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Pick 6 of enticing NFL homecoming ideas

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Pick 6 of enticing NFL homecoming ideas

DeAngelo Williams was not pleased when he learned that the Carolina Panthers were deemed the Washington Redskins' ``homecoming'' opponent.

He riled up his teammates by talking about it in a pregame speech, stashed a copy of the game program in his locker, then took to Twitter to rub it in after the Panthers' 21-13 victory. His conversation with reporters on the topic was one of the best locker room moments ever at the Redskins' stadium.

``You don't say you're going to have a `homecoming' in the National Football League,'' Williams said. ``You do it in college. It's one of those teams that's just terrible. You don't book, like, a good team for homecoming.''

So does he think the Panthers spoiled the homecoming dance?

``I don't know if they had a dance or anything,'' he said. ``I just know you don't give a team extra motivation by putting that on your program. Even just blatantly coming out and saying: `You're our homecoming game.'''

But if the Panthers, 1-6 entering the game, weren't the ideal homecoming opponent, then who is? The NFL has more than enough prime candidates to serve up for King and Queen festivities between now and the end of the season.

- Buffalo at New England (Nov. 11) - May be chilly, but knowing a W is on the way should be warming all you Patriots. And by the way, if you have an ID showing your name is Bill, you'll get a ticket to the concert after the game, where all the music will be played in a dull monotone by musicians who squirm and smirk. The worst part: Imagining your date really does look good in that hooded sweat shirt.

- Jacksonville at Houston (Nov. 18) - Every day leading up the game has a dress-up theme. The Jaguars, for example, can put on their uniforms and pretend they're actually relevant.

- Washington at Dallas (Nov. 22) - Turnabout is fair play, Redskins. Having ``homecominged'' the Panthers, the same gets done to you on Thanksgiving Day. Clint Longley gets the prime seat on the featured float. And just imagine all the confetti they could tie to the bottom of that whopper of a scoreboard.

- New Orleans at Atlanta (Nov. 29) - The Falcons certainly deserve a homecoming game if they remain the league's only unbeaten team, so why not make it a Mardi Gras theme? Of course, the Saints make for a bit of an unpredictable opponent, one more than capable of ruining the day, so maybe Atlanta shouldn't go overboard and fly those Super Bowl championship banners too prominently during the fun. Oh, wait a minute ...

- Cleveland at Oakland (Dec. 2) - Homecoming in the Black Hole. Need we say more?

- Kansas City at Denver (Dec. 30) - Peyton Manning can supply the pizza for the final Homecoming party of 2012. (We understand he has some connections.) One catch: If Kansas City's players stay for the dance, it'll have to be girl ask boy because the Chiefs don't know how to take the lead.

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Wizards vs. Celtics: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Celtics: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

The Wizards(11-16) hosts Bthe Celtics (16-10) on Wednesday night inside Capital One Arena for the first of three matchups of the 2018-19 season.

The Wizards dropped a Monday night contest in Indiana, despite an All-Star performance from Bradley Beal who poured in 30 points without John Wall in the lineup. 

The Celtics, without Kyrie Irving, defeated the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night thanks to a 31-point performance from Marcus Morris. 

One of the more recent and compelling NBA rivalries is back. 

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, and more:

WIZARDS vs. CELTICS HOW TO WATCH:

What: Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
Time/Date: Wednesday, 12/12/18 at 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Washington (7:00 p.m.)
Live stream: You can watch the Wizards vs. Celtics live stream on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and the MyTeams by NBC Sports App. . Download MyTeams now for full postgame coverage and 24/7 Wizards news.
Radio: 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. CELTICS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 
6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live
7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Celtics
9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live 
10:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 

WIZARDS vs. CELTICS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard (out, lumbar microdisectomy procedure)

Celtics: Aron Baynes (questionable, left ankle sprain), Gordon Hayward (doubtful, illness), Al Horford (questionable, left knee soreness), Guerschon Yabusele (out, right ankle sprain) 

