Knicks 109, Cavs 126: Rubio goes parabolic from 3, defense collapses

knicks, evan fournier, derrick rose

The New York Knicks hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday evening, looking to extract their second consecutive win after overcoming the Milwaukee Bucks away on Friday night.

However, their attempt to stifle Cleveland went unsuccessful, as veteran point guard Ricky Rubio went parabolic from three-point range, posting 37 points and hitting 8-of-9 three-point attempts. He also contributed 10 assists in the win over 31 minutes, showcasing the most efficient offensive performance in his career.

The Knicks struggled significantly guarding the perimeter as they tried to stop center Jarrett Allen from dominating the interior. Without Collin Sexton in the second half, Cleveland didn’t miss a beat, relying on Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, who contributed 16 and 26 points apiece.

Cleveland entered the game as the 20th ranked three-point shooting team but hit a staggering 54.3% from range, a season-high. The Knicks, on the other hand, posted 29% from deep, as RJ Barrett struggled, finishing with the six points and missing all six of his three-point attempts. Without Kemba Walker, the team lacked an offensive spark at point guard, despite Immanuel Quickley having a solid contest, scoring 12 points in 20 minutes.

Not a single player in the starting team featured a positive +/-, with Julius Randle leading the squad with 19 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds. While the Knicks shot far better from the free-throw line in this game, finishing at 91.7%, they simply don’t have good enough defense to match opposing teams shooting above 40% from three.

Oddly, the Knicks have been tantalized by poor three-point shooting teams in recent days, which has put them at a disadvantage, despite their success in the category. Clearly, defense remains a significant problem early in the season, which is something that head coach Tom Thibodeau will be looking to fix as the campaign progresses.

New York Giants have best record through nine games since 2016

azeez ojulari, giants

The New York Giants have shown progress throughout this season, and their most recent step forward is a third win. They took down the Raiders on Sunday, but perhaps more importantly, showed some resolve towards the end of the game and contrasted their early season performances where the team largely ‘played to lose.’

The victory is also distinct for another reason – it gives the Giants their best record through nine games since 2016.

This statistic is both good and bad, depending on how you look at it.

On one hand, the Giants are back in the win column and the defensive performance was a genuine step up from some of the showings earlier in the year. Even with the team’s record still being poor, it’s encouraging to see clutch moments such as the strip-sack that sealed the victory.

On the other hand, the fact that 3-6 is any kind of positive accomplishment shows how far the Giants have fallen since their last playoff appearance, and really, since their last Super Bowl. 3-6 isn’t a good spot to be, and looks to be out of the running in the NFC East, but the Giants have struggled to do better in recent years.

Many have counted out the Giants this season based on their start, but playing close against Kansas City and beating the Raiders shows that this team can at least play up to the competition and keep the games interesting down the stretch.

Will the Giants have a major turnaround and establish this team as the best out of the past few years? Maybe.

For now, though, this current team can rest knowing that they’ve put up more fight at this point in the season than any Giants team since the 2016 one that made the playoffs.

Perfect 10: Kyle Larson caps off comeback with NASCAR Cup Series title

Larson capped off his comeback season with not only his first win at Phoenix but the missing accolade of a NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Proving that auto racing is a team sport that goes beyond the man in the driver’s seat, Kyle Larson and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team ended a comeback season for the ages on Sunday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway.

A flawless pit stop under caution with 27 laps remaining (11.8 seconds for a four-tire service) the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship race put Larson in front for the final stretch of the season. He’d spend the final circuit holding off a furious rally from Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 19 Toyota to win his 10th race of the season and the Cup Series title.

Larson, a winner of countless prestigious races across multiple levels of motorsports, earns his first career championship trophy hoist after he missed most of the 2020 season following his firing from Chip Ganassi Racing for using a racial slur during a streamed iRacing event. After months of a continuing effort to make amends off the track, Larson would go on to win the trust of the esteemed HMS boss Rick Hendrick. who put Larson in the resurrected No. 5 branding that Terry Labonte previously drove to Cup title in 1996.

This championship is the 14th on the premier Cup level for Hendrick and second in a row after Chase Elliott won it last year. Larson is also the first driver in Cup Series history to win 10 races since fellow HMS champion, Jimmie Johnson, did so en route to his second of five consecutive trophies in 2007. The No. 5 group previously set the record for most laps led in a single season, ending the year with 2,581 laps at the front after leading a race-best 107 on Sunday. Yet another HMS legend, Jeff Gordon, previously held the record during his fourth and final championship trek in 2001.

Larson was one of four contenders for the 2021 title entering the season finale at Phoenix, which hosted the season finale for the second straight season. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas of Truex and Denny Hamlin finished second and third respectively while Elliott rounded out the top five. Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 Team Penske Ford was the best non-playoff finisher in fourth.

For full results, click HERE

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants upset Las Vegas Raiders, win 23-16

devontae booker, giants

The New York Giants gained their third win of the season today after a big upset victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders’ two-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of the Giants who improved their record to 3-6 after a 23-16 victory over Las Vegas.

Key stats and takeaways

  • Xavier McKinney – 7 TAK, 2 INTs, 1 TD
  • Quincy Roche – 4 TAK, 1 SACK, 1 FF
  • Devontae Booker – 21 CAR, 99 RUSH YDS, 3 REC, 23 REC YDS

The New York Giants defense led the team to a big victory on Sunday. Xavier McKinney had a huge breakout performance that saw him intercept Derek Carr twice and take one back for a 41-yard pick-six.

The Giants offense ran primarily with a run-first attack that led Devontae Booker to a stellar performance. Booker rushed for 99 yards on 21 carries and also tacked on 23 receiving yards with 3 receptions. Devontae Booker and the Giants’ backfield carried the Giants’ offense to victory.

Daniel Jones completed 15 of 20 passing attempts for only 110 yards and 1 touchdown. He lost a fumble but threw no interceptions. Jones kept the ball clean through the air and worked with what was given to him. New York’s passing attack left a lot to be desired, however, and will be an area for the team to improve on going forward.

The Giants are heading into a bye week after this victory at 3-6. After starting the season 0-3, New York has bounced back, going 3-3 in its last six games. Luckily, the team is finally getting healthy, seeing Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney both take the field this Sunday. With an upcoming bye week to rest up, the Giants will be looking to come out of the break healthy, energized, and motivated to turn their season around.

Mets extend qualifying offers to Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

The New York Mets have several high-profile players hitting the market this winter, and will have their hands full making the roster more competitive than it was in 2021. Last year, they underachieved and slumped to third place in the NL East, when they were expected to win it all.

The first steps in the Mets’ offseason were taken when they opted not to renew manager Luis Rojas’ contract. Now, the team is already making baseball decisions even if they don’t have a president of baseball operations or a general manager: they decided to extend qualifying offers to two crucial contributors: pitcher Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Michael Conforto.

If the players accept the offer, they will sign a one-year contract for the 2022 campaign and will earn $18.4 million, hitting the free agency market after next year’s World Series.

If they don’t accept the qualifying offer, the Mets will get high draft picks for each player and they will test the market this offseason.

The Mets would like to have both players next season

Both players have until November 17 to accept or decline the qualifying offer. Syndergaard, who lost the 2020 season and most of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and experiencing some setbacks, is widely expected to take the Mets’ QO.

Syndergaard was expected to return around June, and a couple of setbacks held him out until September, when he came back as a reliever and couldn’t throw nothing but fastballs and changeups.

Thor has implied he would take the offer. On October 3, he said that “it would be a tough pill to swallow not wearing the Mets jersey next year. I’m just going to take things day by day and try not to focus too much on it.”

Meanwhile, Conforto is also a strong candidate to take the qualifying offer because he didn’t have a good season with the Mets this year and will likely want to re-establish his value. He hit .232/.344/.384 with 14 homers and 20 doubles in 125 games.

New York Yankees: Shortstop biggest problem, maybe not

According to deceased New York Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner would have considered this fourth year of Aaron Boone’s management another failed season because they didn’t win a 28th World Championship. Boone’s worst year as a manager was winning only 92 games and falling in the wild card game. Nevertheless, the Yankees have shown their faith in Boone by issuing him another three years in the job.

General Manager Brian Cashman has made it public that after a failed experiment with Gleyber Torres at shortstop, his main priority this off-season is to get a quality tried and true shortstop for the club. However, every baseball fan must know that when Cashman and company sit down together to decide what to do about shortstop and second base, there will be a giant grey elephant sitting in the room. His name is MLB CBA.

That is short for Collective bargaining agreement; basically, the owners and players come together to decide who will make the most money over the next term. No one wants to lose that battle, but one side of the issues must lose, and for the last several years, it has been the players. To steal a phrase, I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Most industry sources are saying the mood is this year’s talks that have a December 4 deadline.

Before the 2020 season the two sides couldn’t decide how many games should be played, with Commissioner Manfred finally having to mandate a 60 game season.

For younger baseball fans the last work stoppage in baseball was 26 years ago, it ended the 1994 season in August and world season hopes and continued into the 1995 season. It was the eighth such stoppage in baseball history. This one was was actually a strike by the players that would not agree to salary caps. It was the longest baseball stoppage in baseball history, but the owners finally relented on their cap demand and baseball resumed.

You may say so what, but that’s when baseball fans from all over the world held it against both the players and the owners, and never returned to the game. If negotiations over money and who gets what can’t be resolved there will be either a lockout by the owners or a strike by the players, so everyone loses out including the fans. Unfortunately in the early stages of the talks, it appears it’s is going that way.

Chicago Bears: Larry Borom an x-factor in week nine

Larry Borom, bears

When the Chicago Bears drafted offensive tackle Larry Borom in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the former Mizzou product entered his rookie season with a chance to compete for the starting job at right tackle. A sprained ankle sustained in the Bears’ week one loss against the Los Angeles Rams would sideline the 151st overall pick, until week eight, Borom’s first career start.

“I thought Larry did a wonderful job,” Nagy said via the Bears official YouTube channel. What a great challenge to go against one of the best D-ends in the NFL and I thought he held his own.”

The D-end that Nagy is referring to happens to be 49ers pass rusher Nick Bosa. On track to start a second consecutive game, Borom will be matched up against Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt on Monday night in what should be an enticing matchup to monitor.

Borom’s ability to slow down Watt won’t go unnoticed. In an opposite viewpoint, a bad performance would be a forgettable night, with the Bears’ bye week giving Borom an extended time to evaluate and self-reflect, as Borom continues to develop.

“That’s one of the things that will be good for us to evaluate and see where he’s at, both mentally and physically,” Nagy said. “I thought Larry has done a great job when given the opportunity to play. So coach Juan and coach Donnie will see where he’s at conditioning-wise. But he’s been working hard, so we’re gonna really push him to see where he can go.”

Another strong performance from Borom could indicate the Bears have a long-term building block on the right side of the offensive line. Much of the Bears’ struggles over the last two seasons have been at right tackle, with veteran Bobby Massie being released during the 2021 offseason.

Opportunity awaits Borom, who is the assumed Bears starter of the future at right tackle. What happens over the second half of the season will set the tone for whether or not Borom can be labeled a breakout candidate heading into 2022.

3 keys for the Knicks to take down strong Cavaliers team

rj barrett, knicks

The Cleveland Cavaliers believe they have something special brewing, but the New York Knicks would say the same. Both teams have six wins on the season, with New York losing three and Cleveland losing four. The Knicks and Cavs are coming off significant victories against the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, respectively.

This will be an exciting contest centered around physicality and hustle. Cleveland has won their last three games, showcasing an intriguing duo of guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.

However, the Knicks are featuring one of the league’s hottest players in RJ Barrett, and All-Star power forward Julius Randle is coming off arguably his best game of the season, scoring 32 points on 50% shooting from the field.

We should expect an absolute battle in this one, but let’s take a look at some of the keys for the Knicks to emerge victorious.

Three keys for the Knicks to take down Cleveland:

1.) Physical play against Jarrett Allen

One of Cleveland’s most productive players this season so far is Jarrett Allen, who is averaging 14.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, and one block per game. Allen is a modernized center, showcasing quality scoring efficiency. He is not a deep threat like Myles Turner but is incredibly productive in the paint with his physicality.

This will be a tough matchup for Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel but expect the Knicks to utilize them in a balanced fashion to keep fatigue low and energy high against Allen. After the win against the Bucks, Noel indicated a “Twin Towers” approach with Mitch, providing consistent play and similar strengths.

2.) High-efficiency 3-PT shooting, RJ Barrett special

Cleveland is the 25th ranked three-point shooting team in the NBA, giving the Knicks a significant advantage in the category. New York currently sits at 4th in the league, hitting 37.6% of their shots from range. If they can put together an adequate percentage from deep, it will give them a big edge over a team that simply can’t match them.

The Knicks rank 10th in three-point attempts per game while Cleveland is at 26th, meaning it is primarily not a big portion of their strategy, rather settling for mid-range looks and driving to the rim.

With RJ Barret averaging 25 points over his last five games, they will need him to continue dominating and leading the offense. On the season, Barrett is shooting 47.4% from the field and 40% from three-point range, averaging 19.2 points. This is by far the most efficient campaign in his young career, and they will need him to stun Cleveland as the momentum shifts throughout the game.

