Nikola Jokic

A handful of NBA Players test positive for COVID-19 in last few weeks

A handful of NBA Players test positive for COVID-19 in last few weeks

A concern about the coronavirus pandemic continues all over the world and the sports world is no different.

Reports surfaced Tuesday from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, that Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic tested positive for the coronavirus in Serbia. According to the report, Jokic’s return to the US to start practicing with the Nuggets has now been delayed. Jokic reportedly tested positive last week and has been asymptomatic. The expectation is, he will be cleared to travel to Denver within a week.

The Nuggets currently sit in the third spot out West with a 43-22 record behind the Lakers and Clippers.

Wojnarowski also reported earlier in the day that one Western Conference playoff team had four positive tests of COVID-19 over the past few weeks.

On Tuesday, teams were to report to their team's facilities with testing protocols put in place before each of the 22 teams travel to Orlando starting on July 7 with full training camps set to begin July 11.

Players have until Wednesday, June 24th to inform teams whether or not they will be returning once the season officially restarts.

As of right now, the Trail Blazers only player to opt out of returning to play in Orlando is starting small forward Trevor Ariza.  

Ariza is committing to a one-month visitation window with his 12-year-old son instead of joining the Blazers to restart the season in the Orlando ‘bubble’.  

[RELATED]: Four small forwards on the free agent market the Trail Blazers could sign 

Listen to the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon with special guest Lamar Hurd:

How to Watch: Trail Blazers dramatic Game 7 win vs. Nuggets to clinch WCF berth

How to Watch: Trail Blazers dramatic Game 7 win vs. Nuggets to clinch WCF berth

Get ready... Those goosebumps from last year's playoffs are coming back tonight! 

May 12, 2019 was a day of celebration in Rip City.  

CJ McCollum posted 37 points and added nine rebounds to lead the Trail Blazers over the Nuggets in Game 7 with Portland heading to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years.

And we can’t forget about that chase-down swat from McCollum!

The Trail Blazers shooting guard’s a crucial chase-down block on Jamal Murray down the stretch that helped the Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 100-96.

''CJ McCollum showed why they have one of the best backcourts in the NBA. He put his team on his back and made big play after big play,'' Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said postgame.

The Blazers were down 48-39 at halftime.

Evan Turner was also clutch from the free throw line in the final seconds. He had 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. Turner had scored just four points in the first six games of the series before his big Game 7 performance.

Now relive the magic tonight at 6pm on NBC Sports Northwest. 

Starters for 2019 NBA Playoffs Game 7:

DENVER

Jamal Murray

Gary Harris

Paul Millsap

Torrey Craig

Nikola Jokic  

PORTLAND

Damian Lillard

CJ McCollum

Al-Farouq Aminu

Maurice Harkless

Enes Kanter 

HOW TO WATCH Blazers vs. Nuggets

WHEN: Monday, March 30th at 6:00pm 

Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)

CHANNEL FINDER

Stream the game here.  

NBC Sports Northwest is airing 12 Trail Blazers Classic Games over the next few weeks.

The full schedule can be found here.

Instant Analysis: Nuggets put on a shooting clinic, easily snap Blazers’ winning streak

Instant Analysis: Nuggets put on a shooting clinic, easily snap Blazers’ winning streak

DENVER – It wasn’t Portland’s night.

In the Blazers second and final stop of the season in the Mile High City Tuesday, the Nuggets got off to a hot shooting night early and then never looked back.

After being down by as many as 26 in the first half, the Blazers weren’t able to dig themselves out of that big of a hole.

Portland scored just 10 points in the second quarter with four of those points coming in the final 53.8 seconds of the quarter.

