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31 Thoughts: The fallout from bombshell New Jersey, Vegas firings – Sportsnet.ca

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• What led to Shero’s rushed exit?
• Seattle among possible Gallant landing spots
• Can Leafs swing a Georgiev deal?

Two absolute bombshells across the NHL landscape this week. We’ll start with Jersey and get to Vegas.

There was an exchange from last season that was forgotten about until Monday afternoon. I had received a tip that Ray Shero was getting a contract extension in New Jersey. He denied it. The source said it was coming. Shero denied it some more.

In April, it happened.

There wasn’t much time to focus on it with the playoffs approaching, but I went through that “annoyed reporter” phase for a few hours. You get over it — that’s life in the big city — but you wish you’d been able to close the deal.

Another exec heard about it. He reached out. “That (situation) is complicated,” he told me, but wouldn’t elaborate. The puck dropped to start the post-season, and everything else became secondary.

The next time we saw Ray Shero, he was the lottery-winning GM. He drafted Jack Hughes, acquired P.K. Subban, received a “checkmark” text message from Taylor Hall, signed Wayne Simmonds, and traded for Nikita Gusev.

The Devils and their fans were excited. Who could blame them?

Eight months after receiving that four-year extension, Shero was out — removed in rushed fashion. It was a stunning Sunday. As one GM texted, with gallows humour, “If we beat Washington and Tampa, am I going to get fired, too?”

We’re left to wonder, what exactly happened?

The first thing is obvious: the Devils tripped out of the starting gate with several brutal defeats that undercut their season. They blew a 4–0 lead to Winnipeg on opening night. Five games later, they couldn’t hold a 4–1 advantage against Florida and fell to 0-4-2. John Hynes was fired on Dec. 3. Thirteen days later, Hall was traded. Interim boss Alain Nasreddine stabilized things, with the club on a current 6-3-2 stretch.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

That’s the easy stuff to figure. I’ve got no interest in kicking anyone while they are down, and Shero is yet to speak, but, from what I can piece together, the relationship between him and the rest of the organization withered as the stress of this season intensified. One particular bone of contention was decision making over the last year or two in goal — including insurance policies for 2019-20. MacKenzie Blackwood looks legit, but he was thrown into something he wasn’t ready for.

New Jersey’s made the playoffs once since the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, and everyone there is sick of the losing. From what I understand, there were different opinions on where to go from here, how to approach this particular fix. But, according to multiple sources, the philosophy itself was secondary.

All GMs have their “people,” a group of confidants who really know what’s going on. Some circles are tighter than others, a few notoriously so. Shero’s is very tight. That was his way in Pittsburgh, that was his way in New Jersey.

It became a problem. Co-owners Joshua Harris and David Blitzer are very involved, and were in conversation with Shero more than the average owner(s) would be with their GM. There’s an organizational CEO, a President and a team President. There were Shero’s right-hand men, Tom Fitzgerald and Dan MacKinnon. Martin Brodeur became more involved in the last few months. And there is the Devils’ analytics department, which has real juice.

When the analytics job was posted last year, it created the impression that the analytics department would have an open line to ownership and not necessarily report to the GM. The Devils liked two of the finalists, and decided to hire both (Tyler Dellow and Matt Cane).

I’m not saying that anyone submarined anyone else, but I don’t believe Shero was ever comfortable with all of this. The Subban trade was one where he felt pulled in a lot of directions, but ultimately made the decision. When the person above mentioned the extension talks being “complicated,” I think this is a big part of it. He closed his circle even further as Hall discussions got into the public domain. If there’s one word I heard a lot of around New Jersey over the past 48 hours, it is “collaborative.” There is desire for more people to be involved in the process.

I don’t believe Brodeur has any desire to be a full-time GM at this time. Maybe he stays as an advisor, maybe he goes into the “Shanahan spot” at the top of a hockey department. But he won’t be the day-to-day guy. External candidates (or those who figure to be) are wondering where the power lies and how much authority will be given.

It’s why I think Fitzgerald has a legit shot at keeping the job. He knows everyone here and has an understanding of how they want it to work. Of course, it has to be something he’s comfortable with, too. But he’s ready for a GM job, in New Jersey or elsewhere.

