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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Stories by Derrick Holdridge:

Knicks and Amar’e Stoudemire Have Something to Prove Against Celtics, Heat

The New York Knicks are riding an eight game winning streak during which Amar’e Stoudemire has scored at least 30 points per game, but they’ve mostly been getting fat off less-than-stellar teams. That’s not to say the team isn’t ascending compared to how poorly they had played the previous several seasons.

The next three days are going to give us a better idea of how good the Knicks really are, as they face the Celtics and Heat in their next two games. The Celtics come in to Madison Square Garden with a 10-game win streak intact and the Heat just have to beat the Cavaliers — which shouldn’t be a problem — and they’ll also be on a 10-game win streak going into Friday’s game.

The last time the Celtics and Knicks met, the Celtics came away with the victory 105-101, but this is not the same Knicks team that went 3-7 over its first 10 games. This Knicks team seems to have figured out how to win, but in order to win this game it’s going to be crucial that they prevent Rajon Rondo from having the type of game he did last time. Rondo leads the NBA with 13.7 assists per game and is second in steals with 2.37 per game.


Flex Scheduling Bumps Eagles and Vikings to Prime Time for Week 16

The NFL’s Week 16 Sunday night game — an originally scheduled game between the Chargers and Bengals — has been replaced by an NFC match-up between the Eagles and the Vikings. San Diego and Cincinnati has been moved to 4:05 EST, while the Eagles and Vikings will play during the usual Sunday night slot at 8:20 EST.

The NFL instituted flex scheduling in 2006 as a means of featuring more compelling games in its prime time block on Sunday. According to the league, it allows games with playoff implications or games involving surprise teams to be showcased and eliminates featuring games between 2-11 teams that are completely out of the playoff hunt.

Flex scheduling is placed into effect from Week 11 through the remainder of the season, with games scheduled to be played on Thursday, Saturday, or Monday exempt from being moved. Moving the Chargers-Bengals match-up certainly makes sense with the way the Bengals’ season has turned out, but the choice of its replacement is questionable. While there is the obvious draw of Michael Vick — just ask Tashard Choice — the Vikings are all but eliminated from the playoff contention.


Lions Snap a Record 19-Game Intra-Divison Losing Streak

The Detroit Lions snapped a 19-game divisional losing streak on Sunday with a 7-3 victory over the Packers. Their last victory over an NFC North opponent came in Week 4 of the 2007 season when they defeated the Bears. Detroit’s streak was the longest within any single division since the merger of in 1970.

On a lighter note, only one of the Lions’ four divisional losses this year was by more than five points — a two-touchdown loss to the Vikings back in week three. The other three were by a combined 11 points. As you may recall, their week one loss to the Bears was the result of Calvin Johnson’s touchdown catch that wasn’t.

Despite the 3-10 record, Lions’ fans have reason to be optimistic about the future. They seem to play everybody tough and have a talented young core that includes Calvin Johnson, defensive rookie of the year front-runner Ndamukong Suh, and the oft-injured Matt Stafford.

With a victory on Sunday, the Lions passed the torch to the Buffalo Bills, who have lost five straight AFC East games.  Don’t worry, Lions fans — you’re streak is probably going to be safe for a long time.

Photo Credit: Leon Halip/Getty Images

Cam Newton Needs to Show Humility

Auburn quarterback and Heisman frontrunner Cam Newton obviously didn’t learn anything from the backlash against LeBron James’ “Decision.” In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Fowler, Newton stole some of the words right out of James’ mouth.

“I felt that as a whole Auburn possessed, you know, what’s best for Cam Newton,” Newton said in response to a question regarding why he chose Auburn over Mississippi State. You’ve got to love a 21-year-old college student who refers to himself in the third person. And that was just one of the many times during the interview Newton referred to himself in that way.

When asked if he had any conversations with anyone at Mississippi State before signing with Auburn, Newton took the LeBronisms to the next level. He expressed a great amount of respect for Mississippi head football coach Dan Mullen, whom he called when he made his decision.

“I wanted to tell him how I really felt about him, and I told him, but I also told him that I was going to take my talents to, you know, Auburn,” Newton said. Really? After all the heat James took last summer, why would anyone else let those words escape their mouth?


Yankees Must Respond to Red Sox by Signing Cliff Lee

The arms race between the AL East powerhouses Boston and New York has been taken to new heights this offseason after stellar moves by the Red Sox. As a result, the Yankees now have no choice but to sign left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee to combat the additions of lefties Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford by Boston. Lee could not be in a better position to get the deal he wants from the Yankees.

Before the Red Sox’s moves the Yankees were reportedly hesitant to give Lee a seventh year, but that will not be a problem anymore. The Yankees likely would have been the highest bidders in terms of dollars but with the lack of a state income tax in Texas, the Rangers could have offered Lee a similar net compensation. There’s no way that can happen now. Yankees GM Brian Cashman is going to offer whatever it takes and it would seem the Yankees might again pay far more than they have to in order to ensure they get their man.

The Red Sox scored 818 runs last year — second most in baseball behind the Yankees’ 859. Crawford scored 110 runs last year and Gonzalez drove in 101. Crawford also stole 47 bases last year, while Gonzalez hit 31 home runs, only 11 of which came in his former home, power-robbing PETCO Park. Gonzalez hits well to the opposite field and should see a lot of what used to be fly-ball outs to left at PETCO turn into home runs and doubles off-the-wall at Fenway Park.