Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 7/21/21
Two NBA MVP awards. An NBA title. The 2021 NBA Finals MVP. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks has now officially ascended the ladder in the Association and has to be considered one of the best players of this generation.
Tuesday night’s win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to wrap up the series represented that coming-out moment for the Greek Freak.
We already knew what Antetokounmpo had in him. From the moment Milwaukee made him a mid first-round pick in 2013, something special was brewing in Wisconsin. A lanky 6-foot-11 frame with elite athleticism. Rawness, that if ever fulfilled, would make him among the most-dominating figures in the NBA.
Within just a couple seasons, the Athens native showed us that his trajectory and ceiling was about as high as anything we’ve seen in the known universe — the NBA’s equivalent of the cosmos.
Fast forward less than a half-decade, and Antetokounmpo is on top of the NBA mountaintop. It came via an otherworldly 50-point performance en route to helping Milwaukee close out the Suns in Game 6 Tuesday evening. The dude was unstoppable. He was unflappable. He was a freight train that ran over everything in his path.
Through the first three quarters Tuesday evening, the Greek Freak had tallied 37 points. The rest of his Bucks teammates combined for 40. That performance allowed Milwaukee to keep the game tied heading into the fourth quarter.
The NFL community was shocked to learn Wednesday that free-agent cornerback Richard Sherman was arrested and being held with a bail request denied at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle following an alleged burglary and domestic violence incident.
ESPN has released more details about what reportedly occurred early Wednesday morning.
A police spokesman told ESPN a person placed a 911 call from a residence at 2 a.m. PT claiming an adult male family member who did not live there was attempting to force his way into the home. Police met the suspect outside of the residence upon responding to the call, and the male “fought with police” before he was arrested and taken to a hospital for evaluation.
For just the second time since the turn of the century, the NHL champion reigns for a second consecutive season. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Game 5 at home on Wednesday night, cementing their back-to-back champion status after taking home the Stanley Cup in 2020 as well. Young Ross Colton scored the only goal of the game early in the second period, and his teammates played tough defense to keep Montreal off the board for a shutout win to seal it.
The 2020-21 season was far different for Tampa Bay, though. In 2019-20, the Lightning were a wire-to-wire favorite, leading the league in goals for and finishing second in goal differential, which earned them a share of the third-best record in the league. This year, the Lightning had their fair share of issues along the way, finishing only third in their own division and eighth overall in the league, falling to eighth in scoring and seventh in differential. Yet, in the postseason they were even better this time around than they were last year. In the 2020 playoffs, the Bolts recorded 3.08 goals for per game and 2.28 goals against per game, finished fifth in power-play and penalty-kill efficiency and required extra time to win seven games. This year, Tampa Bay notched 3.26 goals for per game and led the postseason with 1.96 goals against per game, finished third and fourth, respectively, on the power play and penalty kill, and did not need overtime to win a single game.
It has been a historic week for professional sports in the United States, and President Joe Biden has taken notice.
Biden praised two professional athletes, Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama, for coming out on Tuesday via Twitter.
To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama – two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage. Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.
Gerrit Cole effectively admitted on Tuesday to using banned substances while pitching.
Cole was asked by reporter Ken Davidoff whether he has used Spider Tack, a sticky substance, while pitching. The New York Yankees pitcher hemmed and hawed and admitted he didn’t know how to answer the question.
Cole wrestling with the question, and not denying his usage of the substance, was telling.
Unfortunately, everyone has more time on their hands now, with the COVID-19 virus in full swing and no live sports happening at the moment. However, the one event that is going to happen next month, is the NFL Draft! It starts Thursday, April 23rd and continues through Sunday, April 25th. The 2020 NFL Draft was originally going to take place in Las Vegas, but will now be held in a studio setting (just like before when it wasn’t this popular).
I’ve never looked forward to a draft as much as I do as this one. Therefore, I wanted to provide the first version of my mock draft. Granted, I will probably only get a few correct, but heck, it’s better than watching Joe Exotic for the third time. So, without further ado, I give you the first three rounds of my 2020 Mock Draft, (along with some insight and explanations on the 1st rounders, for shits and giggles). Check it out and let me know what you think!
Bengals: Team Needs = QB, WR, LB, EDGE, OT
– Joe Burrow, QB LSU
This is a no brainer. Joe Burrow
had one of the best college seasons of any quarterback in recent memory. The
Bengals cannot pass him up. They should be releasing Andy Dalton any day now
after failing to get anything in a trade.
