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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stories by Grey Papke:

Celtics expect full recovery for Gordon Hayward, offer no timetable

Gordon Hayward leg

There is little good news regarding Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward’s leg, but the team got a tiny bit of it on Wednesday.

The team confirmed that Hayward dislocated and fractured his left tibia, but coach Brad Stevens said that an eventual full recovery is expected for the star forward.

Stevens declined to put a timetable on a recovery, refusing to rule Hayward out for the season or give any general idea of what the expectation was.

“I’m not going to speculate or put a timeline on it,” Stevens said, via Jeff Goodman of ESPN.

Reports are positive from Hayward’s family. We should have a better idea of a potential recovery timetable whenever the forward undergoes surgery, which has not yet been scheduled.

Paul George felt ‘nauseous’ seeing Gordon Hayward injury

Gordon Hayward cast

Few, if any, NBA players would be more able to sympathize with and understand what Gordon Hayward is going through with his broken leg than Paul George.

George infamously broke his leg during the 2014 USA Basketball Showcase, a gruesome injury seen by a national audience, much like Hayward’s. Understandably, seeing what happened to the Boston Celtics forward roused a lot of emotions in the Oklahoma City Thunder star.

“It just brought me back to Vegas and what happened to me, my incident,” George said, via Royce Young of ESPN. “Immediately I felt devastated. I was, like, nauseous watching it, just going back to that place. Immediately after it happened I texted Gordon. We talked last night. I just tried to give him words of encouragement, tried to be there for him.”

George said that the recovery from such an injury takes a toll mentally as well as physically.

“It’s both, man. It’s both,” George said. “Gordon, he’s never dealt with something as bad as that … It’s a little bit of everything. It’s physical, it’s mentally, I’m sure, emotional. He’s in a different state of mind. Honestly, it’s hard to get over that.”

George is just one of many players wishing Hayward the best after such a horrific injury — he, though, is uniquely positioned to offer advice and support throughout what will be a lengthy recovery process.

Carmelo Anthony felt he had ‘no support’ from Knicks in final season

Carmelo Anthony

It’s safe to say that Carmelo Anthony’s final season with the New York Knicks was not a happy one.

Anthony admitted that then-president Phil Jackson’s apparent attempts to force him out of New York more or less completely eroded his will to play for the Knicks.

“When I signed back with the Knicks, I wanted to be in New York and I believed in Phil,” Anthony told Marc Stein of the New York Times. “Then last year it went to: I was being pushed out. There were things being said about me that I didn’t know where they were coming from. And I still had to go in that gym and play and practice and deal with the media, answer all those questions every day.”

Anthony admitted that he and Jackson spoke “barely twice,” and he felt abandoned by the higher-ups in the organization as the rumors got louder.

“There was no support from the organization,” Anthony said. “When you feel like you’re on your own and then on top of that you feel like you’re being pushed out …”

Anthony said that Jackson had been willing “to trade me for a bag of chips,” and even after he left the franchise, there was no way back for the forward.

“I think at that point it was too far gone,” Anthony said. “I already had in my mind that I wanted to win, that I wanted to move on. We didn’t think it would take as long as it did, but my mind was already made up.”

Jackson did basically shove Anthony under the bus and torpedoed his trade value during the latter part of the season. You can hardly blame Anthony for being bitter about how things ended with the Knicks.

Mike D’Antoni trolls Draymond Green over defensive criticisms

Mike D'Antoni

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni couldn’t help but taking a shot back at Golden State’s Draymond Green over defensive criticisms.

Green said Monday that he didn’t know “how serious [the Rockets] take defense” on Monday ahead of the season-opening clash between the two teams, but it was the Rockets who had the last laugh, coming back to win 122-121 on the road in Tuesday’s game.

D’Antoni couldn’t help but get the last laugh at Green after the win.

This is cold, but D’Antoni is entitled to get back at Green after those comments. Of course, the Warriors forward would likely note that he wasn’t around to help for the end of the fourth quarter.

H/T NBC Sports Bay Area

Bulls give Bobby Portis eight-game suspension for punching Nikola Mirotic

The Chicago Bulls came down hard on forward Bobby Portis for injuring teammate Nikola Mirotic in a fight during practice on Tuesday.

The Bulls announced Wednesday that Portis has been suspended eight games by the team for his actions, which sent Mirotic to the hospital with a concussion and facial injuries.

Bulls general manager John Paxson said both players had acted inappropriately leading up to the fight, but Portis was the only one who threw a punch.

Mirotic is expected to miss a few weeks with the injuries he sustained in the fight. He will still likely end up missing more time than Portis, who would be eligible to return on Nov. 7 against the Toronto Raptors.

20 standout players of the MLB playoffs

Yasiel Puig tongue

The Major League Baseball postseason always produces superstars. Some of those who emerge are expected, while some are unlikely players who go from anonymity to household name overnight. That can happen thanks to a hot streak at the right time, a dramatic home run, a surprisingly great pitching performance, or some sterling defensive play.

Here is a list of 20 players who have been the standout players so far during the 2017 MLB playoffs.

Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros

The potential AL MVP had a great regular season, and that has carried over into the postseason. Altuve, for as well-known and well-respected as he is across baseball, has never really had that signature moment or stretch of performances to really establish himself as a major star. In his only previous playoff series — the 2015 ALDS against Kansas City — he went just 3-for-22.

This year, he promptly opened his postseason with a three-homer game, and he hasn’t looked back since. He hit an astonishing .533 against Boston, and has only slightly cooled in the ALCS, hitting a mere .357. He’s a superstar now, and everyone is taking notice.