With the Nuggets blowout victory over the Blazers, Portland's winning streak ends at four. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: NUGGETS 127, TRAIL BLAZERS 99

Here are three quick takeaways from Tuesday’s loss:

1. Lillard cools down

Damian Lillard has averaged 41.6 points over his previous 10 games entering Tuesday night’s contest in Denver. But, as the Nuggets have done in the past, they threw multiple defenders at Lillard and were able to slow him down. The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard still led Portland in scoring with 21 points, while shooting 34.7 percent from the floor; it just wasn't close to what fans have become accustomed to over the last two weeks.

2.  The battle of bigs

The Trail Blazers were looking to Hassan Whiteside to handle Nikola Jokic for most of the night and also help shoulder some of the scoring load. Particularly early on, Portland was looking to run its offense through Whiteside either on the pick and roll or by dumping it down to him on the low block.

Whiteside and Jokic battled all night. But, when Jokic pulled the Blazers starting center out to the three-point line, that really favored the Nuggets. Plus, when backup big man Caleb Swanigan had the tough task of bodying up Jokic, the Joker took advantage of the young fella both inside and out. 

3. Nothing working for Blazers

Not only was it an off shooting night for every Trail Blazer not named Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, the Blazers were also racking up fouls, not rotating on defense quick enough –thus, allowing the Nuggets to shoot over 50 percent for the game, and were also getting out-rebounded by a wide margin for most of the contest.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers head back to Portland to host the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night. The Blazers and Spurs will tip-off at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Lillard knows Whiteside is up for the challenge of defending Jokic

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USA Today Images

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Lillard knows Whiteside is up for the challenge of defending Jokic

DENVER – The Trail Blazers are looking for their fifth straight win when they visit the Denver Nuggets tonight.

Before the Blazers and Nuggets tip-off at 6:00 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard and Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed the challenges that Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic presents. 

“He can make threes, he can score on the block, he’s a great passer, he’s smart, he knows how to draw fouls, he’s always a threat,” Lillard said after Tuesday’s shootaround. “Everybody around him is really complimentary of his style and his game. That makes it hard to deal with it. But, I think that’s the reason why it’s not a one-man job… We gotta make sure we stay below our man, so he’s not throwing backdoor lobs… I think it’s definitely a five-man job, but if I had to put one person on him that I feel like could give him some trouble, I would pick Hassan, just because of his length and his ability defensively, and his ability to move.”

Coach Stotts also added during his pregame media availability that Whiteside takes pride in his defense and that is always helpful when facing a player like Jokic.

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), Skal Labissiere (left knee inflammation) and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Tuesday’s game at Denver.

NUGGETS INJURY REPORT:

Jamal Murray (left ankle sprain) is questionable; Bol Bol (left foot injury management), Paul Millsap (left knee contusion/sprain), Mason Plumlee (right cuboid injury) and Michael Porter Jr. (right ankle injury) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Tuesday’s game will be the third of four games between the Trail Blazers and Nuggets during the 2019-20 season. Denver leads the season series, 2-0.

-- LAST MEETING: The Nuggets defeated the Trail Blazers 114-99 in Denver on Dec. 12. Hassan Whiteside paced Portland with a career-high 33 points (15-21 FG, 1-1 3-PT, 2-2 FT), 11 rebounds and four blocks, while Nikola Jokic led Denver with 20 points (7-12 FG, 2-5 3-PT, 4-6 FT), 11 rebounds and six assists.

-- Denver and Portland are the second and third best teams at limiting opponents points of turnovers, at 14.2 and 14.4 per game.

-- Damian Lillard is averaging 22.5 points (40.5% FG, 26.3% 3-PT, 83.3% FT), 3.0 rebounds and 9.5 assists in two games against Denver this season. He has scored at least 30 points in two of his last three games opposite the Nuggets.

-- Carmelo Anthony recorded 20 points (8-16 FG, 2-5 3-PT, 2-2 FT), nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks against the Nuggets on Dec. 12. Anthony has scored at least 20 points in 12 of his 15 career matchups against the Nuggets.

-- CJ McCollum added 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting (3-7 3-PT), to go with two rebounds and two assists against Denver on Dec. 12. McCollum is averaging 13.5 points (37.9% FG, 45.5% 3-PT), 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in two games against Denver this season.