Redskins: Team Needs = OT, EDGE, WR, CB, S
Selection – Chase Young, DE Ohio
The Redskins are in an
interesting position here. They could easily select Tua Tagovailoa, Tristen
Wirfs or trade back and stack up more picks. If they were to select Tua, then
they would already be giving up on their early first round pick last year in
Dwayne Haskins. They would have to trade him and wouldn’t get much in return. I
think they will select the best player in the draft in Chase Young. He is a
safe pick that fills a big need for the Skins. He will most likely receive
Defense of Player of the Year honors in 2021.
Lions: Teams Needs = LB, EDGE, CB, S, IOL
Selection – Jeff Okudah, CB Ohio
The Lions need to get better on defense. They ranked 31st overall last year. Jeff Okudah is a shutdown corner and that’s exactly what the Lions need. They are guaranteed to face Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins twice a year, respectively. I could also see them going with Isaiah Simmons here, as linebacker is a big position of need.
Giants: Team Needs = OT, EDGE, LB, CB, S
Selection – Tristan Wirfs, OL
The Giants need to protect Daniel
Jones. He was sack and rushed too much last year. The only decent lineman on
the current roster is Will Hernandez. Tristan is the best lineman in this
class. He was a state champ as a high school wrestler and can squat a baby
elephant. Saquon will fall in love with the way he blocks up the field to create
big rushing lanes.
Dolphins: Team Needs = QB, LT, RB, EDGE, IOL
Selection – Tua Tagovailoa, QB
The Phins are excited they did
not have to trade up to get Tua. He is ripe for the taking and they select him.
They just hope his medical checks out with their doctors, and he can stay
healthy. At least he can sit for a while behind FitzMagic to learn their system
and heal more if needed.
Click on the next page below to continue with the Mock Draft!
What a crazy end to the NFL regular season on Sunday. It started with the New England Patriots shockingly losing to the Miami Dolphins to give away a first-round bye.
The Philadelphia Eagles earned the NFC East title with a win over the New York Giants later in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers put up one heck of a performance in a dramatic win over the Seahawks in Seattle to earn the NFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
These are among the top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 17 NFL action.
49ers win game of the decade
We knew Sunday night’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks was among the biggest of the season. San Francisco would earn the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win. Seattle would claim the NFC West and host Minnesota during the wild-card round.
The game itself was absolutely amazing with Russell Wilson leading Seattle to multiple second-half scoring drives. But in the end, a goal-line stand from the 49ers’ defense ultimately gave Kyle Shanahan and Co. the win.
This has to be considered the game of the decade in what was the final regular-season matchup of the 2010s. And it’s going to have wide-ranging ramifications in the playoffs. Just craziness.
Titans take care of business, will face the Patriots
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
It was a simple scenario for Tennessee on Sunday. If the Titans were able to come out on top against a Houston Texans squad that was resting its starters, they would earn the No. 6 seed. Earlier in the day, New England’s loss to Miami guaranteed that any potential wild-card game for the Titans would be against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
Riding the brilliant performances of Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry, Tennessee came out on top by the score of 35-14. It finished the regular season having won seven of Tannehill’s 10 starts and has to be seen as an upset waiting to happen against the defending champs next weekend.
That’s it for Oakland Raiders football
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Gruden and the Raiders needed a whole lot to happen in order to sneak into the playoffs. That included them coming out on top over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. It also included a ton of other scenarios, including the Titans losing and Colts winning.
When it became apparent that neither scenario would play out, the end of Oakland Raiders football as we know it was in the cards. The Raiders lost to Denver by the score of 16-15 to finish their final season in Northern California at 7-9. It’s now on to Las Vegas for Gruden and the Raiders.
Jason Garrett’s tenure seemingly comes to an end
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Dallas Cowboys needed to take out Washington with the Giants winning against Philadelphia in Jersey Sunday afternoon to earn the NFC East title. Dallas did its job with an 47-16 blowout of the Skins. Unfortunately, Dallas saw Philadelphia take out the Giants at about the same time.
The end result is an 8-8 record and Dallas shockingly missing out on the playoffs. This should pretty much spell the end of Garrett’s tenure in Dallas. His contract has now officially expired with the Cowboys already being linked to multiple big-name candidates to replace Garrett.
