2020 April

Court Vision: Miami blasts its way to 4th straight Finals as Pacers wilt

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Here’s what we learned on Friday as the eliminated the in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to win their fourth straight Eastern Conference title and fourth straight appearance in the Finals. 

• There’s time enough to talk about how miserable the Pacers are, and we’ll get there. But let’s take a moment to appreciate Miami. Not only for reaching the Finals for the not 1st, not 2nd, not 3rd, but 4th straight time, but for the way in which they turned it on in these playoffs. They have dominated each series, losing only thrice on their way to crushing the competition. Yes, the East is terrible. But Miami was special once again. 

• And in Game 6, just as it was for this season, was yet again the best player not on the floor, not in the state, not the country, not the world, but the galaxy. His control over the game has expanded so fully that he plays like he’s got a cheat code. He intercwith Barcelona was incredibly successful, despite his advancing years, and the former Celtic goalscorer has revealed how he told Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi the importance of continuing to work hard. “I told them, I have seen many good playepted a second-quarter pass by leaping higher than anyone else can, wrenching it down, and then pushing the ball up full speed. When the defense set, he simply reset the offense, then patiently waited. Later he blew past his defender, drew two defenders, faked the layup and then threw the ball to the corner with perfect accuracy. 

• In short, he’s superhuman. But more than that, he’s a fully-actualized superhuman now. He understands his game, the team’s game, the game, at such a high level. He is patient and controlled, aggressive and powerful, engaged and fearless. He’s a composer and an engineer and the hammer and the nail all at once. 

• But it wasn’t just James. The entire Heat team came with their identity. had yet another good game. You can’t really count on that, but things happen, and it was more of a sign of how in tune this team was with itself than anything. was monstrous, tearing through double-teams, punishing the Pacers when they played off, and dominating all around. 

• had yet another strong performance. Chris Anderson crashed the glass. didn’t get hurt. Everything came up Millhouse for the Heat. 

• Now, the Pacers. 

• It’s over, finally. Mercifully, the Pacers’ woeful season came to a close so we don’t have to watch this dysfunctional, self-loathing, out-of-sync team try and make it to the Conference Finals… wait a minute. 

• They  make the Conference Finals!

• So on the one hand, this shows you how terrible the East after defeat at home to Newcastle United on Saturday.The Irons’ 3-2 defeat at home to Newcastle on Saturday means Manuel Pellegrini’s team are five games without a win.”I think the way we started, from our point of view, just wasn’t good enough,” Crwas, that the Pacers could still make it. On the other, this shows that Indiana still reached the baseline for what’s acceptable. They still finished second in their conference. 

• But wow did they finish second. 

• Sometime in the future, the story of what happened to this team will get out. It may not be this year, or next. But eventually the true story of what happened last year will come out, and it should be epic. Because somewhere along the way, a great team went awry, and never recovered. 

• The Pacers’ efforts in their final two games was beyond pathetic. It was like watching the in February. They just didn’t care. They were beaten and they knew it, and they were kind of OK with it. 

• There are X’s and O’s here, the small ball approach killing ‘s effectiveness, how ‘s 29 points is a fiction compared to his actual impact, how the Heat attacked , how the spacing worked, but really, this was just the Heat being superb and the Pacers being pitiful. 

• did his (bad) thing: 

• And again:

ntre-back for Manchester City.The 34-year-old midfielder has been impressive in defence, having had to fill-in during City’s injury crisis.”It’s good as long as you can be at the highest level,” the Brazilian told ESPN.”Playing in a different positiohad the last word.

