For all of the first half and most of the third quarter, I was just sitting there and thinking one thing: “The Cavs don’t look very good.” Then I’d glance at the scoreboard and notice it was tied. That’s always a good sign. Then J.R. Smith happened, and it was basically over.
The Cavs had played Game 1 on the road 14 previous times — and lost every one. LeBron James wasn’t much better. Entering Wednesday, he was 0-for-8 in Game 1 on the road (0-4 with the Cavs, 0-4 with Miami). So the Cavs made history on this night, and more importantly, snatched home-court advantage for the series.
Back to J.R. Swish. He started brilliantly, coming off the bench for 4-of-4 shooting and 11 points in the first half. He was even better in the second, scoring 17 and simply deflating the Hawks via long-range shots right in their mugs. In the end, Smith compiled 28 points on 10-of-16 from the floor. That included a franchise-record eight 3-pointers.
Oh, by the way, the 6-foot-6 guard also pulled down eight rebounds and did a solid job defensively.
LeBron to FOX Sports Ohio on Smith: “I guess you call that, in his terms, a hole in one. The way he was shooting that ball, we needed that.”
Cavs coach David Blatt, when asked if he knows what makes Smith tick: “Yeah, we gotta him the ball. Doesn’t take much more than that.”
Then Blatt smiled. “I’d like to know the last guy to hit eight threes and grab eight rebounds in the same game,” he said.
Basically, when Smith gets in this mode, everyone should just sit back and watch. Fans, teammates, defenders — there isn’t much that can be done. And this type of explosiveness is nothing new for Smith. “He’s been doing that since high school,” said Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson.
James, of course, wasn’t too shabby himself. He scored 31 points, collected eight boards and passed for six assists. He was outstanding in the second quarter, putting the ball thriough the basket with several nifty one-handed push shots in the lane.
Those are the fundamentals, and they come from hours of work, often alone, in a gym. It’s almost as if LeBron has been watching musty black-and-white footage of legendary center George Mikan.
The Hawks shot 57 percent in the first half. Their strong ball movement resulted in them getting anything they wanted in the lane. Point guard Jeff Teague was particularly a nuisance. The Cavs guards couldn’t stop him, as he controlled the tempo and finished with 17 first-half points.
Mostly, the Hawks’ high pick-and-roll caused nightmares for the Cavs in the first quarter. But they did a good job of bodying up, pressuring shooters and protecting the basket after that. Thompson (14 points, 10 rebounds) and center Timofey Mozgov (10 points, 11 rebounds) were two huge reasons.
Same goes for Blatt. He did an outstanding job of adjusting the defense and allowing the smaller Hawks to try to beat the Cavs inside. It worked, as the Hawks were pressured into 4-of-23 shooting on threes — and overall, went a miserable 12-of-39 from the floor in the second half.
That defense also played a big role in the Cavs building an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter. With strong D and LeBron James, it’s OK to dream that the Cavs might be on the brink of something big.
But instead of putting it away, the Cavs quit running the offense late in the game. That helped the Hawks cut the deficit to four points. The same type of stuff happened in the East semifinals vs. Chicago, and it needs to end. There is still time for anything to happen in this series, as momentum is tricky thing that can change quickly.
LeBron spent too much time dribbling and not nearly enough creating near the end. To his credit, he recognized that and took the blame for many of the issues on offense.
James to FOX Sports Ohio: “I don’t like the way I closed out the game. I allowed them to get back in it with my nonsense.”
But he also deserves some credit. After all, it was James who parted the Hawks’ defense right down the middle, drove the lane, and threw down a one-handed monster slam to basically put things out of reach.
OK, now to Kyrie Irving. Injuries to his knee and foot have severely limited his effectiveness, especially on the road. He finished with 10 points and six assists, but understandably struggled to defend. He said he aggravated the sore knee on a drive to the basket in the third quarter — but is determined to play in Game 2 on Friday.
It makes you wonder if it’s time to rest Kyrie for a night. At the same time, it’s probably going to take more than four days off for his injuries to heal. He is still a threat, and just his presence on the floor means a lot to his teammates.
