2014 NBA Playoff Predictions: First Round

2014 NBA Playoff Predictions: First Round (via FanIQ)

The 2014 NBA playoffs get underway on Saturday, with four games set to kick off what is sure to be a post-season filled with plenty of drama and excitement. In the East, the top-seeded Indiana Pacers look to not only dethrone the Miami Heat as Eastern…


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Heat seal playoff spot behind Wade, LeBron

Heat Snap Three-Recreation Dropping Streak

 

MIAMI – LeBron James set the tone pregame. Dwyane Wade took over in the fourth quarter.

And the Miami Heat received a win they desperately needed.

Wade scored 13 of his 22 points within the last period and led a vital 12-0 run down the stretch, James led all scorers with 23 points and the Warmth clinched a playoff spot by beating the Washington Wizards 99-90 on Monday night time to snap a 3-sport dropping streak.

"We would have liked a win," Wade stated. "We would have liked this win."

Chris Bosh scored 22 for the Heat (forty four-17), who moved within one sport of Indiana (46-17) in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and 1 1/2 games behind San Antonio (forty six-sixteen) for the league's best report. Ray Allen added 13 for Miami, which was coming off a visit the place it misplaced at Houston, San Antonio and Chicago, the last of these coming in a late collapse on Sunday.

Dwyane Wade

 

Dwyane Wade, driving previous the Wizards' Martell Webster, scored 13 of his 22 factors in the ultimate interval and led a vital 12-0 run down the stretch.

Wade hasn't usually performed back-to-backs this season. He did this time, and the Warmth simply rolled with him within the final minutes on the way in which to avoiding what would have been their first 4-sport slide since 2011.

"He made the right performs," James stated.

Bradley Beal scored 18 factors, Martell Webster added 17 and Drew Gooden scored 15 for the Wizards. Marcin Gortat completed with 14 factors and a career-high-tying 18 rebounds – 10 of them within the first quarter alone.

John Wall finished with eight assists for Washington.

"I'm happy with our guys," Wizards coach Randy Wittman stated. "They stored battling, working. We didn't shoot it the way in which we're able to. We bought some beauty. We shared the ball. We attacked the entire game."

Washington led eighty four-eighty three midway by the fourth, when Wade took over.

A three-level play put Miami ahead to stay and he then had assists on Miami's subsequent three baskets – a brief jumper and then a 3-pointer from Bosh, then a layup by James.

Wade capped the run with a score of his personal, on the way to his first thirteen-point, three-assist fourth quarter since Feb. 18, 2009. His thirteen within the fourth marked his highest-scoring quarter this season, and got here with him taking part in consecutive days for the primary time since Jan. 4 and 5. It was solely the third time all season he's appeared in both nights of a back-to-again.

Both teams shot only 9 free throws; despite being in assault mode, James did not shoot one for the second straight sport, simply the second time that's occurred in his profession, the first coming in December 2003, early in his rookie season.

"Very stunned," James mentioned.

James went scoreless for a stretch of almost quarter-hour within the first half, and still easily led everyone with 19 points by intermission. The whole thing of his first-half scoring came in two spectacular spurts – three three-pointers in as many tries over a span of two:forty three early in the sport, then 10 straight Heat points in a stretch of three:23 late in the half.

"I felt good about this recreation the minute, the second I noticed LeBron come into the health club right this moment," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We had an early walkthrough and he ran within the gym. Got here as much as every single individual, participant and coach and shook everyone's hand and stated, `Let's go. Let's prepare for this sport.' That is what leaders do."

Miami's lead was 12 early in the third earlier than Washington went on a ten-zero run, with Gortat scoring the primary eight and Trevor Booker's jumper getting the Wizards within fifty nine-fifty seven. And after Miami rebuilt the result in seven, Washington took off on one other fast burst, this one sufficient to give the Wizards their first lead since 1-zero.

In lower than 2 minutes, Washington outscored Miami 11-zero, Webster scoring six in 25 seconds. He head-faked James in the air to start what turned a 4-point play, then had an alley-oop dunk off a Wall cross on the subsequent possession as Washington took a 65-sixty four lead.

"I think we match up with those guys perfect," Wall said. "We battle those guys."

Allen had two three's for the Heat late within the third, and it was seventy three-all getting into the fourth. The Wizards scored solely 17 factors in the final 12 minutes.

"We saw just a few issues," Wade stated, "and we were capable of take advantage."

 

Recreation notes

Gortat had never grabbed greater than nine rebounds in a quarter. He is the twelfth participant with 10 boards in 1 / 4 this season… Washington missed its first six pictures, as Miami took a ten-1 lead… March 10 matches the second-earliest date for Miami clinching a playoff spot. The Warmth did it on March eight final season… Warmth F Udonis Haslem made his 700th common-season look… Washington outrebounded Miami 50-33.

