Durant: Celtics will be fine once playoffs start

Durant said he thinks the Celtics need time to find a rhythm within their roster. Both Gordon Hayward and Irving missed the Celtics’ strong playoff run last year, and the team has struggled to find consistency at times.

“Everybody else probably thought they were supposed to be clicking and winning 65 games,” Durant said. “Because they had the talent and they went to the Eastern Conference finals last year, Game 7, but it’s a new season. There’s a lot of teams that changed their rosters to play, to stack up in the East, so it’s a different team. So they’re still getting used to each other, getting Gordon Hayward back and Kyrie back, and another year of experience for the guys that went through the playoffs, so it’s going to be throughout the season.”cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Many pundits picked the Celtics to reach the NBA Finals and play against Durant and the Warriors, but the Celtics currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, with a 38-26 record.11

“It’s just the nature of the game,” Durant said. “They’ve got a bunch of young players, they’ve got a couple veterans that have been through the struggle, so they’re still trying to figure each other out. It takes more than just a half a year or a whole year to figure it out. They’re just going to keep growing, so what you see right now is probably not the finished product.”

Durant, who went through his own growing pains after signing with the Warriors a couple summers ago, believes the Celtics need to have patience as they continue developing their chemistry.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“You can’t accelerate [the process],” Durant said. “I like to compare a lot of people to relationships — would you like to accelerate a relationship that goes straight from dating to marriage in a month? [Building teams is] just the same thing. Over time you got to learn patterns of behavior, how guys like their routines, where they like the ball, all that type of stuff. It’s just from building every day on the basketball court, so it’s going to take some time.”

When the Warriors do face the Celtics, they will do so with several players battling nagging injuries. Backup center Kevon Looney will not play Tuesday after an MRI revealed pelvic inflammation, according to Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Looney took part in shooting drills after Monday’s practice, so the injury does not appear too serious.


Cowboys sign veteran OL Xavier Su’a-Filo

After working out for the team last week, veteran offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys that includes a $50,000 signing bonus.

To make room for Su’a-Filo, the Cowboys released Kadeem Edwards, who served as a backup lineman in the season-opening loss to the Carolina Panthers.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Su’a-Filo was among the Tennessee Titans’ final cuts. He spent the first four years of his career with the Houston Texans, starting 31 of 32 games in 2016 and ’17 after being selected in the second round of the 2014 draft.8

The Cowboys have been searching for interior line depth since losing Marcus Martin in the preseason to a toe injury. They traded for Parker Ehinger from the Kansas City Chiefs, but he was placed on injured reserve last week with a knee injury that will require surgery. They also claimed center Adam Redmond off waivers from the Buffalo Bills after the final cuts, but he was inactive against Carolina.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Rookie Connor Williams gave up two sacks in the loss to the Panthers, but the Cowboys believe he will get better the more he plays.

“Obviously it’s a challenging task for him Week 1 to go against that defensive front,” coach Jason Garrett said. “There were some good things for him. There’s some areas in pass protection that wasn’t good enough and we’ll continue to work with him on that.”


Jays say money not factor in decision not to call up Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“It has nothing to do with business,” Shapiro told SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio. “It has nothing to do with anything other than we think the best thing for him developmentally is to go play in Arizona (in the fall league there) and continue to develop.

“We think that when he gets here, which would obviously not preclude him from making the team out of spring training next year, which would be evidence of that fact, we think he’s got a chance to be an impact player.”cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

When the Blue Jays do call up the 19-year-old Guerrero, his major league service time begins. Thus, the quicker he’s called up, the sooner he’s eligible for free agency and a potentially big payday.9

Shapiro, though, said that didn’t factor into the team’s decision. Instead, he brought up his experience with the Cleveland Indians and Manny Ramirez, who made his major league debut as a 21-year-old and was “underdeveloped” as a baserunner and a defender and it “took years for him to catch up in those areas.

