Knicks in London: Light load with 1 game this week


Knicks in London: Light load with 1 game this week

NEW YORK (AP) The injury-plagued New York Knicks welcome a week with just one game. The only catch is they had to travel to London for it.

That's fine with the Knicks, who were focused more on the time off than the time change before going overseas for their game against the Detroit Pistons.

The Knicks left Monday night and the game isn't until Thursday. They return home Friday and don't play again until Monday, getting some coveted recovery time near the midpoint of their season.

``I think the NBA did a great job with the way they scheduled it, getting us over there three days early, give us a chance to get acclimated to London, and then coming back having some days off as well,'' Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony said. ``So this is a big week for us as far as getting our bodies right and taking care of the things we've got to take care of.''

Anthony and Knicks center Tyson Chandler will be back on the O2 Arena floor, where they celebrated after winning a gold medal with the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team. The memories won't be quite as fond for guard Pablo Prigioni, last seen kicking a clock off the scorer's table in anger after Argentina lost to Russia in the bronze-medal game.

The NBA wanted to quickly get back to London to build on the success of the Olympics, especially after having to cancel all its international plans last season following the lockout.

Though the sport lags well behind soccer and perhaps a few others in popularity in Britain, the NBA is serious about its overseas plans and the O2 is one of the world's finest arenas.

``We understand, I think just if you're going to pick little things that David Stern has said about the future of the NBA and the future of basketball, it'd be hard to think that the NBA at some point won't expand overseas,'' Knicks forward Steve Novak said. ``Wherever that might be, I don't know, but obviously there's a ton of NBA fans in London, and pretty much everywhere now, so for us to go over there and play in front of people who are cheering for us that we don't really get to see, I think is very cool for us and hopefully cool for them.''

The game sold out in just a few hours, the quickest for a basketball game at the O2, showing there's passion for the NBA, if not necessarily in basketball. Basic rules of the sport were explained to crowds during the Olympics, and there wasn't much boost for basketball after the poor performance by the host country.

None of that has hurt the NBA, which has five live games a week televised in Britain and is playing its fifth game in Europe this season, counting preseason.

The Toronto Raptors and Nets played the first two regular-season games in London two years ago, and Novak acknowledged it was a little ``weird'' to go so far to play only once. But the Knicks certainly weren't complaining, with Anthony saying there was ``no better time than right now'' for the light workload.

``With our team, we could use some of these days because it's been every other day, or you might have a day, and then you've got another game, so I mean we've been kind of going at it a little bit,'' coach Mike Woodson said.

Starting point guard Raymond Felton is in the midst of an expected four-to-six week loss with a broken finger. Veterans Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby are battling foot injuries that have weakened the frontcourt, and 39-year-old Jason Kidd has shown the strain of playing heavier minutes in Felton's absence.

All of them can take it easy with just game and at most two practices, and help could be on the way if guard Iman Shumpert does make his season debut after being out since tearing a knee ligament in last year's playoffs.

Woodson said the players might have a bit of time off to enjoy the sights, but NBA activities would mostly keep them busy. The Knicks wanted to make sure they stayed sharp with the next game back home Monday against Brooklyn, their city rival who is charging up behind them in the standings.

``I've been there for almost a month, two and a half weeks, this past summer, so to go back, just playing one game, definitely going to bring a lot of memories,'' Anthony said. ``But this is still regular season for us, so that's how we've got to approach it.''

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins. With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
W1. Philadelphia (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

2. Pittsburgh (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
W2. New Jersey (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

2. Boston (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
Florida (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings..

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 23, 34 days before the NFL draft.  

Stability at the top of the depth chart

A Redskins defense that ranked 27th in total defense and was dead last against the run is likely to return nine or 10 of the players who were the primary starters in 2017. The Washington defense, which was 16th overall and 27th running the ball, will certainly return seven starters and could have eight the same as last year.

I’m sure that this will alarm many Redskins fans, but it shouldn’t. Before getting into that, let’s look at the changes.

On defense, the nine starters who are assured of returning are DE Stacy McGee, DL Jonathan Allen, OLB Preston Smith, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Zach Brown, ILB Mason Foster, CB Josh Norman, S Montae Nicholson, and S D.J. Swearinger.

As of right now, a tenth returning starter has to be penciled in at nose tackle. Yes, if the season started today it would be Ziggy Hood at nose tackle again. More on that in a minute.

The only starting spot that is certain to turn over is the cornerback opposite Norman. Even though Bashaud Breeland’s contract agreement with the Panthers fell through due to a failed physical, he is much more likely to land on another NFL team than he is to return to the Redskins.

It is impossible to think that the Redskins will not do something to address the nose tackle position, whether it’s in the draft or in free agency. Then again, it’s impossible to believe they have run the 3-4 defense since 2010 without coming up with a long-term solution at the nose.

On offense, the seven starters certain to return are WR Josh Doctson, WR Jamison Crowder, OT Trent Williams, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses, and TE Jordan Reed. RB Samaje Perine could be an eighth returning starter depending on if the Redskins take a running back early in the draft.

The new starters will be QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson, and someone at left guard.

Having between 16 and 18 returning starters from a team that went 7-9 in 2017 may not be enough turnover for some fans. That’s not a completely unreasonable point of view. However, there is such thing as having too much churn in your starting lineup and some stability for the Redskins may be a good thing this year.

They had five new starters on defense last year and a new defensive coordinator. They also had a new coordinator on offense along with two new wide receivers and, by midseason, changes in the starters at running back and center. This is not counting all of the on-the-fly changes that had to be made due to injuries.

Continuing to make changes in the starting lineup is not always a recipe for success. Sometimes you just need to pick a group of players and, to the extent that you can in the free agency-salary cap world of the NFL, stick with them. Sure, you have to address weakness like nose tackle and possibly running back and fill holes created by free agency departures. However, it is often better to give a player time to acclimate to a system and, especially with a rookie, time to learn the fine points of the game.

Tearing things down and starting over again after a mediocre season is a recipe for, well, more mediocre seasons.

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

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In response to a tweet about this article that said that the Redskins led the league in losing important players in injuries:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 25
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 127
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 171

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