What beat Blazers?: Defense? Rebounds? Bench? 3-point shooting? Or just effort?

What beat Blazers?: Defense? Rebounds? Bench? 3-point shooting? Or just effort?

If you knew ahead of time that Hassan Whiteside was going to outscore All-NBA center Nikola Jokic 35-20 and Carmelo Anthony would outscore Blazer killer Paul Millsap 20-6, wouldn’t you figure that the Trail Blazers would have a shot at defeating the Denver Nuggets, who were on a three-game losing streak?

Well, no. But I think you would have thought they wouldn’t lose by 15.

But that’s what happened in Denver Thursday night, when Portland was drubbed 114-99.

And like so many NBA games, it all turned on three-point shooting. The Trail Blazers shot a solid 47.7 percent from the field but just 30 percent from three (9-30) while Denver connected on 50 percent of its threes (18-36). In other words, the Blazers were outscored by 27 points from distance

That’s especially lethal when you’re getting pounded 15-7 on the offensive boards.

It was a game the Trail Blazers were in on all the way to the end of the third quarter, when they went into zombie mode. With 2:47 left in the period they trailed just 79-78. But the Nuggets rattled off the final 10 points of the quarter and never looked back.

Part of that can be blamed on the Portland bench, which played a total of 62 minutes and scored just nine points – all of them by one man, Anfernee Simons.

But the starters could be blamed, too. The Trail Blazers got a solid 62 points from their starting frontcourt of Anthony, Whiteside and Kent Bazemore but a combined 28 from their starting guards, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who were averaging 48.8 per game coming into this one.

“I know Whiteside hurt us,” Denver Coach Mike Malone said. “But when you can hold that backcourt, Portland’s starting backcourt, to 28 points (and) only three free-throw attempts… I thought our defense on Dame and CJ was terrific.”

And while holding down Portland’s guards, the Nuggets were piling up the threes at the other end.

“A lot like Game 1 (of the season) they made 18 threes and they made 18 threes tonight,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “To me, that was the difference in the game. Some of it was on us as far as leaving shooters and not contesting as much and some of it was on them for moving the ball and finding the open man.”

Lillard said, “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.”

This Trail Blazer season is going south fast. Energy and effort have been an issue recently and you have to worry about it becoming a chronic problem.

The Halloween candy was still in the wrapper the last time Portland beat a team with a record above .500. The Trail Blazers are now 1-9 vs. teams with a plus-.500 record – and that win was on Oct. 27.

 


Listen to this week’s Talkin’ Blazers podcast here:

 

     

 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: All five guys can't fall asleep against Nikola Jokic

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: All five guys can't fall asleep against Nikola Jokic

DENVER – The Trail Blazers said they are looking to keep the momentum going after Monday’s win over the Knicks.

Now as the Blazers get set to face the Nuggets on national television tonight, both Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Blazers All-Star point guard discussed how they need to defend Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic.

I think you try to make him a scorer. It’s kind of like – not comparing him to LeBron [James]- but with LeBron you want him to be a scorer you don’t want him to be picking you apart, then scoring, and doing everything that he wants to do. Jokic, he’s a point-center, like he’s facilitating everything and making them go, making all the plays.  -- Blazers point guard Damian Lillard said at Thursday's shootaround

This season, Jokic is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.

Coach Stotts added, “You try and pressure [Jokic] as much as you can. Part of it is the other four people have to not fall asleep… Don’t give up backcuts, if you fall asleep he’ll find them. So, it’s kind of a team thing.”

In the first meeting between these two, in which Denver won, Jokic got into early foul trouble. Lillard mentioned at Thursday morning’s shootaround that because the Nuggets 7-footer sat for most of the first half, he was ready to go in the final period. Lillard even smiled saying, “I almost think on opening night when they beat us, it would’ve been better for us to not have him in foul trouble because he basically rested the whole game. He came in the fourth quarter fresh.”

