Month: May 2018

Marcus Smart: Can’t put a price on being heart of team

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Marcus Smart walked out of the TD Garden, perhaps for the final time, lamenting squandered opportunities and wondering aloud whether he has played his last game as a Boston Celtic.

Smart, who will be a restricted free agent this summer,official nfl jerseys cheap was told that Boston might not be able — or willing — to afford the $12-14 million a year price tag that he reportedly has been seeking.

“To be honest, I’m worth more than 12-14 million,” Smart told ESPN. “Just for the things I do on the court that don’t show up on the stat sheet. You don’t find guys like that. I always leave everything on the court, every game. Tell me how many other players can say that.”332

Smart was told many of his teammates defended his 1-for-10 shooting in an excruciating Game 7 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night by insisting he is the heart of their team.

“That’s what people say,” Smart said. “I’m not sure if you can put a price on that.”

Smart, who also had seven assists and zero turnovers in 30 minutes, shot 32 percent for the series and an abysmal 22 percent from the 3-point line.

“I don’t like to make excuses,” said Smart, who underwent surgery in March for a torn ligament in his right thumb and returned after just six weeks, “but my thumb is killing me. My whole right hand hurts.”

The Celtics can make a qualifying offer of nearly $6.1 million to Smart and can match any free-agent offer that is made by another team, but it’s unlikely they will do so if the numbers climb too high. Boston discussed an extension with its gritty defensive specialist, team sources said, but the dollar figures were too far apart. The Celtics are resigned that Smart will opt for a bigger payday elsewhere instead of taking a hometown discount.nfl authentic jerseys cheap

Smart also could accept Boston’s qualifying offer, play in 2018-19 for the $6.1 million, then become an unrestricted free agent the following summer, in 2019-20.

“I’m not really thinking about that right now,” Smart said. “I don’t know [if they’ll pay me]. We’ll find out sooner than later.”

Boston Celtics fall short, but are poised to take advantage of good problems

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Go ahead. Comfort the Boston Celtics in soothing, dulcet tones that there’s no shame in losing to LeBron James: the greatest player in the game, a mammoth icon who played 48 minutes and demoralized his old familiar playoff foe in every possible way imaginable. Dagger 3-pointers, vicious defense, superb court vision and, above all, a Hall of Fame swagger that nobody else on the court — or perhaps this earth — could begin to duplicate.

Feel free to remind the Celtics that nobody — absolutely nobody — expected them to advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a roster decimated from the outset because of crippling injuries to Gordon Hayward, then Kyrie Irving, then Daniel Theis, then Shane Larkin.nfl wholesale jerseys

It’s all true, of course, but don’t expect them to endorse a lick of it. The Sons of Brad Stevens, even in the wake of a crushing Game 7 loss in their own building, the only one of its so-called improbable playoff run, stomped out of TD Garden believing this was a game they should have won, even after shooting 34 percent for the game and an unfathomable 17.9 percent (7-of-39) from behind the 3-point line.331

They will wake up Monday morning fervently arguing that they belonged on this grand stage, not as underdogs but as legitimate contenders.

“None of this was ever improbable to us,” Marcus Morris said. “Like I said from the beginning, once I saw the draw for the playoffs, I expected us to be in the position we were in right now.

“But we take our hats off to Cleveland. They came back from a 2-0 [series] deficit. They had LeBron. We missed shots we normally make.”

Oh, those missed shots. Where do we start? There were so, so many of them. There was Terry Rozier, who missed 12 of his 14 offerings, including an 0-for-10 goose egg from behind the 3-point line. Just two nights earlier in Cleveland, in a far more hostile environment, Rozier torched the Cleveland Cavaliers for 28 points on 6-of-10 shooting from behind the 3-point arc.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” said a visibly shaken Rozier in the quiet of the losers’ locker room.official nfl jerseys cheap

Later, when approached by ESPN in the hallway, Rozier was asked about the notion that this game was too overwhelming for a roster that averages 25.6 years old, which would have been the second youngest since the shot clock era had it advanced to the NBA Finals.

After multiple Tommy John surgeries, Jonny Venters gets first save since ’11

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Tampa Bay Rays reliever Jonny Venters recorded his first save since August 22, 2011, striking out the only batter he faced on Monday to close out a 13-inning, 1-0 win over the Oakland Athletics.