 

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Related Press

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Stanley Cup odds: Blackhawks still 11-2 favorite

 

Chicago remains the favorite to win the Cup. (Getty Images)
Chicago remains the favourite to win the Cup.Despite shedding 5 of their previous seven games and being fourth within the NHL in factors share, the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks stay the favourite to win the Stanley Cup.

Within the newest updated odds from the betting web site Bovada, the Hawks didn’t see their odds move from the 11/2 mark they have been at beforehand, nonetheless the odds on the Penguins and Blues improved to being just a shade lower than the percentages of the Blackhawks.

In the meantime, simply in case you had been intererested in burning your cash by betting on the Sabres, Flames or Oilers, you may’t. They have been taken off the board as their playoff hopes are finished. So if you really wish to throw cash away, there are always the Panthers.

Listed below are the complete odds from Bovada and the way they’ve modified for the reason that final replace.

As at all times, there are a few things that catch the eye. The Lightning at 20-1 is an interesting proposition, especially with Steven Stamkos on the mend. The Rangers are comparatively appealing at their 25-1 with how properly they have played of late as nicely.

In the meantime it is shocking to see the Kings remain as excessive as they do provided that they’re near lacking on the playoffs as a whole but they are a staff that’s simply built for playoff hockey and the assumption in them is a testament to their skill to possess the puck, lack of scoring be darned.

 

 

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Fri. playoff games coming?

Roger Goodell says the NFL has discussed the possibility of Monday and Friday playoff games.

(USATSI)Roger Goodell says the NFL has discussed the possibility of Monday and Friday playoff games. (USATSI)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier this month that expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams will be something that the league offers 'under serious consideration. ' During an interview on mon with NFL Network, Goodell elaborated on those ideas, saying that if expansion does happen, it could mean that playoff online games will be held on fri and Monday during Wild-Card Weekend. Goodell also said that in case expansion happens, it's not likely that any expansion would happen before the 2015 season. "I'd be surprised if it occurred this year, " Goodell stated of playoff expansion. "If it happened, it probably more than likely happen before [2015]. "

The commissioner did acknowledge that the league could election on expansion this offseason, even if the rule wouldn't become enacted until 2015.

 

When requested by NFL Network sponsor Rich Eisen if the growth format would mean 14 groups in the playoffs, instead of twelve, Goodell said 'That's proper. '

Under the format Goodell talked about, playoff expansion would mean actively playing six games on crazy Card Weekend, up through four. The two-seed might play the seven-seed, the particular three-seed would play the particular six-seed and the four-seed might play the five-seed within each conference.

Six games upon Wild-Card Weekend could imply Friday and Monday playoff games, according to Goodell.

"The large discussion would be the first weekend break, " Goodell said. "The Wild-Card Weekend of the playoffs. How would you structure that? we are going to looking at every alternative. Could you play a game on fri night? Two on Saturday, 2 on Sunday and another one on Monday. You want to stability all that with the competitive issues that come with that. Is that a smart thing for us to do. all those are the things that we're going to become studying. "

Eisen then pointed out that a team playing upon Monday would be at a competing disadvantage in the next round due to the fact they'd have to play on a short week.

"But a Friday [team is] playing a short week coming off the last regular season game, inch Goodell said. "If a person did play on a mon night, we likely more than likely let you play until weekend. These are the kind of things that have to be balanced. "

If the playoffs had been formatted with 14 groups this season, Denver and detroit would have been the only 2 teams with byes during the wild-card round.

Goodell also stated on Monday that the national football league is exploring the possibility of removing extra points.

adhere to John Breech on Google+ or you can even sometimes discover him on Twitter

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NFL: ‘Serious consideration’ to expanded playoffs

Could the NFL expand its playoff format? Roger Goodell says it's under consideration.

(USATSI)
More NFL: Coaching change tracker | Playoff Bracket Last week, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said that he would be in favor of expanding the playoffs. On Tuesday, commissioner Roger Goodell said that playoff expansion could be in the NFL's future.

"That is under serious consideration, " he said during an interview with former Associated Press White House correspondent Ben Feller (via NFL. com). "We think it's one of the great things about the NFL, besides the fact that it's unscripted. Every team and their fans start the season with hope. You mentioned the fact that for 11 straight years we've had a team go from last to first, that's unique to professional football and the NFL, that doesn't happen in other sports. And that's because we have such a competitive league and we want to keep that. "

 

Another popular topic on the heels of the 12-4 49ers having to travel to Hoth to face the 8-7-1 Packers in sub-zero temperatures last weekend: Playoff reseeding based on records. Of course, three of the four visiting teams won during wild-card weekend (and the other, Kansas City, blew a 28-point lead), which sort of makes the point moot. Still, Goodell addressed that too. "I don't think there is momentum for that, " the commissioner said. "I would probably disagree. There may be momentum in the media, that happens when you see San Francisco going to Green Bay, but one of the premises we start with every season is that your first objective is to win the division. And when you win the division, you should have a home game. "

The bottom line (after money, obviously) is making the game as entertaining as possible, something the NFL had great success with during the entirety of the 2013 regular season.

