NBA Finals pick, predictions for epic Cavs vs. Warriors III

So, we meet again.
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For the first time in league history, the NBA Finals matchup will be the same for a third straight year, with both the Warriors and the Cavaliers arriving in impressive fashion — Golden State at 12-0 in the playoffs and Cleveland at 12-1. All season, there has been little doubt that the two teams would wind up here, but the way they dominated their conferences over the past month and a half is an aspect no one could have foreseen.

In a way, the rest of the regular season and the playoffs never really mattered much. The entire past eight months in the NBA pointed to this moment, to the rubber match between the Warriors, 2015 NBA Finals champions, and the Cavaliers, 2016 Finals champs. In fact, you could argue that this matchup was set in stone last July, when Kevin Durant opted to leave the Thunder, turn down the Celtics and land with the already-stacked Warriors.

James has sat a total of 35 seconds in the second half, and the Cavs simply can’t afford to sit him. Mark it down now: Cavs 102, Warriors 97 with 8:33 left. We’ll see what LeBron has left in the reserve tank.
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Green picks up his fifth foul with ten minutes to go in the game. Durant checks back in. Foul trouble has really limited him the past two games.

You might disagree. It didn’t hurt the NBA in the past, right? Hell, the Celtics won eight in a row from 1959-66. Chicago did it twice from 1991-93 and 1996-98. The Lakers did it in Minneapolis from 1952-54 and in Los Angeles 2000-02. Those Lakers teams with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal lost just three NBA Finals games in three years. The league survived.

The Lakers, however, weren’t playing LeBron James. The Warriors made the Cavs look like those 76ers, Pacers or Nets teams that Shaq and Kobe used to burn through. Boston, Chicago and Minneapolis had the best players in the game, too.

NBA Draft 2017: First-round prospect Jonathan Jeanne diagnosed with Marfan syndrome

Just before this month’s NBA Draft, French center Jonathan Jeanne likely has seen his dream of playing professionally dashed.

The potential first-round pick Jeanne has been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a potentially career-ending disorder, his agent told The Vertical.

Early Thursday, Celtics GM Danny Ainge revealed that Ball turned down a request to work out for Boston ahead of the draft. But the UCLA guard is considering a workout with the 76ers, according to ESPN. The report says the only issue is how Ball will work with Ben Simmons, another ball-dominant player.

If Ball does agree to a workout, then it would defy what his father, LaVar, said. The outspoken pop had said his son would work out only for Los Angeles because, “There’s nobody else that we need to work out for.” But if the Lakers aren’t interested, then it might help Ball to let other teams know everything about him.

This will likely be the end of reports claiming who Ball will or won’t work out for. He likely won’t fall past the 76ers as he’s viewed as a consensus top three pick. We’ll know for sure where he lands when the 2017 NBA Draft takes place next month.

Lending significance to Colangelo’s comments is a recent report from Basketball Insiders that said, “With reports surfacing that the LA Lakers and former UCLA guard Lonzo Ball have finalized the details of a workout and face to face meeting in LA next week, there is a growing sense that unless Lonzo absolutely blows the doors off, he may not be the Lakers’ guy.”

FS1’s Mike Hill rips co-worker Jason Whitlock on Twitter

Everyone who writes about sports has opinions. Many of those people want their opinions to be heard. Some are good opinions, others are bad. Many would say Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock had a bad opinion Thursday.

What’s worse, though, is when a co-worker disagrees, and Fox Sports’ Mike Hill disagreed vehemently with what Whitlock said Thursday about racist graffiti scrawled on LeBron James’ Los Angeles home. We’ll just leave these here.

Game Mens Mikael Granlund Jersey Boston (from Philadelphia) 鈥?Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas. The Celtics’ choice here probably will come down to one of two players: Jackson or Jayson Tatum. While Jackson is the better athlete and a potential shutdown wing defender, Tatum is a smoother offensive player. Don’t discount the notion of the Celtics turning around and trading down from here, too.