Venters returned to baseball on April 26 after six years and multiple Tommy John surgeries. The 33-year-old left-hander hadn’t pitched since the 2012 NL wild-card game.customized nfl jerseys cheap

“It’s been a while, but there’s always a certain level of excitement when you get that last out,” Venters said. “I was glad I was able to get it done. These guys were awesome today. Big win, good win.”

Venters struck out Oakland’s Matt Olson swinging, retiring the first baseman on a 94 mph fastball. The last time Venters recorded a save, the winning pitcher was Jair Jurrjens, and the last batter he faced for the save was Alfonso Soriano.320

With the Rays having traded closer Alex Colome to the Seattle Mariners on Friday, they might be leaning more on Venters. In 8 2/3 innings this season, Venters has a 1.04 ERA with two walks, six strikeouts and a 0.69 WHIP.

Venters had his first Tommy John surgery in 2005, when he was in Class A with the Braves. He made his way back and joined the Braves’ big league team in 2010. Venters compiled a 1.89 ERA over the next two years, striking out 27 percent of the batters he faced.

In spring 2013, Venters tore his UCL and had his second Tommy John surgery. He was making his way back in 2014 when he got the word from Dr. James Andrews that he would need a third surgery.nfl cheap nike jerseys

Venters likes to say that he has had three-and-a-half Tommy John procedures. He was signed by the Rays in 2015, but in 2016, he tore his UCL again. Rather than going through a fourth Tommy John surgery, Venters had surgery to reattach the ligament.

Masahiro Tanaka gives Yankees what they need in shutting down Angels

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Even still, Masahiro Tanaka, Ohtani’s countryman and the New York Yankees’ veteran starting pitcher, wasn’t complaining. He doubts many others are now, either. Although he and Ohtani may not have participated in the anticipated pitchers’ duel, they did see one another in an arguably more exciting way.

“Him getting in the batter’s box and facing him as a batter … might have been the real matchup,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “It might have been a good thing for the fans.”

Indeed, the 46,109 who saw Ohtani and Tanaka go toe-to-toe Sunday, as well as those in Japan who stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning to watch, were treated to a set of battles that ultimately went in Tanaka’s favor.nfl jerseys cheap authentic

The 23-year-old Ohtani went 0-for-2 in a 3-1 Yankees win, striking out twice to the pitcher who is six years his elder. It was reminiscent of the only other times the two had faced each other as batter and pitcher. In 2013, when both played as professionals in Japan, Ohtani went 0-for-11 with six strikeouts and a walk against Tanaka.

The Ohtani test wasn’t the only one Tanaka passed Sunday. A day after Angels All-Star Mike Trout notched the first five-hit game of his career, Tanaka held Trout in check, striking him out twice.

“From the beginning, we wanted to be aggressive and attack the hitters,” Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez said through an interpreter.

That meant Tanaka was tasked with establishing his fastball as early as the first inning, and making sure he kept the similarly powerful and speedy Trout and Ohtani off the basepaths and off balance at the plate.319

“We needed an outing from him like that,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He did a good job, he and Gary, of kind of mixing pitches to keep them from being predictable to the other side, and that worked to his advantage.”

Tanaka’s only blemish was a sixth-inning solo home run hit by Andrelton Simmons. In some ways it was par for the course for Tanaka, though. The right-hander has given up at least one homer in all but two of his 11 starts this season.

Still, Tanaka called the home run he allowed to Simmons “unacceptable.“customized nfl jerseys cheap

When it came to Ohtani, Yankees pitchers handled him well all weekend. The phenom went 0-for-9 with five strikeouts and four walks in his first trip to the Bronx. He did put a couple of hard-hit balls into play during the three-game series, but he hit them right at Yankees defenders who had been shifted into the perfect spots.

A $2M pay cut worth Super Bowl run for Vikings’ Brian Robison

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The veteran defensive end noted his decision to come back for a 12th season with the Minnesota Vikings was “tough” but wanted to give his football career one more shot to complete some unfinished business.

Before he was able to do that, Robison and the Vikings had to tend to some business of their own ahead of OTAs.

