The 2nd round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs is going to be awesome

We’re about to get some terrific second-round NBA Playoff matchups, beginning with Sunday’s Game 1 between bitter rivals Washington and Boston. To help us take a deep dive into that series and the other two already set (Rockets-Spurs, Raptors-Cavaliers), we dialed up old friend Michael Pina, now of VICE Sports.
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Among the topics discussed:

How both teams are fueled by disrespect, yet in different ways.

How do the Celtics properly hide Isaiah Thomas on defense? How do the Wizards actually guard Thomas on the other end? Can the Wizards guard Al Horford when he’s playing center?

Ah yes, Denver. It’s always a critical time for Denver. They finally have a centerpiece player in Jokic, and I am quite fond of much of their young talent. They really need to figure out that point guard situation, though. And the veteran logjam. I’d like the Nuggets to be good again. That was a great basketball market back in the day and I think it can be again with the right combinations.
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Let’s spin this forward. What second round series has your attention? I’m all in on the East right now.

Spurs vs. Rockets should be educational. Houston brought the beatdown to San Antonio in Game 1, but series are long and full of twists. The Spurs will have something to say. We’ll see if the Rockets can hold up. Cavaliers vs. Raptors could get interesting too, assuming Monday’s game was more about Toronto’s typical Game 1 malaise. (I know better than to doubt LeBron. Man, what a rookie mistake not picking Cleveland to make it back to the finals.) It’s pretty clear that Wizards-Celtics will be a series of barn burners.

Why has Kizer’s personality overshadowed his on-field play?

Cook’s junior season also displayed his ability to be a threat in the passing game. The elusive tailback doubled his receiving yardage from 244 to 488 last fall as he emerged as a true all-around threat.

With 14.8 yards per reception in 2016, Cook proved he is a force near the line of scrimmage who can also make plays downfield.

An average performance at the 2017 NFL Combine tempered a lot of enthusiasm. Cook ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash, slower than expected, and failed to grade out among the top performers in the rest of the event’s agility drills. That, combined with ball protection concerns (13 career fumbles), durability (torn rotator cuff in high school and front and back of his labrum while at FSU) and off-field concerns dropped him to the second round.

Why has Kizer’s personality overshadowed his on-field play?

Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly didn’t help matters, suggesting Kizer could have benefitted from another year at Notre Dame. And then Kizer took it to another level.

“Imagine taking (Tom) Brady’s intellect and Brady’s preparation and putting it on a guy with Cam Newton’s body,” he told USA Today. Why can’t I be the greatest? The only thing stopping me from it is me. That’s what’s driving me now.”

Follow the action with our 2017 NFL draft tracker with pick-by-pick results and analysis updating in real-time for all seven rounds. The All-AAC standout is the new physical prototype for an NFL safety. At 6’4 and 224 pounds and sporting a near four-foot vertical, he has the size to compete with any receiver in the league for jump balls. While his height can leave him open to missed tackles, he does a good job of lowering his pads and wrapping up ball carriers, limiting mistakes downfield and making him a tactical weapon against the run.


What are the concerns with Brantley?

Brantley’s pending battery case complicates the start of his NFL career. According to the police report, the 120-pound woman pushed him, and the 300-pound athlete responded by punching her in the face, allegedly knocking her unconscious and knocking out a tooth.

Game Mens Vincent Valentine Jersey Brantley’s attorneys released video footage of the victim walking away, but it wasn’t enough to sway police officers, who state that Brantley’s use of force was clearly out of retaliation and not self defense, and that the force used far exceeded what was reasonable or necessary in that situation.

While Cleveland may never make use of Brantley’s talent, the high ceiling made rolling the dice at the top of the sixth round an interesting use of the team’s many draft selections.

His combine performance did little to inspire confidence, especially for a player whose pass-rushing technique is firmly rooted in his speed. At 253 pounds, he’s small for an NFL end, and the league’s better tackles will be able to swallow him up unless he can outclass them with speed and athleticism. Unfortunately, a 4.82-second 40 time and low scores in the agility drills failed to showcase the kind of quickness he’ll need at the next level.

Game Mens Xavien Howard Jersey While he improved on those numbers at Missouri’s pro day, he still leaves plenty of questions about his future. Although he produced in college, better teams found a way to contain him, like when LSU held him to a single solo tackle or when Arkansas kept him from making a stop in the backfield last fall.

Saints likely to pass on Malcolm Butler and bolster secondary through NFL draft

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New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler recently signed his contract tender, and the Patriots can officially trade him to any team. However, the New Orleans Saints arent likely to be Butlers new NFL home.

Over the past few months, there were reports going around that the Saints were interested in the one-time Pro Bowler. In fact, New Orleans hosted Butler for a visit in the early stages of free agency. Despite that interest, the cost to get Butler is too high. The Saints are planning on keeping the No. 11 and No. 32 picks, as well as their second-round pick, according to The MMQBs Peter King.

