Seattle Seahawks

A sport's fan's survival guide for the NBA and NHL playoffs

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A sport's fan's survival guide for the NBA and NHL playoffs

Written by Justin Surber

As every sports fan knows, we are fast approaching one of the best times of the year – the NHL and NBA playoffs both begin next month, kicking off an eight-week smorgasbord of high-level, high-intensity games on a near-nightly basis.

To those among us without a significant other, welcome to one of the benefits of single life.Please enjoy watching game three of the Hawks-Bucks series, and keep your audience in mind at work tomorrow when excitedly telling us about Al Horford’s put back with less than a second to go. To those who are lucky enough to have a partner who enjoys it as much as you do – enjoy the third overtime of Caps-Islanders, and just get on with it already.

But for the rest of us, once the calendar turns to April, it is time to begin preparing our delicate dance -watching as many playoff games as humanly possible, while somehow not driving our partner to re-think whether our companionship is really worth the trouble.

As with most things in life, the key is preparation. First round playoff pairings are finalized around a week ahead of the first games in the NBA, but only days ahead in the NHL. This time must be spent wisely, prioritizing what series to focus your time and energy on, while not wasting precious relationship capital on snoozers. While charts and graphs are optional, their value cannot be overstated. For efficiencies’ sake, I will use my own categorization method, but keep in mind this is a highly subjective scale, organized from least-to-most important:

The relationship-builders: Maybe your guy or gal wants to go see Batman v. Superman, have dinner with friends or family, play a board game or really, do anything but watch another damned game. This category is where you build up all the goodwill that you will need later on. Personally, most of the NBA Eastern Conference first round is here: I mean, is watching Toronto-Chicago really worth it? How about Atlanta-Indiana? Use these early-round snoozers to take her out to dinner or play that game he’s really excited about so that when you block off a week to watch every minute of every Spurs-Warriors game, you don’t end up creating a rage monster.

Yes, I’m really staying up to watch this: First, every game tied in the final minute or in overtime automatically jump to this category. I mean, there’s just no such thing as a bad buzzer-beater or overtime goal. Second, any especially-interesting first round series goes here as well. Blackhawks-Kings? Now that’s worth budgeting some time for. A lot of the second round NBA playoffs fall here as well. Clippers-Warriors and Spurs-Thunder are going to be great series with compelling story lines that are absolutely worth the judging looks you’ll probably earn when you try and explain why you can’t go to the in-laws for dinner.

The Finals (or games involving your team): Now we reach rarefied air. If your team is fortunate enough to reach the playoffs, you are duty-bound to watch as much as humanly possible, no matter how painful it can be. The NBA and NHL finals also fall into this category. Two top-level teams slugging it out with the promise of a trophy for the winner? Sign me up. Now this will require some advanced planning, as it is basically three-plus hours almost every night for two weeks. On those rare nights where both finals have an off day, go to dinner with his parents; take her to a cooking class; prepare a candlelight dinner;do whatever it takes to earn enough slack to make sure he doesn’t “accidentally” unplug the cable during overtime of game seven.

Spurs v. Warriors: Yes, this series gets its own category this year. Yes, it is higher on my personal priority list than even the finals. Yes, I’m still serious.  Seriously, this is the kind of matchup that maybe happens once a decade, if we’re lucky. You have two historically great teams; teams that, in most any other year would be the prohibitive favorite to win the title…and one of them won’t even make the NBA finals. As of this moment, they have the first and third best regular season winning percentages of all time. It would be like the 1996 Bulls playing the 2001 Lakers in a conference finals. If you’ve ever wished your significant other was more into sports, here is your best shot – basketball being played at the absolute highest level, with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green matching up with Kwahi Leonard and the Spurs monolith. If Steph Curry draining 35 footers and Kwahi’s butter-smooth drives and defense can’t get someone to watch, then nothing will. But you owe it to yourself as a sports fan to not miss a minute; we may never see a series between two teams this historically great again.

So there you have it folks. We’re less than a week away from the playoffs beginning, so it’s time to batten down the hatches and get ready. And don’t forget to enjoy it; after all, it just might be the best six-to-eight weeks of the entire sports year.

Why we now know the potential Achilles heel for the Seahawks offense

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USATI

Why we now know the potential Achilles heel for the Seahawks offense

The Seahawks offense is far too talented to ever be kept out of the end zone for an entire game. Russell Wilson is a top five quarterback in the NFL, Tyler Lockett has shown he can be a stud wide receiver and Chris Carson is a 1,000-yard running back for the second-consecutive season.