"The races we had this past season, we had 16 games every weekend, the final weekend we have division games, so your opponent is a division opponent and 13 of those 16 games had playoff implications on the final day of the season, " Goodell said.

 

"That's extraordinary and we want to keep that. If we could increase that, and again this is about believing in better, can you make it better, can you make those (division) races better by adding two more teams? That's compelling and that's what we're looking at. "

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NCAA playoff panel: Seeding takes priority

NEWPORT SEASIDE, Calif. – BCS govt director Invoice Hancock says the choice committee for the Faculty Football Playoff will try to keep away from rematches, however not on the expense of the integrity of the seedings.

Hancock spoke to the Football Writers Association of America on Monday. He says the top precedence of the choice committee can be to verify the No. 1 workforce plays close to residence and the groups are correctly seeded.

Utilizing this season's last BCS standings, and subsequent season's semifinal websites, the final four would have been No. 1 Florida State taking part in No. 4 Michigan State in the Sugar Bowl and No. 2 Auburn playing No. 3 Alabama in the Rose Bowl.

Hancock says seeding adjustments will only be made if groups are considered even.

 

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Lewis backs Dalton following playoff flop

Someday after Dalton's three turnovers contributed to Cincinnati's 27-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers within the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs, the third-yr signal-caller was told by Lewis that the Bengals were still snug with him as their beginning quarterback and that they needed to do all the pieces they might to permit him to succeed.

"I've got a lot of confidence in the stuff that Marvin's been telling me. I expect to be here for a very long time," Dalton mentioned. "I am hoping that is the case.

"I've obtained a good relationship with Marvin. Marvin's been telling me loads of good things. Yeah, it is unfortunate that we lost this recreation, but we've been capable of enhance every year I have been right here."

Since Dalton was picked within the second round of the 2011 draft, the Bengals have seen their regular-season win totals improve from nine in 2011 to 10 in 2012 to eleven this 12 months.

Dalton and Peyton Manning are the one quarterbacks in league history to start their careers by passing for greater than three,000 yards in each of their first three seasons. Statistically talking, relating to the common season, few quarterbacks as young as the 26-year-outdated Dalton have proved to be pretty much as good.

That's a degree Lewis tried to drive house throughout his news convention Monday afternoon.

"We ask him to do a lot," Lewis said. "We're evaluating him to guys that have been within the league for a very long time, and he's doing rather a lot. Some of them didn't play [as early as] when he performed."

Among the opposing quarterbacks Dalton and the Bengals have overwhelmed the previous two seasons are Tremendous Bowl winners Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco and Eli Manning. Every of those wins got here within the common season.

In relation to the postseason, nonetheless, Dalton is zero-three with six interceptions and one landing pass, and he has a Whole QBR of 17.9.

Massive-recreation struggles aside, the Bengals still feel enough with Dalton at the helm of the group, Lewis stated.

"We'll continue to win large games," Lewis mentioned. "But we're asking a lot out of him. There is no doubt about it.

"I imagine in his skills, I believe in his make-up, I imagine in his maturity. And I consider in his skill to let the last play go and move on to the next play. That is probably considered one of his best attributes of all."

One drive after Dalton's third-quarter fumble led to a Chargers discipline aim Sunday, Dalton threw an interception off his back foot. On the possession after that, he was intercepted once more.

On the end of his three-turnover run, the Bengals trailed only 20-10. In Dalton's eyes, although, that 10-level deficit with 10:28 remaining in the recreation felt like a 30-level lead for San Diego.

"You have to know that you just're still in the recreation," Dalton mentioned. "Perhaps it is just the ambiance of the playoffs, however little things seem so much greater than they really are.

"You get down two scores, however you continue to have so much time, nevertheless it would possibly really feel such as you're down three scores or 4 scores. It's about having the ability to handle the emotion of the sport."

 

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Philly Cops Plan to Wear Saints Gear During Saturday’s Playoff Game in Attempt to Keep the Peace

Chicago Bears v Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia sports activities fans are hardcore and enthusiastic about their favorite teams. Generally they even prefer to take it to excessive ranges. In case you’ve paid even the slightest consideration to sports activities over the past century you would possibly have heard about this status. We shouldn’t be breaking new floor here.

Partly on account of this — and 15 arrests along with sixty eight ejections through the Eagles’ last residence game at Lincoln Financial Subject — Philadelphia police are taking measures to curb obnoxious fan conduct for Saturday’s night time’s NFC Playoff Recreation with the Saints. In response to a report by WPVI, cops will attend the game carrying New Orleans regalia. (Hopefully a throwback Pat Swilling jersey is within the mix.)

When consuming is concerned, crossing the line between “supporting the workforce” and becoming a belligerent jerk at a sporting occasion can happen fairly rapidly. It’s exactly not a terrible concept by the Philly police to be proactive especially with all the pregaming within the parking lot an eight p.m. kickoff affords. That mentioned, in case you spend over $one hundred twenty for a playoff ticket (and rising on Stub Hub) and resolve to act like a jackass and go after an undercover cop in a Bobby Hebert jersey, the joke is on you. 

