211

Stephen Curry: Warriors need more aggressiveness, discipline on D

The Rockets targeted Curry on 23 possessions in Game 2, the most he has been targeted in a game this postseason, as they routed the Golden State Warriors 127-105 on Wednesday night to even the series at one game apiece. He was the primary defender on 20 plays in Game 1.

According to Second Spectrum, Curry defended 15 isolation plays in Game 1 and 13 in Game 2. nfl replica jerseys cheap Both were more than he had defended in the past four seasons, regular season and playoffs.

“They made shots,” Curry said about the Rockets’ high point total. “We were just a step slow on our rotations and our switches. Guys got into the paint. We know their M.O. is isolation, trying to get dribble drives, get the ball in the paint. … We’ve got to respond with some more aggressiveness and more discipline on the defensive end.”

Asked about how relentlessly the Rockets are zeroing in on Curry, coach Mike D’Antoni said, “It’s obviously one of our things we like to do.”

In the series, James Harden and Chris Paul are consistently calling for screens from the teammate Curry is guarding to get the two-time MVP to switch onto them. Once Curry switches to the primary ball handler, the Rockets attempt to penetrate to the basket.211

Houston shot 7-of-15 from the field on those 23 possessions Curry was the primary defender. Curry was beat off the dribble frequently and too often allowed Harden to drive to his stronger left side.

“We were trying to be too cute with our [defensive] exchanges and our switches and all that stuff instead of just manning up and playing one-on-one defense,” Curry said. “Whether they score or not, as hard as we’re working on the defensive end, they’re working as hard on the offensive end to get shots up. That was the difference between Game 1 and Game 2. They made a concerted effort to turn those one-on-one situations into a little bit more ball movement, and we were just a step slow, myself included.”

Many are questioning whether Curry is fully healed from his left knee injury that forced him to miss five weeks.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

“I physically feel fine,” he told ESPN. “I’m playing without really any limitations so I can just go play basketball.”

204

Jon Gruden’s plan: 35-year-old Derrick Johnson in the middle of the Raiders’ D

There is no doubt Derrick Johnson has much to prove in what will be his 14th NFL season this fall, his first with the Oakland Raiders.

After all, the Kansas City Chiefs essentially told the longtime fan favorite his services were no longer needed when they exercised the option to void the final year of his contract this spring.

The question, though, is this: where can i buy nfl jerseys cheap How much does Johnson, who turns 36 in November and has torn both Achilles tendons since 2014, have left in the tank?

“The main reason I’m still playing ball and chasing a championship ring [is] just because I believe I have a lot left in the tank; I have a lot left in the tank,” Johnson, who signed with Oakland on May 7, emphasized on a recent conference call with Bay Area reporters. “That’s the only reason I’m back. When I get to a point where I’m like, ‘Man, I’m hanging on,’ I’ll get out. I’ll get out of the NFL.”204

Indeed, Raiders coach Jon Gruden believes there is enough playmaking ability remaining in Johnson to have him serve as Oakland’s middle linebacker in a rebuilt 4-3 base defense. Yes, that means purportedly taking the place of NaVorro Bowman, who is more than five years younger but also has had major injuries to his left knee and left Achilles (Johnson was Pro Football Focus’ 33rd-ranked linebacker last season with an overall 77.3 grade, while Bowman was 11th with an 84.8 grade).

Coming from the Chiefs also should help stoke this ancient AFC West rivalry, what with Johnson’s standing as Kansas City’s all-time leading tackler with 1,262 stops and a four-time Pro Bowler with 27.5 career sacks, 23 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and 14 interceptions.

“He brings us status at a critical position,” Gruden said. “He’s got a great history in this league. He’s been productive under a lot of different coaches, different schemes. He understands the AFC West. He certainly understands this rivalry. I’m really excited to add him to our team with Tahir Whitehead and some of our young linebackers. I think his presence will be very valuable.

“Getting a guy like Derrick Johnson, I think, could be huge for us.”

Again, so long as the 6-foot-3, 242-pounder is healthy, right?nfl jerseys discount

Johnson blew out his right Achilles tendon in the 2014 season opener and was back for a full 16-game season and Pro Bowl nod in 2015. He tore the left Achilles in Week 14 of the 2016 season, against the Raiders. He played in 15 games last year.

143

Arden Key epitomizes the Raiders’ boom-or-bust draft class

Looking for the epitome of the Oakland Raiders’ boom-or-bust draft class, coach Jon Gruden’s first in Oakland since 2001?

Look no further than the Raiders’ fourth of nine picks, a self-styled top-five talent who fell to the back of the third round, where Oakland snatched him up at No. 87.