WIZARDS vs. CELTICS SERIES HISTORY: 

Number of all-time Meetings: 302 games (22 playoff games)

Regular Season Record: Celtics lead series 188-114

Playoff Record: Celtics lead series 13-9

Last Meeting: Wizards beat Celtics 113-101 on 4/10/2018

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Dave Martinez reiterates door remains open for Bryce Harper

Dave Martinez reiterates door remains open for Bryce Harper

LAS VEGAS -- This is not Davey Martinez’s kind of place. He’s more of a Tampa guy, maybe some Nashville. Not Las Vegas. He’s not in the desert to gamble or make the casino scene. Work brings him here, not some desire to burn life earnings during the offseason.

“Social gambler,” Martinez said. “How’s that?”

He’s able to make the rounds, at least. Martinez is 54. He entered the major leagues in 1986. Only four years since then have been spent outside of the major leagues. Which makes this event more of a chance to see old friends in the game. 

Work is limited. Mike Rizzo finished the majority of the roster before the Nationals’ contingent arrived in Las Vegas. Maybe they upgrade at second base. Maybe they add another veteran starter to the spring training mix. Maybe another bullpen option with the same line of thought. But, for the most part, Martinez knows what he will be working with in 2019. 

“Mike and I talked at the end of the season with ownership,” Martinez told NBC Sports Washington. “We sat down. Had a couple meetings. And Pat Corbin, all the guys we got were on our list and he got it done. It was a nice early Christmas present for me to get these guys and get this ball rolling.”

Martinez has harped on certain points since the close of the season. The Nationals need to be better fielders, baserunners and situational hitters. It sounds mundane, something that should be built-in at this level, but anyone who watched last season saw mediocre baseball being played. A throw to the wrong base. An extra base not taken. A double-play unturned.

“Last year we played a lot of one-run games,” Martinez said. “When I looked back and watched some of the replays of the games this past winter, it’s about not allowing teams 28, 29, 30 outs.” 

The Nationals will have days in spring training without hitting. Emphasis on fielding and baserunning drills will increase. They want to play faster and smarter. 

They also believe a healthy start is in place. Martinez said Adam Eaton’s leg continues to gain strength. Ryan Zimmerman’s body is in a good place. Stephen Strasburg is feverishly working out at Nationals Park. 

“As you know, last year when he got hurt and went down, our starting pitching took a beating a little bit,” Martinez said. “Hopefully, he comes back and he’s strong and he can get back and compete. If we can get Stras up to 25 starts, we’re going to be really good.”

Listening to Martinez hints at lessons learned from last season. In particular, his use of the bullpen. Sammy Solis made 30 appearances by the end of May. That matched his total from 2017. 

“I go back to the earlier part of last year,” Martinez said. “He was really good. He kept our bullpen stable. And I used him a lot. And I think at one point -- and I’ve heard this before -- I might have used him too much. What I see now, I’m going by what I saw earlier in the season in hopes that he comes back that guy. And then kind of use him in that role. Because he was really good. He was getting lefties and righties out. … I think Sammy has a lot of upside.”

The back of the bullpen remains structured the same as last season. At least in roles. Kyle Barraclough and Trevor Rosenthal are a swap for Brandon Kintzler and Ryan Madson. Sean Doolittle maintains his spot as the closer. If he needs a day off, Rosenthal will step in.

That all leaves one enormous question.

“As you know Bryce and I have a special relationship,” Martinez said. “As a player, as a person, as a kid, I think he’s awesome. I love him to death, I do. Right now, we have to continue to move forward and try to get better. Not by any means, and I heard Rizzo say this and I feel the same way, that the door’s closed on Bryce. He’s got big decisions to make. Ultimately, he’s going to make the decision. And It’s tough. I know how he feels about his teammates, I know how he feels about Washington, but it’s a tough decision he needs to make for him and his family.” 

Life is easier with answers. Martinez has most of them for 2019. He, like everyone else, is waiting on one more.

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