Appears like a good time to recollect the piece Actual Sports activities did on drinking before NFL video games.

Associated: Lions Fan Claims He Was Overwhelmed Unconscious By Philadelphia Followers After Eagles Game
Related: New Orleans Saints Followers Wrote “Who Dat” in Snow Beneath Gateway Arch
Associated: Patriots Fans in Miami Don’t Perceive the Distinction Between Dolphins and Fish

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Jeff Triplette is the Referee For Chargers-Bengals, How Did He Get a Playoff Game?

jeff triplette referee stinks

Jeff Triplette was one of the worst referees in the NFL this year, and found himself embroiled in controversy 3 times in December. First, his crew botched a name late in a detailed Redskins/Giants game; then he badly blew this call in a Cincinnati Bengals game; in the Seahawks/Rams season finale, his crew misplaced management of the sport very early.

And who can overlook him angrily screaming at Clay Matthews in 2012? And the flag he by chance threw into the facemask of Orlando Brown, briefly blinding him?

Well, here’s some information that may make Marvin Lewis and Mike McCoy cringe: Triplette and his crew will referee the San Diego-Cincinnati Wild Card game Sunday, the NFL announced.

Gulp.

The Chargers are 7.5 point underdogs, but it surely needs to be noted San Diego solely misplaced twice by greater than a landing (28-20 at home in opposition to Denver; 27-17 in Oakland in early October) this season. And if anyone tells you that the climate can be an element as a result of the Chargers play within the heat climate and it’ll be in the 30’s with rain or snow … the Chargers gained in Kansas Metropolis and Denver in colder temperatures not too long ago.

 

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Panthers (10-4) pull away, cripple Jets’ playoff hopes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After one winning streak glided by the wayside final week, the Carolina Panthers wish to begin one other.

Cam Newton threw for 273 yards and a touchdown, Captain Munnerlyn had two sacks and returned an interception for a score and the Panthers defeated the New York Jets 30-20 on Sunday.

Newton was an environment friendly sixteen of 24 passing, together with a 72-yard touchdown on a display cross to DeAngelo Williams because the Panthers bounced back from their worst lack of the season, a 31-thirteen defeat last Sunday to the New Orleans Saints.

Williams had 81 yards dashing and 87 yards receiving for the Panthers (10-4), who’ll get one other crack at the Saints next Sunday in a sport that would determine the NFC South division title and who’ll get a first-round bye within the NFC playoffs.

Geno Smith was 15 of 28 for 167 yards with a touchdown go and one costly interception in the fourth quarter for the fading Jets (6-8), who can be eliminated from playoff competition if Baltimore wins at Detroit on Monday night.

Jeff Cumberland had a touchdown catch, and rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson bulldozed his manner for a 1-yard landing run on a objective-line play.

The turning point got here within the fourth quarter with the Panthers main 16-thirteen.

The Jets had a chance to take the lead, however failed to select up a primary down and Ryan Quigley’s punt was blocked by Jason Williams and downed on the Jets 14. 4 plays later, bruising fullback Mike Tolbert bowled his means into the top zone on a 1-yard run to make it a two-possession sport.

”That play actually kind of sparked us,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera stated of Williams’ blocked punt.

On New York’s next series, Munnerlyn then stepped in entrance of a slant route, intercepted Smith and returned it to 42 yards for a touchdown. It was Munnerlyn’s fifth career interception return for a touchdown, a franchise file.

It was also somewhat revenge for the Panthers’ secondary, which Jets receiver Santonio Holmes known as ”the weakest hyperlink” of Carolina’s protection. The Panthers allowed Drew Brees to throw for 313 yards and four touchdowns in the loss last week on the Superdome.

”Captain is a dynamo and had a extremely good week of follow and it confirmed,” Rivera said. ”I advised him he set the bar really excessive for next week.”

The Panthers broke open a 6-6 tie late in the first quarter when Newton faked a screen pass to the left, spun around and threw back to the other aspect of the sector to a large-open Williams. The 30-year-outdated running again beat linebacker David Harris to the proper sideline and turned it up the sphere, getting a smothering block from wide receiver Brandon LaFell en path to a seventy two-yard landing reception.

Graham Gano, who had earlier hit from 35 and 22 yards out, tacked on his third discipline objective of the first half from forty yards to offer the Panthers a sixteen-6 lead at halftime.

The Jets ran for ninety three yards within the first half – essentially the most towards the Panthers in nine weeks – but could only manage a pair of field objectives by Nick Folks.

Carolina led by 10 in the third quarter and Rivera went for a knockout blow on a fourth-and-2 on the Jets 14. However Quinton Coples broke up a move by Newton and the Jets briefly seized the momentum. Smith drove the Jets 86 yards on nine plays with Richardson, a 6-foot-three, 294-pound defensive deal with, capping the drive on a 1-yard touchdown plunge to trim the lead to 16-13.