Yes, there were character concerns when it came to Arden Key.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“I went through some situations that caused me to be a third-round pick,” said the former LSU defensive end. “I’ve learned from those things, and this is the consequence of me going through what I went through. I’m a better person now than I was prior to it.”143

Boom? Key set a school single-season record with 12 sacks as a sophomore in 2016 and had 21 sacks in 31 career games for the Tigers. The Raiders, even with the presence of Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, need help getting to the quarterback. If a healthy and motivated Key can address that need, he’s a draft steal.

Bust? Key, after being suspended for the 2016 season finale, took a leave of absence in the spring of 2017 — reportedly to go to rehab for marijuana use — and had a subpar season last fall with four sacks and five missed games due to injury as his weight got as high as 280 pounds. He was coming back from shoulder surgery in May and endured a knee injury as well as a broken right pinkie finger that required surgery. Can the Raiders truly trust him?

“He had a big season two years ago with 12 sacks, but even then, was too one-dimensional,” Kiper said. “The majority of his impact plays were versus the pass. He has to get stronger and has to become more polished in terms of pass-rush moves. [He] beat collegiate OTs with speed and has shown the ability to bend the edge. But he’ll need to convert speed to power in the NFL and also maintain the proper weight where he can maximize his talent.cheap youth nfl jerseys

“In the later portion of Round 3, he’s worth a roll of the dice. Jon Gruden always talks about closing out and finishing games. You do that by having multiple pass-rushers. That’s how the Eagles finished things off against Tom Brady and the Pats with Brandon Graham’s strip sack. Key brings that element if you can keep him focused on the job at hand and maximize all of his talent and athleticism.”

130

Penguins limit Capitals’ Tom Wilson-less top line to even series

Alex Ovechkin was on the ice when Jake Guentzel scored into an empty net, sealing the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Game 4 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night. It was Guentzel’s second goal of the 3-1 victory, on his seventh shot. cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale Ovechkin ended the night with no goals, nor any shots for the first time in his otherwise-dominant 2018 postseason.

This was notable because this was the first game Ovechkin didn’t have Tom Wilson on his line with Evgeny Kuznetsov, as the big Capitals winger served the first game of a three-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese in Game 3.130

With Wilson in the lineup, Ovechkin had 31 shot attempts in the first three games of the series, resulting in three goals and two assists. Without him, and with winger Devante Smith-Pelly on his line instead, Ovechkin had two missed shots and nothing else on his offensive stat line.

“I don’t know if they’ve done anything differently. Trust me, Ovi will get his shots,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “I think [Smith-Pelly] did a really good job filling in. Obviously, Tom is a unique player. But I thought that line was going head-to-head pretty well.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china  There wasn’t much space out there on both sides. I mean, you look at, I think after two periods, there was only 15 shots or whatever for each side roughly. There wasn’t much space. We’re committed on both sides. We’ll just continue. I thought Devo did a real good job, and it’s next man up.”

As a member of the Capitals’ top line, Wilson created space for this linemates and made little plays that helped spring the two Russian scoring stars on odd-man rushes. He had at least a shot in the first three games; Smith-Pelly, in contrast, had one shot blocked but nothing on net in Game 4.

82

Raiders’ Hurst happy to turn focus from heart to football

After months of questions about the health of his heart sent him tumbling down the draft board until being taken by the Oakland Raiders in the fifth round, Maurice Hurst was happy to get on the practice field and turn the conversation to football.

Hurst took part in his first practice as a pro Friday when the Raiders opened their rookie minicamp with three promising pass rushers they hope can bolster their defense.

”Just trying to get all of that stuff behind me, new nike nfl jerseys cheap try to get people to stop talking about it,” Hurst said. ”You know, some sort of issue or all of those kinds of things – just try to move past that and focus on playing football and just having fun out there.”

Hurst was one of the most productive defensive players in the country last season at Michigan. He had 5+ sacks as an interior rusher and led all nose tackles and defensive tackles with 49 total quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.82

Hurst was sent home from the combine after a heart issue was detected. Hurst said it was something he has dealt with for a long time and hadn’t impacted him on the field. He said he has been cleared by doctors at Harvard and Michigan but that didn’t prevent every team passing on a player projected as a first-rounder until the Raiders got him at 140th overall.

”I’m not going to answer any more health questions on Hurst,” coach Jon Gruden said. ”I realize there are a lot of ghost stories out there about unnamed sources that have their opinion on why we shouldn’t have drafted him. This man played at Michigan. I know the head coach there. They’ve looked after him carefully. We’re happy to have him in any round, and I’m excited for him and I’m really excited for him because he’s an Oakland Raider and he’s a great kid. I hope you just judge him on the field. He’s been cleared medically and I’ll just leave it at that.”

The additions of Hurst, second-round defensive tackle P.J. Hall and third-round defensive end Arden Key give the Raiders help on a defensive front that has ranked near the bottom of the NFL in sacks in recent years despite the presence of edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.nfl nike jersey cheap

The Raiders have the second fewest sacks in the NFL the past two seasons with just 56 – one more than the last-place New York Jets. Nearly two-thirds of those sacks have come from Mack (21 1/2) and Irvin (15), as the edge players have gotten almost no help from the inside rushers.