Phoenix 鈥?Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State. If the Suns are ready to commit to position-less basketball, Isaac is their man. He is a very athletic combo forward who would give the Suns an intriguing pairing alongside fellow youngster Marquese Chriss. With Fox, and possibly Ball, on the table, though, the Suns would have a tough choice if they went for a point guard, even if it means trading away star guard Eric Bledsoe.

Game Mens Walt Aikens Jersey Sacramento 鈥?De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky. The Kings want a point guard, and Fox is the guy they want most. There’s been some talk that the Kings would swap the fifth and 10th picks to move up to the Sixers’ No. 3 in order to draft Fox, but the Kings would be better served keeping both picks and taking the chance that Fox is on the board here, with Dennis Smith Jr. or Frank Ntilikina as a backup plan.

Russell Westbrook wants ‘nun’ of NBA Finals, watches ‘Sister Act 2’ instead

Womens Jaromir Jagr Jersey Russell Westbrook was locked in Thursday night . . . to a 1993 film starring Whoopi Goldberg.
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Yes, you read that right. The Thunder point guard watched Sister Act 2 instead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and Warriors. Screenshots from Westbrook’s Snapchat account started circulating around Twitter as the Warriors put the finishing touches on a blowout victory.

Westbrook made a wise choice with Golden State leading the majority of the second half by 20-plus points. He likely wasn’t interested in watching his former Thunder buddy Kevin Durant scorch the nets with a game-high 38 points.

But why not watch the far superior original Sister Act? Did he already finish it? Does he not have the VHS? (For all you kids out there, that’s a really big Blu-ray disc.)

We need to hear about Westbrook’s movie opinions. That would certainly be more entertaining than Game 1.

Lowdown: Two NFL franchises that have never reached the Super Bowl played a trilogy of NFL championship games in the 1950s. Bobby Layne and Doak Walker each scored TDs in the 1952 victory at Cleveland. The Lions pulled out a fourth-quarter victory in the rematch when Layne hit Jim Doran for a 33-yard game-winning TD. Otto Graham engineered a blowout in a third matchup with four total TDs for the Browns to give Paul Brown the second of three championships with the franchise.

Lowdown: The Royals and Yankees each scored 63 runs over the course of these three hotly-contested series. Chris Chambliss’ walk-off homer capped a thrilling 7-6 win in Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS, a game in which the Royals rallied to tie the score with three runs in the eighth inning. The same drama unfolded in the 1977 ALCS, and this time the Yankees scored three runs in the ninth inning to beat Kansas City in Game 5. New York won the 1978 ALCS in four games. The Yankees won the World Series afterward in 1977 and 1978.

Real Colin Kaepernick hate test begins when 49ers QB hit’s open market

That’s not all that will matter, though. The baggage connected to his protest will be a factor. He has not indicated in any way that hes going to stop what he did all year, away from the field or before games. The different ways many imagined he was poisoning his team, his teammates, the game and his own performance turned out to be just that imaginary.

Which means it may not be Kaepernicks baggage that would keep him from catching on to a new team next season.

it’s the baggage of the owners, executives and coaches like the ones who think hes as bad to have around as a convicted felon.

It suit’s him, though, because he puts the right pieces in place year after year, drills them on his way of playing and preparing and gets them to buy in for as long as he needs them to … until it’s time to fit another piece in.

If Belichick didn’t have two cheating scandals, Spygate and Deflategate, hanging over his head, of course, this argument would be much easier to make. There’s no way to discount that, and no way to apply that to the others on this list not that they’re pure, as history has taught us about no less than Wooden and his UCLA heyday.

In the big picture, though, that’s splitting hairs. It doesn’t bar him from the big room populated by the most accomplished, most resilient, longest-lasting, consistently excellent coaches of all time. It might determine where he gets to sit in that room, but not whether he belongs.

Belichick is in it. Win or lose, he’s no longer several rows behind Lombardi … or Bear or Phil or Coach K, for that matter.