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Rams deny sloppy Saints from clinching playoff berth

ST. LOUIS – The New Orleans Saints appeared like a team playing out the string. And, though the St. Louis Rams are out of rivalry yet once more, they are not going quietly.

Drew Brees threw interceptions that led to touchdowns on the Saints’ first two possessions and the Rams got huge days from Zac Stacy, Robert Quinn and on special teams in a 27-16 victory Sunday.

Quinn had two sacks, giving him an NFC-leading 15, for a go rush that took the warmth off a young secondary. His quarterback hit on the Saints’ first snap of the game altered the flight of the ball on T.J. McDonald’s interception.

The Saints (10-4) missed their first probability to clinch a playoff berth, trailing 24-3 on the half, however made it look respectable with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. They’re unbeaten at residence, but simply 3-four on the road and play at Carolina with the NFC South lead on the line next week.

Kellen Clemens threw for two TDs within the first quarter, matching his greatest performance in seven games because the fill-in starter for Sam Bradford. The Rams (6-eight) recovered an onside kick to set up a discipline aim within the first quarter, and Michael Brockers blocked a discipline-purpose attempt at the end of the half.

Brees was 39 for fifty six for 393 yards, however with just one touchdown.

The Rams performed one in all their strongest video games of the yr a week after getting eliminated, and the franchise is assured of a 10th consecutive season and not using a successful file.

St. Louis’ offense had a pleasant day in opposition to Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who had an extended interview with the Rams in January before joining New Orleans.

The Rams have upset the Saints within the last two meetings in St. Louis. They were 2-14 in 2011, but one of the victories came against New Orleans, which totaled 13 wins that yr.

Stacy shook off an early injury scare and set a franchise rookie report with 106 yards by halftime, bettering the likes of Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, Steven Jackson and Jerome Bettis. Stacy finished with 132 yards on 27 carries.

Brees scored on a 1-yard sneak early within the fourth quarter and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston with three:07 to go. The Saints recovered an onside kick, but their comeback ended when Garrett Hartley was wide left on a 26-yard subject-purpose attempt.

Last week, Brees turned the quickest in NFL history to 50,000 yards passing whereas throwing for 4 TDs in a 31-13 victory over Carolina at residence. Brees was intercepted twice within the first quarter for the primary time in a decade, placing the Rams in prime scoring position on the first and killing a drive on the second.

The Saints trailed 17-zero early within the second quarter, unable to overcome Brees’ misfires.

Quinn had maybe his best sport of the 12 months. On his second sack, he stripped Brees and then recovered the fumble within the third quarter to assist preserve the Saints down.

Cory Harkey broke three tackles on a 31-yard landing catch the first play – just his seventh reception of the yr after Brees’ first interception.

Brees floated a rollout geared toward Jimmy Graham, who was in triple-protection, and Trumaine Johnson snared another underthrown cross at the aim line. The Rams drove ninety three yards, helped by a pair of personal penalties, and made it 14-zero on Clemens’ 4-yard go to a large-open Lance Kendricks.

The Rams followed up with good execution on an onside kick by kicker Greg Zuerlein recovered in the air by a leaping Stedman Bailey, establishing a subject purpose for a 17-0 cushion early in the second quarter.

Clemens got an opportunity to use the victory formation the Rams apply after Brockers blocked Hartley’s 36-yard field-objective attempt with two seconds left.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic warns Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of World Cup qualifying playoff

zlatan-ibrahimovic-660x425

Hiya, Cristiano. I’m Zlatan — the cloud of pain that now hovers over you.

I must admit that the World Cup playoff draw was unfortunate. I do know that many individuals don’t like you, but I by no means felt that means. I’ve always seen you as a weaker, lavender scented model of Zlatan. A flattering Zlimitator. We each score goals at will and our presents are unappreciated in Barcelona. You’ve got boots with stars on them, I’ve boots full of ft that are more highly effective than the sun. After all, I’m higher trying, have higher hair and I’m way more skilled in deadly martial arts than you, but all of this offers you one thing to aspire to. You are welcome.

Since there will not be eleven Zlatans taking part in for Sweden, I cannot assure you will lose. What I can assure is that it’s in your finest interest to do so. Sweden did not qualify for the 2010 World Cup. This was deeply unZlatisfactory to me. If it happens again, I can be pressured to seek vengeance in ways that can make you wish you had been attending an awards ceremony the place Lionel Messi beats you in each category while your abs slowly morph right into a beer stomach. This is not a risk. Zlatan doesn’t make threats. I make predictions that happen.

