Capitals

Pistons beat Celtics 103-83 for first home victory

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Pistons beat Celtics 103-83 for first home victory

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Greg Monroe had 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Detroit Pistons to their first home win of the season, 103-83 over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.

The Pistons (2-9) had blown double-digit leads in each of their first three home games, but were never seriously threatened by Boston down the stretch. The Celtics, playing their fourth game in five nights, hit only four 3-pointers and trailed by as many as 22 points.

Jason Maxiell added 15 points for the Pistons, who had six players in double figures and shot 54.5 percent for the night.

Jared Sullinger led the Celtics with 16 points, while Kevin Garnett had 15.

The only consolation for the Celtics was that, due to a concentrated effort in the fourth quarter, Rajon Rondo finished with 10 assists. That extended his double-digit streak to 34 games, the third longest in league history, but required Boston running a bizarre small-ball offense for the last several minutes designed strictly to get him assists.

Sullinger finally made the effort pay off, hitting a jumper with 51 seconds left to give Rondo his tenth assist, although Boston still trailed 101-81. Leandro Barbosa immediately went to the scorer's table to take Rondo out of the game.

Magic Johnson holds the NBA record with a 46-game streak in 1983-84, while John Stockton had a 37-game streak in 1989.

The Celtics dominated early, but the effects of the schedule had a clear impact in the second period. Boston missed 12 of its first 16 shots in the quarter, and only a series of Detroit turnovers kept the Pistons' lead down to 48-43 at the half.

Things didn't get any better in the third quarter for Boston, as the Pistons kept up the defensive pressure. Detroit outscored them 23-14 in the period, as Boston shot just 31.3 percent and turned the ball over seven times.

NOTES: Garnett was matched up with Pistons rookie Andre Drummond for long periods in each half. When Garnett was drafted in 1995, Drummond was still a month short of his second birthday. ... Rondo wasn't the only Celtic struggling to get assists. The rest of Boston's team combined for just two ... Rondo's last single-digit assist game was March 9 against Portland.

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

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Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?

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