• The Heat will travel for Game 1 of the Finals vs. the or on Thursday. 

n Ham in Italy. He is currently limited to non-con

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center is rehabbing from pectoral surgery with assistant coach Darvin Ham in Italy. He is currently limited to non-contact workouts and is for full participation to all normal basketball activiium coach Roberto Martinez has declared Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne the best in the world for his role.Asked whether there are better midfielders than De Bruyne in the world, Martinez was adamant. “No, no, no, definitely not,” he told ties at the starester United midfielder Paul Pogba played through the pain barrier for his two appearances last month, it has been claimed.Pogba was due to have surgery on a long-standing foot and ankle injury on Thursd League win over Barcelona.Fabinho was superb for the 4-0 win as the Reds reached the final 4-3 on aggregate.He told RMC: “We played for our life on the ground. When we were tired, we could still find strength to recover, to win the ball. The whole tay and is expected to be out for at least four t of training camp, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Hurry, Phil, thrust greatness upon Knicks: Make yourself coach

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-Arsenal-doctor-Gary-ODriscoll.html” target=”_blank”>Daily Mail says O’Driscoll has decided to takr stalling stadium upgrade plans by slashing costs by as much as UK£500 million (US$650 million), according to the New Civil Engineer, reports, /.The West London club had originally planned to demolish the existing 41,600 seater Stamford Bridge to be the role at Liverpool after holding talks with the Champions LeFor a long time, the belief was that in the Premier League, ‘anyone could beat anyone’. This idea was reinforced in 2016 when Leicester City won the title against all odds. However, in the three years since, the top of the league table has had a famiague winners.O’Driscoll, who has roots in the north-west having spent a period working

David Griffin: Kyrie Irving wasn’t consulted on Mike Brown decision

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general manager David Griffin was emphatic at his press conference on Tuesday: had absolutely nothing to do with the firing of head coach Mike Brown one season into Brown’s five-year contract, :

“Any — any — insinuation that Kyrie Irving had anything to do with this decision is patently false,” Griffin said, pounding the table where he sat for emphasis. “It’s unfair. He was not counseled on thisr Owen Hargreaves feels they’re asking too much of Marcus Rashford.Speaking to Premier League Productions, Hargreaves said he has has doubts over whether Rashford can fill the forward void left by the summer departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan. decision, nor was he counseled on the previous decision. It’s a completely unfair assertion and one that I want everyone to understand very clearly that is not a narrative we are going to go with.”

There has long been speculation that Irving isn’t exactly thrilled with the Cavaliers, with in February right before Chris Grant was ouankfurt on Thursday. The midfielder has not featured since clashing with supporters after being substituted against Crystal Palace last month.”They are angry and disappointed, as well we are. We have a very good opportunity to [correct] do that,” he sted as general manager. Late in the regular season, against the rumors that he wanted out of town.

Putting aside of how Irving felt during the season, the All-Star point guard will be a free agent at the end of next year if he does not sign a contract extension this summer. Cleveland is expected to offer him a five-year, maximum-salary extension, , and obviously the head coach will bve been linked with a move for Neymar and De Jong would be more than happy to see him back at the Camp Nou.”It is not up to me to make the decision as to whether to sign [Neymar] or not,” said De Jong.”However, if I had to discuss Neymar as a player,e a factor in his decision.

Griffin did not have to ask Irving for input on Brown, and he does not want Irving to be perceived as a coach-killer, but if Griffin plans to continue building around him, it would only make sense to bring in a coach who will get along with Irving and get the most out of him. The general manager also said at the press conference that “it’s fair to say the Cavaliers have had a defensive focus,” and he wants a better balance between offense and defense in the future. Griffin spent 17 seasons in the organization, including the seven-seconds-or-less era.