The World Cup needs Zlatan. Who else could do a backheel so Zlectacular that it makes the FIFA executives heads explode like Mario Balotelli’s bathroom and convinces all of Brazil that internet hosting the event wasn’t such a waste of cash in any case? Who else would put Xavi in a cat provider and ship him to Tahiti when he decides to be the Goldilocks of groundskeeping and complains about a pitch being too dry or too moist for Spain? Who else would provide Pep Guardiola with an all bills paid journey to Brazil to watch the match just to make him sit between Pele and Maradona whereas they bicker endlessly about whether Justin Bieber is healthier than One Course? The answer is no one Zlelse.

I would want you good luck, Cristiano, however after reading all of this you shouldn’t need it. For those who suppose Pepe can protect you from the wrath of Zlatan, then you may be mistaken and he will be crying.

Maybe when that is throughout we will be pals. I can show you the best way to kick Gareth Bale within the head and the way not to tweet about boys underwear competitions. That’s how Zlamicable I could be.

Till then, I’ll see you on the pitch and you will note me in your nightmares.

Flamingo dream kick!
Betfred Football

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Pirates top Reds for 1st playoff win since ’92

Pirates’ First postseason Win Since 1992

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Pirates went 21 years between playoff video games. The wait can be considerably shorter this time around.

Russell Martin homered twice, Francisco Liriano was dominant for seven innings and the Pirates roared past Cincinnati for a 6-2 victory in the Nationwide League wild-card game Tuesday night time.

In front of a black-clad crowd savoring its first postseason sport since 1992, Marlon Byrd also connected and Andrew McCutchen had two hits and reached base 4 times for Pittsburgh.

“We’re for real,” McCutchen said. “We’re definitely for actual.”

Liriano scattered four hits for the Pirates, who will face St. Louis in Game 1 of the NL Division Collection on Thursday. Liriano struck out five and walked one to win the primary playoff game of his career.

“We didn’t talk about one-and-accomplished; we talked about one and run,” Pirates supervisor Clint Hurdle said. “Win one and run to St. Louis.”

Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto struggled in his third begin since coming off the disabled checklist final month. He gave up four runs in 3 1/three innings and appeared rattled by a raucous ballpark that taunted him by chanting his name.

The 36-year-previous Byrd, acquired by the Pirates in late August from the New York Mets, celebrated the first postseason at-bat of his 12-year profession – 1,250 video games – by sending Cueto’s fastball into the seats to present the Pirates the lead. The shot sent one other jolt by means of an already electric crowd, which began singing, “Cue-to, Cue-to,” in unison when Martin stepped in.

“This is 20 years of ready. You are seeing all of it come out in one night time,” Martin mentioned. “Hopefully we are able to keep this environment ’til late October.”

Martin sent a drive into the bleachers in left area. The Reds by no means recovered, ending a ninety-win season with a six-recreation dropping streak.

Three of these losses got here against Pittsburgh in Cincinnati, within the final series of the season, which decided the positioning of the win-or-die recreation.

Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker backed Cueto earlier than the game, saying his ace “thrives on this atmosphere.” Maybe, however the correct-hander by no means regarded snug in entrance of the largest crowd in PNC Park historical past, a place Cueto has dominated.

Cueto, who went in eight-2 at the ballpark by the Allegheny River, even lost his grip on the ball while standing on the mound.

A second later, he misplaced his grip on the sport.

Martin’s 405-foot shot to left-middle gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead and all the momentum Liriano would require.

Signed on the cheap in the offseason after a mediocre 2012 split between the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox, Liriano has been reborn in Pittsburgh. He went sixteen-8 with a three.02 PERIOD throughout the common season, his devastating slider almost unhittable in opposition to left-handers.

The Reds proved no match. Joey Votto went 0-for-four with two strikeouts. Jay Bruce produced an RBI single in the fourth but Cincinnati never really threatened on an evening baseball formally returned to Pittsburgh after a 20-yr trek through purgatory.

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the eighth, a drive to right area that was upheld by video assessment.

After the game, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips took to Twitter and shouldered the blame for the tip of Cincinnati’s season.

Pittsburgh’s 94-win regular season reignited a relationship sullied by years of mismanagement and miserable play. When the gates opened two hours earlier than the primary pitch, fans – most of them dressed in black on the urging of MVP candidate McCutchen – sprinted to their seats in anticipation of the club’s first postseason sport since Atlanta’s Sid Bream slid into residence forward of Barry Bonds’ throw within the bottom of the ninth in Sport 7 of the 1992 NL Championship Sequence.

The victory despatched the Braves to the World Series and the Pirates into an abyss it took an entire generation to flee.

The first step came with victory No. 82 on Sept. 9. The next came two weeks later when a win over the Chicago Cubs assured the Pirates of a wild-card spot. Essentially the most thrilling but lifted the workforce with the twenty sixth-highest payroll within the majors ($73.6 million) into a showdown with baseball royalty.

The Reds, meanwhile, head into an offseason that might be eventful. Baker has led Cincinnati to the playoffs in three of the previous four years however the Reds didn’t advance every time. They fell to the San Francisco Giants in five video games – after leading 2-0 – within the division series in 2012 and had been swept in the same round by Philadelphia in 2010.

