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Boston Celtics GM says Kemba Walker was ‘definitely not himself’ while in NBA bubble

Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge said star point guard Kemba Walker was “definitely not himself” during the team’s stay inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

“I wasn’t there [in the bubble],” Ainge said Thursday during his end-of-season conference call following the Celtics’ loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. “I was watching from here, but I could see, even when he was here before the bubble started — which is why he was shut down a little bit and doing strength training and trying to prepare himself for the playoff run and the intensity of the playoff run — but he was definitely not himself.

“In fairness to Kemba, he doesn’t want to say that. He doesn’t say that to our coaches. He doesn’t say that to you, the media. He doesn’t say that to me. I haven’t heard one excuse from him. But watching the games, even the games we won, even the games where he played well, I could tell he wasn’t the same physically as he was in October, November, December. So we’re going to try to get that Kemba back.”

Walker has dealt with left knee issues since January. They plagued him during the final two months before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic — especially between the All-Star Game in mid-February and when the season was halted in mid-March — and then again after Boston returned to practice in June before heading to Orlando.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

After slowly ramping up to full minutes during the six weeks preceding the playoffs, Walker looked terrific in Boston’s sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. But he appeared to tweak his left knee again in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Toronto Raptors. And while he had good games after that, Walker never quite looked the same.

“I know Kemba wants to be back 100 percent and playing his best basketball,” Ainge said. “Even not at his best, he still averaged 19 or 20 points per game in the playoffs. He still is a really good player, but he’s not what he was. There’s nothing more frustrating for an athlete to be on the biggest stage in the world in your sport and not be able to be yourself. I’ve been there before as a player. It’s not fun. It’s stressful. And Gordon [Hayward] and Kemba were trying to do that.8

“I know everybody is banged up a little bit this time of year. I’m just saying those guys were … they were limited on what they could do from what we are used to seeing in them.”

Overall, Walker had a successful first season in Boston, helping to stabilize the organization after the departure of Kyrie Irving. Walker made his first deep playoff run after reaching the postseason only twice — and losing in the first round both times — during his eight years with the Charlotte Hornets.

“Kemba is a great person,” Ainge said. “His leadership and being accountable … he didn’t make any excuses, he came to play, he realized the moment he was in. He’s a player who understood how special it is to be here, and to never have those opportunities he’s had in his career. But he has a smile on his face, he brings joy to the game and the team and the entire organization on a daily basis.

“He’s just great to be around, and that’s why I feel so bad. It’s his first time on this big of a stage … and he gave everything that he had. He played well, but we know that he wasn’t himself. But he’s a terrific leader and a terrific teammate and an amazing person.”

This year marked the third time in four seasons that the Celtics have seen their season come to an end in the Eastern Conference finals. The first two times, Boston’s losses came against LeBron James during his eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances.

This time, however, marked the first time that Boston lost to a team that was considered an underdog — albeit a slight one. And while Ainge said he saw plenty that he liked about this season, including the growth of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart, he conceded that the final outcome proved Boston was simply “not good enough.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“First of all, I’ve been very impressed with the development of our young players and how good they’re getting,” Ainge said. “Two, I think that Jaylen and Jayson are very special. Marcus played a huge, huge role for us. He’s a great complementary piece for those two guys. I learned how good Kemba and Gordon are when they’re healthy and how good our team is when our team is healthy.

NBA Finals: How the Lakers shut down a Miami Heat comeback

The Los Angeles Lakers took a commanding 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals by leaning on the thing that has defined their greatness all season: defense. The Lakers not only held the Miami Heat to 96 points, their lowest output of the postseason, but they also did so with a key tactical adjustment, putting Anthony Davis on Jimmy Butler, which shut down the man who torched the Lakers in Game 3.
It’s a testament to the Brow’s versatility that head coach Frank Vogel would consider putting him on Butler. Davis is a 7-footer who almost always defends bigs. But Davis is a phenomenal athlete, and after Butler dominated the Lakers in the paint in Game 3, AD and LeBron James made sure that didn’t happen again. Of Butler’s 17 shots, 15 were defended by Davis or James.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

These are not the Showtime Lakers. This team has been a defensive juggernaut all season, and the Lakers flexed those muscles in Game 4. Their defensive efficiency in the half court improved to 98.6 points allowed per 100 possessions in Game 4 after they gave up 123.9 in Games 2 and 3, according to Second Spectrum.7

While Butler started strong and finished poorly, James did the opposite. After an awkward first quarter that included five turnovers, James ended the game as the leading scorer and leading rebounder. A remarkable 20 of his 28 points came in a pivotal second half that brought his team within one win of a title.