31 THOUGHTS

1. The immediate priorities aren’t difficult to decipher. There are the UFAs — captain Andy Greene, Wayne Simmonds and Sami Vatanen. Word is there’s been at least one legit offer for Vatanen, with more certain to come. Greene said Tuesday he hasn’t discussed his future with the organization, and has a no-trade clause. But, he added he wants to play next year (he’ll be 38 in October). Clearly, he still loves it. Simmonds admitted he doesn’t have control over the situation, but prefers not to go anywhere.

“You don’t sign with a team to stay for three-quarters of a season,” the winger explained. “You sign hoping to be there.”

2. The bigger question is what the Devils will do with veterans who have term. They could do very well in trades for Blake Coleman and/or Kyle Palmieri. (I always assume Lou Lamoriello wants Travis Zajac.)

“Aren’t those the guys you want to keep?” one Devil said. “If you’re trying to create an identity, aren’t players who’ve succeeded here the ones to keep around?”

This ownership oversaw the scorched-earth “Process” from the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, so they’ve got patience. But we know they’re sick of losing on the hockey side, and no team has more “comp” tickets than the Devils. You have to give your fans something to watch and you have to surround your young cornerstones with pros. Interesting decision.

3. Christine Simpson is working Montreal-Vegas this weekend, and was doing research on the Golden Knights’ website Wednesday morning. When she refreshed a page and saw Peter DeBoer’s name come up, she thought the site had been hacked. I can only imagine the email that went out from Hockey Operations on Wednesday morning. “Dear Rick/Travis — which one of you hasn’t made vacation plans?” Not even two years ago, Gerard Gallant directed one of the most incredible seasons in NHL history, taking expansion Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final. They lost their 2019 first-round series in one of the craziest ways imaginable, and he was set to be the Pacific Division All-Star coach next week. From what I understood about Gallant’s contract, it became guaranteed for a fourth season when they reached the final. Next year is year four, and the craziest thing about all of this is that the Golden Knights were talking about an extension with him. Instead, he’s out.

4. Like DeBoer and Hynes, who were each unemployed fewer than 40 days, Gallant will have his suitors. Seattle, for one. Jim Nill pursued him hard in Dallas, although Rick Bowness has Dallas going strong — the Stars finished a season sweep of Colorado on Tuesday night. Gallant’s got a long history with Steve Yzerman, too, but there’s no predicting what he’ll do. (There are mixed reviews on his French.) Bottom line is, people respect his work. That’s two Bizarro World firings for him.

5. That’s the seventh coach firing of the season. The record is 11. What an insane year.

6. Expect Vegas to continue its search for a mobile defenceman.

7. Gerry Johanssen, who represents both Brendan Gallagher and Carey Price, stopped in Montreal this week to see his clients. He would not discuss Gallagher’s injury status, but did say “there’s nothing going on” when it comes to Price’s future. Since his NHL arrival, few players have had as many crazy rumours surrounding them as Price, so I can understand the desire to snuff out trade theories.

Senior Writer Ryan Dixon and NHL Editor Rory Boylen always give it 110%, but never rely on clichés when it comes to podcasting. Instead, they use a mix of facts, fun and a varied group of hockey voices to cover Canada’s most beloved game.

8. The Canadiens’ cornerstone stood strong in back-to-back wins over Ottawa and Calgary, giving his team its first two victories since the Christmas break. Heading into that game against the Senators, Price was 45th among eligible goalies in save percentage from the slot and the inner-slot. (That’s from Sportlogiq. The “slot” is a home plate from the front of the net to the top of the faceoff circles. The “inner-slot” is directly in front of the net.) Last year, Price was ninth-best against the former and 13th against the latter. They need him back to that level. One other telling statistic: Detroit, New Jersey and Ottawa have a combined goal differential of minus-154. Versus the Canadiens, they are plus-9. Montreal is 2-4-2 against those teams.

9. Thought the Canadiens’ reaction to Ilya Kovalchuk’s overtime winner last Saturday showed some much-needed spirit. GM Marc Bergevin indicated he will make firm decisions on the roster next week, as the players go on their extended all-star break. He’s got 11 picks this draft, including three in the first two rounds, seven in the top four. His contract heavy-lifting comes prior to next summer with UFAs Gallagher, Joel Armia, Phillip Danault, Jeff Petry and Tomas Tatar. Some important pieces, there. If they decide to tap out on this season, can Bergevin afford to make his team worse (on paper) for next year? The Canadiens are struggling with their inability to lure top free-agent talent to Quebec. They have to keep what they draft, develop or acquire. The biggest decision might be Petry, because he has value now and will sign his next contract at age 33. Look what Toronto gave up for Jake Muzzin. You have to think the Canadiens do as well, if not better, because Petry’s a righty.