This time, they didn’t even make it that far. Cincinnati spent many of the season because the third team in a 3-way race with the Pirates and the Cardinals for the NL Central title.

Cueto, who made three trips to the disabled listing this season with a strained lat, was pressed into service when projected starter Mat Latos discovered bone chips in his right (throwing) elbow.

At the time, it seemed like an improve. It wasn’t. The Pirates made it 3-zero on Tuesday on a sacrifice fly in the third by Pedro Alvarez, and Cueto was pulled when Starling Marte doubled with one out within the fourth. Marte sprinted house on native boy Neil Walker’s double off reliever Sean Marshall, and Walker scored on a fielder’s selection by Byrd to make it 5-1.

When Martin hit a drive to left off Logan Ondrusek within the seventh, the get together seemingly unthinkable for a group that lost a hundred and five games in 2010 began. Martin’s lengthy ball marked only the second multihomer playoff game in team history. Bob Robertson hit three in Game 2 of the 1971 NLCS.

Recreation notes

Martin is the primary catcher to homer for 3 totally different teams in the postseason. He beforehand hit playoff homers for the

Los Angeles Dodgers

in 2008 and the

New York Yankees

in 2012… Liriano is the primary Pittsburgh left-hander to win a playoff sport since John Candelaria in Sport 3 of the 1979 World Collection… The Reds have lost 4 straight playoff games and eleven of their previous thirteen… Pittsburgh is the first dwelling crew to win for the reason that new wild-card format was introduced final season… The Pirates went 10-9 this 12 months in opposition to St. Louis… Byrd is the oldest participant to homer in his first postseason at-bat, in accordance with STATS.

Info from The Related Press was used on this report.

 

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AZ Alkmaar’s Europa League playoff abandoned due to fire in the stadium

AZ Alkmaar’s Europa League playoff against Atromitos had to be abandoned in the 57th minute when a fire broke out inside the stadium. Atromitos were up 1-0, but losing 3-2 on aggregate when spectators were evacuated from AFAS Stadion.

The fire broke out on the top floor of the stadium, with dark smoke wafting over the roof. According to De Telegraaf, the stadium lights were affected, but there were reported injuries. Rumors that this was an attempt to burn down the stadium because Jozy Altidore is no longer with the club seem to be completely made up by me right now.

The remainder of the Atromitos match will be played Friday morning before the Europa League group stage draw takes place.

(Getty)

Previously: The Columbus Crew Stadium scoreboard catches on fire before match

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Fritzle the alligator consoles a Stuttgart player after Europa League playoff loss

(Getty)

Stuttgart cruelly lost 4-3 on aggregate to Croatian side Rijeka in the Europa League playoffs. A goal in the fourth minute of injury time made the difference for Rijeka, leaving the Stuttgart players understandably distraught when the final whistle blew. But when an athlete is exhausted and at their lowest moment, there is always a giant alligator named Fritzle wearing a Puma cap and ill-fitting shoes right there to pick them back up.

Once Fritzle gabbed him with his that green fuzz covered mitt, Benedikt Rocker probably felt much, much better. Or very confused.

Sometimes everybody needs a Fritzle.

(Getty)

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Celtic lose to Kazakh champions in first leg of Champions League playoff

(UEFA)

Less than a yr after beating Barcelona 2-1 in the Champions League group stage and making Rod Stewart cry tears of joy, the Scottish champions have misplaced the first leg of their Champions League playoff tie against Kazakh facet Shakhter Karagandy 2-zero. Rod Stewart’s response to the loss stays unknown, since he probably did not make the trip to Kazakhstan for the match.

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Celtic have been out of sorts from the beginning, as they were unable to have principal sponsor Magners grace their shirt because of Kazakhstan’s ban on promoting alcohol. Instead, they wore the emblem of Tipperary Pure Mineral Water, which is owned by Magners’ guardian company. In the meantime, Shakhter sacrificed a sheep for good luck ahead of the match. Clearly all of this gave the again to again Kazakhstan Premier League champions a psychological edge that they capitalized on by scoring their first goal in just the twelfth minute. They added a second within the 77th minute, delighting the 20,000 fans at Shaktyor Stadium and ensuring that Celtic would have work to do within the return leg. They might need to spherical up some sheep.

Shakhter, in the meantime, shall be out to make historical past. There has by no means been a Kazakh club in the Champions League [wp_admanager_pro_display_adzone id=”18″].

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Phil Mickelson three-putts the 18th hole at the Scottish Open to land in playoff, wins anyway

Phil Mickelson won the Scottish Open on Sunday, but he didn’t make it easy on himself.

His closest competitors faded, and Mickelson made a few clutch putts on his way in in regulation, including a par putt on the 17th hole, to give himself a shot lead with a single par-5 remaining.

It looked like Phil would win his first European event since 1993 in regulation, and after his tee shot got a good kick to find the fairway and his layup was perfect, his name was all but engraved on the Scottish Open trophy.