Irving on the injuries: “The most frustrating part is seeing holes in the defense that I’m used to attacking.
I really do sometimes wonder how good this team would be right now if it had a healthy Kevin Love and a healthy Irving.
Meanwhile, the Hawks have a reason to feel nervous themselves, as starting small forward DeMarre Carroll landed awkwardly on his knee during a drive to the basket. It looked bad, and Carroll needed help to get off the court and into the locker room. He left the arena on crutches. Carroll is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday. Without him, this otherwise balanced bunch is in real trouble.
The odds mean little, but history tells us this: Teams that win Game 1 have gone on to win the series 77 percent of the time. Still, I’m old enough to remember when the LA Lakers beat the Bulls in the first game of the 1991 Finals. The Bulls then won the next four for the title. A more recent example: The Cavs lost the first game of their previous series, then won in six.
LeBron to FOX Sports Ohio: “We can play a lot better. We’ve got to continue to attack.”
Jeron Artest Wishes Kobe Bryant Happy Birthday With Inspirational Instagram Post
Jeron Artest Wishes Kobe Bryant Happy Birthday With Inspirational Instagram Post. This year of 2020, would have been the 42nd birthday of world renowned athlete, the late Kobe Bryant.
Jeron Artest Wishes Kobe Bryant Happy Birthday With Inspirational Instagram Post. This year of 2020, would have been the 42nd birthday of world renowned athlete, the late Kobe Bryant. Along with many other people paying tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers Legend was Jeron Artest, son of Metta World Peace who won a championship in 2010 with Kobe before they both retired separately a few years later. Jeron Artest, currently a division I college basketball player in the NCAA, dedicated a few words on his instagram profile to go with a time lapse video by #PaintedWorld of a billboard size mural in his idol’s memory.
Kobe has influenced practically everyone who loves basketball, whether loved or not, he was a universal force who certainly influenced Jeron as he began organized basketball as a young player. Born in 2001, Jeron was able to witness Kobe flourish at the height of his career playing in the famous purple and gold uniform at the new Staples Center in Downtown L.A. apart of L.A. Live. Jeron first met Kobe in 2006 when his father played with the Sacramento Kings against the Lakers before joining them later in 2009.
Watch the Kobe Bryant Tribute Video on Jeron’s instagram post below. View the hashtags #MambaForever, #MambaMentality, #MambaOut for more posts about the Black Mamba a.k.a. Kobe Bryant. Happy Birthday Kobe!
Kobe was aboard a helicopter along with his 13 year old daughter Gianna Gigi Bryant and 7 other people in Calabasas, California. The crash also claimed the lives of Payton Chester, 13; Sarah Chester, 45; Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, 50. Kobe Bryant had retired in 2016 and was just 41 years old.
View this post on Instagram
You are one of the greatest inspirations in my life. You have blessed so many of us like my family. I strive to bring out my competitiveness just like you did every single time you stepped on the court. Not only did you show prominence on the court, you excelled off the court as well. You’re the best example of an athlete that can learn and do more than just play his sport, and as to many you’ve inspired me through my whole life. Artist: #PaintedWorld @themayacarandang
NFL Shockingly Decides Not to Suspend Chiefs Star Tyreek Hill Following Child Abuse Investigation
In a shocking twist of events, the NFL announced Friday it would not suspend Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill following a four-month investigation into the wide receiver’s family situation.
Hill was under scrutiny for alleged child abuse after an audio recording was leaked to a television station featuring Hill and his fiancee Crystal Espinal discussing aggressive discipline of their child together.
Previously it was reported the Chiefs were “hopeful” that Hill might not be suspended and they were eyeing a max of four games for the wide receiver.
Legal authorities ultimately decided not to charge Hill, although they did say they believe a crime was committed by someone in the matter.
“This office has reviewed all the evidence and has declined to file charges against Tyreek Hill and Crystal Espinal,” Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said. “We are deeply troubled by the situation. We believe a crime has occurred; however, the evidence in this case doesn’t establish who committed a crime.”