10. I was looking for Nicklas Backstrom comparables: players in recent memory who signed anything similar to his five-year, $46-million extension (11.29 per cent of the cap) at age 32. Here’s what’s close: Daniel and Henrik Sedin at four years, $28 million (10.89 per cent), age 33; Jason Spezza at four years, $30 million (10.87 per cent), age 32; Blake Wheeler at five years, $41.25 million (10.38 per cent), age 32; and Ryan Kesler at six years, $41.25 million (9.63 per cent), age 31. (info courtesy CapFriendly.)

“If you look at Joe Thornton, that’s how we projected Nick,” Washington GM Brian MacLellan said. “Remarkably consistent, few blips. Not a speed player, a thinking player. Nick makes plays, he’s a number one power-play guy. Speed was never his defining factor. We think it can continue.”

He paused.

“Nick is a top-two centre. If you lose them, you can’t replace them.”

11. In his media conference, Backstrom said not to assume this contract will be it for him. Have he and Alexander Ovechkin asked the Capitals about tying their terms together? (The captain is up after next season.)

“Not with me,” MacLellan said with a bit of a laugh. “I assume those two have discussed it. They’ve been tied together since day one. That would be fitting.”

12. Some GMs don’t like negotiating directly with players, but MacLellan said that was never an issue.

“Nick and I have a good relationship. It’s direct — we say what’s on our minds. From the beginning, we both set the tone, that our main goal was for Nick to finish his career as a Capital. You’re not trying to win the deal, you’re trying to do the right thing. He deserves to be rewarded and we want to ice a competitive team. It was always about a fair number.”

13. Finally, MacLellan re-iterated that Braden Holtby’s extension remains a post-season discussion. As for the trade deadline, Washington is thinking “depth pieces, depending on our health.”

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14. Pencil in a return to Edmonton for the 2021-22 Heritage Classic. We froze at Commonwealth Stadium in November 2003, but it was an awesome event with a massive 50/50 prize. That was the template for everything outdoor to follow, and it is time the Oilers get another opportunity. They are the favourites for fall 2021.

15. The San Jose Sharks last missed the playoffs in 2014-15, and that was their only miss since 2002-03. One year later, they went to the Stanley Cup Final. That is the mindset for the upcoming off-season. Surprises happen, but GM Doug Wilson has let it be known he is not interested in disrupting his core. There will be interest in Brenden Dillon and Melker Karlsson (their number-two forward on the league’s best penalty kill after Barclay Goodrow). Will be interesting to see what the Sharks do with Aaron Dell, who has pushed his way ahead of Martin Jones.

16. Wilson will have cap space. If you believe the surest predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, he will have an aggressive summer. Five years ago, he made a coaching change (we’ll see how that unfolds); signed free agents Joonas Donskoi, Paul Martin and Joel Ward; and traded for Jones. At the last minute, he decided against another deal that would have sent Tomas Hertl and the pick that became Timo Meier to St. Louis for T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk. Now, Hertl and Meier are big parts of what San Jose plans to do.

17. Anaheim GM Bob Murray is willing to use his cap space to ease other clubs’ salary issues. He can also go into long-term injury with Patrick Eaves and Ryan Kesler incapacitated. The cost is young assets. With so many contenders tight to the ceiling, it’s a smart play.

18. Carolina, despite standing third in shots allowed per game (29.1) and seventh in goals-against per game (2.72), is looking to change up its defensive mix. There were recent shutouts of Arizona and Los Angeles, but concern about the way they defended in several other games. It sounds like they’re looking for someone who thinks D-zone first. They’re not trading Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce or Jaccob Slavin, all of whom are playing at least 21:45. They won’t make a move unless they get what they want, but will discuss their other blueliners.

19. Toronto fans tweeted up a storm of Jeremy Bracco trades to get Alexandar Georgiev from the Rangers, but it will take more than that. Georgiev beat the Islanders 6-2 on Monday, and while New York is looking for a talented forward who is ready to play, they realize how good Georgiev can be.