Coach Stotts on the other hand said he “wouldn’t subscribe” to not getting Jokic in foul trouble early.

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets is the NBA's friendliest rivalry

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USATI

Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets is the NBA's friendliest rivalry

The Trail Blazers-Nuggets matchup has all the makings of a budding rivalry.

These are divisional opponents coming off a long playoff series with shared championship aspirations that play closely contested games in nearly every meeting. 

Yet when the buzzer sounded after Wednesday night’s season opener at the Moda Center, and Denver had handed Portland its first loss, there wasn’t even the slightest sign of animosity. Injured Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic and Nuggets star Nikola Jokic shared a laugh, while Damian Lillard and Will Barton hugged and Pau Gasol and Juancho Hernangomez hung around to chat.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a rivalry,” Lillard said. “We played them one time in the playoffs and that was it.”

Lillard's right. This is barely a rivalry even if the ingredients are right there. But these two teams have seen each other way more than just one tightly contested seven-game playoff series last spring.

Since the start of of the 2018-19 regular season, the Nuggets and Blazers have met 14 times: four regular season games, an epic playoff series, a couple preseason contests and finally Wednesday night. It’s become a running joke in the Blazers film sessions that the team has to sit through more clips of the Nuggets.

“The coaches talk about it all the time,” Blazers third-year big man Zach Collins said. “It’s like, 'Sorry guys I know we’re all tired of watching Denver stuff, but it’s going to happen three more times this year.' It’s part of the NBA though.”

There have been moments when it looked like Portland and Denver might develop the type of bad blood that truly helps rivalries take root. Jusuf Nurkic wished the Nuggets a ‘happy summer’ in 2017 after a career-night against his former team that effectively ended Denver’s postseason hopes. That soundbite never grew into anything more and eventually passed quietly.

Then in Portland’s Game 6 win over Denver last spring, Seth Curry got into skirmish with Will Barton and then referred to the Nuggets as “sassy” in a postgame interview. A few nights later, CJ McCollum ended the Nuggets season with Game 7 masterpiece in Denver.

These are clear moments -- both within the lines and in the press -- where this matchup could have taken the next step, only nothing resembling beef every materialized.

Nurkic and Jokic are friends, and Seth Curry along with five other Blazers from last season’s roster have since departed, which no doubt takes some bite out of these Northwest Division showdowns. It’s more neighborly familiarity than territorial feuding.

As CJ McCollum said on Wednesday, there are very few secrets or new wrinkles when these two teams face each other. They both know each others sets, and tendencies. That type of familiarity lend itself to extracurricular or minor altercations. But truly there isn’t much tension in these games. The quality of play is pretty high, and then everybody goes home. It's just two teams in similar spots, with similar goals.

In the three remaining regular season meetings, it will likely be more of the same. Games that are close in crunch time and a bunch of smiles and hugs that follow the final horn. If nothing else there will be more good games, even if there’s no bad blood. 

“It’s a mutual respect level,” Rodney Hood said. “The respect level brings out the best in the rivalry when teams go back and forth and beat each other. I think this will be one that will go on for a few years.”

Hassan Whiteside showed why the Trail Blazers are excited about him

Hassan Whiteside showed why the Trail Blazers are excited about him

There was finally a game that mattered for the Trail Blazers as Portland hosted the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. It was a night that snapped the Blazers’ winning streak of home-openers with Portland struggling from three and then giving up too many threes on the other end.

But, it was also a night where the new Trail Blazer center shined bright. 

In the preseason, Portland ran such a vanilla offense it was hard to get a feel for how Hassan Whiteside would be involved at the end of the floor. Not to mention he was dealing with a sprained left ankle that he injured on two different occasions in the exhibition season.

Against the Nuggets Wednesday, the pick and roll between Whiteside and Damian Lillard looked pretty solid, especially early.  