45

Jaguars rookie DJ Chark wants to continue pro success of No. 7

It takes a special player to wear No. 7 at LSU. You have to be a dynamic playmaker and a game-changer. Someone who has a major impact on games.

The tradition began in 2008. Receiver DJ Chark was the latest to wear that number and kept up the tradition, ranking sixth in the nation in per-catch average (21.9 yards) and leading LSU in receptions (40) and receiving yards (874) in 2017.45

Now, however, comes an even bigger task for Chark after being drafted in the second round by the Jacksonville Jaguars: authentic nike nfl jerseys china living up to what the former LSU No. 7s have done as professionals.

“When I was able to get that No. 7, I knew I had to take it to that next level,” Chark said. “Now that I am a second-round pick, I know that I have to take it to another level.”

The No. 7 tradition began with cornerback Patrick Peterson. He wore it during his three seasons in Baton Rouge, where he was one of the country’s best defensive players. He was an All-American, won the Bednarik Award and Thorpe Award, and was drafted fifth overall by Arizona in 2011.

Peterson is a three-time All-Pro and has made the Pro Bowl in each of his seven seasons with the Cardinals.

Peterson passed the No. 7 down to safety Tyrann Mathieu, who won the Bednarik Award and earned All-American honors in 2011. He was dismissed from LSU for violating the school’s substance abuse policy before the 2012 season began, but Arizona drafted him in the third round in 2013.

It could be hard for Chark to make a big impact in 2018 because the Jaguars re-signed Marqise Lee and added Donte Moncrief on a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $9.5 million. The team really likes second-year player Keelan Cole (he led the Jaguars with 748 yards receiving in 2017) and second-year player Dede Westbrook. authentic nike nfl jerseys stitched A former Biletnikoff Award winner, Westbrook is coming off a season in which he missed the first nine games with a sports hernia but still caught 27 passes.

Chark has no expectations for his rookie season, but he doesn’t want to break the tradition of former LSU No. 7s finding success as professionals.

10

How Kevin Durant, Warriors have adjusted without Steph Curry

The Golden State Warriors were embarrassed in Indiana late in the season, suffering a 20-point defeat that resulted in coach Steve Kerr calling their effort “pathetic” and questioning their desire to win that night.

Some of the veterans took exception.nfl authentic jerseys cheap  When Kerr got wind of it, he apologized personally to the players and then publicly through the media before their next game. But an apology wasn’t the cure for their woes. Five days later, the Utah Jazz hammered the Warriors by 40 in Golden State’s season finale — the biggest loss in Kerr’s coaching tenure — and players were visibly upset with their performance.

The defending champs were entering postseason play on a 7-10 skid, and Kevin Durant was taking the bulk of the blame for not stepping up with Stephen Curry out of commission with a knee injury.

“I’ve got to play better to help my team,” Durant told ESPN at the time. “This is obviously not the way we want to finish this, but we have to move past this and focus on what’s ahead. We don’t have Steph right now, so we have to go out there and get it done until he gets back.”10

When Curry was out with a sprained ankle in March, Durant explained some of the team’s struggles by saying that “Steph is the system here.” The point Durant intended to make was that the free-flowing offensive system implemented by Kerr is tailored to Curry. Essentially, it’s a V10 engine and Curry is the motor oil. So in his absence, it’s a challenge for the team to run the same system.

It’s similar to why the Cleveland Cavaliers struggle when LeBron James is sidelined. So much is run through James that when he’s off the floor, it puts players in uncomfortable roles when attempting to execute the same system.

With Curry in the lineup this season, the Warriors went 41-10 while averaging 120.4 points per 100 possessions, nfl jersey wholesale which would be the best offensive rating over the past 20 seasons. With him off the floor, however, the Warriors were only 17-14 in the regular season and had an offensive efficiency that was right around the league average.

286

What We Learned: First three teams eliminated have a lot in common

The Kings lost their first-round series against Vegas because they went from being the net-driving team they’d been for most of the regular season to playing Darryl Sutter-brand hockey once again, and didn’t score any goals as a result. cheap youth nfl jerseys They ran into a hot goalie, sure, but also they didn’t do much to make that goalie earn his .970-something save percentage in the four-game sweep.

The Ducks had a similar problem: They couldn’t score, but unlike the Kings they also couldn’t keep the puck out of the net. The Sharks aren’t even that great, but they certainly made the Ducks look like a team that had no business being in the playoffs, outscoring them 16-4 in four games.