If he wins, start changing the seating arrangement.vikings_085

Bills tab Sean McDermott from Panthers’ staff to replace Rex Ryan

It appears the Bills are still focused on finding a defense-first path to success.

Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will replace Rex Ryan as head coach in Buffalo, the team confirmed.
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Mens Fernando Rodney Jersey McDermott was in Buffalo for a second interview Wednesday, according to multiple reports, after meeting with Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula in Florida last week.

The hope will be that McDermott, whose defense led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 a year ago, finds a way to restore the luster lost during the Ryan regime.

Buffalo’s defenders ranked in the top five in the league in scoring defense, yards per game and passing yards per game in 2014 under Doug Marrone but saw their fortunes plummet under Ryan and his brother Rob, who ran the unit in 2016 and was fired Dec. 27 along with Rex. The Bills were generally a middle-of-the-pack defense statistically this season but finished a stunning 29th in the league in rushing defense, allowing 133.1 yards per game.

McGloin, who was originally questionable to return, made his case to reporters after the game and said he plans to be healthy enough to play next weekend.

I wanted to play out there tonight,McGloin said, via If I’m not 100 percent healthy, that’s not what this team needs. I plan on being 100 percent healthy (for Houston).

Del Rio declined to commit to a starting quarterback when they visit the Texans, but he did seem to tip the odds in McGloin’s favor.

Obviously, (McGloin) has more experience in our system, a little bit longer, he said. But I thought Connor did a nice job, with the opportunities that he had.

If McGloin is unable to play, or if Del Rio decides to switch to Cook regardless small sample size notwithstanding the Raiders would be in an unprecedented situation.

No quarterback in the Super Bowl era has ever started a playoff game without previously starting in the regular season.

Adrian Clayborn injury update: Falcons DE will miss remainder of postseason, report says

The Falcons will be without Adrian Clayborn for the remainder of the postseason after the defensive end torehis bicep against the Seahawks,according to

The injury occurred during Saturday’s divisional playoff win over the Seattle.

Clayborn played in 13 games during the regular season. He recorded 22 tackles, 4.5 sacks and a fumble recovery while fitting into Atlanta’s talented front-four rotation.

It’s a big loss for the Falcons, who count on Clayborn for pressure on the edge as well as run-stopping support on third downs.

Elite Mens Malik McDowell Jersey Clayborn, 28, was the 20th overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Buccaneers. The St. Louis native and Iowa alum has 20.5 career sacks during the regular season.

The Falcons will take on the winner of Sunday’s clash between the Packers and Cowboys for a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
Le’Veon Bell’s style is definitely unusual, but it works for him, Clark said. There aren’t many guys who run like that. Jordan’s more of a guy you model your game after.

Bell’s breakout season came in 2014 when he finished second in the NFL with 1,361 yards and eight touchdowns to go with a career-high 83 receptions for 854 yards. Those numbers earned him AFC co-Offensive Player of the Year honors.

After playing just six games in 2015, when his season was cut short because of injury, Bell is doing things this season that would seem improbable even on Madden NFL 17.
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Despite missing four regular-season games to a drug suspension early and rest late, he finished third in the NFL with 1,884 all-purpose yards. His 157-yard-per-game average was tops in the league, nearly 24 more than Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott.

Who is Scooter Gennett? Look at Reds player who slammed four HRs vs. Cardinals

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Words no one expected to type Tuesday night: Scooter Gennett hit four home runs in a major league game.

As improbable Major League Baseball feats go, that’s right near the top. The 27-year-old Gennett is a utility player who was spelling Reds regular left fielder Adam Duvall for a night against the Cardinals. It was his 19th start of the season and his sixth in the outfield.

The Brewers waived Gennett after he failed to make the team out of spring training. The Reds, in need of bench help, claimed him and have kept him on their 25-man roster all season. Safe to say he’ll be sticking around a little longer.

