Irving knows Avery Bradley is prepped to chase him over LeBron’s pick

Small decisions like these across the league are driving the unprecedented boom in 3-point shooting. If you can make shots that count for an extra point, the NBA will find a place for you. Just survive on defense, and you might steal minutes from a shakier shooter who outdoes you in every other facet of the game. The NBA, in doling out roster spots and playing time, is erring on the side of shooting more than ever before.

The 3-point explosion is not new, though it is accelerating. The NBA smashes the all-time record for 3-point attempts every season. A full 31 percent of shots have come from deep this season, up from 28.5 percent last season and a positively charming 24 percent in 2012-13. It is not stopping anytime soon.
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Irving knows Avery Bradley is prepped to chase him over LeBron’s pick, and that he might juke Bradley by stunting toward LeBron and then crossing back the other way. He knows exactly how that move, if successful, will scramble the Celtics: They’ll either double Irving, leaving LeBron rampaging to the rim, or switch themselves into an untenable mismatch. The Celtics choose the switch, and LeBron slices them apart.

Chemistry matters. You can’t replace the power of shared experience.

The Wiz are 10-6 in their past 16 games, and that counts as progress. They were on a nice roll before a dispiriting loss in Dallas on Tuesday on the second night of a back-to-back. They played the Rockets to a hilt the night before in Houston, and threw a bunch of different looks at James Harden.

Jack Roslovic Limited Jersey Wall, of course, is at the center of everything, and he has rediscovered his peak turbo explosiveness after surgeries on both knees. When Wall’s engine is revving, the Wiz will sometimes set screens for him almost at half-court, foisting an uncomfortable choice on the poor sap guarding Marcin Gortat: try to corral Wall 35 feet from the basket, or lay back and provide Wall a sprinter’s runway.

Detroit’s buzzer-beater goal sent the Centennial Classic into overtime

Outdoor games aren’t boring after all! The Red Wings climbed back from a three-goal deficit in the Centennial Classic on Anthony Mantha’s buzzer-beater goal with just 1.1 seconds remaining.

Yes, it was exactly as close Demar Dotson Authentic Jersey as it sounds. Detroit was a mere heartbeat from another loss, and instead they tied the game 4-4 to draw overtime against the Maple Leafs.

The goal was Mantha’s second of Womens Charles Sims Jersey the game, and it almost wasn’t. The referees looked at goaltender interference on Frederik Andersen, but none was found.

The game went off without a hitch and on schedule despite a light rain at the beginning of the game and a few wonderful hiccups before puck drop. As the rain went away, the pace of the game picked up significantly.

Chicago, playing in its fifth outdoor NHL game, got on the board first. Artemi Panarin tossed a puck off the boards to Michal Kempny at the blue line, and the rookie fired the puck past Allen for the 1-0 lead.

It took St. Louis until midway through the second period to even the score. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester drove deep into the Blackhawks’ zone and passed back in front of the net, where Patrik Berglund netted the game-tying goal.

Perhaps the weather conditions affected special teams, considering both teams went a combined 0 for 5 through the first two periods on the power play. That included a missed opportunity for Chicago when Blues forward Robby Fabbri got penalized for boarding late in the second period.

The daggers didn’t come until the final 10 minutes of regulation when Tarasenko buried the game-winning goal. Or, rather, the Blackhawks buried it for him.

the Saints rested starters in Week 17 as well. I played against the Saints that season

Stafford will have to overcome a Packers offense once again led by an MVP candidate. Aaron Rodgers has been on fire lately, The Green Bay quarterback hasn’t thrown an interception since a blowout loss to the Titans in November, but he has thrown 14 touchdowns in the intervening weeks. The Packers, not coincidentally, are 5-1 over that stretch.

But our experts aren’t banking on another strong-armed miracle Sunday night.

Or the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons getting in, while the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks miss out?

They’re far from the likely scenarios. In fact, they’re about as unlikely as it gets, but the NFL has no shortage of wackiness and thinking of the most ridiculous possibilities sure is fun.

Two teams in the NFC East improved to 6-7 on Sunday and a third can do so on Monday Night Football when the New York Giants play the Miami Dolphins. With a Week 16 game between Washington and Philadelphia still on the schedule, the division winner will have to be a seven-win team, at least, barring a tie.