If there was one sequence that epitomized this game, it happened late in the fourth quarter. With the Lakers up 90-88 and 3:05 remaining, Butler missed an open corner 3. James grabbed the board, pushed the ball up the floor and delivered a crisp transition dime to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who drained a corner 3.

Caldwell-Pope was the X factor for the purple and gold, scoring 15 points and adding five assists. The Lakers are 12-1 this postseason when he scores at least 10 points, and his 3-point shooting has given this team a huge lift. KCP has made 40 3-pointers in the postseason, tied for second most in a playoffs in Lakers history. Only Kobe Bryant in 2010 had more 3s.china nike nfl jerseys cheap
From Miami’s perspective, the absence of Goran Dragic loomed large. With Davis and James able to focus on containing Butler, the Heat didn’t have enough firepower elsewhere.

Dragic is more than just this team’s starting point guard. He was also its leading scorer coming into these Finals. In the conference finals against the Boston Celtics, Dragic ran more than 24 pick-and-roll plays per game, per Second Spectrum. With a starting PG on the shelf, Miami’s half-court options aren’t good enough to overpower one of the best defenses in the league, even with Bam Adebayo back in the fold.

Adebayo played OK in his return to action, but his playmaking was not up to his high standards. Adebayo ended the game with just one assist, his lowest such mark since January.

Unfortunately, injuries are a fact of life in the NBA, and for the second straight year, the Finals have been affected by them.

New England Patriots rush for 250 yards, dedicate win to grieving RB James White

The New England Patriots rushed for 250 yards in their 36-20 victory Sunday over the Las Vegas Raiders, an impressive performance that players said was dedicated to running back James White.

White, a third-year captain in his seventh season with the Patriots, remains away from the club after his father, Tyrone, died in a car crash Sept. 20. White’s mother, Lisa, was injured in the crash.

“We just try to go out there and play for him,” said running back Rex Burkhead, who scored three touchdowns for the first time in his eight-year NFL career.cheap nfl nike jersey

“A lot of us, we think about him every single day and his situation. He’s just an unbelievable person, player and leader of this team. So him being away — and of course, the situation him and his family are going through — it’s sad,” Burkhead said. “He’s a brother to me. I really feel his pain in this whole situation. It’s tough.”

Before the game, the Patriots held a moment of silence before the singing of the national anthem.

“We certainly played for James — and not just James but his entire family,” said special-teams captain Matthew Slater, the longest tenured member of the team. “This has been a difficult week for all of us. Obviously, James has been through so much, and most of us can’t even begin to imagine what that must have been like for him and what it continues to be like. We want him to know that we love him and that he has our support.”

Quarterback Cam Newton said players feel for White.8

“We just want to reward him and put him in good spirit,” he said. “We’re excited like heck to hopefully get him back here soon. We’ve been praying for him, and we need ‘Sweet Feet’ back.”

Coach Bill Belichick dedicated part of the opening remarks of his postgame news conference to White, saying that everyone is thinking about him.

Running back Sony Michel, who finished with 117 yards on nine carries, said he texted White throughout the week.

“The rest of the running backs did the same thing, and we all kind of came together and played hard. That’s what James White does,” he said.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Meanwhile, veteran receiver Julian Edelman said players wanted to make White proud.

“It did give us motivation to go out there and play for him because you know for a fact the kind of guy James White is. If something like that happened to one of us, he would do the same thing,” Edelman said. “It’s been a real tough situation, and my heart, prayers, love and everything goes toward him and his family.”

Southampton’s Ings returns to sink Burnley

Southampton’s in-form striker Danny Ings grabbed an early goal to secure a 1-0 win at his former club Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday.

Ings continued his prolific scoring for the Saints, having now netted 25 of their 54 goals since the start of last season, as he struck in the fifth minute at Turf Moor.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Kyle Walker-Peters played a superb pass through to Che Adams and, with Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope rushing off his line, the forward squared the ball to Ings who turned it home.8

Injury-ravaged Burnley had an appeal for a penalty rejected when Chris Wood went down after Polish defender Jan Bednarek laid his hands on his back and there was more controversy involving the New Zealand international after the break.

Wood got behind the Saints defence to latch on to a long ball but the assistant flagged for offside with the Burnley striker continuing his run and putting the ball in the net.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

VAR rules instruct officials not to flag or whistle until a move is complete, leading to confusion and frustration on the bench with the Burnley staff believing Wood was onside.

England international Ings had the ball in the net again in the final minutes but that too was disallowed for offside.