20. The part of me who loved 1980s hockey didn’t support Zack Kassian’s suspension. He went after a physical player on the ice. The part of me who understands the reality of 2020 gets it. With everything we know about concussions, if there are going to be fights, they have to involve two willing participants. Last season, during another wild Battle of Alberta, Kassian went after Matthew Tkachuk, but wasn’t as uncontrolled and other players jumped in:

Milan Lucic got two games for punching Columbus’s Kole Sherwood, who wanted no part of it. The number of former NHLers who weighed in on Twitter was really interesting, from Teemu Selanne to PJ Stock to Scottie Upshall to Ryan Whitney. Passionate subject.

21. Tkachuk was not called by the Department of Player Safety. Kassian’s suspension ends in time for him to face the Flames in two weeks, and he’s made it very clear he’s looking forward to it. Since the Steve Moore incident, the NHL has warned teams prior to hot-button games, and occasionally sent senior executives to them. I’m going to guess this rematch is on that radar.

22. The Houston Astros’ punishment for sign-stealing (and Boston’s decision to fire ex-Astro Alex Cora) had me wondering about comparable cheating scandals in hockey. Brian Burke told me there were some buildings where you worried about the home team’s equipment staff measuring your sticks (members of the 1993 Los Angeles Kings have said they suspected the Canadiens did it and therefore knew about Marty McSorley). Some teams (Detroit) were known for fresh paint jobs in visiting dressing rooms before big games. The old Boston Garden was notorious for turning up the heat in visiting rooms for both hockey and basketball. But the most notable investigations have been for tampering or salary cap circumvention.

23. The biggest one in recent memory was St. Louis’s punishment for tampering with Scott Stevens, where the NHL did not get firm evidence until five years after the fact. St. Louis found a copy of an offer sheet and a received counter-signed copy dated before the Devils were eliminated in the 1994 playoffs. They forwarded this information to the NHL office. In January 1999, St. Louis was fined $1.4 million and forced to give up a first-rounder to New Jersey. The league also conducted a detailed investigation into the Brooks Orpik trade to Colorado, buyout and re-signing in Washington. That’s where they come after you. Leave a paper trail and you are in trouble.

24. I asked Luca Sbisa to give me a quote about the underrated and unappreciated Adam Pelech. Every third word was (bleep). It was so hilarious, I wish I could post it all. Here’s the gist: “Stick is always in the right place. He’s always in the right (bleeping) place. You watch him once, and you say, ‘What’s the (bleeping) deal?’ Nothing stands out. But you watch him 82 (bleeping) times and you realize how (bleeping) good he is.” Sbisa is an international treasure.

25. There are several unsigned goalies for next season, but all of the injuries have several clubs remembering you better have at least three you can depend on — four is a luxury. As a result, teams are looking overseas in addition to the North American market. I have heard three KHL names. In December, Sportsnet’s Luke Fox reported Toronto’s interest in Timur Bilyalov from Ak Bars. He’ll be 25 in March and isn’t massive like many of today’s goalies, but you can’t argue the numbers — first in goals against and second in save percentage. Two others to watch: St. Petersburg’s Alexei Melnichuk (22 in June, fifth in goals against, 18th in save percentage) and Sibir’s Alexei Krasikov (24, 12th in goals against and seventh in save percentage).

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26. Don’t know what Dallas expected of Stephen Johns, but what a huge add he could be. Sidelined almost two years with post-concussion headaches, Johns had a goal and three assists for AHL Texas against Toronto last Saturday. His performance did not go unnoticed. The number one thing is his health; he could make a difference.

27. What did John Tavares ask of William Nylander when they were moved to the same line?

“Go to the middle,” the captain answered. “He’s very dangerous when he gets the puck there.”

28. Rasmus Sandin agreed to a contract with no performance bonuses, knowing it would be easier to reach the NHL quicker for cap-tight Toronto. You know who else structured their contract similarly? Nick Robertson.

29. Devils forward John Hayden, who has played 135 NHL games, proudly admitted that he is far from the best athlete in his family. He said that honour goes to younger sister, Catherine, who scored 29 goals the last two seasons for the University of North Carolina’s field hockey team. The Heels went 46-0 and won back-to-back National Championships.