Lillard says he already feels comfortable with the big fella.

“I loved what he did tonight. I think that’s what we all had in mind when he came here -- it’s like, that’s the type of presence he was going to have,” Lillard said.

Whiteside poured in 16 points and pulled down a whopping 19 rebounds with five of those came on the offensive glass.

This is the fourth consecutive season that Whiteside has recorded a double-double in the season opener.

But it was his defense, not surprisingly, which got his teammates really talking postgame.

“I thought he was a beast. He did what he does… Tonight he did a good job controlling the paint, protecting the rim, getting rebounds, he was a rebounding machine tonight. You can just see his intensity was there,” Zach Collins said.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic picked up three quick fouls in the first four minutes of action. Whiteside played a big part in throwing Jokic off his game early, being such a pest down low while defending the Nuggets All-Star center.

Jokic was held scoreless in the first half after playing just the first four minutes.

Lillard was impressed with the big man’s defense.

“Being able to guard Jokic one-on-one, I’ve never seen anybody guard him by themselves that well so consistently,” Lillard said. “How well he rebounded the ball. How he finished. He’s a big dude – long arms. It was just like what he was doing was really impressive. I told him during the game and after the game that that’s the type of impact we’re going to need from him every night.”

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was also pleased with his big man.  

“I thought it was a great opening for him. You look at the line he had. He had an impact on the game at both ends. For a guy who didn’t get a lot of run in preseason, I thought it was a pretty good performance by him."

Whiteside said his ankle did not really play a factor, but he did admit he still needs to get into ‘game shape.’ He was limited to 26 minutes of action, five less than any other starter.

But the 7-footer said more time on the treadmill and a couple more games under his belt and he’ll be completely ready to go.    

“I missed the whole training camp, so it kind of set me back a little bit, but as things ramp up, I’ll ramp up,"  Whiteside said.

Jokic ended up scoring 20 points after hitting some timely three-pointer to help the Nuggets get over the hump.

Whiteside explained how Jokic’s game changed from the first half to the second half: 

“I was just basically guarding him one-on-one. I think he stopped posting me up at the end… They set a lot screens for him, it’s not like I can just stay attached to him. He does a great job of just popping out and flaring.”

The Trail Blazers center not only put together a good showing on the court, but he also gave the media a good line postgame:

“I love playing against the bigs that you guys give high praise to. It really gives me extra motivation,” Whiteside said with a straight face.   

Can you be outscored by 33 from long range and still win? Trail Blazers couldn't

Can you be outscored by 33 from long range and still win? Trail Blazers couldn't

The Trail Blazers found themselves in a three-point shootout on opening night at Moda Center Wednesday.

And it was a serious mismatch.

The Denver Nuggets put an end to Portland’s 18-game home-opener win streak by outscoring the Blazers by 33 points from the three-point line, pulling away over the last five minutes for a 108-100 victory.

The Blazers had a one-point lead with 4:59 to go and trailed by only one with 3:51 left before Nikola Jokic popped open for two wide-open threes to hike the lead to seven, digging a hole for the home team it couldn’t climb out of.

Jokic had been held under control all night by Hassan Whiteside, who did an outstanding job of defending him on the inside but didn’t get out to him on those three-point shots. Jokic scored 16 of his 20 points in the final quarter. He played only 3:45 of the first half because of foul trouble but Portland didn’t capitalize much in his absence.

But the game was decided – like so many these days in the NBA – at the three-point line. Portland managed to hit just 7-28 from distance while the Nuggets were 18-32. It’s almost impossible to win a game with that sort of long-range disparity and halfway amazing the Blazers stayed as close as they did, considering they also had 20 turnovers.

The Blazers got little offensive help from their bench. The reserves were 6-22 from the field, including 0-7 from long range.

“Well, obviously, it’s disappointing to lose a home opener,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “The other obvious thing is the three-point shot is the great equalizer.”

It didn’t equalize anything Wednesday night, it decided it.

