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O'Connor Pleased With Dressage Event

O'Connor Pleased With Dressage Event

Team USA's oldest member is pleased with her first action in London.

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NBA Week at a Glance: Wizards have soft schedule coming out of the All-Star break

NBA Week at a Glance: Wizards have soft schedule coming out of the All-Star break

The NBA returns to action with six games on Thursday after a week off for the All-Star break. 

This year’s rest period was one of the most cumulatively entertaining in recent memory -- dunk contest for the books, entertaining 3-pt contest, competitive All-Star game -- but let’s admit it, we’re all ready to watch real games again.

The Wizards don’t resume their season until Friday, but a soft schedule this week will give them a chance to pick up where they left off before the break. On the national stage, there are other big games to have on your radar. Here’s what we’re looking forward to this week.

Wizards (20-33)

Standings: 9th in Eastern Conference (3.0 GB Orlando Magic)

Schedule

  • Friday vs. Cavaliers (14-40), 7 ET on NBC Sports Washington

  • Sunday at Bulls (19-36), 7 ET on NBC Sports Washington

The Wizards entered the All-Star break as one of the Eastern Conference’s hottest teams, winning six of their last 10 games and five of the last seven. Currently riding a two-game win streak, the Wizards return to the hardwood against a Cleveland Cavaliers team in its first game since parting with head coach John Beilein.

There may be questions about whether the break was bad for the Wizards' momentum, but that shouldn’t hold as a legitimate excuse if they lose this game. Cleveland has the worst record in the East and second-worst in the entire NBA. And even though the Cavs defeated the Wizards by 13 on Nov. 8, the Wizards kicked off their current 10-game run with a win over the Cavs. These teams are trending in separate directions, and the Wizards should be able to continue their push into the playoff picture. Bradley Beal, who is in the midst of a career-high streak of 12 straight games of at least 25 points, scored 36 in the Jan. 23 win over Cleveland.

The Wizards finish the week on Sunday against a Bulls team they also beat during their current hot streak. It was Washington's second-to-last game before the break, in fact. Washington was 0-2 this season against Chicago before a 12-point victory on Feb. 11. This won’t be an easy game for the Wizards, though, as their previous two losses to the Bulls indicate. Chicago is 10th in the standings -- two games behind the Wizards -- and will be desperate to make up ground. Zach LaVine has averaged over 30 points against the Wizards this season, including a season-high 41 in the loss. The Wizards will need to contain him to have a shot at evening the season series.

NBA

Thursday: Nets at 76ers, 8 p.m. on TNT

The Brooklyn Nets are also one of the league’s hottest teams, going 7-3 in their last 10, including 4-1 since losing Kyrie Irving to a knee injury in a loss to the Wizards. Irving’s knee is feeling better but now a shoulder injury that kept him out earlier in the season is bothering him again, and he’ll be missing more time. We’ll get a chance to see if the Nets can continue winning without Irving on Thursday when they take on the 76ers in Philadelphia. This game also gives us a chance to see if the inconsistent 76ers can build on the three-game winning streak they took into the All-Star break.

Friday: Pelicans at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. on ESPN

Rookie Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans travel to Portland to face Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers. Though he cooled off slightly just before the break, Lillard has been one of the hottest players in basketball since the new year. Like the Wizards, the Trail Blazers are in 9th place in their conference, and not only are they trying to make up ground on the eighth-place Grizzlies, they’re also trying to hold off a slew of teams behind them including the Pelicans (1.5 GB). Williamson is also in the middle of an awesome stretch, averaging 22 points in his first 10 career games before going into the All-Star break. He notched over 30 in each of his last two contests.

Saturday: 76ers at Bucks, 8:30 p.m. on ABC

The Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the NBA at 46-8 and not many teams have been able to figure them out, but the 76ers are one of the eight teams that have. Milwaukee hasn’t lost consecutive games all season or to the same team more than once, however, so expect it to come out with some fire after losing to the Pacers just before the break. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to return after missing the last two games following the birth of his first child. As previously mentioned, the 76ers are seemingly on the right track again but their last loss before the current winning streak was to the Bucks, when Greek Freak put up 36 points and 20 rebounds. When Philly beat Milwaukee in December, Antetokounmpo was limited to just 18 points and everyone in Philadelphia's starting five scored in double figures, led by Joel Embiid’s 31.

Sunday: Celtics at Lakers, 3:30 p.m. on ABC

The Boston Celtics have just two losses in their last 13 games, starting an impressive run of W's by drubbing the Lakers by 32 on Jan. 20. That win happened to be Kemba Walker’s first in his career against LeBron James in 29 tries. It also apparently provided the spark Boston needed to reach its full potential. James and Anthony Davis were held to a combined 24 points while three Celtics scored at least 20 points. You have to think the Lakers had this rivalry game circled on their calendar since that loss, as this could be their final chance to avenge their worst loss of the season -- unless, of course, these teams meet in the NBA Finals.