So how on earth were the Rams able to limit Seattle to just two field goals-worth of offense in Week 14?

Poor execution played a part in that. On the Seahawks third drive, trailing 14-3, Malik Turner dropped a fourth-down pass that would have moved Seattle into the red zone. On their very next drive, still down 14-3, Jacob Hollister would dropped a third-down pass that would have kept the possession moving toward midfield.  

But as Tyler Lockett mentioned postgame, Seattle’s offense has been taking what defenses have been given it over the last few weeks. Opponents have been defending against the deep ball and forcing the Seahawks to run it more. That’s OK in cases like the Vikings game where your defense is dominating, and you’re averaging north of five yards per carry.

It’s less ideal when you’re trailing 21-3 and need the passing game to ignite your offense and lead a comeback. That’s why the Seahawks have to find a balance of taking what the defense is giving them while also having the ability to dictate tempo as well. Championship caliber teams should be able to do that.

“It is hard,” Schottenheimer said of attaining such balance. “I would say people have tried to guard against the big play. In a game like Minnesota, they did the same thing. They tried to stay on top of us and not let us get behind them. Russ did a nice job of checking it down. You mentioned it, when the score gets a certain way, it’s a little harder.

“We never envisioned that game last week getting to what it did. Certainly, we had some missed opportunities that we should’ve done better as players and coaches. It’s a fine line. We’re aware of teams trying to keep us in front of them. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to keep trying to take shots and get over your heads.”

Schottenheimer and others have essentially chalked the ugly game up to a worst-case scenario that played into the Rams biggest strength. Seattle got into an early hole and had to abandon its running game which allowed Los Angeles’ talented defensive line to dominate.

The Rams sacked Wilson five times and hit him on 11 occasions.

“(Pass protection is) so inclusive of everybody,” Schottenheimer said. “Everybody is involved whether it’s the quarterback with his drop. There are certainly times that Russ could’ve gotten the ball out of his hands. Receivers not getting open sometimes. That affects sacks sometimes. It’s hard to put, okay, you’ve been sacked ‘x’ amount of times last game. You don’t want to play the Rams the way we had to play them. They were really good up front. They were able to T-off on us.”

Seattle has now allowed 13 sacks over its last three games. So while you can tip your cap to the Rams, it’s also important to recognize that there’s a troublesome trend brewing within the Seahawks offense. Seattle’s 47 sacks allowed are 10th-most in the NFL.

Schottenheimer indicated that the Seahawks are utilizing several tactics in order to find a remedy, including hard counts and changing tempos.

“We use all those things,” Schottenheimer said. “We chip people. we use cadence variations. Use different formations and stuff. When you get in certain games against teams like the Rams where they’re getting after you, it can be difficult. Again, we’re always at our best when we’re able to play that balanced football and you’re sitting right there, and we can use our runs and our play passes. When the score gets the way it did against the Rams, it’s hard.”

If there’s one major takeaway from the loss to the Rams it’s that Los Angeles provided the blueprint for how to stop Seattle’s offense. Now, not every team has the pass rushing firepower to replicate that success, but good teams do, most notably the 49ers.

When Seattle and San Francisco meet again in Week 17, a game that will likely be for the division title, it will be imperative that the Seahawks avoid a similar script that played out at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in Week 14.

Jadeveon Clowney, Mychal Kendricks OUT vs. Panthers in Week 15

Jadeveon Clowney, Mychal Kendricks OUT vs. Panthers in Week 15

The Seattle Seahawks defense will be undermanned again in Week 15 against the Panthers.

Jadeveon Clowney (core/illness) is listed as out. He didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday, but was a limited participant on Friday. He was listed as questionable initially before being downgraded to out. It would make sense to give Clowney a few weeks of rest before the Seahawks host the 49ers in Week 17. Shaquem Griffin, Rasheem Green, Branden Jackson and maybe even L.J. Collier will see an uptick in usage on Sunday.

Of note, the Cardinals waived Terrell Suggs on Friday. Suggs' 5.5 sacks are more than anyone on the Seahawks roster. Should Seattle put in a claim on him, the Seahawks would owe Suggs just $353K for the final two weeks of the season. Even though Suggs isn't a direct scheme fit (he's more of a 3-4 guy), it couldn't hurt to kick the tires on the veteran pass rusher given the injuries to Clowney and Ziggy Ansah.