Chiefs are hitting their stride
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Winners of five consecutive heading into Sunday’s season finale against the last-place Los Angeles Chargers, the Chiefs started out slowly at Arrowhead. That’s until Patrick Mahomes went full Patrick Mahomes and Damien Williams brought the house down with this touchdown run.
When all was said and done, Kansas City came out on top by the score of 31-21 for its sixth consecutive win heading into the playoffs. This win, coupled with New England’s shocking loss to the Dolphins, has the Chiefs as the No. 2 seed in the AFC and enjoying a first-round bye. Watch out Ravens, another team is aiming for you.
No fight in these Panthers
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The decision to fire head coach Ron Rivera after 12 games and nearly a decade in that role has backfired on the Panthers in a big way. They headed into Sunday’s meaningless game against the Saints losers of seven consecutive games. Most of those losses displayed a declawed Panthers squad that showed no fight.
That was once again the case at home against New Orleans. Carolina fell by the score of 42-10, embarrassing itself in the process. Regardless of what the future might hold at quarterback and head coach in Carolina, the ending of this season was an unmitigated disaster for the Panthers. Sunday’s blowout loss added another layer to this.
Patriots stumble into the playoffs
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Shocking. That has to be the best way to describe New England’s home loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. A win at Gillette Stadium would have given New England a first-round bye for the ninth consecutive season.
Instead, Tom Brady and Co. put up a dud of a performance in a 27-24 loss to the Dolphins (5-11). By virtue of this defeat and the Chiefs’ win in Kansas City, New England will be playing wild-card weekend for the first time since all the way back in 2010. It has to be a sickening feeling for Bill Belichick and his team. Just brutal.
Packers survive Lions
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
There’s no world in which Green Bay’s 23-20 win over the last-place Detroit Lions on Sunday can be seen as a good thing. By virtue of the victory, Aaron Rodgers and Co. earned a first-round bye.
Even then, a game-ending field goal from Mason Crosby to clinch Green Bay’s 13th win of the season was not great. Sure the Pack will host a divisional round game against one of four teams playing on wild-card weekend. In no way should the team feel good heading into the playoffs. If you can’t dominate an injury-plagued last-place team, there’s little hope for postseason success. That’s the harsh reality of the situation.
That’s it for Freddie Kitchens
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Reports indicated earlier on Sunday that the Browns were vetting potential replacements for first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens. Cleveland entered Week 17 with a 6-9 record and taking on a one-win Bengals team.
What we saw transpire in Cincinnati put an end to Kitchens’ short tenure with the Browns. Cleveland fell in embarrassing fashion by the score of 33-23. It was yet another mistake-prone performance from the squad, and it led to Kitchens getting his walking papers on the eve of Black Monday. Back to the drawing board for the long-downtrodden Browns.
Eagles overcome injuries, win NFC East
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia Eagles entered Sunday’s game against the Giants with an opportunity to win the NFC East. It did not start out swimmingly with star offensive players Brandon Brooks and Miles Sanders joining a plethora of other Eagles players on the sideline due to injury.
Despite that, Doug Pederson and Co. were able to will their way to a hard-fought win and the division title with a 34-17 victory. It really is a testament to the job Pederson has done this season. And regardless if the season ends at home next weekend against the Seahawks, it will be seen as a success in Philly.
NFL Playoff field set
The 49ers, Packers, Ravens and Chiefs will be watching next weekend to see who they take on in the divisional round. Meanwhile, eight teams will take the field for what promises to be a fun weekend of postseason action.
In the AFC, the Tennessee Titans will travel to New England to take on the defending champion Patriots. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills will be taking on the Texans in Houston.
The NFC is even crazier with the Minnesota Vikings heading to New Orleans to take on the Saints and the Seahawks traveling to Philadelphia to play the Eagles. Get your popcorn ready, this should be a blast.
By: Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 12/30/19
The Blackhawks have traded Marian Hossa’s contract to the Arizona Coyotes in a seven-player deal that includes Vinnie Hinostroza, Jordan Oesterle and a third-round pick in 2019. The deal helped the Blackhawks clear Hossa’s $5.275 million cap hit for the next three years.