“Their dressing room is nicer than some NHL ones,” he smiled.

But I laughed when I saw that her Twitter feed has a banner photo of the Rangers.

30. I wanted to save one thought for a shoutout to World Junior hero Akil Thomas, traded from OHL Niagara to Peterborough. He called the family of Steve Montador to ask for permission to wear number 44, and it was graciously granted.

Courtesy of Steve’s brother, Chris, check out the bottom left of Thomas’s jersey. Beautiful.

31. December 1989, back home from first year at Western for the break. Roll the Bones tour at Maple Leaf Gardens, Tragically Hip opening for Rush. My first in-person Neil Peart drum solo, him sliding between an acoustic and an electronic set in the middle of it. Those are moments you never forget.

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Scanning the Wire: Finding help after injuries took their toll in Week 2 – TSN

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Congratulations if you managed to survive Week 2 of the fantasy football season without losing one of your star players to injury.

The second Sunday of the NFL season was especially brutal, as injuries tore through the league at an unprecedented rate, shelving several of the game’s biggest stars.

Six of the top-30 players in TSN fantasy football leagues by ADP were forced to the sideline, five of which are expected to miss significant time.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, the consensus No. 1 fantasy pick, is out four-to-six weeks with a high-ankle sprain (the same injury that reigning receiving king Michael Thomas suffered).

Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who was a consensus top-three overall option, tore his ACL and is done for the season.

With so many stars now on the sidelines, nailing the waiver wire this week is extremely important to your fantasy success.

So without further delay, here are the top pick-up options that could still be available in your league heading into Week 3.

RB: Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers

The absence of CMC creates an abundance of opportunity in the Panthers backfield. McCaffrey was averaging 24 touches a game and that work has to go somewhere.

Enter Mike Davis, one of only two healthy RBs on the team. Davis was a big part of the Carolina offence once McCaffrey left the game, and faces little competition for work.

As of right now, the only one standing between him and 15-20 touches a week is special teamer Trenton Cannon, making Davis a must-add in all formats. He’s currently available in over 99 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

RB: Darrell Henderson Jr, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams backfield suddenly doesn’t seem so crowded. Week 1 star Malcolm Brown and talented rookie Cam Akers left Sunday’s game versus Philadelphia and both are question marks moving forward.

That’s great news for Darrell Henderson Jr., who ripped off 81 yards and a score on the ground, and added another 40 yards through the air. The Rams lead the NFL in rushing rate (56.83%) and Henderson is available in 55.4 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

RB: Devonta Freeman, Free Agent

This is a bit of a leap of faith. Freeman, not Dion Lewis or Wayne Gallman, is the guy you want to replace Barkley. He already worked out for the Eagles and reportedly worked out for the Giants on Tuesday.

Multiple reports out of the Big Apple suggest the Giants are interested in bringing in a free- agent running back, and Freeman is the best name available.

Even if he doesn’t land in New York, with so many injuries to his position he’s bound to sign somewhere. When he does, he’ll have real fantasy value, which makes him a great add this week. He’s currently available in 92. 1 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

WR: Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

A.J. Brown is dealing with a knee injury, which makes Corey Davis an enticing add for wide receiver-needy teams. The former first round draft pick has yet to live up to his potential so far in his career, but is off to a nice start so far in 2020.

Davis has produced double-digit points in back-to-back outings and is tied for the team lead in targets (13). He’s currently available in 64.4 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

WR: Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

Mecole Hardman, everyone’s favourite 2020 sleeper, is in line for an increased workload due to the head injury to Sammy Watkins. The 4.33 speedster should now see work in three receiver sets.

Although he won’t be Patrick Mahomes’ first look, he has the talent to single-handedly swing your fantasy matchup in the blink of an eye.

Hardman converted six of his 26 catches into touchdowns last season. He is currently available in 57.8 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

TE: Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans

Fresh off a two-touchdown performance in Sunday’s win over the Jaguars, Jonnu Smith is the biggest priority-add at the tight end position. He’s tied for the team lead in targets (13) and leads all Titans with three touchdowns.

A freak athlete, Smith ranks 10th in the NFL in yards after catch (85) this season. He is still available in 59.7 per cent of TSN fantasy football leagues.