"We're competing, always. We look at everybody that becomes available," Pete Carroll said regarding Suggs on Friday. "I don't know anything about it right now, but John (Schneider) is going to be all over it."

Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) will miss his second-straight game, which means Cody Barton will once again be in the starting lineup at SAM linebacker. Barton played 58 snaps (83%) against the Rams in Week 14 and posted four tackles with one pass defended. He had some rookie mistakes as well in terms of getting aligned in the right spot and knowing his assignments. Seattle will hope he can clean some of those miscues up on Sunday.

"I think he'll feel much more comfortable," Carroll said. "It was fast and furious and he was busting his tail trying to run around and make his plays and all that. I think he'll be settled in even more so. He's such a smart kid. He works so hard at it. It's so important to him. He'll take advantage of one week to the next week. I think you'll see him improve for a long time now because of the way he applies himself. We're expecting him to make a little jump and just clean it up."

Shaquill Griffin (hamstring), Luke Willson (hamstring) and Ansah (neck) are all listed as questionable.

Griffin played every snap against the Rams but picked up his hamstring issue in the game. He didn't practice at all this week, which is somewhat concerning. Willson has missed the team's last three games after suffering his hamstring injury in Week 10 against the 49ers. Ansah missed the Rams game after suffering a shoulder stinger against the Vikings. Carroll said that all four players listed as questionable will be true game-time decisions.

Veteran tight end Greg Olsen (concussion) is out for the Panthers. Ian Thomas will assume all of the reps in his place.

Seattle (10-3) needs to win on Sunday in order to keep pace with San Francisco (11-2) and ensure that their Week 17 matchup remains one that will determine the winner of the NFC West.

Marcus Arroyo will coach Oregon in the Rose Bowl… Why this matters

Marcus Arroyo will coach Oregon in the Rose Bowl… Why this matters

On Friday, UNLV held an introductory press conference for their next head football coach, Marcus Arroyo. He walked up to the stage, sporting a dark suit, bright red Rebel tie, slicked comb-over hairdo and a grin from ear to ear eager to begin his next adventure in his coaching career.

But before doing so, Arroyo has one final piece of unfinished business to attend to: coaching the No. 6 Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl.

The Rose Bowl is an opportunity that I plan on being apart of and that is ultra exciting for what we’ve done and the athletes that I’ve had a chance to be apart of. Again, that’s an awesome thing. But I’m locked in here [UNLV] and full speed ahead since we had this conversation about the opportunity [UNLV football head coach]. -- Marcus Arroyo

WHY THIS MATTERS:

Two big points stand out in Arroyo’s decision to coach the Ducks in the Rose Bowl.

- Team morale. Keeping the train moving forward. After being in an offensive drought for two straight games against Arizona State and Oregon State, Oregon’s offense got rolling once again in the Pac-12 Championship and did so against a great defense in Utah, defeating the Utes 37-15. Arroyo’s play-calling combined with senior quarterback Justin Herbert’s arm and legs put the beat down and physically outmatched Utah.

- For Justin Herbert. The relationship between offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and quarterback cannot go understated. It is the fuel behind the engine. Senior quarterback Justin Herbert and Arroyo have been inseparable for the past two seasons and have the utmost trust in one another. 

It is important for the two to maintain this connection with that stout Wisconsin defense looming around the corner.

Oregon Ducks forward Shakur Juiston ruled out, N'Faly Dante will travel against No. 5 Michigan

Oregon Ducks forward Shakur Juiston ruled out, N'Faly Dante will travel against No. 5 Michigan

The No. 10 Oregon Ducks (7-2) will not be at full strength Saturday morning on the road against No. 5 Michigan (8-2).

Ducks Coach Dana Altman ruled starting forward Shakur Juiston out for the contest due to a knee injury suffered late against No. 17 North Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. The UNLV transfer currently averages 8.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game on 43.1 percent shooting from the field. 

Altman will replace him in the starting lineup with freshman C.J. Walker who averages 5.8 points per game and 55.6 percent from behind the arc. However, his 57.9 free throw percentage indicates that three point percentage is a standard deviation or two above his true average. Regardless, the former five-star recruit should perform amicably in Juiston’s place. 

Freshman center N'Faly Dante will also travel with the team for the first time all season. He can officially enroll at the Unversity of Oregon on Saturday and plans to play this season. If he plays this weekend is unlikely. 

As for what Juiston’s absence means overall for the game, Payton Pritchard and Will Richardson will be called upon even more to create offense since Walker’s shot creation isn’t as good as Juiston’s. 