Cleveland has yet to make its list of candidates, , but Alvin Gentry, who worked with Griffin in Phoenix, “will begin perhaps a rung higher on the list than others.” 

ting a night off iemouth captain Simon Francis has

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guard was back on the floor Wednesday against the Nuggets, after getting a night off iemouth captain Simon Francis has hailed the work ethic of manager Eddie Howe.Franella had been missing since November due to injury.The midfielder remarked afterwards: “Napoli are a strong side and it’s an intimidating environment here, it’s never easy. But we’re a great team, we were focused only on our objective.“I’m doing cis is one of those who have made the journey from League One with Howe.He told the Daily Express: “I did think I would love to be a coach and do it the way he managesn the team’s previous game. Unfortunately, he could not get through the contest, as hen a tough Champions League group.Chelsea, who return to the Champions League after a one-year absence, were placed in Group H during yesterday’s draw, alongside 2018/19 semi-finalists – and Dutch champions – Ajax as well as Valencia and Lille.”There was forced to leave after just 17 minutes due to a mid-foot sprain.

Green was productive prior to the injury, finishing with 16 points on 5 of 9 shooting, with one rebound and one assist. Unfortunately, he could not return after the injury, and was spotted in a boot following the game.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Green is on the foot Thursday. For his part, Green told reporters he did not expect to miss time, and coach Gregg Popovich did not rule him out for Friday’s game. 

ports. The 34-year-old played 73 games, including

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forward told reporters that he , the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The 34-year-old played 73 games, including 15 starts. He averaged 5.7 points and 4.9 rebounds on 53.9 percent shooting from the field. He will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.”My body feels good,” Brand said. “I’m already training for next h Daniel Sturridge.A free agent after being allowed to come off contract by Li is down to the players to give everything to the fans – and feed off the energyManchester United star Andreas Pereira reacted to his side’s Carabao Cup semi final draw.The Red Devils were successful in the quarter final against Colchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.They eased to a 3-0 win after a flurry of early that they give back in return.”I think that football is passion, football is connecting our heart and their hearts,” Emery told Arsenal Player. “I think we need also to verpool last month, Sturridge is sifting through a raft of offers for this season.Among them is Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt.The Germans have made a contract proposeason.”

Court Vision: Spurs a step slow, Thunder flip script

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Here’s what we learned on Sunday, when the hosted the and won the game they absolutely needed to in the Western Conference finals.

• We learned that this isn’t going to be easy for the Spurs. They kehs of his tenure.McAteer believes Klopp will leaving his post in 2021 and be replaced by Rangers boss Steven Gerrard.“Steven Gerrard made a clever move going to Rangers to begin his management career and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if stop two opt pace with the running-and-gunning Thunder for a while but looked a step slow for the majority of the game. San Antonio had to expect that Oklahoma City would come out with incredible energy, but it did not match it, shooting 39.6 percent from the field and finding itself unable to compete when stopped bailing his team out.

• We learned that does indeed for the Thunder. Ibaka made the first shot of the game and his five field-goal attempts. He gave Oklahoma City a huge confidence boost, and even at less than 100 percent, did a typically excellent job of deterring the Spurs around the rim. This was only one victory, but the Thunder’s outlook is a thousand times better than it was a couple of days ago.

• It wasn’t merely Ibaka. struggled to start the game, but hit two 3-pointers in the last 31 seconds of the first half and built on it after halftime. He wound up with a game-high 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, shooting 8 for 19 from the field and 8 for 8 from the free-throw line.

• The point guard matchup was a problem for San Antonio. had a rough, rough time, finishing with nine points on 4-of-13 shooting, plus four assist after his major hamstring injury.The Frenchman’s season is over due to the setback.Despite that, Setien tried to send a message of positivity as the club wait to see how long the French forward will be out of and if they can make a signing on an emes and one rebound. He orchestrated things with little difficulty at home, and he’ll need to find a way to make more of an impact if the Spurs are going to regain their rhythm.

• had a quiet night (10 points, three rebounds, two assists, 4-of-11 shooting), but he did do this:

• Ginobili was brilliant, finishing with 23 points, but he did almost all of of his damage in the first half and was the only Spur to have a good game off the bench. San Antonio looked like it had a huge depth advantage in the first twic around their recent form slump.The Reds returned to winning ways against Bournemouth on Saturday – though must overturn a 1-0 deficit against Atletico Madrid at Anfield to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.Van der Sar wrote for the De Telego games, but not this time.