Milwaukee selected Gennett in the 16th round out of Sarasota (Fla.) High School. Oddly, the player taken right before him (Bryan Mitchell) and right after him (Andrew Susac) also made the majors. Even more unusual: Gennett and Susac were teammates with the Brewers last season.

A huge part of earning the respect that’s paramount for enacting effective change is understanding an environment, and Nicole spent most of her first year at Newburg listening and observing. One thing in particular stood out.

Game Kids John Randle Jersey Our population, we have over 1,100 kiddos, about 700 of those middle schoolers are African-American boys, who they feel in their heart, mind and soul that they are heading to the NBA like LeBron, or they’re heading to the NFL, she says. Most of them are going to top out at 5-9, maybe 5-10, but they are still headed there. That, of course, is a cultural cycle, that’s what they’ve grown up knowing and seeing.

Njoku is certainly a player to watch in Indy

The Patriots shared this with the Cavaliers, too — shutting down the reigning Most Valuable Player along the way. Stephen Curry couldn’t complete the back-to-back NBA titles to go with the back-to-back MVPs, largely because the Cavs had a past battle-tested MVP of their own in LeBron James.

Brady was LeBron to Matt Ryan, the Falcons’ Curry. (In the Cubs’ favor: they had the National League MVP on their side, Kris Bryant.)

To go a step further, for a rare moment Brady looked rattled and borderline out of his own usually-steady head at one point, after he threw the first pick-six of his playoff career, in the second quarter, to give the Falcons the 21-0 lead.

So no, three such comebacks happening in essentially one major-league sports season has never happened. The odds would be astronomical, and would get steeper, of course, as each sport reached its championship round.

Njoku is certainly a player to watch in Indy, and it shouldn’t surprise when he shows out. What does he expect?

“That’s a great question,” Njoku told Sporting News. “I’m just trying to be the best I can be, feel fresh and compete so I can show the world what I can do.”

Njoku finished with 43 catches for 698 yards — an average of 16.2 yards per catch — with eight TDs for the Hurricanes in 2016. He came to Miami as a 217-pound receiver. He leaves as its next NFL-bound tight end.

Njoku would be the 10th Miami tight end drafted since 2000, when Green Bay selected Bubba Franks with the No. 14 pick. Since then, Jeremy Shockey (2002), Kellen Winslow II (2004) and Greg Olsen were first-round picks, and Kevin Everett (2005), Jimmy Graham (2010) and Clive Walford (2015) were third-round picks. Njoku easily could be the next first-round pick, and he understands what comes with that responsibility.

Andrew Whitworth prepared to leave Bengals for Super Bowl contender

Unless blown away by a massive contract offer from Bengals management, something he’s unlikely to receive, Andrew Whitworth is poised to at least dip his toe into the free-agent waters.

Beside having toppled Atlanta, the 2016 Seahawks can stake claim to being the only team to defeat New England this past season with Brady under center. The Seahawks forced two Patriots turnovers and quarterback Russell Wilson outplayed Brady with 348 passing yards and three touchdowns in a 31-24 Week 10 road win.

“That was one of those games we were really on as a defensive unit,” Wright said. “We were just looking for a little payback from that Super Bowl loss we had.”
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Having beaten the Patriots and Falcons should give the 2017 Seahawks confidence about their chances of reaching Super Bowl 52. Wright said the top area of concentration for defensive improvement will be forcing more turnovers. Seattle finished with 19 takeaways, compared to 28 in 2015.

“All my guys are coming back for the most part,” said Wright, who notched a career-high 126 tackles in 2016. “Of course, we might lose a few guys here and there in free agency but the core of the team is coming back.

“I’m just excited that we have a year of wisdom to learn from each other and keep growing. I believe the guys are going to have a hungry mindset to get back to where we want to be as a team. We’re going to find a way to get it done.”

Game Kids Jimmie Ward Jersey This way, Wright and his teammates won’t have to cheer for someone else if the Patriots return to the Super Bowl.