Defensively speaking, the Ducks run a fierce match up zone so it’s unlikely the Wolverines will be able to exploit Juiston’s absence by going after the more inexperienced Walker each possession. 

The Wolverines started the season unranked but catapulted into the top five of the AP poll following wins over ranked UNC and Gonzaga to win the Battle 4 Atlantis. Since then, they have dropped two games on the road at No. 1 Louisville and unranked Illinois. 

The Ducks and Wolverines tip off at 9:00am PST in Ann Arbor, MI.

Blazers apply for disabled player exception for Rodney Hood

Blazers apply for disabled player exception for Rodney Hood

After suffering a season-ending Achilles injury one week ago vs. the Los Angeles Lakers, the Portland Trail Blazers have applied for a disabled player exception for Rodney Hood.

[RELATED]: Rodney Hood undergoes successful surgery to repair torn Achilles

[RELATED]: Rodney hood sends heartfelt message to Rip City

A disabled player exception allows a team over the salary cap to acquire a replacement for someone who's been ruled out for a given season. The maximum salary of the replacement player will either be 50% of the injured player's salary or the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. The lower number of the two is granted and does not count toward the salary cap.

Will the Blazers make a trade, a free agent signing perhaps?

Our Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes predicts what the Blazers may do:

In the wake of Monday night’s nasty home loss in Moda Center to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the season-ending injury to Rodney Hood, a lot of people seem to think the Portland Trail Blazers need to make a move. A trade, a free-agent signing – SOMETHING. But here’s what I think they will do: Nothing. And I think that’s the right course of action, too.

In Hood’s absence, Kent Bazemore has stepped into the starting role and has averaged 7.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, as well as turned up the defensive intensity. 

Up next: The Blazers (10-16) face the Phoenix Suns (11-13) on Monday, December 16 in Phoenix, AZ.

A picture worth a thousand words: What this photo means is more than just another Oregon recruiting visit

A picture worth a thousand words: What this photo means is more than just another Oregon recruiting visit

Mario Cristobal is a darn good recruiter... but, we all knew that. The proof is in the pudding. 

In his second season as head coach for the Oregon Ducks, Cristobal signed the No. 1 recruit in the nation, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. This season, he has already landed commitments from five-star inside linebacker Noah Sewell (Orem, UT - younger brother of Penei Sewell); four-star receiver Johnny Wilson (Calabasas, CA); four-star quarterback Jay Butterfield (Brentwood, CA); etc, etc.

In his two years, he has obtaining the top two recruiting classes in program history. 

Cristobal isn’t afraid of recruiting anywhere, anytime. He was seen recruiting and making home visits hours after winning a Pac-12 Championship. Maybe his tactics and efforts were the reason Cristobal didn’t win the Pac-12 Coach of the Year…. But that’s beside the point.

Here is something that doesn’t come at a surprise: Cristobal in the home of a five-star recruit:

Kelee Ringo is a five-star defensive back from Scottsdale, Arizona in the 2020 class. Ringo has narrowed his future down to five schools: Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon and Texas. 

Here is something that may come as a surprise: featured in the photo (from left to right) is defensive coordinator Andy Avalos, Cristobal, safeties coach Keith Heyward, Ringo and cornerbacks coach Donte Williams. 

WHY THIS MATTERS:

On Wednesday, it was announced that offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo accepted the head coaching position at UNLV. A part of every head coach’s responsibilities is filling a coaching staff, whether that be from the previous coaching staff or making your hires outside of the program. Would Arroyo try and hire any Oregon coaches away with him to UNLV? Well, Heyward’s name came up recently as a possibility.

On the other hand, those are just rumors and Heyward is still a Duck. You coach and recruit for the team that has employed you. Until that Oregon “O” is no longer on his chest, Heyward will continue to coach and recruit the future success of the Ducks’ defense. 

And we like it that way. Oregon’s defense took major strides this year under this coaching staff that has worked so well together. A Pac-12 Championship; a defense that ranked No. 16 nationally in yards per play; No. 9 in points allowed per game and No. 1 nationally in red zone touchdowns allowed. 

Add this along with the incoming 2020 class, and that would arguably be hard to walk away from.

Carmelo Anthony hopes jersey is retired in Denver, but what number would it be?

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USA Today Images

Carmelo Anthony hopes jersey is retired in Denver, but what number would it be?

DENVER -- Move over Hoodie Melo, it was vintage Melo on Thursday night.