• couldn’t get anything going. He shot 3 for 12 from the field, 2 for 6 from behind the 3-point line.

• Here’s how the first half ended:

• had 25 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, shooting 8 for 19 from the field. He and Westbrook were both helped by the improved spacing that came with Ibaka’s presence, plus the increased minutes for new starter and reserve .

• In the third quarter, the Thunder shot 18 for 22 from the free throw line and the Spurs didn’t attempt a single free throw. It wasn’t unfair officiating; Oklahoma City was just much more aggressive.

• The nine-point final margin is deceiving. Down 17 points halfway through the fourth quarter, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich did a very Gregg Popovich thing. , , and checked in. Shortly thereafter, joined them. Pop wasn’t going to ask his veterans to try to mount a miracle comeback at the expense of rest.

• did not play a single second, which was weird. But it worked.

• Game 4 will be Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast on TNT.

Julius Randle’s tournament run shows his NBA readiness

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He’s a beast, of that there can be no doubt. 

In a tournament that has raised more questions than answered them about the top picks in this draft, Kentucky forward Julius Randle has not only survived the Madness, but become the embodiment of it. The “upstart, underdog” Kentucky Wildcats entered the tournament as an 8th seed, and have gone on a tear, as the more veteran, “heart and hustle” teams have fallen by the wayside in the face of Kentucky’s talent. 

Jabari Parker? Gone. ()

Andrew Wiggins? Gone. ()

Doug McDermott, Marcus Smart, the list goes on. 

But here’s Randle, who started the year as one of the “Big 3” of this now-heavily-criticized draft and fell after Kentucky’s struggles to be “the best of the rest.” The critcism that has haunted Parker and Wiggins over the past two weeks has been long set against Randle. His arms are too shoo Madrid midfielder Rodrigo.While refusing to admit Rodrigo is a transfer target, Arteta did drop the player’s name when discussing what is required from their No6.He told Marca: “I will not offer names, but our ‘6’ must understand our game. It is virt, his vertical too low, his handle nothing special, he doesnt pass well enough, how will he defend. 

And truth be told, the tournament hasn’t answered these questions. But sometimes, as crazy as it may seem sometimes, GMs and scouts look at a simpler question that ignores what makes up a player and focuses on the results. “Does he win?”

No matter the circumstances of a player’s game, or the fact that tournament results , it’s true that a strong performance in pulling your team to wins can help your case. Randle’s been the benefit of that because he’s put up the numbers and his team is winning. 

But if you want to look at what Randle’s done, he’s shown more of what makes him such an intriguing prospect. 

Randle’s favoritnited midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has refuted the idea that he is lazy.The 27-year-old was not in the Magpies team that shocked Tottenham 1-0 the past weekend.He has often found himself criticized by supporters for a lack of work ethic. But Shelvey wante move is the post-up spin move out of the dribble. He gave the Shockers fits with it in the third round. 

The key here is that he finishes despite the contact. That spin move won’t be as effective at the next level and the help defenders will be bigger and longer. But Randle will be stronger and faster, too. If he can find his way under the basket, being able to absorb contact ans Unai Emery is set for crunch talks with Lucas Torreira over his future.Torreira has struggled to kick-on in his second season in England, starting just three Premier League games so far this campaign.TMW says the 23-year-old is dissatisfied with hid finish is a huge part of what he’ll need to do. 

Here again, he’s going up against smaller opponents, but he’s also showing how strong he he is. That’s a key component here. Randle’s strength set him as one of the most -ready prospects, simply because he’s not going to be bullied off the bat like a lot of power forwards. 

Now that’s a flop attempt, but his ability to get as close to the rim as he does is an adavantage. He’s also keenly aware of where the help defenders are and where the doubles are coming from. 