That means the only chance the Cowboys have at the postseason is to win out and hope for a tie at the top of the division. Luckily for Dallas, three of its four wins came against NFC East opponents and a fourth divisional win in Week 17 against Washington would give the Cowboys the tiebreaker over any other team in the division.

That season, the Saints rested starters in Week 17 as well. I played against the Saints that season, with Carolina. We were 7-8; they were 13-2. That game always stands out to me because it was a game like no other one I’ve played. The Saints were playing to not get hurt. They weren’t going hard, they weren’t trying to score. Just bleed out the clock.

I remember the end of the game, they were down and instead of driving to win the game, they just ran it a few times, punted, and the game was over. I had never seen that before. But it worked. They won the Super Bowl.

Matt Barkley, Bears crumble in ugly loss to Washington

Many praise John Fox for motivating his Chicago Bears no matter the circumstances.

The narrative died on Saturday.
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Fox¡¯s team committed countless blunders as the Washington Redskins bulldozed the Bears 41-21. Name the mistake, and it probably happened to the home team — busted coverages, blown assignments, questionable playcalling, poor decision-making, missed tackles, turnovers, untimely penalties … the list keeps going.

The effort was there, but mentally the Bears (3-12) looked unprepared from the opening kickoff.

Bears quarterback Matt Barkley threw five interceptions and two touchdowns in Saturday’s loss to the Redskins. Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports
Genuine fear existed in the nation¡¯s capital that the Redskins (8-6-1) — on a super-short week — would be upset by Fox¡¯s (9-22 in Chicago) feisty squad.

The Bears quickly eased those concerns.

Nose tackle Eddie Goldman became the 19th player to land on injured reserve Friday, so the talent gap between the Bears and Redskins is obvious.

Barkevious Mingo Authentic Jersey The Bears, however, suffered from serious lapses of judgment in all three phases — starting on offense with the quarterback.

Matt Barkley (five picks) has moxie. Chicago doesn¡¯t usually throw in the towel when Barkley is the quarterback.

the Lions dropped to 24th overall, according to the NFL Vegas power rankings

The New England Patriots — already the 9-5 Super Bowl favorites at the Westgate SuperBook and the No. 1 team in the NFL Vegas Rankings here at Chalk — have also extended their lead atop the NFL ATS Standings.

Graham Glasgow Game Jersey The Patriots are 11-3 ATS after their 16-3 win as 3-point road favorites at Denver with the Dallas Cowboys falling 1.5 games back at 9-4-1 ATS, as they failed to cover for the fourth straight game in their 26-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as 7-point home favorites. There is then a cluster of six teams at 9-5 ATS: Oakland, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Washington, Tampa Bay and New Orleans.
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Following an 11-point loss to the Giants in Week 15, the Lions dropped to 24th overall, according to the NFL Vegas power rankings. Our handicappers give ratings for all 32 teams.

Bortles is talking about Gus Bradley, whom the Jaguars (2-12) fired Sunday night after his 48th loss in 62 games as the team’s head coach. The players embraced Bradley, who emphasized positivity and concentrated on being your best instead of stressing wins and losses. He spent nearly as much time speaking with the players about their lives, mindset, beliefs and attitudes nearly as much as he did about football.

Bradley certainly wasn’t an old-school, hard-ass coach. He was more new-age in his approach.

Most of the players loved it, but it didn’t result in many victories. Just two this season, which is the ninth year in which the Jaguars have failed to have a winning season and the sixth year in a row with double-digit losses. Their latest loss, 21-20 at Houston last Sunday, was the ninth in a row and GM Dave Caldwell fired Bradley after the game.

Man proposes marriage via brick at Vikings stadium

Two years ago, Indianapolis Colts fan Nick Running met Jane Momany, a Minnesota Vikings fan, at a game in Minnesota.

Three months after that meeting, Running saw that the Vikings were selling bricks to fans surrounding U.S. Bank Stadium, which would open in 2016.

Despite only knowing Momany for a short time, he was ready to make the purchase.

On the brick was inscribed: “Jane, will you marry me? Love, Nick.”