The NFL issued a lengthy statement on the situation, noting that no one at the league office can “conclude that Mr. Hill violated the Personal Conduct Policy.” Additionally, the league said that “information developed in the court proceeding is confidential and has not been shared with us.”
In its statement, the league did add that if “further information becomes available” Hill could face a suspension.
Perhaps that could involve a discussion with Espinal? According to a report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the league did not speak with Hill’s fiancee during the course of its investigation.
That’s surprising — the league cannot compel a non-employee to participate in its investigation, but it’s surprising the league would not lean on Hill some to have Espinal speak to the NFL’s investigators.
Here is the league’s statement in full:
Over the past four months, we have conducted a comprehensive investigation of allegations regarding Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Throughout this investigation, the NFL’s primary concern has been the well-being of the child.
Our understanding is that the child is safe and that the child’s ongoing care is being directed and monitored by the Johnson County District Court and the Johnson County Department for Children and Families.
In conducting our investigation, we have taken great care to ensure that we do not interfere with the county’s proceedings or compromise the privacy or welfare of the child in any way.
The information developed in the court proceeding is confidential and has not been shared with us, and the court has sealed all law enforcement records. Local law enforcement authorities have publicly advised that the available evidence does not permit them to determine who caused the child’s injuries.
Similarly, based on the evidence presently available, the NFL cannot conclude that Mr. Hill violated the Personal Conduct Policy.
Accordingly, he may attend Kansas City’s training camp and participate in all club activities. He has been and will continue to be subject to conditions set forth by the District Court, Commissioner Goodell, and the Chiefs, which include clinical evaluation and therapeutic intervention.
If further information becomes available through law enforcement, the pending court proceeding, or other sources, we will promptly consider it and take all appropriate steps at that time.
Obviously the safety and well being of the child is the No. 1 concern here, but Hill is one of the best players in football and a unique talent, and this suspension — or lack thereof — does affect Hill and the Chiefs from a pure football standpoint.
On the field
From a football standpoint, getting Hill back for the entire season is a massive win for Kansas City. The Chiefs lost Kareem Hunt last year after they released the running back in the wake of video, emerging when TMZ uncovered it, showing Hunt assaulting a woman in a hotel hallway.
A few months ago it felt as if Hill could suffer a similar fate as it relates to the Chiefs roster.
Now he’s going to play the entire year barring new evidence popping up, and it means the Chiefs will be as close as possible to full speed offensively.
Hill changes how teams game-plan against the Chiefs, and he’s a matchup nightmare. Patrick Mahomes’ odds of repeating as MVP only increase with this news.
It looked like the Chiefs might enter Week 1 with Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson and 2019 second-round pick Mecole Hardman as their top receivers on the depth chart, assuming Hill was missing due to a suspension. With the news that Hill is back, the Chiefs offense looks loaded again. Watkins is a great second wide receiver option, and with Hill and Travis Kelce on the field as well as Damien Williams in the backfield, Mahomes and KC will be an offensive force to be reckoned with.
The Chiefs were already the favorites to win the AFC West, but a lot of people were getting on board the Chargers bandwagon. Expect that to flip back some. The regression chatter with Mahomes should slow down as well if he gets a full season of Hill.
Throwing for 5,000 passing yards and 50 passing touchdowns is not the most likely scenario, simply because of how difficult it is to actually produce back to back seasons like that, but Hill makes those lofty totals much more achievable.
Hill is now a first-round pick in fantasy, according to Heath Cummings. Heath pegs Hill as early as the fifth overall pick in a PPR league and a late first-round pick in non PPR leagues. The diminutive wide receiver was going as late as the fourth round in recent drafts, with uncertainty about his future playing a key role in people not wanting to invest in him as a high pick. The prevailing logic had Hill facing somewhere between a four- and six-game suspension, but now that he’s in the clear, he should be expected to produce something similar to last year’s 1,479-yard season.