If the aggressiveness of Andrew Wiggins and other prospects was a concern, Randle certanly hasn’t had that issue. He hasn’t just needed the ball, either. He’s been voracious on the offensive glass. Randle’s not known for hyper-athleticism like Aaron Gordon, but this putback’s pretty nuts. 

That’s three-point to rim and the slam. Randle has a great vision for finding holes to attack the glass. He’s as savvy a rebounder as he is strong. 

Here he benefits from the attention drawn by the driving offensive player, but he’s going to get position under the basket (the Moses Malone move), put his butt into monstrous forward Montrezl Harrell, get position, and nail the putback. 

That’s just great work getting leverage and that’s a big guy he’s keeping off. 

It’s not all power and brute strength. This shows Randle’s touch at the rim, something he’ll need with those T-Rex arms of his. 

It wasn’t all offense, though. Randle has played arguably his best defense of the season in the tournament. His rotations are sharp, his help smart, his challenges strong. He’s shown a lot in the last few meaningful games. 

Watch on this one as he comes over from the far block and challenges at the rim. 

Huge play. 

Finally, the most impressive play I’ve seen from Randle in the tournament wasn’t a dunk, a score, or a block. In a key situation in a huge game, he forced the defense to collapse on him, and made the right play. He passed. 

That’s a big time play for a guy who seems like he has black-hole tendencies. And it’s a great pass. As soon as he saw that help defender, he rose and kicked. 

The other Kentucky players have raised their stock as well, with Willie Cauley-Stein having injury issues but also being a force inside, Darkari Johnson exploding out of nowhere, and James Young showig everything you want in a wing. Don’t even get me started on the Harrison twins, it’s night and day from what we saw during the season.

But it’s Randle that has lead the Cats, and he’s shown why he may be the “safest” star pick, the player most ready to plug into an offense right now, and another example of how Kentucky proves every year its players are trustworthy to draft and build around. Wildcat, Inc. keeps producing out the best products around. 

Joe Lacob discusses the reasons for Mark Jackson’s firing

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Mark Jackson’s firing by the Golden State Warriors has traditional sports personnel and media in a hubbub. The idea of canning a coach after he won 51 games and made the playoffs two years in a row seems asinine. The narrative is being spun of an owner that was maniacal, wanting more, more, more from the roster he paid for, and because he didn’t like how Jackson handled it and Jackson didn’t win a title, the owner (Joe Lacob) fired him. 

But reading between the lines of what has been written in the past 24 hours about Jackson and his situation with ownership, a pattern is becoming clear, and it’s a bit of a disturbing one. In a Q&A with the San Jose Mercury News, Lacob reveals that it actually wasn’t about on court performance at all — . 

So what was the problem? 

Look, I don’t think we should get into the great details of what did happen, other than to say that this is a decision that was based on what was good for the organization as a whole.

And when I say the organization as a whole I don’t mean just the team and just the 15 players that are involved and the coaching staff. I mean everybody. There’s 200 employees here.

So when we look at the organization going forward and the kind of coach we want and … not just the performance but everything else, all these factors matter. We took all that account.

I would not say it’s unsatisfactory. I would say that it did not meet our–probably–our goals.

No, I don’t know that I can honestly say that it was from coaching, or it was from injuries … There’s a lot of factors that go into this.

It’s hard to say. I know there are some people that think we should’ve been, oh, five or six or seven games better because we lost some easy games at home. I did comment to you in fact in February that the home losses were disturbing.

But I didn’t blame anybody at the time and I still don’t blame necessarily coaches or players or Bob Myers for not getting another addition ncreasingly confident of agreeing deals to bring Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos and Celtic fullback Kieran Tierney to the Emirates this summer.”I’m led to believe there’s growing confidence Arsenal can get the deals for Real Madrid midfielder Dat the trade deadline. It isn’t anybody’s fault necessarily.

It’s just, that’s what it is. Could we maybe have been a little better? Yeah.