Roethlisberger’s overall attempts per game are down from 39 to 36.6, but he maintains that his stats are secondary to wins. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who’s seen Roethlisberger over the years change his game to become a quick-strike passer who takes fewer sacks, said Antonio Brown and other Steelers playmakers understand throwing 40 passes isn’t best for the game plan some weeks.

“He’s seeing what he needs to see, doing a great job preparation-wise,” Haley said of Roethlisberger. “The ball’s coming out when it needs to come out. And he’s able to give you those big plays when you need them. I think he’s just continued to get better each and every year.”

And he’s three touchdown passes away from 300, a feat just nine quarterbacks in NFL history have reached.
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Game Youth Alexey Shved Jersey Bell has been a central figure in the Steelers’ game plan, with 118 carries over the past four weeks and 166 total touches for 933 yards over his last five weeks. But if the Bengals put that extra safety in the box, deep balls to Brown might be there. And despite a miserable last two months, deep threat Sammie Coates had a few big gains against Cincinnati in Week 2 and hopes to duplicate that production.

Falcons fans would love to see Ryan gift-wrap another 500-yard game against the Panthers on Christmas Eve

Mike Zimmer brought Andre Patterson to the Vikings in part to change the philosophy of the team’s defensive line.

Hunter surged off the ball, aiming at Parnell’s outside shoulder. He swatted the tackle aside with two quick hands, churned forward and pulled Bortles down, pointing back to the sideline at Patterson. If the play was a display of the force Hunter brings to bear, it also was a testament to the teacher that head coach Mike Zimmer has been hiring for four decades.

The Saints and Panthers rank in the bottom four in passing yards allowed per game at 268.3 and 272.4 yards, respectively. Ryan already lit up the Panthers for a franchise-record 503 passing yards back in Week 4. He threw for 240 yards against the Saints in Week 3 as his running backs combined for 194 yards.

Facing a 49ers team on Sunday that surrenders a league-worst 170.8 rushing yards per game might entice Ryan to hand the ball off on every snap. But he’ll certainly take some shots with the 49ers also giving up 48 pass plays of 20-plus yards, tied for third-most in the league.

Of course, other factors could determine how many passing yards Ryan compiles over the last three games. The injury status of star receiver Julio Jones is one of them as Jones continues to recover from a toe injury. Ryan threw for a season-low 237 yards without Jones last Sunday, but the Falcons demolished the Los Angeles Rams 42-14. Ryan sat out the fourth quarter last Sunday, something that could happen again this week against the 1-12 49ers.

That’s not to say Ryan can’t go for 300 yards without Jones, especially with speedy Taylor Gabriel averaging 17.4 yards per catch. But, of course, Ryan would rather have Jones on the field.
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Falcons fans would love to see Ryan gift-wrap another 500-yard game against the Panthers on Christmas Eve, but that would be a much tougher task on the road.

And how about a Ryan-Brees aerial display in the last regular-season game at the Georgia Dome? Sounds fun.
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For the record, Ryan has five games of 300 yards or more this season, and the Falcons are 3-2 in those games. However, he hasn’t thrown for 300 yards in the last four games, and the Falcons are 2-2 in those games.

Hayward has been waiting longer than anyone to see whether this version of the Jazz can win

Trey Lyles is the blurry outline of a power forward who can shoot 3s and make plays off the bounce — a clean fit who could clear the lane for either Favors or Gobert.

Decision-making timetables in the NBA don’t wait for blurry outlines to crystallize. The Jazz have about $13 million in cap room they can use now to give Favors or Hill a raise, and a long-term extension based off that higher salary. They cannot extend both.
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Favors is five years younger than Hill; an extension would synch perfectly with his prime. Hill plays a position of greater need, especially after Dante Exum missed a year of development — another lost chance to gather information — recovering from an ACL tear. Exum is plainly unready to lead a functional offense, and it’s unclear when (or if) he won’t be.

Check the date. I have long been a resident of Romo Island. To be clear, I am a Prescott fan, but I believe his limitations can cost the Cowboys in the playoffs. In this game, the Giants confused the Cowboys’ protections with zone blitzes, and dropped defensive linemen into the passing lanes of Prescott’s hot receivers. The blitzes weren’t particularly well-disguised.