“We’re trying to do everything we humanly can developmentally with an accelerated time frame to ensure that his defense, his preparation, his routine, his understanding of his impact as a leader and as a teammate — all the different things that go into, that they’re taking advantage of and that we can build as strong a foundation as possible when he gets here,” Shapiro told SiriusXM Radio regarding Guerrero.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Guerrero was No. 2 on ESPN Insider Keith Law’s midseason top 50 prospects list. He hit .402 with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs in Double-A, then was promoted to Triple-A and hit .336 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 30 games.


Indians get three-time All-Star Josh Donaldson in trade with Blue Jays

“This is one of the most dynamic players in the game on both sides of the ball when he’s healthy,” Indians president Chris Antonetti said late Friday night. “We think there’s an opportunity for him to get to a point this month where he’ll be playing in games regularly and has a chance to impact us in the postseason.”

Donaldson, 32, has battled shoulder and calf injuries this season and has not played for Toronto since May 28. In 36 games, he batted .234 with five home runs and 16 RBIs.

On Thursday, Donaldson homered in his first at-bat in the second game of his rehabilitation assignment with Class A Dunedin. He finished the night 1-for-3 after going 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI on Tuesday.

The Indians are satisfied he is worth taking on for the season’s final month and into October.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

“We had to do our due diligence to make sure we were getting back a player that we felt had a chance to help us,” Antonetti said. “We know we’re taking on some risk with that. But we feel we’ve built that in appropriately with the structure of the deal and spent quite a bit of time talking with the Blue Jays on how we appropriately balance that risk.”

Cleveland, which leads the AL Central by 14 games, begins a four-game series in Toronto on Thursday.6

A three-time All-Star, Donaldson shut down contract talks with the Blue Jays in February, saying the sides did not see “eye to eye” on a long-term deal. He is set to become a free agent in the offseason.

“I’m going to miss him,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said shortly before the trade was announced. “We had our battles. He is a high-strung player, but he did a lot for us.”

Donaldson is the third former MVP to be traded within the past nine months and the second to be traded Friday, following Andrew McCutchen’s move to the New York Yankees.

A player must be on a club by Aug. 31 to be eligible for the postseason.

Antonetti said Donaldson will be in Cleveland on Saturday and that a plan will be mapped out for him to join the club on a full-time basis. It’s possible Donaldson could be placed on the disabled list so he can play in minor league games while rehabbing a calf injury.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Once Donaldson is ready, Indians manager Terry Francona will play him at third base, which means the club will move All-Star Jose Ramirez to second and replace Jason Kipnis.

Antonetti said the club had preliminary discussions with Ramirez and Kipnis but will meet with them again before Saturday’s game. The team president is confident Ramirez and Kipnis will be willing to do whatever is best for the Indians.

“What we’ve seen repeatedly with our roster is we have guys that are first and foremost focused on winning, trying to get to the postseason and win a World Series,” Antonetti said. “We’ve seen repeated examples of guys willing to make either personally difficult decisions or, in some cases, sacrifices to help the team win. I think that is part of the culture that Tito [Francona] has continued to build here, and our players actively embrace.”


Cardinals remove interim tag, name Mike Shildt manager

The Cardinals took off the interim tag from Shildt’s title and promoted him to full-time manager through 2020, a reward for steering the team back into postseason contention after replacing the fired Mike Matheny.

“Why now? We could have waited but we feel like the time is right,” President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said Tuesday at Busch Stadium. “As we stated from day one, we would use this time to really see how he handled the job. We just felt like we could not do better. Mike has shown he can do the job. Mike checks a lot of boxes along the way.