The Wild weren’t really in that boat, so much, because they just got run out of the building in four out of their five games by a deeply superior team, and only a surprise blowout in Game 3 kept them from being as utterly humiliated as the two above teams. Nonetheless, they lost their last two games by a combined 7-0 scoreline, including a first period in Game 5 that was so laughable it made the last 50 minutes or so not even worth watching.

All of which highlights both an overarching problem with these three teams separately and with the current playoff format. None of these three teams are equipped to be competitive within the Western Conference, but mostly because they are not equipped to be competitive within their respective divisions.286

The Kings and Ducks play in a fairly soft division, probably the softest in the league given its overall lack of elite clubs, and they didn’t come close to being able to keep up even in the first round. Meanwhile, the Wild are a nominally good team — reliably worth 100 points in the standings — but not much more than that because they lack any truly high-end talent.

LA and Anaheim each have a difference-making defenseman and center, but beyond that, what are we really talking about with this club’s talent level on an ongoing basis? After your Doughtys and Lindholms, Getzlafs and Kopitars, who’s carrying the water for these teams? Rickard Rakell? Jeff Carter (if he’s healthy)? Perfectly good players, but not guys who really move the needle, and certainly not guys who do it against actual good competition.

And Minnesota, frankly, doesn’t even have guys on the level of those elite defensemen or centers.nfl youth jerseys cheap If you can get Eric Staal to shoot 17 percent again, that’s fine. Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund can play, too, but they’re on the level of Rakell and Carter in that they’re very nice players to have but if they’re your big weapons you’re not really going to make a lot happen in the playoffs.

285

Young, speedy Avalanche show promise before playoff exit

That blend of quickness, youth and skill boosted the Avalanche from the bottom of the league a year ago to a playoff contender this season. Having an MVP candidate like Nathan MacKinnon leading the charge certainly didn’t hurt, either.

”We love the way we play the game,” Sakic said a day after the Avs were eliminated from the first round nike jersey nfl cheap of the postseason by top-seeded Nashville in six games. ”It’s fast. It’s entertaining. It’s exciting.”

Few expected this kind of run from a Colorado team that had just 48 points in 2016-17. But youthful energy kept the Avalanche in the playoff chase until the end, where they earned the final postseason spot on the last day of the regular season. Their 47-point turnaround from a season ago matches the fourth-highest year-to-year improvement over a full season in NHL history, according to the team.

That bodes well. That is, once the sting of losing to the Predators fades.285

”We’re going to stay the course and let this team grow because they deserve it,” said Sakic, whose squad was one of the league’s youngest with an average age of 25.8. ”We’re going to stay young and in the next couple of years may even get younger. If we can, even try to get a little bit quicker and faster out there.”

The Avalanche fully bought into the message of even-keeled coach Jared Bednar, cheap youth nfl jerseys who will be around two more seasons after Sakic announced Monday he recently agreed to a one-year extension with the former American Hockey League coach.

”It’s a cool story that we went from last to the playoffs, but we’re trying to win a Cup,” said the 22-year-old MacKinnon, who had 39 goals and 58 assists in the regular season. ”We showed a lot of fight this season. … Hopefully we can use some of that next season.”

262

Battle ready: Big leaguers logging long hours on Fortnite

David Price and the Boston Red Sox are feeling every bit at home at the Flush Factory. And in Houston, George Springer and the Astros are just as likely to be talking Boogie Bombs as balls and strikes.

Why is Xander Bogaerts making an L with his fingers and dancing on second base? chinese nfl jerseys nike Who’s the Ninja on Phil Hughes’ Twitter feed? What’s with Derek Fisher and llamas?

Just like gamers everywhere, major leaguers have fallen hard for the Fortnite craze. And while it’s not how John McGraw would teach teamwork, Port-a-Forts and Slurp Juice may be the biggest thing bonding some big leaguers.

”We play all day, every day,” Springer said.262

Fortnite Battle Royale is perhaps the world’s most popular video game, and baseball players are among its most voracious players. The game pits up to 100 competitors in a last-man-standing scenario, letting them mine materials from an ever-shrinking map while hunting down enemies with a variety of weapons. Working in teams is often critical, which is how the World Series champion Astros ended up with a 12-man crew which plays almost nightly at the team hotel on the road.

Springer and Houston’s other outfielders have even been celebrating victories by performing dances from the game – the trio forms a circle, throws their hands in the air and quickly moves their feet, a move Fortnite apparently adapted from an episode of Seinfeld.

Bogaerts was doing something similar on opening day, celebrating a double by doing the “Take The L ” dance – a popular Fortnite taunt.

The Red Sox have a Fortnite squad that covers an array of ages.cheap chinese authentic nfl jerseys The 32-year-old Price was a little late to the game – he heard teammates talking about it near the end of spring training and privately tested it out before trying to break into the team’s Playstation rotation. He practiced a bit with J.D. Martinez, a former Tigers teammate who signed with Boston as a free agent this winter, then got into melees with reliever Carson Smith.