The 35-year-old defensive end agreed to a contract restructure, reducing his base salary from $3.2 million to $1.015 million for the 2018 season, per ESPN’s Field Yates. In turn the Vikings were able to free up $2.38 million in cap space, giving them $17.1 million to work with for the 2018 season.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“At the end of the day, I said since day one that I want to bring a championship to the state of Minnesota,” Robison said. “For me, if that’s something that I have to give back $2 million to do, I’ll gladly do it.”308

Robison has spent his entire career in Minnesota after being selected in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. An integral part of the Vikings’ defensive line rotation and the longest-tenured player on the roster, Robison played 56 percent of snaps last season and recorded four sacks from his reserve role.

Despite milling over the idea of retirement, Robison never truly considered testing the market in hopes of finding another team to continue his career.

“I mean, I thought about it,” he said. “But I think for me, one of my morals is being loyal, and I wanted to be loyal to this organization, but I also had to do what was right for me and my family and the right thing for me and my family was to come back here.”

Despite having to take a pay cut, Robison says he does not believe the Vikings were disloyal to him by asking him to restructure.

“It’s a business and this business is very cutthroat and there’s a lot of business moves that even the guys up in the front office, they don’t always want to do but it’s just part of the business that they have to do,” he said. “I don’t really have any animosity towards them. As far as I’m concerned, it was a decision that I had to make for me and my family. It was a decision that really rested solely upon me. I had the option of not coming back but at the end of the day, this is the place that I wanted to be.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Robison’s presence during OTAs and throughout the offseason is important. In addition to mentoring the new crop of defensive linemen brought in via the draft between Jalyn Holmes and Ade Aruna, Robison filled in for an injured Everson Griffen (foot) at left defensive end during Wednesday’s OTA practice.

NFL wants roof open for next season’s Super Bowl in Atlanta

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The NFL wants the retractable roof at Atlanta’s $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium open for the next Super Bowl, weather permitting.

Super Bowl LIII is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2019.

“Certainly where we’ve been in stadia with retractable roofs, our preference is always to open the roof,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s senior vice president of events. “We did that in Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX in a model there where they typically don’t open the roof for a stadium, but we opened it for the Super Bowl.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

“It our mind, [an open roof] creates some great energy in that building. We obviously will be down for a number of Falcons games this fall. And I know the plan is for it to be open, pending weather. So we’ll evaluate it and watch that.”307

Falcons president Rich McKay firmly believes the 14.5-acre retractable roof will be fully functional for the 2018 football season after construction issues kept it closed for the majority of the ’17 season. The Falcons played just one game with the roof open: last September’s home-opening win over Green Bay in a Sunday night clash.

“I would love to see it open,” McKay said of the roof for Super Bowl LIII. “That would mean we’re having good weather.”

The opening of the roof is a 12-minute process, McKay said, and a decision must be made 90 minutes prior to kickoff. In relation to the Super Bowl, the decision to open or close the roof is solely up to the NFL. Officials won’t stray from the 90-minute window.

The last time the Super Bowl was in Atlanta was Jan. 30, 2000, when an ice storm paralyzed the city as the St. Louis Rams topped the Tennessee Titans 23-16 inside the Georgia Dome. Falcons owner Arthur Blank called the conditions “1-in-100 years kind of freak stuff” and unlikely to occur again.

Two seasons ago, the Falcons lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI at Houston’s NRG Stadium. The retractable roof there was closed due to humidity, O’Reilly said.

According to Accuweather, the highest temperature within the first 10 days of this past February in Atlanta was 69 degrees while the low was 32 degrees.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“Again, barring weather — including temperature — we’d love to have the roof open and really showcase the building at its fullest,” O’Reilly said of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

On Wednesday, the league awarded the 2023 Super Bowl to Arizona, offering another chance to open the retractable roof at University of Phoenix Stadium for the NFL’s biggest event.

What We Learned: Let Ovechkin be Ovechkin

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Just a few days after they led 2-0 in the series and were heading home, and it looked for all the world like the Capitals were going to roll Tampa, a team any observer had every right to feel was vastly superior.