The Miami Hurricanes have the longest, with their 14-year streak from 1995-2008. Alabama has had a first-round pick every year since 2009, so a selection on Thursday night will bring the number to nine years, which ties Florida.

Alabama has the chance to tie or even break another Miami record, too. The Hurricanes currently have the record for the most first-round picks taken in a single draft. In 2004, Miamis team saw six players taken. The Tide could likely tie that number, but theres a is a slim chance that they could break it.

The mock was written before the NFL announced Foster failed his drug test at the combine in February, but the linebacker is still expected to go during Round 1. Foster told NFL Networks Ian Rapoport that his dilutedsample was the result of food poisoning.
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Linebacker Tim Williams, safety Eddie Jackson, and linebacker Ryan Anderson have a shot to be taken in the first round, but it seems unlikely.

Eli Manning accused of fake ‘game-worn’ memorabilia scheme

A lawsuit between Giants quarterback Eli Manning and a sports memorabilia collector, Steiner Sports, has been ongoing since 2014. The lawsuit alleges that Manning and the Giants were in on a scheme in which phony game-worn gear was passed off as real.

Items alleged to have been distributed include a helmet on display in Canton, along with two 2012 Super Bowl helmets and a 2004 helmet from Manning’s rookie season. According to the New York Post, the documents say Manning participated in the ruse so he could keep the real items.

The Giants, Eli Manning, team equipment manager Joe Skiba, Steiner Sports, and others, including team co-owner and CEO John Mara, are being sued for the allegedly fake memorabilia.

One of those eight is Tony Dungy, inducted in the Hall of Fame last summer, who gives Rooney, Noll and the Steelers all the credit for giving him a chance to be an assistant coach at age 26, after his playing days were over.

Rooney’s name, of course, will live on for years as part of the “Rooney Rule” he crafted in 2002, when he chaired the NFL’s diversity committee under then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue to open up the hiring process. It has since been expanded to women candidates and to front-office positions.

Meanwhile, though Ron Smith could become the next Kazee in the back, someone needs to become the next Smith. In Montgomery and Derek Babaish (who missed half the season), SDSU boasts only one corner who saw action last year. Safety is loaded — Baldwin and seniors Kameron Kelly and Trey Lomax combined for 4.5 TFLs, eight picks, and 20 breakups — but it appears Kelly has moved to cornerback, and if he gets hurt or has to move back, the second CB spot is up for grabs.nike_jaguars_855

Black-clad Steelers fans file in to pay respects to Dan Rooney

Fans dressed in black Steelers garb and black suits alike lined the sidewalk Monday afternoon outside Heinz Field, patiently waiting to file into a public viewing for longtime Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who died Thursday at age 84 after a brief illness.

The viewing — from 2-7 p.m. ET at the PNC Champions Club inside the football stadium — was expected to draw so many Steelers faithful that the Port Authority of Allegheny County was operating two-car trains on the T during the viewing’s four-hour window.

Inside, Rooney’s family — including current Steelers chairman Art Rooney II and son Dan Jr. — were greeting all comers, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Limited Youth Richard Sherman Jersey Rooney’s funeral mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Saint Paul Cathedral, about five miles from the stadium. On Marshawn Lynch’s first famous Beast Mode run, after shedding the trillion Saints who tried to bring him, Lynch realized he had clear sailing to the end zone. He responded to this freedom by jumping backwards into the end zone while holding his dick, as a sign of utter, complete disrespect for all the Saints he just embarrassed.

Limited Youth Tomas Hertl Jersey This crowning achievement was immortalized by a Youtube video where a guy commentated Lynch’s run, punctuated by a sudden HOLD MY DIIIIIIICK as he bounded backwards into the end zone.

My third-place vote went to Gregg Popovich, who doesnt need Coach of the Year validation, and indeed hed probably be fine if one of his peers got the recognition instead. When we look back over Pops body of work someday, we wont count Coach of the Year trophies. Well note that his Spurs became the modern equivalent of Reds Celtics.

Jimmy Butler is the best player in the Bulls-Celtics series

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Jimmy Butler stood out from the pack in the Bulls’ Game 1 victory over the top-seeded Boston Celtics on Sunday, powering a conciliatory effort to pacify the Celtics’ late-game comeback attempt.

Butler scored 30 points on 9-of-19 shooting, racking up nine rebounds, three assists, a block, and a steal along the way to lead Chicago to a 106-102 win on Easter. He scored 23 of those points in the second half, including a 15-point fourth quarter that stiff-armed a Celtics team searching for late-game heroics.

Even while Isaiah Thomas gave Boston 33 points on 10-of-18 shooting, Butler gleamed as the better player on the floor.

Womens Brad Nortman Jersey Andrew Luck had offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder that has been lingering for some time now. On Monday, Luck admitted that the injury initially happened in Week 3 of the 2015 season against the Titans, according to Stephen Holder.