The Denver Nuggets fans in attendance were treated to show with Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony back in town.

The 10-time All-Star finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting and 2-of-5 from deep in the Blazers 114-99 loss to the Nuggets.

Anthony was excited to back playing in the Mile High City for the first time since he returned to the NBA after his one-year hiatus.

It was back to the city where it all began.  

“It’s always fun, Melo said. "It’s always fun coming back. I wish we could’ve won, but it’s always fun outside of the actual game. It’s always fun coming back, being in the city and just being around and playing."

Anthony suited up for Denver for 7 1/2 years before being traded to New York.

The 35-year-old was well received Thursday night during the Blazers introductions despite the No. 3 overall pick for the Nuggets in the 2003 draft, being dealt to the Knicks after he had publicly said he wanted to be traded to New York.  

The Nuggets explored an Anthony trade since he refused to sign a three-year contract extension worth nearly $65 million they offered him in the summer of 2010.

But, Nuggets fans seemed to have settled their differences with Melo.

And now there’s just one thing missing in Denver, at least according to Anthony:

The No. 15 hanging from the rafters.

The former Nuggets forward believes it would be fitting to have his number retired in Denver.

This is where it should be retired to be honest with you, just my opinion… I think that the history is here, it’s where it all started. -- Carmelo Anthony after Thursday’s game in Denver

Unlike the Blazers organization not allowing players to wear Brandon Roy’s No. 7, Denver has not made such arrangements. Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic currently wear No. 15.

Melo joked that could be a problem.  

“Maybe not because Jokic got 15 now. We’ll see, man. We still got time,” Melo laughed.

Whether it's Denver, New York, or both, teams will have time to figure out the retirement of Anthony's number.

The time is now, though, for the Trail Blazers and Melo as they continue to look for just their second win of the season against a team with a winning record. 

MLB may force other sports to follow its lead in drug testing, treatment

MLB may force other sports to follow its lead in drug testing, treatment

Major League Baseball hit a home run yesterday.

MLB, in concert with its players association, announced Thursday it has updated its drug policy, with testing for cocaine and opioids beginning in spring training and marijuana no longer on the banned substance list.

And the best part of the change is that failed tests will now be met with treatment plans, rather than just punishment. Players will be punished only if they violate prescribed treatment plans.

It sounds like the most sensible approach to drug testing in all of sports.

Tyler Skaggs, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, died of an opioid overdose last July and there is little doubt that this policy change is at least in part due to the recognition that opioid abuse has become a serious societal problem. Skaggs died with fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol in his system.

“It is our collective hope that this agreement will help raise public awareness on the risks and dangers of opioid medications and contribute positively to a national conversation about this important topic,” said Dan Halem, M.L.B.’s deputy commissioner for baseball administration and chief legal officer, in a statement.

MLB will now test for opioids, cocaine, fentanyl and synthetic THC. It’s been apparent for a few years now that the sports leagues have lost the battle over marijuana, with the substance now legal in many areas of the country and to officially back off on testing for it is the correct move.

This surely will apply pressure to other leagues to implement the same sort of policy, including the elimination of marijuana from the banned-substance list.

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Nuggets

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Nuggets

A career night from starting center Hassan Whiteside wasn't enough to lift the Blazers to victory in Denver. 

Whiteside scored a career-high 33 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, becoming the first Blazers player since Buck Williams to grab 10 or more rebounds in 10 straight games. 

In his return to where it all started, former Nugget Carmelo Anthony dropped 20 points in the arena he used to call home.

Despite great efforts from the starting unit, the Blazers bench couldn't offer much help. They were outscored 46-9, with all nine points coming from Anfernee Simons. 

To top it all off, the Nuggets torched the Blazers from deep, hitting 18 three-pointers on the night. They really were the difference. 

Final Score in Denver: Nuggets 114 - Blazers 99

QUOTABLES:

Nassir Little on his back spasms:

It’s been tight. Just warming up, I just jumped and it was just off.

Damian Lillard on Nuggets hitting so many 3s:

We just didn’t have enough pressure on the ball. We let them get too comfortable out there. They’re a passing team. If we had had more energy and effort, like I said after the last game, we could have limited what they do. But we were back on our heels

Hassan Whiteside on Blazers rough night:

There’s stretches when we look amazing and then there’s stretches where they go on big runs… They was hitting threes, they was making us pay, and we would over help, and that’s pretty much what happened. 

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