That was, until Phil raced his 20-footer for birdie well past the hole and had five feet for par to avoid a playoff. He pulled that putt, and a playoff between Branden Grace was underway.

But that is where the roller coaster ride that is Phil Mickelson began. After that putt, Phil went back to the tee with Grace, hit his second shot near the green and then flipped a wedge to about five inches for the birdie. Grace’s birdie putt was wide, and Phil won the Scottish Open in dramatic fashion.

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Irish professional golfer penalized in British Open qualifier playoff for 15th club

David Higgins — Getty Images

There are plenty of crazy rules in the game of golf that makes one question why in the world it’s in the rulebook to begin with, but one of those rare black and white requirements is how many clubs you’re allowed to play with in a tournament.

Fourteen is the number, with absolutely no exception the rule. Bring an extra club and you receive a two-stroke penalty per hole you’ve played with the additional stick, and David Higgins found that out the hardest of ways.

Higgins, a 41-year-old professional golfer from Waterville, Ireland, was attempting to qualify for his third British Open championship. Higgins had shot 70-67 at the North Berwick site to get into a 3-for-2 playoff for a spot at the third major of the year, and was playing Gareth Wright and George Murray for those final two spots.

As the playoff started, Higgins noticed a 15th club in his back, and after announcing it to his group, was assessed a two-stroke penalty, resulting in a double-bogey on the first playoff hole and a frustrating end to what had hoped to be a season-changing playoff.

The Irish Golf Desk noted afterwards that Higgins had dumped his clubs in his trunk following play, not realizing there would be a playoff, and had stuck that 15th club in his bag as he was planning to leave North Berwick without more golf in his future.

This practice isn’t unusual for professional golfers. When I caddied for a friend on the LPGA she always carried a second driver around with her, we just had to make sure the second driver was never in the bag when the tournament actually started. Other tour players are always tinkering with different clubs and lofts and options off the tee, so carrying an extra club or two is fairly normal.

The problem, of course, is keeping it in the bag for tournament play. Higgins will most definitely be kicking himself for pulling an Ian Woosnam, and will undoubtedly count his clubs from this point forward before teeing off in any event.

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Viktor Stalberg on shaving playoff beard: ‘I may be too drunk tonight’ (Video)

Getty Images BOSTON – Michal Handzus and Jamal Mayers have played a combined 1,865 games in the NHL. The furthest both had gone in the Stanley Cup playoffs was the Conference Final before this season. Now, the pair who spent their first two full NHL seasons together in St. Louis are celebrating a first Cup victory after the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a dramatic Game 6.

Mayers did not play a game in the playoffs for the Blackhawks. He may not have contributed on the ice during their Cup run, but he did provide a spark in the locker room after Chicago fell behind 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings in the second round. His passionate speech the day after helped wake up the Blackhawks as they would go on to win the next three games.

On the ice at TD Garden Monday night, Mayers was at a loss for words.

“Unbelievable,” Mayers said. “Can’t even describe it. Surreal right now.”

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who accepted the Cup from commissioner Gary Bettman, planned it out so that Handzus and Mayers, the two who have waited the longest for this moment, got to raise it second and third.

“Pretty much my mind was empty,” he said about the Cup raise. “I kind of want to do it again. That’s what everyone always says. But what a great gesture and honor for Tazer to set it up so I would get it third. It’s just a great group of guys and I’m speechless.”

Handzus didn’t join the Blackhawks until a deadline day deal that brought him back to Chicago, where he spent the 2006-07 season. Back then, things were different, but the seeds of this team’s success were just being planted.

“That was a long time ago. It was a different organization,” said Handzus. “They’ve been great the last five, six years. It shows [that it’s a] great city. It shows it’s a great organization from top to bottom. A lot of guys deserve it.”

He was brought in for depth reasons and to win faceoffs. At first he wasn’t even sure he’d see the ice in Chicago.

“I thought I’d have a hard time cracking the lineup, honestly, because they’ve been playing great,” he said. “They’ve been on the top from the beginning of the season and I just tried to fill in and help as much as I could. It was either fourth line, faceoff, whatever. I got a chance to play second line with great players and the coaches trust me, the players trust me and I just tried to do as much as I could.”

Two goals in 17 seconds late in the third period completed the wild Blackhawks comeback. It was a turnaround that Handzus said he had only seen in the Champions League soccer tournament in Europe.

“It shows the team, the leaders, the characters,” he said. “The whole team just believed in each other, battled for each other. Obviously we got bounces, but every champion needs them. We got it in the end.”

A 24-game point streak to open the season set the tone for what would end with the franchise’s fifth Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks also became the first team to win both the Presidents’ Trophy and the Cup in the same season since the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings. Despite the litany of stars on the roster, everyone chipped in.

“I tried to just play as best I could, but we were a team,” said Handzus. We weren’t individuals. We battled for each other and that’s why we won. You can’t win with one, two, three guys.

“You’ve got to win as a team and that’s what we did.”

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy