In today’s links, Claude Julien to focus on his health back in Montreal, Jesperi Kotkaniemi joins an esteemed list and who has been surprising in this year’s playoffs?
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Led by Adebayo, Heat’s young talent instrumental in securing Finals berth – Sportsnet.ca
Bam Adebayo scored a career-high 32 points while grabbing 14 rebounds and dropping five dimes as the Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics 125-113 Sunday evening to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.
The NBA Finals will begin Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Miami last made the NBA Finals with James still in the lineup as part of the celebrated team that made four straight Finals and won two, led by the current Lakers superstar, retired Heat legend Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen.
The Heat hadn’t advanced past the second round since James’ departure, but in just six seasons since he decided to head back home to Cleveland they’ve managed to re-tool and rebuild on the fly to once again compete for a championship.
Many of those pieces that have led Miami back to this point in their history took starring roles in its Game 6 victory over Boston. Here’s a few takeaways from the Heat’s big Eastern-Conference clinching victory.
Heat get it done when it matters most
Before diving into the Heat in the future, it’s worth looking back at what they did in the game that got them to the Finals first. And the most important moment from Game 6 followed a relatively consistent trend seen across all but one of Miami’s wins in the series.
Instead, what happened was a 35-17 Heat run to close the game and run right over the Celtics to punch their tickets into the Finals.
As part of that run all the key pieces of Miami’s rebuild were involved, with Adebayo scoring six points, rookie Herro dropping all 11 of his fourth-quarter points during it, Duncan Robinson drilling a couple of key three-pointers and Jimmy Butler closing things out with nine points.
Outside of the big free agent splash of Butler, all of these names weren’t the most highly-regarded around the league heading into this season, but they were all instrumental in Miami’s win.
And on the flip side of this, while the young talent of the Heat managed to rise to the occasion, the Celtics appeared to wilt under the spotlight all series long — conceding not just this six-point lead, but also a 14-point one early in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and a 15-point advantage in Game 2.
The Celtics have a lot of talent, but just couldn’t seem to rise to the occasion when it mattered most.
If there is a podcasting odd couple, this might be it. Donnovan Bennett and JD Bunkis don’t agree on much, but you’ll agree this is the best Toronto Raptors podcast going.
Bam vs. AD
Outside of his Game 5 blip, Adebayo was the best all-around player in the series, averaging a team-high 21.8 points, 11 rebounds and 5.2 assists on 60.8 per cent shooting from the floor while also coming up with highlight of the series — his game-saving block on Jayson Tatum’s dunk attempt in Game 1 — and playing just overall, consistently great defence both as a rim protector and out on the perimeter.
As such, because of his rare combination of size, length, strength, athleticism and skill, his forthcoming matchup with Lakers centre Anthony Davis – who is every bit his equal in just about every category except passing – is intoxicating.
Like an old-school matchup, but in the modern era with both Adebayo and Davis exuding “unicorn” big man qualities because of their high skill level at their sizes. Davis probably has a better handle and shooting touch – certainly from outside – and Adebayo is an absolutely brilliant passer who the Heat can, and do, play out of similar to what the Nuggets do with Nikola Jokic.
This matchup is sure to be entertaining, at the very least.
“That’s my rock.”
Bam Adebayo shows love to his mother after reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in his career
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 28, 2020
Interesting stats heading into the Finals
Here’s some interesting stats from the conclusion of the Eastern Conference Finals for you to mull over:
• Though hailed as the team’s best player – and he’s still probably their most important – Butler never led Miami in scoring all series long. This is a good indication of the impact he has that goes beyond just getting buckets – despite his nickname.
• Andre Iguodala, who came up big in Game 6 scoring 15 points on perfect shooting from the field (including drilling four triples), is headed to his sixth straight Finals now. The first five, of course, were with the Golden State Warriors.
This stat is just about as impressive as the remarkable accomplishment from James who is competing in his ninth Finals in 10 years.
• Lastly, some Canadian content here for you:
Kelly Olynyk and Kyle Alexander on the Heat will represent Canada in the Finals, marking the 10th straight year a Canadian has been in the Finals.
Only seven Canadians in history have won a championship. Can these two add their names to this list?
Foles leads incredible comeback, Falcons collapse again in Bears win – TSN
ATLANTA — No matter how bad things might have seemed a week ago, the Atlanta Falcons somehow managed to make it even worse.
Yep, another epic fourth-quarter collapse.
This one could spell the end for embattled coach Dan Quinn, who already carried the burden of the biggest squandered lead in Super Bowl history.
The Falcons surrendered a 16-point advantage in the final 6 1/2 minutes to the Chicago Bears, who got three touchdown passes from backup quarterback Nick Foles and pulled out a 30-26 win on Sunday.
It would have seemed downright improbable — if it hadn’t happened for the second week in a row.
Atlanta (0-3) became the first team in NFL history to lose back-to-back games in which it led by 15 or more points in the final period, according to STATS.
“These last two weeks have been nothing short of crushing,” said Quinn, the sixth-year coach who desperately needed a strong start to the season after two straight losing campaigns.
A week ago, Atlanta became a national laughingstock after failing to pounce on an onside kick, allowing the Dallas Cowboys to finish off their comeback from a 39-24 deficit to win 40-39 on a field goal as time expired.
“It doesn’t get no worse than this,” defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. said. “We probably found the two worst ways you can lose a football game.”