 I think Mark in his next job probably needs to do a better job managing up and sideways, is one way to put it. Managing down, managing to his players, obviously a pretty good job. Most of his players seemed to really like playing for him. They played hard for him. Which is really important in the NBA.

I think if you asked him, I think he would realize–maybe give him some time to answer this–that he probably could do a little better job of managing up and sideways, is the way to put it.

But look, I’m not here to bash or be critical of him.

We could do some thited midfielder Ethan Galbraith deserved his debut.The 18-year-old was promoted from his country’s Under-21s on Thursday and ended up coming off the bench for the closing stages of the 1-0 win over Luxembourg in a friendly at Windsor Park.O’Neill saiings better, too, right?

via .

There’s a lot there in between the margins. Essentially Lacob is asserting the problems were beyond Jackson’s issues with ownership, and extend to his conduct with employees of the team beyond the players. Jackson is a former player who was put immediately into the role of coach. He did develop a bunker mentality, a lost out in the Ballon d’Or race because he is African, according to Cheikhou Kouyate.The Crystal Palace star believes that Mane, who came fourth in the voting behind Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Virgil Van Dijk, suffered due to his race.Man close relationship with the team. But a coach has a wider range of responsibilities and interactions with team staff that extend beyond the locker room. 

It’s not hard to imagine Jackson’s player mentality, which often times (but definitely not always) can seem very tunnel-vision-laden in other people, rubbing personnel the wrong way. There have been no reports of altercations between Jackson and other members of staff beyond friction between Jackson and front-office advisor Jerry West, but it’s clear that someone, somewhere was uncomfortable. 

ESPN reports the hiring of Lindsey Hunter may have contributed to the situation: 

The September introduction of Hunter, a friend of Jackson’s, was regarded as a destabilizing force, according to multiple sources. This marks the third consecutive time his hiring has coincided with a head coach getting fired within a year. Hunter had a reputation as an undermining individual from his days in Chicago and Phoenix. While he did not sabotage Jackson specifically, he made life difficult for others on staff.

It’s quite possible Jackson couldn’t have survived even with a cohesive coaching staff.

It all started off on the wrong foot, with Jackson deciding to coach the Warriors while living in Los Angeles and presiding over his church as pastor. Management found this arrangement less than ideal, but Jackson flat out refused to reconsider.

via .

The whole thing paints a picture of someone who’s hard to get along with … unless you’re a player. Which you can argue that’s all that matters. Front office, office personnel, other assistants, whoever. Jackson had the trust of his players, the love of his players, and won 50 games. Whoever they hire will have to battle a lot of resentment from the players, and from the media who  Jackson — and the team will have to win. 

In business, how you treat people matters. That was Lacob’s essential position. But in the , all that usually matters is how you treat the players and how you win. That’s why this move is such a departure from the norm. 

Report: Pelicans’ Anthony Morrow will opt out, become free agent

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shooting guard will opt out of his contract for next season and become a free agent in July, .

Morrow was set to make $1.15 million in 2014-2015 after signing a minimum-salary deal last summer. He will surely be looking fo defender Adam Webster.The Sun says Villa boss Dean Smith needs two defenders after Axel Tuanzebe returned to Manchester United, while Bournemouth are haggling over a fee for Tyrone Mings.Smith’s money-men will back him with a bid of around £12millir a raise and a multi-year contract.

Making 45.1 percent of his three-pointers last season, Morrow finished fourth in the in than Ake.The London Evening Standard says Lampard was at Chelsea as a player when Ake came through the ranks following his arrival from Feyenoord as a teenager in 2011 and has had the Dutchman extensively scouted since the season started.But those rethree-point accuracy behind , and . He has perhaps the prettiesFormer UEFA president Michel Platini is being questioned by French anti-corruption investigators over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.French legend Platini, 63, was elected in 2007 and served as president until 2015 when he was banned by t shot in the league, and he scored 20-plus points five times in the final few weeks of the season. Several teams will be looking for floor spacers this summer, so he should have numerous suitors. 

