Tagged in: friday

Heat aim to close out Celtics in Game 5

The Miami Heat can earn their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 2014 when they duel the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

The fifth-seeded Heat inched closer to a shot at their fourth NBA title by holding off the third-seeded Celtics 112-109 on Wednesday night for a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series.

Miami, which gained championships as the East’s second and first seed in 2012 and 2013, respectively, is trying to become the first team seeded fifth or lower to reach the NBA Finals since the eighth-seeded New York Knicks lost to San Antonio in 1999.

The last team seeded fifth or lower to win an NBA title was Houston in 1995, when it beat Orlando as the West’s No. 6 seed. Miami has never lost a playoff series in which it led 3-1. The Heat held such an advantage over top-seeded Milwaukee in the Eastern semifinals, then needed just one more game to eliminate the Bucks.

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The last time the Celtics found themselves in a 3-1 hole was last season versus the Bucks in the Eastern semis.

Milwaukee closed out the best-of-seven in the next game.

Boston hasn’t rallied to win a series after trailing 3-1 since defeating the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Finals in 1981. The Celtics went on to beat Houston in the NBA Finals that campaign.

One of the Heat’s concerns in the wake of Wednesday’s victory was the condition of center Bam Adebayo’s sore left wrist. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra reported Thursday that his big man was fine as he attempted to treat his club’s workout session on the eve of a potential NBA Finals-clincher as just another day.

“We stuck with our routine,” Spoelstra noted. “Everybody got the treatment, rest. Today is another day for rest and recovery. Everybody knows what to expect for (Game 5).” Game 6, if necessary, is arranged for Sunday afternoon.

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Bengals A.J Green signs franchise tender

A.J. Green officially put ink to paper on Friday afternoon. 

The Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver signed the one-year franchise tag tender the team extended to him in March, the team stated. He will make about $18 million this campaign. 

Green wanted a multi-year extension but knew this day was coming all along. The Bengals thought it was best to place him under the franchise tag after the receiver sustained a season-ending left ankle injury on the first day of training camp in 2019. 

The veteran receiver has suffered lower-body injuries and missed substantial time in three of the last four years. But, the Bengals do believe Green is still capable of being a premier No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. The team is enthusiastic to see him back healthy this season with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow under center. 

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“A.J. is one of the best receivers in the NFL,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said in a statement. “He’s an important part of our plans, and we’re thrilled to have him in the fold from Day 1. We’re looking forward to the impact of his talent and leadership on our offense this season.”

Coming into his 10th season, Green ranks second in team history in most receiving categories. 

Green is expected to report to Bengals training camp July 28. He and the team hope it won’t be his final training camp in a Bengals uniform. “From the day that he joined our organization nine years ago, A.J. Green has been an outstanding player and a class act,” Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a statement.

“We are pleased that he will be part of the team this year, starting with the first practice. By signing, A.J. puts himself and the team in the best position to have a great season together, and we look forward to the opportunity at the end of the season to discuss keeping him here long-term. He has been an integral part of our team, and we expect this year that he will be the same impact player he has always been.”

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jason Pierre-Paul undergoes knee surgery

Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul published on Snapchat that he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Friday, describing the procedure as a “tune-up.”

Pierre-Paul posted video of himself waiting for surgery at the hospital, getting into his car afterwards and walking on crutches with his knee bandaged.

“Get this surgery. You feel me? But I’m Gucci though. You feel me?” Pierre-Paul said in the video. “Because your boy just had to do it. He just had to do it.”

… Your boy good. I just had a little tune-up. But to be honest, if I’m going to break that sack record this year, I needed to do the surgery. So I did it.” A source told ESPN that there are no concerns about him missing the start of training camp.

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After suffering two fractured vertebrae in his neck last offseason, Pierre-Paul went on to record 8.5 sacks in 10 matches in 2019, while teammate Shaq Barrett led the NFL with 19.5 sacks.

Throughout the season last year, Pierre-Paul was listed on the injury report with a knee injury but continued to play.