Game Mens Wayne Gretzky Jersey If Prescott were to ignore the pre-snap alignments of the D-line and linebackers and focus on the alignment of the secondary players, it would have been clear where the blitz was coming from. Especially as the game progressed, the cornerbacks and safeties were lining up steps behind the blitzers so they could pick up the vacated coverage responsibility.

I could be wrong, but I believe that Romo, a 14-year NFL veteran quarterback, has seen every blitz that NFL defenses have to offer. In fairness to Prescott, the running game will suffer without him. On a couple of occasions during this game, I saw defenders step toward Prescott, respecting his ability to run the zone read, only to see the NFL’s leading rusher, Elliott, carry the ball into their secondary.

Wade Davis worth price tag of Jorge Soler for Cubs

Pablo Sandoval says he isn’t proud of what he has become over the past two years and insists he is ready to make the most of the second chance he’s about to receive.

Authentic Mens Marian Gaborik Jersey In a joint English-Spanish interview with and ESPN Deportes’ Marly Rivera, Sandoval said he got “complacent” after signing a five-year, $95 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in November 2014 and pledged to “start my baseball career all over again” now that he is fully recovered from left shoulder surgery.

“My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished,” Sandoval said by phone in his first public comments since August. “I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be.”

Mens Braydon Coburn Jersey Two days later, Chapman bettered that — by nearly 40 percent — when he inked a five-year, $86 million deal to hook back up with the Yankees. Then there’s fellow free agent Kenley Jansen, who’s expected to score a deal similar to Chapman’s. All of which raises the question: If the Orioles were willing to trade Britton, just how much could they get in return?

As good as Melancon, Miller and Chapman are — and they’re three of the best in the biz — Britton is even better. In 2016, he was a perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities and his 0.54 ERA was the lowest ever for a reliever (min. 50 innings). He finished fourth in the Cy Young balloting and received almost as many first-place votes as eventual winner Rick Porcello.

This is nothing new for Britton. Since taking over as Baltimore’s closer on May 15, 2014, his 120 saves are second only to Melancon, and his 1.44 ERA trails only Wade Davis. In other words, he’s been good. Really, really good. As if that weren’t enough, he’s relatively low-mileage: At just 28 years old, he’s younger than Miller (31), Melancon (31) and Jansen (29). All of which is to say, the Orioles could get a gargantuan return if they’re willing to trade Britton. The operative word there is “if.”

In 2014, the Browns were beating the Pittsburgh Steelers

“It’s a blue-collar city, and for a blue-collar guy like myself, it’s easy to fall in love with the people and kind of the chip on the shoulder that a lot of people have because they feel like they’ve been slighted for so long. It’s so important for me to be here for the turnaround. I don’t want to just get a Super Bowl ring [by] being traded to a dream team. It would feel unsatisfying. Unfulfilling.”

It’s human nature for a player to check out, at least mentally, when his team is out of the playoff picture by Halloween. Thomas has practically had to beg to stay in on a couple of occasions.
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In 2014, the Browns were beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, manhandling them, actually, when then-coach Mike Pettine told backup Vinston Painter to go in and replace Thomas; the coach didn’t want his best player getting hurt in mop-up duty. Pettine was in his first year, and didn’t know any better. Thomas did a double take when he saw Painter.

THE BEST SEASON, no doubt, was 2007, his rookie year. The Browns went 10-6, came oh-so-close to making the playoffs, and Thomas must have figured it would always be like that, because he’d always played on winning teams. He went to the state tournament a combined five times alone in basketball and football at Brookfield Central High in Wisconsin, roughly 15 minutes from J.J. Watt’s hometown of Pewaukee.

Thomas would be missed if he can’t play or is limited this weekend at Tampa Bay. He is leading the team in every receiving category, with 69 catches, 831 yards and seven touchdowns. But the Saints have a deep receiving corps that includes Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman. Middle linebacker Craig Robertson also missed practice with a shoulder injury. He’d be hard to replace as an every-down player and the team’s leading tackler.
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Coach Mike Zimmer wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Smith returning from an ankle injury that had him on crutches and in a walking boot last Thursday, pointing out how often Smith plays through injuries. But given that Smith hasn’t practiced during the Vikings’ first two sessions of the week, his ability to play Sunday appears to be in doubt.