Capitals

Allen ready for his return to Boston - with Heat

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Allen ready for his return to Boston - with Heat

MIAMI (AP) Ray Allen has played in Boston as an opponent 15 times before. He knows what it's like to play under the fabled Celtics banners, knows exactly how the crowd treats visiting players.

His 16th appearance there as a visitor will be substantially different.

Not only will his trip there Sunday be his first as a former Celtic, but it will come with him donning the colors of perhaps the team's biggest rival these days, the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat, the club that has ousted Boston from the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.

And make no mistake, Allen has been getting ready for everything that will accompany this trip for quite a while.

``I've thought about it,'' Allen said. ``I think more about who, family-wise, is going, who can go and sorting the whole protocol out. I don't know what to expect from their side. But it's an interesting concept because I've always gotten a warm welcome, even before I started playing there. I just want to win. Everything else will take care of itself.''

When he played there as an opponent in the past, Allen typically got warm receptions. He starred at Connecticut and has deep roots in New England, and those two things go a long way in generating respect from the Boston fan base.

Then he joined the Celtics in the summer of 2007. A year later, he helped them win a championship. He bled green.

Now, not so much.

So on a Sunday afternoon before a national television audience, the big story won't be the return of the Heat to the site of their season-saving Game 6 win in the Eastern Conference finals last year, or the first trip back to Boston for LeBron James since his epic 45-point virtuoso performance in that game, or even the memory of how Celtics fans cheered wildly for the last few minutes of that blowout loss as a ``thank you'' to their team.

``It's going to be all about Ray,'' Heat forward Chris Bosh said. ``Celtic fans, they're very fixated on the rivalry and `How could you do that?' They're very passionate.''

Allen's relationship with the Celtics broke down in some respects last season, and when the Heat made him an offer last summer, he eventually accepted - knowing it would raise the ire of those back in Boston.

When the Celtics visited the Heat on opening night this season, the proof of the frosty relationships was there. Former teammates, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce especially, seemed to want nothing to do with Allen. As Allen checked into the game, his first official appearance as a Miami player, he approached Celtics coach Doc Rivers and got a warm embrace.

It's anyone's guess what the scene will be when he checks in Sunday.

``I'll savor it, going back and seeing the people you spent so much time with,'' Allen said. ``But if you're going into a situation thinking about negative perceptions or behavior that's unbecoming of good sportsmanship, then you just want to get it over with, win the game and get out of there. I don't want it to distract these guys from everybody doing their job and being ready to play.''

The bigger concern for both sides will likely be the way each club is playing of late.

Miami has won four straight games, hanging on to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston has dropped six straight, and its hold on the No. 8 - and final - playoff spot in the East race is weakening.

Dwyane Wade doesn't think the teams' opposite trajectories will matter much. The way he sees it, when Boston plays Miami, everything gets amped up several notches.

``There's a lot of stories, but you can throw records out the window when we play Boston,'' Wade said. ``It's significant because we have Ray Allen and it's his first time back, but we're going on the road and we want to play well and it's a tough place to play.''

The Heat have been through these former-star-returns-to-old-home games before - most notably when James went back to Cleveland for the first time after he decided to sign with Miami.

After that scene, the Heat say they're prepared for anything Boston can offer.

``They're not going to cheer him, but it's not going to be like that,'' Wade said. ``Not even close.''

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NHL Power Rankings: Not every night is a big-time game for the Capitals

NHL Power Rankings: Not every night is a big-time game for the Capitals

There was a lot of excitement to start the season for the Caps. First, there was the home-opener and the banner raising against the Boston Bruins. Then there was a trip to Pittsburgh to take on the rival Penguins. After that, it was a Stanley Cup Final rematch against the Vegas Golden Knights.

And all of that was followed up with a trip to Newark.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

With all due respect to New Jersey, given the slate the Caps faced to start the season, it was no real surprise to see the team struggle to get up for Thursday’s game against the Devils, a game in which the Caps were blown out 6-0. Of all the games Washington faced to start the season, the trip to New Jersey was definitely the least exciting.