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Questions facing Ron Rivera: What to do with Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers?

Questions facing Ron Rivera: What to do with Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers?

Whether left tackle Trent Williams will return to the Redskins in 2020 remains a major storyline surrounding the team, but new head coach Ron Rivera has two significant decisions to make about a pair of other players along the offensive line.

Both Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers, Washington's two starting guards from a year ago, are free agents. 

Scherff, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, has been one of the Burgundy and Gold's best draft picks over the past decade. While the fifth selection was considered by many to be too high to select a guard, all Scherff has done is turn in three Pro Bowl seasons and establish himself as one of the best in the league at his position.

Flowers' career path has not gone as smoothly. He was selected four picks after Scherff in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, as Big Blue expected him to be their franchise left tackle of the future. 

It did not work out.

Flowers was considered a major bust in New York and released midway through his fourth season with the team. He signed with Washington on a one-year deal in 2019 with the expectation of any production being an added bonus. But after a position switch from tackle to guard, Flowers became one of the most consistent offensive linemen for the Redskins and a surprise success story.

Now, Rivera has a big decision to make regarding the future of both Scherff and Flowers, whether to keep one, the other, or both.

The case for keeping Scherff 

When any team has one of the best players in the league at a certain position, they never want to see them walk away for nothing in free agency. Scherff is exactly that. 

In his five years with the Redskins, Scherff has finished three of them with Pro Bowl honors. He allowed just one sack a season ago. He excels in the run game, finishing the 2019 season with the fifth-highest run-blocking grade by Pro Football Focus among qualified guards.

There's also something to be said about keeping your homegrown talent. Scherff was drafted by the Redskins, and now Washington has the chance to ink the right guard for the rest of his prime. Sure, he may be expensive, but he's certainly deserving of the deal he'll get. 

Scherff's last two campaigns have ended prematurely due to injury, but he was very durable for the first three years of his career. His injury in 2018, a torn pec, was more of a fluke than anything. No. 75 missed the final three games of the 2019 season with elbow and shoulder injuries, ones he may have played through had the Redskins been in playoff contention.

Then-rookie Wes Martin filled in for Scherff to end the 2019 season. A fourth-round pick in 2019, Martin would likely be the starter if Scherff left. 

Guard isn't a flashy position, but it's certainly one necessary for having a productive offense. Losing an elite talent like Scherff would be very costly for Washington.

The case for keeping Flowers

With Scherff expected to command top of the market money, Flowers will certainly be a cheaper option for the Burgundy and Gold. 

Flowers has also proven to be durable throughout his NFL career, while Scherff has had two consecutive seasons that ended with a trip to the Injured Reserve list. Flowers only missed two games through the first three years of his NFL career and played all 16 games for the Redskins a year ago. 

There's also plenty of room for growth with Flowers. Remember, 2019 was just the first season Flowers played guard instead of tackle. That is a big difference. Having a whole offseason to focus solely on playing guard without having to worry about playing tackle could do wonders for him.

Also, while he's been in the NFL for five seasons, he's only 25 years old. By contrast, Scherff is 28, and the two were taken in the same draft class.

Flowers could still have a decade-plus of good football in him, and the Redskins would regret seeing him blossom elsewhere.

The case for keeping both

Guard isn't a flashy position, but a dropoff in talent is certainly noticeable when there is one. By keeping both, Rivera would solidify the position for years to come.

Both Scherff, 28, and Flowers, 25, have plenty of football left. Scherff's an established guard, one of the best in the game, and a three-time Pro Bowler. Flowers impressed in 2019, his first year as a guard, and has plenty of room for growth at the position. 

So, how would this work contractually?

The Redskins have multiple avenues they can take with Scherff if they want to keep him.

The first, of course, is signing him to a long-term deal. Scherff reportedly turned down a hefty extension during the 2019 season, one that would have made him the second-highest paid guard in the league. He's due for a big payday and deservingly so, but the Redskins can also push that off another year by placing the franchise tag on him.

By franchising Scherff, they will still pay the guard top of the market money, but for only one season. With a short-term investment in Scherff, they can allocate money to other needs they have on the team, and then revisit a long-term deal in a year from now, when the roster is expected to look a lot different. While Scherff would prefer the protection of a long-term deal, he stated in October he wants to be a Redskin for the rest of his career. 

Flowers likely won't command a lot of money. His deal shouldn't be too hard to work out, assuming the interest is mutual between the two. NBC Sports Washington's Julie Donaldson reported that she expects both guards to be back with Washington in 2020.

Former Redskins head coach Jay Gruden once devalued the position, practically saying a guard is not worthy of a first-round pick. Now, what personnel moves Gruden's successor does at the position will have a major impact on the Redskins offense of the near future.

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