Hill and the Chiefs were, by all accounts, getting pretty close on a new mega extension for the wide receiver in the wake of his All-Pro season in 2018. However, according to a report from James Palmer of NFL Media, it is going to be “several weeks, if not months” before the two sides start talking again. Any new deal, per Palmer, would likely “have some very specific language within it” relating to Hill’s off-field actions. Any sort of massive deal that the wideout gets — and he’ll get one, because ultimately talent wins out in the NFL — would ostensibly have outs for the Chiefs if Hill violates the Personal Conduct Policy.
It would be exceptionally odd of the Chiefs to storm forward with contract talks. They can still utilize the franchise tag on Hill and let things play out with his court situation and with the NFL before agreeing to commit a large degree of financial investment to the wideout.
U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Win 2019 World Cup Over the Netherlands in 2-0 Final
The U.S. women’s national soccer team proved their dominance at the 2019 Women’s World Cup by defeating the Netherlands 2-0 on Sunday in the championship match.
The victory in Lyon, France — capping an unrivaled run and capturing the world’s attention — marks both the fourth world title and back-to-back wins for the U.S. women after taking home the trophy in 1991, 1999 and 2015.
The first half of the game went scoreless, with co-captain Megan Rapinoe earning the first goal of the game with a penalty kick at the 61-minute mark. Just before the 69-minute mark, midfielder Rose Lavelle, 24, scored the second goal.
“It’s surreal,” Rapinoe, 34, said after the win. “I don’t know how to feel right now. It’s ridiculous.”
Following the victory, Rapinoe was awarded the Golden Boot for the most goals scored in the shortest amount of time.
Rapinoe and teammate Alex Morgan both scored six goals and had three assists, but Rapinoe’s goals were scored in 394 minutes compared to Morgan’s 445 minutes, the BBC reported.
After Sunday’s win, the internet exploded with praise for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated them with a tweet, as well as first lady Melania Trump and tennis star Billie Jean King, who added a call for the women to receive equal pay to their male counterparts.
“It is long past time to pay them what they rightly deserve,” King wrote.
Congratulations to the #USWNT on their 4th World Cup win! These athletes have brought more attention, support, & pride to women’s sport than perhaps any other team in history. It is long past time to pay them what they rightly deserve. 🇺🇸🏆🏆🏆🏆 #USAvNED #WorldCupfinal #EqualPay
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) July 7, 2019
Congratulations to 2019 Women’s World Cup Champions @TeamUSA! ⚽️🇺🇸
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) July 7, 2019
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 7, 2019
Yes! Fourth star. Back to back. Congrats to the record breakers on the @USWNT, an incredible team that’s always pushing themselves—and the rest of us—to be even better. Love this team. #OneNationOneTeam
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 7, 2019
We will be watching! Go USA! https://t.co/YV0w7cG5KW
— Mia Hamm (@MiaHamm) July 7, 2019
— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) July 7, 2019
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that a parade would be held on Wednesday for the women’s team.
The U.S. women’s national team roared onto the field during the group stage of the World Cup, defeating Thailand, 13-0. They continued to trounce their competitors throughout the games in France.
The win comes after a season that was marked by increasing visibility of LGBTQ athletes, controversy, calls for equal pay, and public battles against President Donald Trump.
In June, Rapinoe said in a recorded interview that she would decline to visit the White House if invited by Trump. In a video clip shared on social media, Rapinoe told a reporter, “I’m not going to the f—ing White House.”
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) July 7, 2019
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) July 7, 2019
She added that Trump doesn’t invite teams he knows will decline or “like he did when the Warriors turned him down, he’ll claim they hadn’t been invited in the first place.”
Trump later responded in a series of tweets, saying he would invite the women’s team win or lose, but adding a rebuke for Rapinoe.
“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” Trump wrote.
Rapinoe later accepted a Twitter invitation from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to visit the U.S. House of Representatives.
“It may not be the White House, but we’d be happy to welcome @mPinoe & the entire #USWMNT for a tour of the House of Representatives anytime they’d like,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Two hours later, Rapinoe replied to the tweet, accepting the invitation.
The U.S. women’s team not only stirred up drama off the field, but also on it. The high-scoring game against Thailand led some to criticize how they ran up the score and appeared arrogant by celebrating too much.
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