Redskins

Bulls vow to get by without Rose

Bulls vow to get by without Rose

CHICAGO (AP) Their superstar is injured, their so-called ``bench mob'' pretty much gone and despite all that, the Chicago Bulls insist one thing hasn't changed.

They're not rolling over. The obits are premature.

The Bulls believe they still have plenty left even though Derrick Rose is expected to miss a big chunk of the season recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and most of the reserves that gave Chicago one of the NBA's deepest benches are gone. They insist they will be factors in the Eastern Conference after capturing the top seed the past two years.

``I think we can be real good, knowing the character of this team,'' Rose said.

Of course, it won't be easy without their superstar.

The Bulls were widely viewed as the biggest threat to Miami in the East before Rose was injured late in a playoff-opening win over Philadelphia. With Joakim Noah (sprained ankle) also going down in the series, Chicago bowed out in the first round one year after losing to the Heat in the conference finals.

With their franchise player missing from the start this year, the Bulls have a huge void to fill.

``Trying to do too much would be the biggest mistake I could make,'' Deng said. ``I know how good I could be when I'm myself. For all of us as a team, no one individual is going to do what Derrick did. As a group, we all have to commit. I'm really looking forward to it.''

For the Bulls to hold their ground, a lot will depend on Deng's left wrist and Richard Hamilton's durability, not to mention how all the new pieces mesh.

With Rose out, the Bulls brought back veteran Kirk Hinrich for a second stint to run the point and ultimately move into a backup role. They also shook up their bench, trading away Kyle Korver and losing Omer Asik, C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer in free agency. In their place are veterans such as Nate Robinson, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and Marco Belinelli.

As for Deng, he insisted his wrist has improved dramatically after he tore a ligament in it last year. He opted against surgery, and he said it held up well playing for Great Britain in the Olympics, adding there's ``no reason for me not to have a great year.''

It would help, too, if Hamilton stayed healthy after injuries limited him to 28 games. In his first season with the Bulls, he posted his lowest scoring average since he was a rookie with Washington in 1999-2000 at 11.6 points per game.

They also need Carlos Boozer to step up, along with Noah and Taj Gibson.

``Obviously, missing Derrick, that's a huge blow,'' Hinrich said. ``I know every day we're going to be out there and compete, share the ball. I'm excited to be a part of something like that.''

Chicago did win 18 of the 27 games Rose missed during the regular season a year ago, but the supporting cast was different. Most of the bench players are gone, even if the rest of the starting lineup is back, and that feeling that the Bulls are in a holding pattern, that they're biding their time until he regains his dominant form, lingers.

All eyes are on Rose, even if he won't be seen until later. His recovery really is the story surrounding the Bulls, the lingering issue as the team tries to get by without him.

``I think even if you win a championship, you come back the next day and people will doubt you,'' Deng said. ``It's just the way it always is. I think as a team - we hear things all summer - you know what's being said. The best thing that we do as a team is we really focus on what we have to do day-in and day-out. We don't try to get caught up in what's going on outside these four walls.''

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

There's a saying in sports that goes, "A series doesn't start until a team loses at home." For the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, their series won't start until someone wins at home.

Four games into the series, the road team has won every game. Columbus took Game 1 and Game 2 from Capital One Arena and the Caps answered back by winning Game 3 and Game 4 in Ohio.

"We came [to Columbus] to try to get the first one," Barry Trotz said after Thursday's win. "Did that. We came here to get the second one. Did that. All we've done is just got on even terms."

Now the series is a best of three with two of those final three games in Washington, but how much of an advantage does that really give the Caps?

"We've got to make sure that we're ready to go," Trotz said. "I think we have been since we got here. We've just got to do it at home."

The various playoff struggles the Caps have suffered in the Alex Ovechkin era have been well-documented to this point. One particularly maddening issue is the team's struggles to win at home. Since 2008, the first year the Ovechkin-led Caps made the playoffs, the team is just 28-25 in home playoff games. Since 2015, Trotz's first season as head coach, the Caps are 12-10 in Washington.

Part of that is just the nature of hockey. Upsets are prevalent in the playoffs in the NHL and home-ice advantage does not mean as much as it does in other sports. But it should mean more than 28-25.

Besides having the crowd on your side, home ice also provides matchup advantages. The home team gets the second line change at home, meaning during a stoppage in play the home coach gets the opportunity to see who the opponent puts on the ice before making his own change. For the Caps, this means getting Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the ice against Artemi Panarin.

Trotz has matched his top shutdown pair against Columbus' top line all series long. According to Natural Stat Trick, when Niskanen was on the ice in Game 4 he held Panarin's Corsi For percentage to 36.36. When Niskanen was not on the ice, Panarin's percentage shot up to 71.43. 

Theoretically, it should be much easier for Trotz to get those favorable matchups at home. Now all the Caps have to do is take advantage.

"Our home record hasn't been really great in the last little stretch at the end of the season here and obviously the first two games of the playoffs," Trotz said. "We owe it to our fans, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of that."

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