(H/T: )

Damien Inglis stays in the 2014 NBA Draft

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Damien Inglis will be eligible for the 2014 NBA Draft, according to DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony:

Breaking news: Damien Inglis changed his mind and decided to keep his name IN the draft finally, according to his agent

— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress)

Inglis agent, Pedja Materic, tweeted that he was taking his name out of the pool, but deleted the tweet shortly thereafter. The deadline for international players to decide on their draft status was 5 p.m. ET on Monday. that perhaps he didn’ls.Foster expects reinforcements next month but says any new players must be up for an intense relegation battle.He said: “Getting in the right sort of players – that’s the important thing.“Players who want to fight, who need to fight – almost receive a promise that he’d be selected until that announcement.

Inglis, a 6-fos Sean Dyche says injuries and absences were key to their 3-0 defeat at ChelseaFirst half goals from Jorginho and Tammy Abraham made it another tough day at the office for the Clarets, who were earlier denied an opener from Jeff Hendrick by the tightot-8 forward from French Guiana, is . He just turned 19 years old, but already has good siter City boss Brendan Rodgers doesn’t believe Liverpool are set for an era of dominance.Rodgers cannot see Klopp’s men lording it over the rest of the top flight for years to come like when Liverpool won the title seven times between 1980-1990.“Theze for an wing. 

He played for Roanne in the French Pro A last season, and showed potential as a 3-and-D type.

s on how to officiate this week’s El Clasico, it h

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forward has beandro Hernandez Hernandez received special instructions on how to officiate this week’s El Clasico, it has been claimed.Real Madrid are adamant they should’ve been awarded two penalties for two separate challenges on Raphael Varane, but neither were en ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Spurs, as a result of an ankle injury suffered in the team’s previous game. He did not travel with the team after sitting out pracy.Laporte has been absent since August due to a serious knee problem.The 25-year-old’s absence has been felt by Pep Guardiola’s men, who find themselves 14 points adrift of Liverpool going into 2020.But he has beeb this season as part of the front office.The Frenchman was appointed the club’s loan manager this year.He explained, “It is something that I have rarely seen in my career, in the different clubs in which I have evolved. I was lucky to never have been training alone in recent weeks and tice Saturday, so his next possible chance to play is Wednesday against Miami. 

t with injuries Sunday against the Magic, as (toe

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coach Jason Kidd told The Record Saturday he will have two players out with injuries Sunday against the Magic, as (toe) and (abdomen) k Luke Shaw admits he’s eyeing a late run into England’s Euros squad.Shaw hasn’t featured in the last 15 England games under Gareth Southgate since playing against Spain in the Nations League 17 months ago.”I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought abohave both been .

Livingston will miss his third game in a row as a result of the injury, whentered talks with Arsenal for Laurent Koscielny.The Frenchman has been banished to train with the kids after refusing towon’t lose Federico Chiesa.The attacker continues to be linked with Juventus.Barone said at Milan Badelj’s presentation: “Sorry for the delay, but for great players, there is always a wait. Today is an important day in the growth of Fiorentina. I’m h travel to the US with the rest of the squad earlier this month.BBC Sport says an exit now looks inevitable with technical directile Anderson will miss his second. The team’s next game following Sunday is set for Tuesday against the Knicks, their second-to-last game of the season.  

Dwyane Wade out, Haslem back for Heat vs. Pacers

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guard vs. the for a crucial game with playoff implications. 

Friday is a huge night in the race for the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed. Miami , Indiana in Miami. A win secures tiebreaker for the Pacers, and drops their magic number for home court throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs to one. A Miami win moves the Heat back into first place by a half-game and gives them control of their own destiny. 

The Pacers rested their starters Wednesday vs. the ,  Friday. Wade, however, will not be available the Heat announced Friday morning. will play; will not as he continues to recover from back spasms.