“It made sense to do it now. Everything is going well, and more importantly momentum is building behind our players. Having Mike Shildt as manager is a tremendous story. I hope the next chapter is even better,” he said.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

In danger of missing the playoffs three straight years for the first time since the late ’90s, the Cardinals have gone 27-12 since July 15 — the most wins in the majors during that span. A 20-5 mark in August after Tuesday night’s 5-2 win against the Pirates kept them into the top spot in the NL wild-card standings.7

“I have been given a lot of credit for what’s happened in the past six weeks,” Shildt said. “I appreciate it, but I cannot accept it. The players make the plays and run the bases. They are a special group and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

The Cardinals were 47-46 when Matheny was fired a day before the All-Star break. They have cut their deficit in the NL Central from 7½ games to 4 behind the division-leading Chicago Cubs, whose game Tuesday night was suspended due to weather.

“The team’s focused, high-level style of play under Mike is a standard that his teams consistently displayed during his prior years in the minors, and it has continued here at the major league level,” Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. “We’ve won, certainly, but he’s got great relationships with the players. We all watch the games and my observation is, I think his game strategy is excellent.”cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

St. Louis has won six of seven and has won each of its past nine series overall.

“What a privilege and honor it is to be the field manager of the St. Louis Cardinals,” Shildt said. “[Mozeliak] had a vision for my career far greater than my own and I’m very grateful for that.”

The 50-year-old Shildt, who never played in the minors or majors, joined the Cardinals organization in 2004. He spent most of that time managing in the minors and was a member of the major league coaching staff the past two seasons.


LAFC resumes home success with shutout of the Colorado Rapids

Lee Nguyen and Diego Rossi scored second-half goals on Sunday night, and LAFC got back to their winning ways at home with a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids.

LAFC was unbeaten in 10 home MLS matches and 14 home matches across all competitions when it was defeated Aug. 11 by Sporting Kansas City. Sunday was LAFC’s first match at Banc of California Stadium since that defeat.

The Rapids saw their three-match unbeaten streak come to an end. Colorado had two victories in that stretch, including a win and a tie against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

With the three points, LAFC moved it into a tie for second place in the Western Conference with Sporting Kansas City, which holds the tiebreaker edge based on goal differential. Both teams are three points behind first-place FC Dallas.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Four minutes into the second half, Nguyen worked his way through the left side of the box in tight traffic, switching from his right to his left foot before poking a quick shot past Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard and into the upper left corner of the goal. It was Nguyen’s second goal of the season.9

Rossi’s breakaway from near midfield came in the 80th minute, as he changed direction to beat defender Danny Wilson and put a right-footed shot past Howard. It was Rossi’s eighth goal of the season.

The teams were unable to produce in a scoreless first half despite solid chances.wholesale nfl jerseys cheap

Colorado’s Niki Jackson had a shot on goal from outside of the box in the 35th minute that was saved by Tyler Miller. Jackson then sent a diving header off target less than a minute later. Miller earned his eighth clean sheet of the season, making five saves.

In the 36th minute, LAFC’s Carlos Vela took a left-footed shot from inside the box that was deflected over the goal by Howard. In first-half stoppage time, LAFC’s Laurent Ciman blasted a curving free kick from 30 yards out that Howard redirected away from goal.

Adama Diomande, LAFC’s leading scorer, came on as a second-half substitute after missing the previous two MLS matches with a hamstring injury. Diomande got an assist for setting Rossi free on his breakaway goal.


Daniel Royer earns draw vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, keeps New York Red Bulls’ run alive

Daniel Royer scored his second goal of the game in the 90th minute to give the visiting New York Red Bulls a 2-2 tie with the Vancouver Whitecaps at B.C. Place Stadium on Saturday.

The game-tying goal came while the Red Bulls were shorthanded following the ejection of defender Michael Murillo in the 84th minute.

The Red Bulls have now earned points in nine of their last 11 games, though this was the first tie in that span. The Red Bulls are also in a tie for the most points in MLS with Atlanta.

The Whitecaps managed to remain unbeaten in five games, though the lost points cost them a spot in the playoff field as the things stand now.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Kendall Waston headed in both Vancouver goals off corner kicks, the central defender beating former partner Tim Parker for the ball both times. This was Parker’s first game against the Caps since joining the Red Bulls in a preseason trade. Felipe, who went the other way in the trade, sent the second corner to Waston.5

Yordy Reyna set up Vancouver’s first goal as the Whitecaps rallied from an early 1-0 deficit. But Royer enabled the Red Bulls to have the last laugh.