In return the Blackhawks will receive forwards Marcus Kruger, MacKenzie Entwistle, Jordan Meletta and defenseman Andrew Campbell and a 2019 fifth-round pick.
It’s not surprising the Blackhawks found a partner to take Hossa’s contract off their hands, given the salary cap floor increased by $3.4 million. But they paid a price they were likely hoping to avoid in attaching Hinostroza, who recently signed a two-year extension with the Blackhawks that carries a cap hit of $1.5 million.
Hinostroza established career highs in all three scoring categories last season with seven goals and 18 assists for 25 points in 50 games. He also had the second-highest points-per-60 minutes average at 5-on-5 for the Blackhawks last season at 1.98, a rate only Patrick Kane topped at 2.16.
Removing Hossa’s contract gives the Blackhawks flexibility in terms of roster movement going forward, and perhaps allows them to be more open-mind about a potential trade that benefits both the short-term and long-term after a quiet free agency.
We’ve arrived at the doorstep of the games that matter most.
The playoffs are here, and this year’s flock of NFC contenders are a glorious gaggle of powerful teams dotted with watchable stars. Each of these clubs are laced with positive traits, but also quirks that render them vulnerable.
In a conference tournament that’s truly up for grabs, let’s take a look at what makes these playoff teams tick, shall we? Teams below are arranged according to how they’re seeded.
NOTE: Be sure to check back Thursday for a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each playoff team in the AFC.
1) Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
2017 SEASON: WILD CARD ROUND
▹ Players, coaches explain McVay’s genius
▹ Strength, weakness for each NFC team
▹ Top 10 games of 2017
▹ Cousins Conundrum: Who will pay QB?
▹ Pairing coaching vacancies with candidates
▹ QB situation at each new opening
▹ Playoffs first-look: Scariest team left
Strength: The offense is compromised by the loss of quarterback Carson Wentz, but the Eagles held their own on defense over the past two weeks after giving up 434 yards passing to Eli Manning in Week 15. No team this season generated a higher disruption rate (the combination of pressures and run stuffs divided by defensive snaps), and no defense was stingier against the run. Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry and Chris Long anchor a front line with the power to wreck game plans and rattle quarterbacks. The Eagles will need this side of the ball to play pristine football week after week for any shot at the Super Bowl.
Weakness: Philly’s weakness? It’s what used to be the club’s unquestioned core power: the quarterback position. Losing Wentz to a season-ending knee injury in Week 14 stripped the Eagles of their beating heart and one of the game’s most promising young stars. Backup Nick Foles was exposed on Christmas against Oakland and was downright awful last Sunday against the Cowboys before giving way to third-stringer Nate Sudfeld. It really shows in Philly’s vertical air game, too, with Foles sporting a 2.1 passer rating on deep throws — small sample size noted — while Wentz produced a 94.9 mark before the injury. Eagles fans went from watching Wentz operate as a cannon-armed, pre-snap magician with next-level mobility and Brett Favre-level derring-do to wondering if the postseason might be a one-and-done affair with Foles at the controls.
2) Minnesota Vikings (13-3)
Strength: Where do we begin? You can point to the team’s star-studded offense, Minnesota’s ability to overcome key injuries or the franchise’s rock-solid, slump-proof and resourceful coaching staff, led by Mike Zimmer. It all starts with the defense, though, which has held teams to under 20 points in a whopping 12 games. If the pass rush hasn’t quite been itself over the past two weeks, the Vikings still have reliable, Pro Bowl-level talent at every level. Beyond the team’s nasty front seven, the back end of this unit — led by cover man Xavier Rhodes and sensational safety Harrison Smith — has the raw power to frustrate a high-flying team like the Rams in January.
Weakness: I don’t see an overt weakness on this roster. Don’t tell me this year’s Case Keenum isn’t a Super Bowl quarterback, either, because he’s done nothing but magnify the play of his skill-position players. When Keenum ran into trouble in a Week 14 loss to the Panthers, his six sacks charted back to a banged-up offensive line currently missing left guard Nick Easton, who went on injured reserve on Dec. 26. The line can’t suffer any more setbacks. I’d also be concerned that tight end Kyle Rudolph came out of Sunday’s win over Chicago in a walking boot. Finally, we need to see Everson Griffen return to his pass-rushing heights from a couple of months ago, but chalk this up as nitpicking. This is the NFL’s most complete team, with a roster that thrashed the Rams in November.
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