Ja Morant, Zion Williamson headline NBA’s All-Rookie First Team

Memphis Grizzlies phenom Ja Morant, the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year, was a unanimous selection to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team, as the league announced both of its All-Rookie teams Tuesday night ahead of the start of the Eastern Conference finals.nike jerseys nfl cheap

Morant, who finished with averages of 17.8 points per game and 7.3 assists per game in leading the Grizzlies to the brink of the playoffs after being the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Murray State, was the only unanimous selection for the two All-Rookie teams. The teams are comprised of 10 players voted on by a global panel of 100 sports writers and broadcasters, and are selected regardless of position.8

Joining Morant on the first team are Morant’s teammate, forward Brandon Clarke, Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and Golden State Warriors forward Eric Paschall.

The All-Rookie Second Team includes Heat guard Tyler Herro; Toronto Raptors guard Terence Davis; Chicago Bulls guard Coby White; Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington; and Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura.cheap nike jerseys nfl

Because of the changes to the league’s calendar because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is not a season-ending awards show this year. Instead, the league has reverted back to its old format of handing out awards periodically throughout the playoffs.

Only two honors are left to be handed out: the All-NBA teams and the league’s Most Valuable Player Award.

New York Giants fill need in secondary, add veteran Logan Ryan

The New York Giants have agreed to a one-year contract with cornerback Logan Ryan, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The deal is worth $7.5 million, a source told ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

Ryan will slide into the safety/nickel/corner role the Giants had slated for rookie Xavier McKinney, who fractured his left foot last week.nike cheap nfl jerseys

The news of Ryan’s agreement was first reported by NFL Network.

The Giants had been monitoring Ryan’s situation since the start of free agency. His salary was undoubtedly a factor, with Ryan originally looking for something in the range of $10 million.8

That was too rich for the Giants, who entered Monday more than $24 million under the salary cap, per ESPN’s roster management system. But the Giants waited, and Ryan become a serious option as the secondary became depleted: DeAndre Baker was charged with armed robbery; Sam Beal opted out of the season; and McKinney is out until late November with his injury.nfl cheap nike jerseys

Ryan was a jack-of-all-trades for the Tennessee Titans last season. He became only the third player since 2000 to finish with at least 4 sacks (4.5), 4 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles in a season.

Ryan posted on Instagram in May that his “chapter in Tennessee has come to a close” and later said on Devin and Jason McCourty’s “Double Coverage” podcast that “Tennessee really never offered me a contract … they never really tried to bring me back.”

Ryan played primarily as a nickelback but was used frequently on blitzes and relied upon to be a force against the run. He started all 16 games last season for the first time in his career and set highs with 18 pass breakups and 113 tackles.

In the playoffs, his pick-six of former Patriots teammate Tom Brady sealed the Titans’ upset victory in the wild-card round.

Since entering the league with the Patriots in 2013, Ryan has 494 tackles, 11 sacks, 8 forced fumbles and 17 interceptions, with one defensive score.

Source: Free-agent guard Larry Warford opts out of 2020 season

Three-time Pro-Bowl guard Larry Warford, who has received multiple offers as a free agent since being cut by the New Orleans Saints, is opting out of the 2020 season, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Warford is looking to start a family and will continue to train and revisit playing in 2021, the source said.

The Saints released Warford on May 8, saving more than $7 million in salary-cap space and paving the way for first-round draft pick Cesar Ruiz to earn a starting job.8

Warford, 29, made the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons with the Saints after they signed him away from the Detroit Lions with a four-year, $34 million contract in 2017.

It became evident New Orleans was considering a change after it re-signed left guard Andrus Peat to a lucrative extension in free agency and selected Ruiz with the 24th overall pick in the NFL draft.

The 6-foot-3, 317-pound Warford began his career as a third-round pick with the Lions out of Kentucky in 2013 and became an immediate starter.nfl cheap nike jerseys

He has started 101 regular-season games, including 44 over the past three years in New Orleans. He also started five playoff games with the Saints.

Packers WR Devin Funchess opts out, cites family’s health

Green Bay Packers receiver Devin Funchess, who had first-hand experience with COVID-19 this offseason while caring for family members with the disease, has opted out of the 2020 season.