He opened the scoring only five minutes into the game, putting in a Bradley Wright-Phillips cross from the right flank. Wright-Phillips has hit the scoresheet in each of the last six games in which he has started.

Waston drew the Whitecaps even in the 42nd minute as he out-jumped Parker to nod in Reyna’s corner-kick from the left flag. In the 60th minute, things got physical as Waston sent Parker to the turf while still managing to head in Felipe’s cross.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

The goal came after Vancouver goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic stopped Wright-Phillips on a point-blank save after falling on the ball in a scramble after it rebounded off the crossbar.

On their Twitter page, the Whitecaps likened the save to a hockey goalie smothering the puck in his crease.

The Red Bulls could not muster similar pressure following Waston’s second goal. New York’s comeback hopes were seemingly hampered in the 84th minute as Murillo was ejected for taking a second yellow card for knocking down Whitecaps 17-year-old sensation Alphonso Davies as he rushed with the ball. Murillo was initially cautioned on a similar play against Davies in the 70th minute.

But Royer chipped a shot over Marinovic from just a few yards shy of the near post after taking a free kick from Tyler Adams, denying the Whitecaps a win before a sellout crowd.


Did the Home Run Derby ‘fix’ Bryce Harper?

Rhys Hoskins is convinced that the Home Run Derby helped him. Bryce Harper, not so much.

It’s been exactly one month since Harper staged an epic comeback on his home turf to defeat Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber in the final round of the Derby in D.C. Schwarber’s opponent in the semis was Hoskins, who’s already gone on record as saying the Derby jump-started his second half.
“Hundred percent,” the Phillies slugger said late last month. “I think it kind of forced me to be aggressive to the pull side. I haven’t done that very well this year. For whatever reason, I’ve been a little more passive on the inner half of the plate. In the Derby, I was able to pull balls more true and keep the ball a lot straighter instead of hooking the ball. It seems to be carrying over.”

Hoskins has an OPS of 1.001 since the All-Star break, nearly 200 points higher than in the first half. After hitting 14 home runs in 86 games prior to the break, he already has nine homers in just 24 games since.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

As for Harper, heading into the All-Star break there were whispers that maybe the Derby was just what the doctor ordered — that contrary to the recent trend of superstars skipping the contest for fear of ruining their swings and/or injuring themselves, the most well-known National might actually benefit from it. After all, he had nowhere to go but up. Following a first half in which he hit an anemic .214 and struck out more than 100 times, the Derby might actually snap him out of his funk. Or so went the thinking.6

The way the Home Run Derby played out, with Harper captivating the capital en route to hoisting the hardware, only added fuel to the fire. The way Harper came out of the break hasn’t done anything to douse those flames.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Since the Midsummer Classic, the former MVP is hitting .337. His slugging percentage is more than 200 points higher than it was before the break. His 1.115 OPS is up nearly 300 points. His swing-and-miss rate is down (from 33 percent to 30 percent), as is his chase rate (28 to 22). Perhaps most important, he’s using the whole field.

“Better approach,” says one National League scout who’s watched Harper recently. “He’s staying on the ball, using the opposite field, not pulling everything.”

The numbers back up the scout’s take. During the first half of the season, 24 percent of Harper’s batted balls went to the opposite field. Since the break, that number has spiked to 35 percent, a telltale sign he’s feeling more comfortable at the plate.


Bengals look to fix big-play element that was broken in 2017

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green should have had a touchdown connection in the second quarter of their Week 13 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season.

Dalton had good protection and dropped back to his own 45-yard line to make the throw, finding Green one-on-one racing down the sideline. The ball flew 50 yards through the air.