Under Quinn, the Falcons also wasted a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl after the 2016 season and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots.
Quinn faced questions about his job security after the latest debacle. He insisted that he’s only focused on turning things around.
“I need to be the same guy on our best days and on our worst days,” Quinn said. “Anything past that does not help the team. All I can focus on is us finishing better. That’s where my focus needs to be.”
This time, it was Foles who guided the improbable comeback after relieving erratic Mitchell Trubisky in the third quarter, pushing the Bears to 3-0 for the first time since 2013.
The former Super Bowl MVP won it with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Miller with 1:53 remaining.
“Pretty special,” said tight end Jimmy Graham, who had a pair of touchdown catches. “He was out there ad-libbing a bit for sure and checking and changing some plays. There’s one play he called, I’m like, ‘We got that?’ So it was pretty cool to see and pretty cool to be a part of.”
Foles had two apparent touchdown passes overturned by official reviews — and still managed to pull out the victory.
He tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Graham to make it 26-16 with 6:20 to go. The Falcons still appeared in good shape after the Bears failed on a 2-point attempt.
But Chicago got the ball back and moved quickly down the field. Foles connected with Allen Robinson on a short pass that turned into a 37-yard touchdown when Isaiah Oliver and Blidi Wreh-Wilson both missed tackles, allowing the receiver to scoot down the sideline.
After the Falcons went three-and-out on their third straight possession, Foles heaved one down the middle of the field with a rusher in his face. Miller hauled it in for the winning score.
The Falcons still had a shot, but Matt Ryan‘s pass was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson to seal it.
Foles finished 16 of 29 for 188 yards. Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, was 13 of 22 for 128 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked twice.
Brian Hill and Todd Gurley each ran for a touchdown and Ryan connected with Hayden Hurst on a short TD pass that helped stake the Falcons to their seemingly comfortable lead.
Of course, no lead is safe for the Falcons.
Especially with Foles recapturing some of the magic he had in guiding the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl title three seasons ago after replacing the injured Carson Wentz.
Foles spent one injury-plagued season in Jacksonville, then was acquired by the Bears to put some heat on the disappointing Trubisky.
Trubisky set up Chicago’s first touchdown with the second-longest run of his career, a 45-yarder after the Falcons abandoned the the entire middle of the field. He connected on Graham on a 2-yard scoring pass to pull the Bears within 16-10 at halftime.
But Foles got his chance after Trubisky threw an interception in the third quarter that led to a Falcons field goal, pushing the lead to 26-10.
“It kind of happened out of nowhere,” Trubisky said. “I just accepted the news. I had Nick’s back like he’s had mine. The situation sucked, but it was just the flow of the game and how it happened and coach made the decision that he felt was best for the team.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Foles pushed the Bears down the field on his first possession, connecting with Robinson on a play that was initially ruled a 21-yard touchdown pass even though Darqueze Dennard came away with the ball. After reviewing the replay, the officials ruled that Robinson never had control and awarded an interception to Dennard.
With just under 11 minutes remaining, Foles delivered another apparent touchdown on fourth down, connecting over the middle to Miller on a 17-yard throw. But a replay showed the receiver trapped the ball against the turf, turning the ball over to the Falcons on downs.
Turns out, Foles was just getting warmed up.
Bears: RB Tarik Cohen left the game in the second half with a knee injury. S Sherrick McManis was knocked out by an ailing hamstring.
Falcons: The Falcons played without six starters, including WR Julio Jones (hamstring). Also missing were LB Foye Oluokun (hamstring), OT Kaleb McGary (knee), DE Takk McKinley (groin), S Ricardo Allen (elbow) and CB A.J. Terrell (COVID-19 reserve list). The Falcons then lost WR Russell Gage (concussion) in the first half, and DT Grady Jarrett (hip) hobbled off in the second half.
Bears: Return home to face the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday.
Falcons: Head to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in a Monday night game to finish off Week 4.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry
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Jays lose to Orioles, setting up first-round date with Rays – Toronto Sun
Article content continued
In gambling parlance, the Jays believe they are live long shots based on a no-fear attitude and a potentially deep and explosive offence. As well, Montoyo is well-versed with the Rays, where he served as a third-base and bench coach under manager Kevin Cash.
“I think we’re a pretty scary team,” said Cavan Biggio, the Jays leadoff hitter. “We’ve seen what we can do with the bats. It’s hard to put us out of games, especially with the way we can score runs.
“We’re going in as the eight seed and I think not many teams are going to want to face us, just with the edge we play and the offence. It’s going to be exciting.”
With the season done and the matchup set, general manager Ross Atkins and Montoyo will piece together the 28-man post-season roster that has to be submitted by 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
After Sunday’s game, Montoyo said he intends to announce his rotation following a scheduled workout day in St. Pete on Monday.
On the pitching side, matchups will likely enter the equation of greatest intrigue.
Montoyo has been deliberately evasive on his plans but it is expected that Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tajuan Walker will handle the starting duties in the first two games. That order could be flip-flopped, however, given that Ryu has often preferred five-days rest and was feeling sore the day after throwing a season-high 100 pitches in Thursday’s post-season clinching win over the Yankees.
The Jays don’t seem overly worried about the range of possibilities, however. And that includes a possible Game 3 (if necessary) combination of Robbie Ray and Matt Shoemaker.
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