Yasiel Puig, OF Dodgers

For much of his career, Puig has been better known for bat flips, off-field antics, and on-field mental errors than for star power on the field. Sure, he has always had spectacular plays in him, but it would be fair to say he had never put it all together. Not anymore.

Puig is having an absolutely dominant postseason, hitting .429 and driving in six runs in Los Angeles’s first six games. It’s too soon to say that he’s found something permanently — Puig has had hot stretches before — but if this keeps up, he’ll evolve into a superstar he once looked destined to become.

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Ranking the 12 teams most likely to make the College Football Playoff

Urban Meyer Ohio State

We remain over a month away from the end of college football’s regular season, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to take a look at who might find their way into the College Football Playoff field. Some candidates are obvious — Alabama, anyone? — while others may need to mount a late charge to make themselves strong contenders for the field.

The good news for everyone? With the amount of carnage that has happened toward the top of the rankings this season, one loss does not disqualify you from contention. There’s a whole host of talented one-loss teams that have a real chance of playing their way into the field.

Here is a look at the twelve teams most likely to make the College Football Playoff, from least to most likely.

12) Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Irish are at a perpetual disadvantage, lacking a conference or a title game to prove their championship mettle. They are, however, a prominent national brand, and their schedule is certainly tough enough to give them chances to make a few statements along the way. Notre Dame has four ranked teams left on their schedule — plus a fifth in Navy that could be ranked by the time they play each other. Their list of tough remaining opponents includes playoff contenders USC and Miami. Win out and the Irish might just leapfrog enough teams to make the top four, though they’ll have a lot of work to do to get there.

11) USC Trojans

The most difficult part of USC’s schedule will be behind them after they travel to Notre Dame this weekend. If they win that game, they’ll be favorites in every remaining game. Winning all four of their games after Notre Dame would be enough to get them a trip to the Pac-12 title game. Facing Stanford, Washington or Washington State in the conference championship would all be possibilities, but the bottom line is the same — win out and Sam Darnold’s Trojans stand a good chance of getting into the field, especially if they do it impressively.

10) Penn State Nittany Lions

The Nittany Lions have a minefield of a schedule left to navigate, but they currently sit unbeaten and second in the nation, so they obviously have a chance to make it happen. They’re also bolstered by a Heisman candidate at running back in Saquon Barkley, who is an incredibly difficult matchup for any defense in the country. They’ll have to win three straight games against ranked opponents, including trips to Ohio State and Michigan State, to make the CFP. Plus they’d have a likely Big Ten Championship battle with Wisconsin if they can get that far.

9) Clemson Tigers

Clemson looked like a heavy favorite to reach the Playoff until they shockingly lost to Syracuse last week, but that need not be the end of their CFP ambitions. If Clemson can win out — which would include victories at NC State and in the ACC Championship — they’ll likely make it as a one-loss team. Remember, these guys were beating up on everyone and getting first-place votes before the shocking loss. They’ll need quarterback Kelly Bryant to get healthy quickly, though, if they want to have the chance to defend their championship.

8) Washington Huskies

Washington looked to be in prime position to snap up a second consecutive playoff berth until they too were toppled by lowly Arizona State at the weekend. One loss does not rule anyone out at this point, however, and their situation is pretty much the same as USC’s — win your remaining games, including the Pac-12 title game, and you’re in. Their schedule is a little tougher than USC’s — they still have to face both of their ranked Pac-12 North foes in Stanford and Washington State — but the Huskies had been the better team before the Arizona State defeat.

7) Georgia Bulldogs

The SEC’s other unbeaten team has two routes into the Playoff — the most straightforward would be to run the table, beat Alabama in the SEC Championship, and enter the field potentially as the top-ranked team in the country. Their other hope? Run the table during the regular season, put up a good fight in a losing effort against the Crimson Tide, and hope the selection committee is impressed enough to pick two SEC teams. Depending on how everyone else does, the latter scenario may be a bit far-fetched. That’s why, despite how good they look right now, the Bulldogs are so low on this list. Taking down Alabama will be very difficult.

See Nos. 6-1 on Page 2

Eight things the college football polls got wrong for Week 8

James Franklin

What was expected to be a rather straightforward weekend of college football turned into a carnage on Saturday as upset after upset went down across the country. We watched as a trio of unbeatens fell, all of whom had been in the top ten — Clemson, Washington, and Washington State. Another highly-ranked team in Auburn went down in a shocking defeat as well.

There’s a lot to sift through with the polls this week — and be warned, the coaches did not have the greatest week.

Why Penn State over Georgia at No. 2?

Clemson’s loss meant there was a vacuum behind Alabama for No. 2 in the nation, and there were two real obvious candidates — the unbeaten Penn State Nittany Lions and the Georgia Bulldogs. There’s a strong argument for both, but ultimately, it’s Georgia who has the better wins. The Nittany Lions have yet to knock off a ranked opponent, while Georgia’s road win at Notre Dame looks more and more impressive with each passing week. This will all be moot soon enough — Penn State’s next three games are against Michigan, at Ohio State, and at Michigan State — but for now, Georgia deserves the nod. Both the AP and Coaches have Penn State at No. 2, a spot ahead of Georgia.

No. 6 Ohio State can be pushed over No. 5 Wisconsin

Yes, we know, again: the Buckeyes are not unbeaten, while the Badgers are. The simple fact of the matter, though, is that Ohio State continues to look significantly more impressive, just as they have since their surprising home loss to Oklahoma. Wisconsin could only win by eight points at home against Purdue, while the Buckeyes went to Nebraska and won by 42 points. Neither team is particularly good — but Ohio State is eviscerating opponents. Like with Penn State, we’ll know soon enough; the Buckeyes have a tough schedule coming up after their bye week.

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