Redskins

Irving looking to lead Cavs back

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Irving looking to lead Cavs back

Cleveland is still trying to recover from the exodus of Lebron James two years ago but slowly and surely the Cavaliers are hoping to build back up through their back court. The team drafted two guards with their first picks the last two years. In 2011, the Cavs took point guard Kyrie Irving with the number one overall selection and this past summer they surprisingly selected shooting guard Dion Waiters out of Syracuse with the fourth overall pick.

Irving clearly was the best rookie in the league last season, averaging 18 points and 5 assists, but the Cavaliers struggled mightily to a 21-45 record. Irving proved why he was the top pick, showing off his incredible quickness and ability to finish around the rim. Irving is good enough to get the Cavs back at least to being more competitive, something they were not last season.

The Cavaliers think they have found a running mate for Irving with the 6'-4" Waiters, who only averaged 12 points a game in his sophomore season at Syracuse but is capable of being a very streaky scorer.

The Cavaliers also picked up rookie center Tyler Zeller in a trade from Dallas in June. The 7-foot Zeller averaged 16 points and nearly 10 rebounds last season in his senior year at North Carolina. Couple that with the Cavaliers second first-round pick last year in forward Tristan Thompson, and the Cavs hope they have a nice corps to build on going forward.

The fourth overall selection in 2011, Thompson averaged 8 points and 6 rebounds in about 23 minutes a game. Thompson scored 10 points and had 7 rebounds as a starter and his nine double-doubles was third best among rookies.

After only playing in 25 games because of a broken wrist last season, power forward Anderson Varejoe is back. Before he got hurt, Varejoe averaged 10 points and 11 rebounds a game and brings that much needed veteran presence to the court.

The Cavaliers bench is a major concern. With names like Luke Harangody, Daniel Gibson, Samardo Samuels and Alonzo Gee, Cleveland is not scaring anybody.

Cleveland's success will depend on the continued development of Irving and how he integrates other players like Waiters, Thompson and Zeller into the team. The Cavaliers likely won't make the post-season for the third straight season but they should be much improved with Irving leading the way.

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Need to Know: What will the Redskins do after Jonathan Allen's injury?

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Associated Press

Need to Know: What will the Redskins do after Jonathan Allen's injury?

 

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 19, four days before the Washington Redskins visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night football.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences, open locker room, after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 10
—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 17
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 35

Jonathan Allen’s absence

The Redskins defensive line has been one of the most improved positions on the team. Now they have a large hole to fill in that unit.

Jonathan Allen’s Lisfranc injury will require surgery and that means he will be sidelined for the rest of the season. He likely will go on injured reserve sometime this week.

The team’s first-round draft pick had been playing very well. He has helped to provide the Redskins with pass rush up the middle, an important element that has been missing from the defense. The 17th overall pick had a sack, three QB hits and 10 hurries.

What will the Redskins do in Allen’s absence? The first thing they’ll do is take consolation in the fact that they still have Matt Ioannidis to give them some inside pass rush. The second-year player rebounded from a 2016 season where he played sparingly and is providing consistent pass rush pressure between the tackles. He has 3.5 sacks and 16 pressures.

But Ioannidis can’t do it alone. He and Allen each benefitted from the presence of the other one. And edge rushers Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan have both been helped by the attention the other teams had to pay to the pass pressure threat from the interior.

With Allen gone, who will take his place?

That question has a few different answers. When Allen goes on injured reserve, a lineman will be signed to take his place. That could be rookie Brandon Banks, who has been on the practice squad all year. They could bring up A.J. Francis, who has been around on the practice squad for a couple of years but he has not been with a team since he was release in Redskins’ cut to 53 on September 2.

They also could find a veteran who is not currently working or sign a player off of another team’s practice squad. The Redskins tried out 16 players on Tuesday and the only defensive lineman among them was Owa Odighizuwa, who played in 18 games for the Giants in 2015-2016.

But whoever takes the roster spot likely will be inactive most of the time. Anthony Lanier, the second-year defensive end who has been on the team this year but has not been active for a game, will be active on Monday night. He is a pass-rush specialist and it seems likely that he will get most of Allen’s snaps in nickel situations.

In base defense, Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain will rotate in more frequently. It’s not as though they have been sitting on the bench this season. While the rotation has favored Allen and Ioannidis, McClain and McGee have played 131 snaps this year. Ziggy Hood has 155, Ioannidis 170 and Allen 159.

McClain and McGee are OK defending the run so there won’t be a huge drop off there. The spotlight will be on Lanier, who played in just four games last year before an injury ended his season, to continue to get push up the middle with Ioannidis.

He will get his chance on Monday as the Redskins take on the Eagles. In the season opener, the Redskins were able to get pressure on quarterback Carson Wentz (22 pressures on 41 pass dropbacks) but they weren’t often able to bring him down. We will see if Lanier can get to him a time or two and finish the job.

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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Marcin Gortat dedicates big game against Sixers to late former Polish teammate Adam Wójcik

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USA Today Sports Images

Marcin Gortat dedicates big game against Sixers to late former Polish teammate Adam Wójcik

Marcin Gortat is a legend in his home country of Poland and on Wednesday night he paid homage to one of his predecessors.

Adam Wójcik, one of the most decorated Polish basketball players of all time, passed away in August after a battle with Leukemia. Months later, in the first game of the 2017-18 season, Gortat took the floor with Wójcik's initials, the date of his death, a cross and 'RIP' inscribed on his shoes.

Gortat went out and delivered one of the best games of his career. He had 16 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks, just the third time in his 11 NBA seasons he has posted those numbers. His production was pivotal in the Wizards' 120-115 win over the Sixers in their season opener.

"I'm just glad I did that wearing the initials of the greatest players from Poland, Adam Wójcik," Gortat said. "I'm glad in the first game, we came up with a win."

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Ten of Gortat's points came in the fourth quarter, as he consistently fed off pick-and-roll mismatches. John Wall found him over and over, including for a big dunk that allowed Gortat to do his signature Polish Hammer celebration.

That Wall-to-Gortat combination is something head coach Scott Brooks wants to see more of.

"It’s simple for him. I’ve been telling him for about a year and at the start of this season," Brooks said. "You run into your screen and you roll out, and you’re going to get open looks. We have some special players handling the ball. They’re going to have to guard with an extra man and if he rolls hard, he’s going be able to finish."

Wójcik died at just 47 years old after a long and successful basketball career. He won eight Polish League championships and won MVP three times. Gortat and Wójcik played together for the Polish national team and Wójcik is someone Gortat looked up to for a long time.

"I dedicate this game to him," he said.

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