averaged 62 wins in the regular season in the four years he spent in Milwaukee, where he played alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Dandridge to win the 1971 NBA championship. Abdul-Jabbar, who needs no introduction, averaged 31.7 points and 16.0 rebounds per game that season, while Dandridge chipped in 18.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Oscar Robertson averaged a cool 19.4 points, 8.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds in the regular season.

The 2002 Kings nearly toppled the might Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, before losing Game 7, in a season when Sacramento boasted both the league’s fastest and most-efficient offense. Chris Webber averaged 24.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and more than one steal and one block per game, while Mike Bibby ran the offense and Peja Stojakovic averaged 21.2 points as a lethal three-point threat. With a pair of good outside shooters spacing the floor for Webber, the Kings’ threesome would fit nicely and play a very entertaining brand of basketball.browns_003

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Zach LaVine expects to be All-Star player on ‘center stage’ with Bulls

Zach LaVine was mostly seen as the third option in Minnesota behind top players Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. He’s now headed to Chicago after being sent in a deal involving Jimmy Butler, and suddenly he’s one of the faces of the franchise.

While this will be a new role for the 22-year-old, LaVine told the Pioneer Press he’s ready to step up.

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Max Scherzer did what Max Scherzer does. He tossed eight innings, struck out 10 Mets batters, and got the win for the Nationals. This was the fifth game in a row he has struck out at least 10 batters.
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While three strikeouts for a closer might not be out of the realm of possibility, to strike out 48 batters and walk none to start a season is simply unheard of. But that is exactly what Kenley Jansen has done for the Dodgers. He struck out the side in Los Angeles’ 3-1 win over Cincinnati Friday to earn his 14th save on the year.

The Pirates led 5-4 entering the top of the ninth but reliever Juan Nicasio gave up four runs without recording an out to allow the Cubs to rally for a 9-5 win.

As bad as Nicasio was Friday we can’t leave Joe Biagani out of the discussion. He pitched one-plus inning in Toronto’s 11-4 loss to the White Sox, giving up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and one walk.