The 26-year-old veteran was the only experienced addition the Packers made to their receiving corps, which was viewed as one of the few weaknesses on a team that reached the NFC Championship last season. He signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal that included a $1 million signing bonus after a lost year with the Colts in 2019, when he suffered a broken collarbone in Week 1.nike cheap nfl jerseys

Funchess canceled several scheduled media opportunities shortly after he signed with the Packers because of what sources said at the time was the need to care for family members diagnosed with COVID-19.7

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Funchess said in part: “My closest family members have experienced the life-threatening impact of COVID-19 first hand and for their own safety and my own safety, I’ve decided to opt out of the upcoming NFL season. This was not a decision I took lightly but it’s what is best for my family and myself at this time.”nike nfl cheap jerseys

Funchess, whose best seasons came with the Carolina Panthers, was in the mix to compete to be the No. 2 or No. 3 receiver behind Pro Bowler Davante Adams. After signing Funchess, the Packers passed on receivers in one of the deepest receiver drafts in history.

Funchess was placed on the reserve/opt-out list, which allows the Packers to retain him under the same contract for the 2021 season. The Packers also placed first-year outside linebacker Greg Roberts on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. Packers veteran players reported to Lambeau Field on Tuesday for their first round of COVID-19 testing.

Pirates 3B prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes out indefinitely because of coronavirus

Pittsburgh Pirates third base prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes is out indefinitely while dealing with the novel coronavirus.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Manager Derek Shelton announced Hayes’ illness on Sunday after the 23-year-old Hayes — the son of former longtime MLB third baseman Charlie Hayes — gave the team clearance to do so.8

The diagnosis blunts the momentum that Hayes, considered the top infield prospect within the organization, built during spring training.

The Pirates expected Hayes, a three-time Gold Glove winner while in the minors, to make his MLB debut this season while splitting time with Colin Moran. But now he must wait in isolation for his clearance to return to the team.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Any time we lose development time, it’s challenging for us,” Shelton said. “As we’ve talked about numerous times, not just for (Hayes) but for all of our prospects, this is a big year for us. We have to be very thoughtful of how much work we get them and try to get them as much work as possible. Any time we lose prospect time, it’s challenging.”

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen says he has recovered after testing positive for COVID-19

Kenley Jansen reported to camp with the rest of his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates on Sunday and revealed that he was delayed because he previously tested positive for COVID-19.

Jansen, the Dodgers’ All-Star closer, said he seemingly acquired the virus from his 4-year-old son, Kaden, who had a fever one night and later tested positive. Jansen initially tested negative, then tested positive in a follow-up exam. He acquired the virus nearly three weeks ago but said he began to feel better by the fourth day.

“I tried to be careful, do everything we could do to try to avoid this virus,” Jansen said on a video call with reporters from Dodger Stadium. “It happened so fast.”nike cheap nfl jerseys

Jansen has previously dealt with atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes the heart to beat out of rhythm, and underwent his second ablation procedure in a span of six years in November of 2018.

After being diagnosed with the coronavirus, Jansen put himself on a restrictive diet, limiting sodium, cutting out dairy, drinking plenty of electrolytes and walking around as often as possible. Two days after being symptom-free, he began to play catch, then started utilizing the gym in his house and ultimately threw off the mound again, his latest bullpen session coming on Friday. Jansen expects to be ready for the season opener in 11 days and didn’t give any consideration to the possibility of opting out.8

“I always wanted to play,” Jansen said. “I love this game. I wanted to do it for the fans. We’re all going through a tough time right now in this world together. I think this is a good thing, not only for Dodger fans but all baseball fans around the world who have something to watch on TV.”

Jansen joins Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu and closer Aroldis Chapman, Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Luis Urias and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Kole Calhoun among the more notable players to have publicly revealed they have tested positive for COVID-19.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Coronavirus cases continue to surge throughout the country as professional baseball, basketball and hockey are on the verge of returning. The U.S. reported 66,627 new cases on Friday, a record for the second time this week. Florida alone had 15,300 on Saturday. In the midst of that, players such as San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, Washington Nationals corner infielder Ryan Zimmerman, Chicago White Sox starter Michael Kopech and Jansen’s teammate, David Price, have decided to opt out of the upcoming 60-game season.

“Take it serious, man,” Jansen said when asked if he had any advice for fans. “Wear your mask at all times.”

Jansen has been in L.A. ever since spring training was canceled around the middle of March. He said everyone who lives in his house, including his wife and two other children, tested positive for the coronavirus after Kaden was diagnosed. They have all recovered, but Jansen said “we’re all still paranoid” over the fear of contracting the virus again.

“It’s definitely scary and definitely a disappointment,” Jansen said. “When my son had it, it was more the disappointment of, ‘Why does my son have it and why not me?’ You just don’t want that to happen to one of your kids. Next thing you know, we all got it. It is scary, man. But at the same time, you have to keep the faith and just fight it.”