In the three games since, Tampa has proven that superiority time and again. In Game 3, Tampa got by on special teams. In Game 4, they got by because Tampa’s overwhelming talent did the kind of things overwhelming talent occasionally does to steal a game.nfl authentic jerseys wholesale

Then on Saturday Tampa led for all but 0.5 percent of the game’s run time, and led by at least two for more than 80 percent. And when a team like Tampa gets up two goals for 50-plus minutes it’s going to be a long road back for whoever is trying to level the score.

The problem for the Caps, as it was for the Jets in much of the Western Conference Final, is that they flat-out didn’t show up in the first period. They got outscored 2-0, yes, and then gave up the third goal on the first shift of the second period, but they also got outshot 13-4. Tampa was up three before the Caps even decided they were going to play in this one, and while they put together a pretty good run down the stretch — they out-attempted Tampa 43-17 after the third goal — they also trailed by three so it didn’t really matter.

This is how score effects work; Tampa didn’t have to try too hard to score any more goals than it already had because three is plenty in most hockey games. Let the Caps empty the arsenal down the stretch, because you have an all-world goaltender and a roster of guys Nos. 1-18 who are at least pretty good defensively. The best defense is a good offense, sure, but the second-best defense is a good defense and Tampa absolutely has that. Washington came most of the way back — it was 3-0 for less than four minutes — but at no point did it feel like the game was winnable for the Caps.

The thing is, though, it should have been.296

Even if you’re adjusting for score and all that stuff, Washington has certainly outplayed Tampa in this series, but is getting smoked on special teams (Tampa has six power play goals to Washington’s three) but in Game 5 in particular, Washington’s problems proved out.

For one thing, the way Barry Trotz has been managing his best player this series is a bit confusing. Let’s talk about Alex Ovechkin’s usage in Game 5, because it’s bizarre. Ovechkin played a little more than 20 minutes in the loss, after only about 17 per in Games 1 and 2, and at least 23 in Games 3 and 4. You say, “Okay, well in the first two games they led for a pretty good chunk of both and in Washington they trailed more than they led.”where to buy official nfl jerseys

That’s fine. You give your best players a breather when you don’t need them (or in this case when you need to protect a lead and you think their defensive contributions are suspect). I’d rather have Ovechkin out there but I get the rationale even if I disagree with it. And when you’re trailing, you put those guys over the boards more often because you absolutely, positively need a goal.

So why, then, in this game in which the Caps trailed by at least two goals for like 50 minutes, do you only play him 20:16 in the entire game? And more to the point, why does 4:28 of his ice time come in the last 4:48? You mean to tell me that Trotz couldn’t find a Devante Smith-Pelly shift to give the Ovechkin line instead?

Ovechkin, Capitals prepare for ‘biggest game of life’

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”I’ve never been in this position before,” he said Tuesday, looking ahead to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The winner Wednesday night earns a berth in the Stanley Cup Final opposite the Vegas Golden Knights, who will try for hockey’s biggest prize in their inaugural season.

Ovechkin and the Caps are hoping to shed a label as playoff underachievers, where can i buy nfl jerseys a franchise that dazzles during the regular season only to disappoint at the most important time of the year.

”I’m excited. We’re all excited. … We all want to be in this position and move forward,” said Ovechkin, who is playing in the conference final for the first time during his prolific 13-year career.

”(Wednesday night) is probably biggest game in my life, this team, organization probably. … We still haven’t reached our goal. Tomorrow is going to be a huge step forward.”

Not if the Lightning have their way.295

Tampa Bay is playing Game 7 in the conference final for the third time in four years. It beat the New York Rangers on the road to advance to the 2015 Cup Final, but fell short the following year against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

”Experience is always a good thing, but it’s nothing I’m going to sit and lean on,” said Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman, who is 7-1 in Game 7s during his career. ”It’s about doing your job at the highest level you possibly can.”

Washington forced Wednesday’s winner-take-all matchup with a dominating 3-0 victory in Game 6.nfl authentic jerseys wholesale

In a series where home ice has not been a clear advantage, the Lightning are hoping it provides an edge in Game 7.

Washington won Games 1 and 2 in Tampa, then dropped the next two at home. The Capitals are 7-2 on the road this postseason.

