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Heat arrive in China for preseason games

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Heat arrive in China for preseason games

MIAMI (AP) LeBron James is visiting China for the ninth time, which makes him one of the resident Miami Heat experts about the world's most populous nation.

Specifically, the food choices there.

``If anyone comes back with any body fat from this trip, then I don't know what they were doing on their free time,'' said James, the NBA's MVP.

So maybe it's fortunate that the coming week won't exactly include a ton of free time for the Heat, who arrived in Beijing on Monday night for a weeklong trip. The reigning league champions play the Los Angeles Clippers twice during the NBA China Games, starting in Beijing on Thursday and then again Sunday in Shanghai.

``Should be fun,'' James said. ``It's a very long trip to be bonding together, but we're going to use it and not waste an opportunity.''

The itinerary is hectic, with VIP receptions, a trip to the Great Wall of China and other excursions planned. The Heat are trying to ensure that players and personnel have time to experience some elements of Chinese culture on their own.

``You only have these type of opportunities so often,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ``You want to take advantage of it. This is the preseason. We understand the big picture. It's a great program that the NBA runs when you have an opportunity to play overseas. Our last trip was tremendous when we went to Europe. Great team-building, and you get to see another part of the world and do it together.''

The Heat played games in France and England during the 2008 preseason against the Nets, who then called New Jersey home.

Miami left on Saturday for Atlanta, played the Hawks there in the preseason opener for both teams on Sunday afternoon, then boarded a charter for the flight to Beijing, one that lasted a little more than 14 hours. The Heat landed around 9:30 p.m. local time.

Heat guard Mario Chalmers remembered to turn his phone's international plans on before leaving the U.S. Apparently, he forgot to account for the time difference halfway around the world - tweeting that he slept for about 11 hours on the plane, meaning he was rested and refreshed around what would have figured to be bedtime in China.

``I ain't gettin no sleep tonight,'' Chalmers wrote.

If he was groggy Tuesday morning (still Monday night in the U.S.), when the Heat held their first practice in China, it didn't show. Photos posted to social media sites by the team showed Chalmers was just fine when he left the team hotel for the buses. Later Tuesday, the Heat were planning to take about six hours to visit the Great Wall.

``We're looking forward to the opportunity,'' Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. ``I think as an organization, as players individually, once we get over there it will be a great opportunity to continue to grow our game.''

Wade did not play in Atlanta on Sunday as he continues recovering from offseason knee surgery. He is hopeful of playing at least once in China, and went for a late-night workout after the plane landed Monday night. He remembers what those Nets-Heat games were like in Europe four years ago, and said the element of facing the same team twice in the span of a few days helps raise the competitive bar a bit, even in an exhibition.

``The second one was a little bit more of a grind-out game, where you really wanted to win,'' Wade said. ``The first game will be fun and will give the fans a show. The second one's going to be a little more intense. Guys will want to get at it and try to win. No doubt, you need some competitive situations. You need to be pushed, you need to feel fatigued, all those things.''

It would seem like he's ready for his preseason debut. Another photo released by the Heat on Tuesday morning showed Wade dunking in practice - a sign that his knee is just fine.

The NBA allows teams that are traveling internationally during the preseason to open camp a few days earlier than everyone else, which Spoelstra said was helpful.

Sure, it's a logistical challenge, but Spoelstra isn't worried.

``There's a lot of good things about trips like this with the NBA, and that's why we're looking forward to it,'' Spoelstra said. ``If we didn't have this training camp I'd be thinking that this is a tough thing, a lot of distractions and so forth. But we've had a full training camp. Now we get to go away, together, and spend an inordinate amount of time around each other in a place that's a little bit out of our comfort zone. That usually is good for team-building.''

Those meals might create a team memory or two as well.

Chinese culinary options can seem unique - even though some on the trip are quick to point out there are American fast-food restaurants all over Beijing. But for those with more adventurous palates, some unusual choices can be had.

``I'm sure we're going to eat some funky meals where we can all say, `Oh, that was nasty,''' said Heat forward Shane Battier, who has endorsed the Chinese shoe brand Peak since 2006. ``Those experiences are good. And for guys who have never been to China before, it'll be fun to see their reaction. And those things, I think, can build a team.''

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Follow Tim Reynolds on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds

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Need to Know: The best pass rushers the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best pass rushers the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 19, seven days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best pass rushers the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the pass rushers are up. They are roughly ranked by Pro Football Focus’ pass rush productivity metric, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this we looked at the best teamsreceivers,running backs, and quarterbacks

1. Calais Campbell, Jaguars—If he gets a sack against the Redskins in Week 15, many fans will once again rue draft day in 2008 when the Redskins took both WR Devin Thomas and TE Fred Davis in the second round while Campbell was still on the board. He has been a consistent pass rusher since coming into the league, averaging eight sacks a season. Campbell is coming off of a career-high 14.5. 

2. Demarcus Lawrence, Cowboys—He had nine career sacks going into last year and then he broke out in a big way with 14.5. He got three sacks against the Redskins last year and has five in six career games. He actually ranked ahead of Campbell in the PFF pass rush metric, but I put Campbell ahead of him because we’re not sure if Lawrence is a great pass rusher or if he just peaked in his contract year. 

3. Chandler Jones, Cardinals—He posted double-digit sacks in four of the last five years including a league-leading 17 last season. His 2017 performance earned him first-team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career. Jones does more than get sacks. He has 16 career forced fumbles; only five players have forced more since he came into the league in 2012.

4. J.J. Watt, Texans—Injuries have limited him to eight games over the past two seasons. Even if the missed time has him beneath his peak years of 2012-2015, when he was first-team All-Pro every year and defensive player of the year three times, he will be difficult to deal with. 

5. Brian Orakpo, Titans—His career with the Redskins was a mixed bag, with two Pro Bowls and two seasons with double-digit sacks. After Orakpo missed 23 games from 2012-2015, the Redskins didn’t make him a competitive contract offer and he left to sign with the Titans. He hasn’t missed a game in three seasons in Tennessee and has averaged eight sacks per season. 

Best of the rest: Yannick Ngakoue, Jaguars; Clay Matthews, Packers; Vic Beasley, Falcons; Jason Pierre-Paul, Buccaneers; Cam Jordan, Saints

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Redskins six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams was born on this date in 1988.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 7
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 21
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 44

The Redskins last played a game 200 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 52 days. 

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Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

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Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

Alexander Ovechkin's offseason continues to be one for the books. 

Just a week removed from celebrating with the Stanley Cup in Moscow, Ovechkin was named Best Male Athlete Wednesday night at the 2018 ESPYs. 

The 32-year-old is the first NHL player to win the award since it was first introduced in 1993. 

"The Great Eight" beat out Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. 

Ovechkin was not in Los Angeles to accept the award.

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