As Green reached the Steelers’ 5-yard line, the defensive back had fallen down and the Bengals had a chance to extend their lead to 17-0.

Instead, the ball sailed somewhere over Green’s head right and out of bounds. Cameras caught both players grimacing over the missed opportunity.cheap new nike nfl jerseys

This type of missed opportunity became routine during 2017, and the answers aren’t so clear as to why. It would be easy to point to the offensive line struggles or the change in coordinators after Ken Zampese was fired after the team failed to score a touchdown in the first two weeks.8

Sometimes Dalton just plain missed. At other times, it was clear the protection had broken down. Sometimes the receivers simply didn’t run crisp enough routes or get open in time to make the catch.

“It’s a two-way street,” new quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said. “Obviously, we don’t want to throw them out of bounds, but we also have to have the space out there.”

It’s not that Dalton doesn’t have the arm or the capabilities to make the deep pass. He routinely has found Green in stride for a touchdown or watched John Ross turn on the jets to shoot past defenders for a big gain in training camp.

In the Bengals’ scrimmage earlier in camp, Dalton hit Green for a 50-yard bomb that probably would’ve been an 85-yard touchdown had they been playing by the rules of a normal game.

But it’s easy to do those things in August when the quarterback knows he won’t get hit and the star receiver routinely gets single coverage. The real test comes in September, and the Bengals’ clearly failed that test last season.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

So what was the problem? Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor smiled slightly one day when he was asked if he could pinpoint that answer.

“Yeah [I can], but I won’t,” he said to a reporter. “Statistically, it looks just like it felt. You were there.”

Lazor is expected to put his stamp on the offense after taking over for the fired Zampese. The Bengals’ offense hasn’t been the same since Hue Jackson left after the 2015 season, and Lazor is under a lot of pressure to right the ship.


Fiorentina forward Giovanni Simeone out to emulate father’s success

Fiorentina forward Giovanni Simeone said he has had to work hard to emerge from the “burdensome” shadows of his father, but believes his determination to have a similarly successful career.

Simeone is heading into his second season with La Viola having scored 14 goals in 38 appearances last term, following a move from Genoa — his first club in Italian football.

His father, Diego, had three spells in Italy — with Pisa, Inter Milan and Lazio — and Giovanni admits his father’s success means he could just sit at home with his feet up, without worrying about earning a living.

However, he says he is out to prove that he can have a successful career of his own accord, and not be known merely as Diego’s son.8

“It’s not true that footballers who come from poor families have more hunger compared to those with rich parents,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have the right ‘garra’ [drive], even if my parents are well off.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“Hunger is something which should come from your heart, and you need it to excel in any walk of life. Lots of people have asked me: ‘why don’t you just relax on a beach in the Caribbean for the rest of your life instead of working so hard? It’s not like you have a money problem.’ But I’ve set myself objectives and I’m ready to work hard for them.

“My father has also been a burdensome figure. I got into River’s youth system because I was called Simeone and at the start, everybody was giving me suspicious glances. It was like I was walking in the shadows of my father. It was tough, believe me.

“The starting point is in your mind. In my case, also my feet. I was not born a champion, but thanks to my mentality, I’ve succeeded where players who were potentially better than me have failed. The finest example of my philosophy has now arrived in Italy — Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He wasn’t born a phenomenal player, but he became it with his work and his desire. CR7 is a model to follow. Humility is my best ally. I’ve not done anything yet in my career.”

He hopes that will change on an individual and club level in the near future, predicting an improvement for his club Fiorentina on last season, when they finished eighth.

“On paper, we are better than we were a year ago, but let’s not get carried away,” he said. “Lazio, AC Milan, Atalanta and Torino have improved. We’ve got to set European football as an objective, but not as an obsession.cheap youth nfl jerseys

“With Federico [Chiesa], we’ve taken big steps forward in getting to know each other, also off the field. We’re a great three-pronged attack [with Marko Pjaca] and I am aiming to score 15 goals.”