3.) Darius Garland/Collin Sexton duo must be limited

Cleveland has developed a strong pair between Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Sexton is averaging 16.8 points and 1.9 assists, while Garland is contributing 15.4 points and 7.9 assists. Garland, who was drafted back in 2019, is having his best shooting season yet, presenting the Knicks with a formidable challenge.

They will need solid defense from their point guards, and with Immanuel Quickley showing great energy last game, I would expect to see him get a bit more action guarding one of the two guards from Cleveland. Limiting both of them is easier said than done, but if the Knicks can play aggressive and intense defense, especially against Garland, they should have a good chance at winning this game.

Yankees could target one great starting pitcher in free agency

robbie ray, yankees

The New York Yankees will need to allocate some of their funds toward the starting pitching rotation this upcoming off-season, along with finding a premier solution at shortstop until prospect Anthony Volpe is ready for the big leagues.

However, pitching has been a weakness for the Yankees the past few seasons, despite spending $324 million on Gerrit Cole over nine years. After signing Corey Kluber to a one-year, $11 million deal and trading for Jameson Taillon, the Bombers are once again in a position where they need to supplement losses. Taillon will hopefully remain healthy next year and provide a bit more consistency, but Kluber will hit the free-agent market without much resistance.

Currently, the Yankees have some strong points in the starting rotation but would like to add another high end, reliable player.

Starting pitchers on the roster:

1. ) Gerrit Cole

2.) Luis Severino

3.) Domingo German

4.) Luis Gil

5.) Nestor Cortes

6.) Jordan Montgomery

7.) Jameson Taillon

One free-agent target could be Toronto Blue Jays starter, Robbie Ray. Ray has had an interesting career, posting a 6.62 ERA in 2020 but having a dominant season with Toronto this past year, hosting a 2.84 ERA.

Ray signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Blue Jays for 2021 but will be seeking a new home unless extended this off-season. He recorded an 11.57 strikeouts per nine rate and a career-high 90.1% left on-base percentage. His primary pitches are a fastball, slider, curveball, and change up. His fastball averaged a career-high 94.8 mph this past season and slider 88.7, another high.

Whatever Toronto did to help him develop, it worked like a charm. If the Yankees targeted him and were able to maintain his talent, they could inject a perfect option behind Gerrit Cole to give them more consistency. In addition, he’s only 30 years old and throws lefty, adding more diversity to the rotation as well.

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New York Giants V Las Vegas Raiders: Score Prediction and Strategy

azeez ojulari, giants

The New York Giants are gearing up to face off against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon, presenting a formidable challenge at home in East Rutherford. Of course, Las Vegas will be without speedy receiver Henry Ruggs after he was charged with a DUI resulting in death earlier this week, but they still represent a significant opponent.

Raiders’ QB Derek Carr is having arguably his most successful season yet, posting 2,269 yards and 12 TDs over seven games. Despite having a porous offensive line, ranking 25th in the NFL in pass-blocking, Carr has excelled at finding his receivers in the passing game.

However, the Raiders feature the worst run-blocking line in the league, presenting a weakness for the Giants to capitalize on. After nearly overcoming the Kansa s City Chiefs away on Monday night, Big Blue will look to bounce back with the hopeful return o Kenny Golladay and the health of Kadarius Toney.

Toney, who’s been dealing with an ankle injury this season, picked up a laceration on his thumb against KC but practiced fully on Friday to give him a ‘probable’ designation ahead of the game. If the rookie receiver is able to go full speed, he should be a productive weapon for Daniel Jones and the offense, despite Las Vegas featuring the 4th best pass-coverage unit through eight weeks.

If the offense can milk the clock and win the turnover battle, they have a strong chance at emerging victorious, but it also depends on the defense. Over the past two weeks, the Giants have seen significant improvements on the defensive side, thanks to better continuity and pass coverage. During that span, CB James Bradberry has allowed just 39 yards after giving up 329 in the previous six weeks. Fellow corner Adoree Jackson has also been stellar, giving up just 30 yards in his last three games.

If the Giants’ secondary can hold up and curate a few turnovers, it will boil down to the offense’s production, which is the story of the season up to this point. Big Blue has scored 20 or fewer points in five of eight games this year and 14 or fewer in three of those games. The Raiders have a solid defense, but getting creative with Kadarius and finally getting Golladay back should provide a bit more firepower for Jones.

I expect to see a ton of short pass concepts without Andrew Thomas available, including screens to Toney and Devontae Booker. If Golladay is active, they need to test the boundary with his big frame, especially in man-coverage. The Raiders ranked dead-last in the league in blitz rate at 12.7%, which could benefit the Giants considerably.

Score prediction: Giants 17 – Raiders 24

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