This will be Wade’s eighth straight game he’s missed due to the hamstring injury that has plagued him. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had said Wade was close to returning earlier this week. 

This could be a head-fake, there’s nothing to keep the Heat from announcing him in tegend Jamie Carragher insists it’s right Trent Alexander-Arnold escaped a red card in their win at Newcastle United.Toon winger Christian Atsu fired home on 20 minutes after Reds’ full-back Alexander-Arnold kept Salomon Rondon’s fierce shot out with he starting lineup before the game. But if he does miss the game, you have to consider this in part a concession to the Pacers for the No. 1 e leix Garcia and Manu Garcia to his Asian tour squad.Manu Garcia, an attacking midfielder, was at Ligue 1 side Toulouse last year, playing 18 times. A more defensively-minded player, Aleix Garcia has been with City’s sister club Girona for the past twUnited have suffered a heavy injury blow with Martin Dubravka ruled out for the month.The Daily Mail says Dubravka was ruled out for the rest of the month with a knee injury.The Slovakian shot stopper picked up a knock from Saints’ striker Danny Inspot. It also does cast doubt if the Pacers win, however, because Miami can point out Wade’s absence in the deciding game. Psychological playoff games are fun. 

Boris Diaw’s comfort zone makes Spurs better than last year

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OKLAHOMA CITY — If the are indeed better than they were last season, it’s not because of any offseason moves. taking over ‘s spot as the heat check microwave off the bench is a lateral move, even if it signifies improvement on Mills’ part. has been a disaster for San Antonio, and his short leash in the Western Conference Finals shows that. 

But the core is better. is healthier, has improved, adding new things to his game. is more confident. 

The biggest improvement, however, is . Yes, the ex-Bobcat consistently mocked for his rolly-polly shape has become the difference maker for San Antonio. He certainly was in the over the to return to the Finals. Diaw scored 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting to lead the Spurs. Lead them! In the clinching game for the West!

“Boris was amazing,” said after the game. “He’s had an unbelievable series all around. He’s played well and he’s found away to be effective when they went small, against their small guys in the post. He’s attacked Serge real well the entire series, shot the ball well, tried to pull Serge away from the basket.

“He made plays all around and I think he’s just gotten inFormer Chelsea star Oscar admits he wants to return to Europe.The Brazil international has been playing in China with Shanghai SIPG, though admits a return to Europe is now in his thoughts.Oscar told Passioneinter.com: “If someone has searched for me? “Yes, in these weeks I have talked to two clubs in Milan. I can’t go into details, but tar Lewis Cook as he comes back from a knee injury.The 22-year-old suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury during a 2-1 win over Huddersfield in December.Now he is back in the gym, lifting weights and running as he looks to step up his recoveryone thing I can say. “I want to play in Italy.”to a comfort zone where he knew where shots were coming from. He knew how he could attack these guys and he did exactly that tonight. He made some shots, made some big ones for us and really carried us tonight.” 

Thunder guard noticed Diaw’s impact as well, also noting, like Duncan how Diaw was able to attack smaller players in the post. That seems a misnomer, the bigs should dominate with size in the post? But when you factor the quickness of defenders hands’ deflecting and their ability to flop and draw calls vs. smaller opponents, this is a huge element. 

Meanwhile, Diaw buried the Thunder from distance, shooting 3-of-6 from downtown. 

Miami presents new match-ups, new challenges, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that if the Big 4 and Spurs’ Big 4 (James-Wade-Bosh-Allen vs. Duncan-Parker-Ginobili-Leonard) are even, Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti says a first signing is on his way.Ancelotti made the claim after defeat to Bologna.He said, “We’ve had about 60 players mentioned as joining Napoli in the media, so obviously quite a few of those rumours are false. We’ll bring someone in. We have clear ideas.”Could Fabio Quagliarella return to Napoli from Sampdoria?”Anything’s possible.”Diaw could wind up being the swing vote. 

Just ask Oklahoma City.