But not every game is going to be a big rivalry matchup or a playoff rematch. With every team gunning for the Caps, they better make sure they can get themselves ready for the grind of an 82-game season that won’t always feature a big-time matchup.

A trip to Newark may not be flashy or exciting, but it still counts as two points.

The Caps dropped the game in New Jersey and lost a tight contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Where do they stand now after two straight losses?

FIND OUT HERE IN THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS

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The five key plays in the Redskins’ win over the Panthers

The five key plays in the Redskins’ win over the Panthers

Every play in an NFL game is important but some matter to the outcome more than others. Here are the key plays in the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Panthers.

1. Q1, 10:41 — Tress Way punts 51 yards to CAR 21, D.J. Moore to CAR 22 for 1 yard (Shaun Dion Hamilton). FUMBLES (Hamilton), RECOVERED by WAS-Jeremy Sprinkle at CAR 21. Sprinkle to CAR 22 for -1 yard. 

The Redskins did not get off to a promising start on offense as they went three and out on their first possession and punted. Panthers rookie D.J. Moore fielded the punt and tried to find some running room. He found Hamilton, who stripped the ball away and Sprinkle pounced on it.

It only took one play for the Redskins to cash in as Alex Smith found Vernon Davis wide open—as in nobody else in the picture open—for a touchdown to put the home team up 7-0. 

2. Q1, 8:50 — Alex Smith pass short middle to Jordan Reed to WAS 45 for 7 yards 

The Redskins were looking to add to their lead on their possession following the Davis touchdown. On third and eight at their own 38, Smith threw for Reed in the middle of the field. The pass was high and inside, forcing Reed to jump, reach back and stab the ball with his right hand. It was a true one-handed catch because he never touched the ball with his left hand. 

The only thing Reed did wrong on that play was to signal for a first down. It was short, but Smith got the first with a sneak on the next play. Some Adrian Peterson runs and a 21-yard pass from Smith to Davis helped get the Redskins down to the two-yard line. On third down from there, Smith found Paul Richardson for a TD to make it 14-0.

3. Q2, 11:32 — Cam Newton pass short middle to Moore to WAS 37 for 17 yards (Josh Norman). FUMBLES (Norman), RECOVERED by WAS -Mason Foster at WAS 33. 

Norman got his first interception since 2016 earlier in the second quarter but the offense couldn’t do anything with the possession. The next time the Panthers had the ball, Newton went to Moore on a crossing Pattern. He had some running room and it looked like the Panthers would advance well into Redskins territory. But as defenders converged on Moore, Norman reached in and stripped the ball out. “He never saw me coming,” said Norman. Foster recovered, and the Redskins drove for a field goal to go up 17-0. 

4. Q4, 13:43 — Alex Smith sacked at CAR 46 for -6 yards (Julius Peppers). FUMBLES (Peppers), recovered by WAS-Trent Williams at CAR 46. Williams to CAR 38 for 8 yards.

The Panthers had rallied to make it a one-score game at 17-9. On third and seven from the Carolina 40, Smith was immediately swarmed by the pass rush. The ball popped out and it fell into the hands of Williams to the left of the scrum. Going on sheer instinct, Williams headed upfield. Starting from six yards behind the line of scrimmage Williams rumbled eight yards for a net gain of two. That’s not much but it was enough to have Jay Gruden send Dustin Hopkins into the game to attempt a 56-yard field goal. The boot just made it over the uprights and Hopkins’ career-long kick had the Redskins up by two scores at 20-9. 

5. Q4, 0:38 — Cam Newton pass incomplete short right to Jarius Wright.

After the Redskins kicked a field goal to go up by six, Newton led a final drive that kept everyone on edge. Starting with 3:15 to play, Newton was sharp, completing six of seven passes for 50 yards to move the Panthers from their own 16 to second and five at the Washington 16. The Washington defense finally stiffened, and Newton’s next three passes fell incomplete. The last one went harmlessly to the ground, not particularly close to Wright or any other receiver. The Redskins and their fans could finally exhale and celebrate. 

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