”When you get this deep into a series, everyone knows each other by heart. Now it really comes down to a little bit of will. You have to will yourself for this moment,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

”I do like the fact there will be 19,000 people helping us, to will us to victory. I want the guys to enjoy the game. It will be a phenomenal experience. … You just have to remember, don’t let the game get bigger than it really is. Go out there, execute, leave everything out there and we’ll see what happens.”

This will be Washington’s 11th Game 7 since the start of the 2008 playoffs, most among all NHL teams in that span. None of them, however, have been for a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said after Monday night’s win in Washington that there’s no other team he has coached that he would rather lead into a seventh game.

John Terry can skip Chelsea games if Aston Villa win promotion – Steve Bruce

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Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce says he will allow John Terry to decide whether he plays against Chelsea if the club gain promotion to the Premier League and he wants to trigger the 12-month option in his contract.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The former England captain chose to join Villa over several Premier League suitors last summer, in part because of his reluctance to face Chelsea. And Bruce said that he would not pick Terry against his old club if Villa win promotion back to the top flight.284

“We’ll not pick him against Chelsea if that’s he wants,” said Bruce, whose Villa side face Fulham in the playoff final on Saturday. “All those phone calls to him last summer, he hasn’t been disappointed with it. From the training ground, to the stadium, to the support, it has all the makings of a big club.

“He has been one of the great defenders of our country. He is a great leader of men, which we don’t produce many of any more. In a quiet way, he is not a ranter and a raver, he is not one who puts heads through doors. He hasn’t exceeded expectations, I just knew what he would give.

“I’m sure he will give it a good go if we get promoted and enjoy the challenge of it.”

Terry has provided stability and leadership in 32 league appearances this season and Bruce is hoping that such qualities will prove vital again at Wembley.

“That’s what we’ve brought him for, not just to win a game on a Saturday but his overall contribution,” Bruce added. “He’s never let us down. What I realised straight away was I needed people who can handle playing for Aston Villa with the demand of a big club and intensity of a big club.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“Here you are straight under the pump. You have to play well and handle it. That is why I went down the route of bringing in the likes of [Glenn] Whelan and [Ahmed] Elmohamady, John Terry of course, [Mile] Jedinak.

“Slowly but surely we have tried to change it around. There were too many bad apples here and we haven’t got them any more.”

Mohamed Salah can match Ronaldo, Messi after ‘many years’ at top – Wijnaldum

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Georginio Wijnaldum has told ESPN FC that Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been a match for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi this season, but admitted that the Egypt forward must now maintain his level for “many more years” to earn equal billing with football’s biggest stars.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Salah has scored 44 goals in all competitions for Liverpool this season, with his 10 Champions League strikes helping drive Jurgen Klopp’s team into Saturday’s final against Real Madrid in Kiev.

Real forward Ronaldo, despite indifferent form at times this season, goes into the final as the competition’s top scorer with 15 goals, aiming to win the European Cup for a fifth time.

And although he insists that Salah has what it takes to be Liverpool’s match-winner in the Ukrainian capital, Wijnaldum concedes that his Anfield teammate has it all to do to eclipse Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi from the summit of the game.283

“Mo has been incredible this season,” Wijnaldum told ESPN FC. “The way he has scored goals has been unbelievable, not only for him, but also for us and the supporters — everybody who witnessed it.

“What he did this season in the Premier League was unbelievable and I really hope he can do it in the final, and take his form from the Premier League and what he has done in the Champions League into the final, because it will help us and give us a bigger chance to win it.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

When asked if Salah can be ranked alongside Ronaldo and Messi, Wijnaldum added: “It’s difficult to say. Messi and Ronaldo do it for years, but this season, he can definitely compete with them.

“But if you want to speak about the level of Messi and Ronaldo, a player has to do it for many more years.

“I don’t know how many years they have been doing it, how many years they have been first and second in the Ballon d’Or, it is unbelievable.

“[Antoine] Griezmann is another player you can say is there with Ronaldo and Messi, but it is difficult to say.

“What I do know is that a player has to do it for many more years to compete with those two because what they are doing is unbelievable.

“I don’t think you will ever see players who are so consistent, playing the way they are doing — scoring goals, being important for their club, winning trophies and individual trophies.”