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Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic Show Lakers That the Nuggets Aren't Going Away – Sports Illustrated

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Some NBA players are so smart, and process the game so fluidly, that they can play faster than superior athletes, and they make their teammates play faster, too. If you are really fortunate, you find a guy like that. The Denver Nuggets have two.

Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic probably won’t win the NBA championship next month. But they keep showing why they can, with a style of basketball that has to appeal to anybody who loves the game and not just the highlights. If they were a movie, you would want to watch it again and again, finding subtle charms and new bits of brilliance each time.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets’ 114–106 Game 3 win over the Lakers reminded us of what the rest of the playoffs have already shown: Murray and Jokic are not going away, in this series or in the next decade. The longer they play, the more they distinguish themselves. The Nuggets came back from 3–1 deficits in the first two rounds, and they are trying to come back from 2–0 down in this one, and people keep praising their resilience. That is part of it, to be sure. But also, with every game in a series, Murray and Jokic have more information to sort through.

“Hand in hand—there’s two parts to that,” Murray said. “You definitely learn more about your opponent, what to look for, tendencies and all that.”

On the two possessions that finished off the Lakers, Murray made winning plays. First, with Denver up 103–99, Murray started to back down the Lakers’ Alex Caruso, but as soon as Caruso bit on a fake, Murray dribbled away, realized he had time to set his feet behind the three-point line, and drained a three over Caruso. The craftiness that led to the three was every bit as impressive as the actual shot.

On Denver’s next possession, Murray drove, realized his shot would get block, dished to Paul Millsap, backpedaled so he was open, caught a pass, drove again, found Millsap again, and scored. He made a lot of choices, and executed them, in a very short span.

Denver coach Michael Malone said Tuesday night that “we have two superstars in Nikola and Jamal,” and it is amazing to think that a month ago, that would have seemed like hype. Now it is a statement of fact. If Murray was just a good player who had a hot series against Utah, somebody would have exposed him by now. Instead, he keeps exploiting every advantage.

Malone says that he sees teams game-planning more and more for Murray. It isn’t working. Blitz him and he passes the ball before he is trapped. Stick a bigger player on him, as the Lakers did at times, and he will beat his man off the dribble. Pester him with somebody smaller, and he uses his size. Murray is a master at creating just as much space as he needs.

nikola-jokic-nuggets

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Jokic jokes that he is slow, and the jokes are funny because he is slow. But he doesn’t play slow. He is one of the best passing centers in history, capable of firing an overhand dart to a cutting teammate or making a no-look bounce pass in traffic. Still, the physical limitations are real, and this is especially evident against the Lakers.

In his first five games against Lakers this year, including Game 1 of this series, Jokic averaged 17.2 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists—a dropoff from his regular-season averages of 19.9, 9.7 and 7. It is easy to see why. L.A. has the freakiest center in the league, Anthony Davis, a player who is longer and much more athletic than Jokic. The Lakers can also throw a bunch of different large pests at Jokic—they have been starting each game with Javale McGee, then move on to Davis, Dwight Howard and others. For the first game and a half of this series, Jokic looked overwhelmed. But players this smart do not stay overwhelmed for long.

“We were one step slower than them,” Jokic said. “They were surprising us—by the pace, by the rebounding.”

Jokic has recovered in an assortment of ways. He counters the Lakers’ size by facing the basket. When he gets too much attention, he fires to a teammate. Howard has played this series like a pro-wresting heel. He appears to want to get inside Jokic’s head, but Jokic is far too smart to let it happen. He said he did not enter the game thinking about scoring.

“To be honest, they’re doing their job,” Jokic said of the Lakers. “I don’t think about it as a matchup. I’m just trying to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Murray and Jokic have an extremely advanced understanding of the way the game is supposed to be played. They are also both level-headed enough to be honest about when they don’t reach their standard, no matter what the stats say. After his 28-point, 12-assist night, Murray said, “I didn’t think I had a good game in total, to be honest with you. I didn’t get everybody organized. I had too many live-ball turnovers that led to points.”

The Nuggets still trail this series 2–1. The Lakers still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But Murray and Jokic have 48 more minutes of information in their brains that they can take to Game 4.

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Inside Allegiant Stadium: Cost, capacity & more to know about Las Vegas Raiders' new home – Sporting News

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By moving to Las Vegas, the Raiders traded a torn up field with baseball infield dirt on it for a brand new venue and fan market of their own.