Earlier this offseason, he signed a new two-year deal worth $25 million. The surgery was performed to alleviate some discomfort he was feeling.

“Your boy good. I just had a little tune-up,” Pierre-Paul said. “You feel me? But to be honest, if I’m gonna break that sack record this year, I needed to do the surgery. So I did it.”

The two-time Pro Bowl selection was traded from the New York Giants to the Buccaneers before the 2018 season. Earlier this off-season, Pierre-Paul signed a two-year, $25 million deal with the Buccaneers.

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Watney first player on PGA Tour to test positive

Nick Watney withdrew from the RBC Heritage on Friday prior to the second round after testing positive for COVID-19.

According to the PGA Tour, Watney specified he had symptoms consistent with the virus. After consulting with a physician, he took a COVID-19 test which turned out to be positive.

Before hearing of the result, however, Watney went to the golf course; Si Woo Kim said he saw Watney on the range. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy said he had a chat with Watney – at a distance – before teeing off. And Brooks Koepka said he saw Watney in the parking lot.

“He feels badly that he was here today at the golf course,” McIlroy said. “I said, look, it’s fine. You never know. So I said to him, if I was in your position, I probably would have been here, too. Look, at this point, you just have to concentrate on getting better and getting healthy. “But, yeah, look, it sucks for him especially. You know, if you contract it, that’s fine, but then it’s the fact that who have you come into contact with, and who you might have exposed and stuff. Look, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Until this thing’s over, we all just have to stay vigilant and keep your distance and wear our masks if we’re going out in public and keep washing our hands.”

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Watney texted McIlroy to tell him he had the virus and McIlroy valued Watney’s concern.

Watney shot 74 in the first round before withdrawing on Friday. He had traveled privately to Hilton Head Island and tested negatively on Monday here on the island.

He is the first PGA Tour player to test positive for the coronavirus.

Watney will isolate for at least 10 days nearby.

“Nick will have the PGA Tour’s full support throughout his self-isolation and recovery period under CDC guidelines,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.

The PGA Tour had no additional comment.

There were 369 tests of players, caddies, and essential personnel prior to the start of the RBC Heritage. There were no positive results. Watney, 39, is a five-time winner on the PGA Tour. He shot 71-74 to miss the cut last week in the Charles Schwab Challenge, when the PGA Tour returned to action after a 13-week break due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

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Cavaliers to open facility for workouts friday

The Cleveland Cavaliers are planning to reopen their practice facility on a limited basis Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic, a team spokesman told the New York Times’ Marc Stein.

Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, who first stated the news, noted that the NBA set Friday as the date that teams in cities with softened stay-at-home orders can start to open their facilities under strict guidelines.

Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman and the team’s medical staff reportedly advised players during Zoom calls Wednesday that the facility will open back up for individual workouts. While the Cavs are reopening, Fedor reported that not all teams are going to follow suit even if they are located in areas in which opening their facilities would be permitted.

Everyone who has access to the practice facility will have to adhere to strict protocol upon arriving at the building.

Per Fedor, those attempting to enter will get their temperature taken and have to answer questions about how they’re feeling, where they’ve been and who they’ve been around.

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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA has told teams not to test asymptomatic players for COVID-19. Instead, the league has given teams with updated information on cardiac screening for players if needed.

Under the guidelines, a maximum of four players can be in the facility at any given time, and they must be socially distant from one another. Also, everyone in the building must wear masks at all times, with the exception of the players during physical activity.

While head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and his primary assistants won’t be allowed to participate in the workouts, players will be permitted to have developmental coaches present if they desire, per Fedor.

The Cavs will reportedly break down their workouts into two-hour windows from Monday through Thursday, with players able to work on the court and in the weight room.

The reopening of some practice facilities is the first of many steps toward potentially resuming the 2019-20 season, which was suspended in March after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

No specific plans are in place for when and under what circumstances the season could restart, but there were well over 200 total regular-season games left to be played plus the playoffs.

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