Prior to his confirmation, it was never certain exactly when the injury occurred. In that game, Luck led the Colts to a 35-33 victory, that included his two touchdown passes 56 seconds apart in the fourth quarter.

Holder added that Luck wasn’t happy with the lack of progress in his treatment plan that the Colts had him going through last season. It led to the decision for Luck to finally have it surgically repaired.

It was a big change of pace from what Colts owner Jim Irsay said during the Colts’ Week 4 trip to London, when he told the Indianapolis Star, “There isn’t some kind of chronic shoulder injury or anything like that, I promise you.” Irsay added, ““There are no surgeries planned. He is fine and the shoulder is something that just disappears into the woodwork when he wins his next MVP or when he wins a Super Bowl.”

The Bengals opened up as significant 6.5-point favorites for this matchup

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Elite Aramis Ramirez Jersey Sure, there are a few matches in the card that will get fans riled up like they would if it was on an NXT TakeOver event or a secondary pay-per-view, but WrestleMania is meant to attract the casual WWE fan, or maybe even a first-time viewer. It’s the reason you’ve been frequently grimacing since the Royal Rumble (or earlier), since this is when the Mania storylines typically unravel.

Two matches in particular exemplify this split between you and your buddy who still calls it the WWF: One is the Universal Championship match between current champion Goldberg and Brock Lesnar. SmackDown has it’s own version with Shane McMahon versus AJ Styles.

The Bengals opened up as significant 6.5-point favorites for this matchup, though the line has narrowed slightly throughout the week. Cincinnati was favored by 5.5 points at the lowest, according to OddsShark.

Five of SB Nation’s experts picked the Bengals to hold at home in this one, while Stephen White is the dissenting opinion and believes the Browns will pull off the unlikely upset.

You know why the Patriots lost? Because they didn’t play well enough. When Tom Brady and Bill Belichick got in front of the media at their post-game press conference, they repeated the same boring stuff they always say after a game. What they said may not have made headlines, but it was the truth: The team didn’t play well enough to win. There were missed passes. There were dropped balls. There was blown coverage.

Isaac has soft touch on the low block and has great mobility for a player his size.

The Nets have a host of needs, and they won’t be able to address them this summer swapping for Boston’s late-first round pick. But in this alternate reality, using cap space to pick up a power forward of Jonathan Isaac’s caliber would improve the Nets’ frontcourt.

Isaac has soft touch on the low block and has great mobility for a player his size. He competes at both ends of the court and runs the floor for easy buckets in transition, just like Nets coach Kenny Atkinson ordered. Brooklyn only has Trevor Booker, Quincy Acy, and Andrew Nicholson competing for the four spot.

Isaac would need to earn his stripes, but he could become part of a Nets team that is building a foundation for the future. He’d choose the Nets for immediate playing time and the opportunity to work with Atkinson.

NBC is “disappointed” with the NHL for forgoing the Olympics. It’s good to remember that NBC holds the NHL’s national television rights and the Olympic television rights.
The lack of NHL participation also is a big boost to the KHL, who could see Russian players return next season to get a shot at the Olympics.

Current NHL players aren’t being silent about the news either. Henrik Lundqvist has tweeted his disappointment. Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic also put out a cryptic picture of the Pyeongchang Olympic logo on his Twitter account. It’s likely many more NHL players will express their displeasure with the league in the coming days, and we’ve listed them all for you right here.


That’s because Golden State’s defense is tailor-made to stop the Rockets

Houston’s ability to scorch teams from deep behind the three-point line usually rips apart defensive game plans. Not so with the Warriors. That’s because Golden State picks up shooters 28 feet away from the basket, sometimes further. Watch Klay Thompson and Patrick McCaw in this clip.

The Warriors’ defense is also a reason why Harden, arguably the league’s most feared isolation player, has turned the ball over so frequently. The Warriors take the three-pointer away, then make calculated gambles helping on a driving Harden.

With the seasons having gone as they have, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the Saints a strong betting favorite, even on the road. New Orleans opened as a 6-point favorite and line has since shifted even further in its direction. Some oddsmakers currently have New Orleans pegged as a 10.5-point favorite.

New Orleans is an obvious pick to win the matchup straight up, but there is more of a question when betting against the spread. The Saints’ 6-3-1 record against the spread isn’t nearly as good as their 8-2 record straight up. Even more troubling is that most of New Orleans’ success against the spread has come at home, where the Saints are 5-0-1 ATS. Their record against the spread drops to 1-3 on the road. Atlanta is just 2-8 ATS this season, but has fared much better at home, going 2-3.
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Both teams have been known to have prolific offenses in recent years, and the total opened at 53 points. New Orleans is once again lighting up the scoreboard, averaging 28.8 points per game, the second-highest total in the NFL.
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