The Oakland Coliseum had been perhaps NFL’s worst stadium; Allegiant Stadium, where the Raiders now play, figures to be one of the best.

The Raiders debut their new home on Monday night against the Saints in front of a national TV audience, officially welcoming pro football to Las Vegas after decades of the NFL toying with the idea of expanding to Sin City. That’s two major sports teams for Las Vegas in quick succession — it also recently got the NHL’s Golden Knights — and two new venues.

MORE: Go Inside SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles

While the Raiders aren’t expected to make the playoffs in their first year in Las Vegas, they do appear to be respectable. Quarterback Derek Carr, playing for his starting job after a couple of mediocre years, is surrounded by a rising cast of skill players who could help him shine. In Week 1, the team put up 34 points in a win over the Panthers.

For much of the past 20 years, national audiences have known the Raiders only for mishaps on and off the field. Monday night, then, is an opportunity for the franchise to score a rare win in the public eye.

Below is an in-depth guide to Allegiant Stadium and the Raiders’ move from Oakland to Las Vegas:

How much did Allegiant Stadium cost to build?

Allegiant Stadium required nearly $2 billion to put together, significantly less than the $5 billion it took to finish recently opened SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

Unlike SoFi Stadium, which was privately financed, the Raiders received financial help from the city of Las Vegas to get their new home done. About 40 percent of the cost of the Allegiant Stadium project ($750 million) reportedly came from public funds.

How long did construction take?

Construction of Allegiant Stadium began in November 2017 and finished this summer, meaning it took a little less than three years to build.

Allegiant Stadium capacity

Allegiant Stadium has a base capacity of 65,000 people but can expand to hold more than 70,000 for select events.

Where is Allegiant Stadium?

Allegiant Stadium is located in Paradise, Nev., which is an unincorporated town within the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

Special features of Raiders’ new stadium

Despite being an inside field, the playing surface is made out of real grass. It has a track deep underneath it, and during breaks between games it can be wheeled outside to receive direct sunlight.

Unlike many other modern football structures, Allegiant Stadium does not have a video board hanging down from its roof. Instead, there are large monitors spread around the perimeter of the stands. The choice to forgo a central screen came from a desire to maintain a full translucent roof.

Al Davis Memorial Torch

Another defining feature of Allegiant Stadium — perhaps the defining feature — is an 85-foot eternal “flame” honoring late Raiders owner Al Davis. It was created via 3D printer and is made of carbon fiber and aluminum.

What does Allegiant Stadium look like?

Allegiant Stadium has a shiny black exterior in recognition of one of the Raiders’ primary colors. Like many new stadiums, it is meant to feel airy and open despite being indoors, and side windows and see-through roof assist in creating that effect.

Below are pictures and videos of Allegiant Stadium:

Do the Raiders own Allegiant Stadium?

The Las Vegas Stadium Authority, run by a nine-member Board of Directors, owns Allegiant Stadium.

How much did naming rights for the Raiders’ stadium cost?

Exact contract terms between Allegiant and the Raiders were never officially announced, but Allegiant is reportedly playing more than $20 million per year for the deal.

Does Allegiant Stadium have a retractable roof?

The stadium’s roof is not retractable, though its semi-translucence allows natural light to illuminate the field during day games. There are also four Lanai doors along the sides of the stadium that allow views of a surrounding area that includes the Vegas Strip.

Does UNLV play at Allegiant Stadium?

Yes, UNLV football will play at Allegiant Stadium, giving the Runnin’ Rebels a college venue far nicer than any of their Mountain West rivals. Allegiant Stadium will also host the Pac-12 football championship game as well as the annual Las Vegas Bowl. It will not host baseball games, though, in a boon for a Raiders franchise used to sharing a field with the Oakland A’s.

When did the Raiders move to Las Vegas?

The Raiders moved from Oakland to Las Vegas in 2020. This is their first season outside of California.

Why aren’t the Raiders in Oakland?

The Raiders wanted a new stadium and either the Los Angeles market or a major market of their own. When Oakland refused to chip in the help the Raiders desired for a new stadium, and the NFL denied an LA move, Las Vegas became the franchise’s preferred destination.

The team prides itself on being a brand beyond a specific location, and it hopes the transient nature of Las Vegas can goose its bottom line rather than working against it.

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