“They shot it really well,” Stotts said. “… the way the game is going, we’ve got to be able to defend the three better. That was a concern in the preseason and it was tonight.”

It would seem that the Blazers should be able to do a better job of perimeter defense with Hassan Whiteside patrolling the middle. In his first game as a Blazer, Whiteside had 19 rebounds, two blocks and 16 points in 26:03. But Denver got too many open looks.

But before Trail Blazer fans start fretting over the 82-game season, there were still several positives to take away from the game:

  • The play of Whiteside, who also made six of his seven shots.
  • Kent Bazemore’s five steals, including three on consecutive Denver possessions in the second quarter.
  • Skal Labissiere made three of his four shots and scored eight points to go with six rebounds.
  • The Blazers outscored the Nuggets 23-7 on second-chance points.
  • The law of averages. McCollum went 5-18. Bazemore was 1-7, Mario Hezonja was 0-3 and Anfernee Simons was 2-7. Those players will shoot better than that most of the time. And it wouldn’t have taken too much better to pull out a win.

 

Instant Analysis: The Blazers home-opener streak comes to an end

Instant Analysis: The Blazers home-opener streak comes to an end

The feeling of excitement was oozing out of the Moda Center on Wednesday night until the final seconds of the game.

It was opening night for the Trail Blazers, it was the tip-off of the 50th Anniversary as an organization, and it was a game against their NW Division rival, the Denver Nuggets.

Damian Lillard took flight with a first-quarter dunk that had the Moda Center crowd on its feet.

Besides that first-quarter dunk it was a slow start for Lillard. CJ McCollum also had a rough night shooting. It wasn’t until the third quarter that the Trail Blazers really got it going, but it wasn't enough. The Blazers had too many turnovers and allowed the Nuggets to get easy threes, especially late in the game. The Blazers' winning streak of home-openers comes to an end at 18.    

FINAL BOX SCORE: Nuggets 108 -  Trail Blazers 100

Here are three quick takeaways from the Blazers loss to the Nuggets:  

1. Whiteside came to play for real

Unlike in the preseason with the Blazers running such a vanilla offense, everyone now got a chance to see how Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and the Blazers plan to play Hassan Whiteside on the offensive end. Whiteside and Damian Lillard had a good connection going early and late. Whiteside was also able to get some nice put-backs.   

Plus, Whiteside showed off how effortless it is for him to gobble up rebounds as well as alter shots at the rim.  

The Blazers center seemed to have no ill affects from his sprained left ankle. It did look like he might still be trying to get in game shape. He was held to 26 minutes with Skal Labissiere playing big minutes at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter.

2. The Twin Towers will be a problem for teams this season

Nikola Jokic picked up three quick fouls in the first four minutes of action. Those fouls really threw Jokic off his game. He became a non-factor on Wednesday, besides his late three-pointers. You can’t leave Jokic open on the three-point line!

Whiteside was a pest down low while defending Jokic. The combination of Whiteside and Zach Collins putting pressure on Jokic and Paul Millsap was a key in the Blazers keeping this one close. Collins did a solid job defending the quick, agile, and three-point threat of Millsap.

Jamal Murray had a heck of a time getting to the basket going up against Collins and Whiteside.

The referees were not afraid to call offensive fouls all night. Both teams got docked with fouls on their side of the ball, whether it was a moving screen or a charge call.

3.  Mr. Get Those Steals

Heading into halftime, it was all about the Blazers’ defense. Kent Bazemore had three steals in three straight possessions. "The Godfather" Dwight Jaynes said he didn’t think he had ever seen that before.

The Blazers also forced the Nuggets into a shot clock violation.

Bazemore’s quick hands and quick feet were a big contribution in helping the Blazers with their perimeter defense, which the Blazers have admitted they need to tighten on up.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers hit the road for a four-game road trip starting off in Sacramento. The Blazers and Kings will tip-off at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App on Friday.

Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!