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2022 NBA Finals: Will Draymond Green be why the Warriors will win another title, or why they’ll wilt?

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BOSTON — Draymond Green is many fascinating things on and off the court, all of which combine into a potent mix capable of supercharging a championship team or making it so combustible that it can wreck those ambitions from the inside.

Green is a future Hall of Famer. An all-time great defensive player. A funny, candid, thoughtful voice on hoops, and its intersection with things much more important. A provocateur. A broadcaster and podcaster who’s effectively live streaming his own career and his team’s pursuit of basketball immortality. A bold — sometimes rash — competitor. A clutch closer who can also careen into self-destruction. A guy who loves calling out others, yet will bristle at even minor criticism.

Green has been one of the key touchstones to the Warriors greatest achievements, and to their most bitter disappointments.

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That may be more true today than at any other point in his career, especially with his Golden State Warriors tied heading into Wednesday’s Game 3 of their NBA Finals series with the Boston Celtics.

Effective Draymond is a world-class winner, a player whose individual basketball impact and overall influence on his team are key to the Warriors greatness. Golden State has never lost a seven-game playoff series in which Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have started each game.

The need for Green to be great, and available, feels even starker now, with Thompson looking diminished and Green’s own output in Games 1 and 2 directly connected to his team’s respective loss and win so for far against Boston.

Take Game 2: Green’s defense on Jaylen Brown helped turn off the Boston star’s hot start, which was key in short circuiting a Celtics team that had been looking to put the series away early. Green’s mind games can also prove critical, and they also toe that fine line between just right and too much. 

But that’s Green in a nutshell. He’s a star so critical to his team’s greatness that he must perfectly calibrate his unique competitive fire and how it expresses itself to be hero rather than heel. His approach is one that straddles all the lines — between dirty and dogged, between awesome and downright annoying, between limiting an opposing star or limiting his own presence because he went too far. Between winning and losing.

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The most glaring example of Way-Too-Far Draymond was on full display during the  2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors were favored that June to cement their epic 73-9 regular season and the mantle of the league’s greatest team of all-time with a championship over LeBron James and his 57-25 Cleveland Cavaliers.

But Green crossed that line in that series, striking LeBron where (and when) he should not have. Late in Game 4, with Golden State less than three minutes from taking a  3-1 series lead, Green’s actions led to him being suspended from a potential closeout game on the Warriors home floor. Instead, the incident provided enough of a momentum for the Cavs to rally all the way back, helping LeBron’s legacy by providing the oxygen to simultaneously fuel the greatest comeback — and collapse — in NBA Finals history.

Green toed that line again Sunday, earning himself an early technical foul and then, as if he was daring the officials to give him another, flirted with ejection time after time. A play with Brown in particular, in which they both fell to the ground after Green fouled his three-point attempt, and then kept his feet on the Celtics star, pulled some collective gasps from the Chase Center crowd.

The tension was palpable as the play — and, yet again, the very idea of Effective Draymond vs. Way-Too-Far-Draymond — went under review.

Warriors fans had seen this show before, and it’s one they would rather not relive: Their team is on a title track, with Draymond at its heart, and then that same star goes too far and costs the club dearly.

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He wasn’t ejected, and his nine points, five rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block — plus his exquisite defense — helped the Warriors win.

But had he gone a little further on that play or several that followed or had the right official been around on the wrong day, disaster could have struck Golden State. Again.

That is one example of many. There’s the Flagrant-2 that Green unleashed on Memphis’ Brandon Clarke earlier in this postseason. That didn’t lead to a suspension, but probably should have. Green’s toes were over the line that night, yet he came out ahead.

Green’s moves off the floor

As his stardom and thoughtfulness have rightfully given him an unprecedented platform in real time, Green’s tough talk and willingness to say whatever the hell he wants has invited a new level of scrutiny and expectation — for him, sure, but also his teammates. 

It’s one thing for Green to get to say to the media that Flagrant-2 was nothing. It’s another to chastise Charles Barkley, in the NBA’s most influential space, for not understanding the inherent blamelessness of one Draymond Green. That Memphis responded with a dangerous play that took Gary Payton II out of a chunk of the postseason is surely related.

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Green’s podcast and appearances on the NBA On TNT are great for those outlets, for us fans, for Draymond Green. The jury is still out on whether they benefit the Golden State Warriors.

Ask LeBron James about summoning massive expectations and angst and inviting the ire of the rest of the league. Those things were critical in the Heat failing to win an NBA title the first year of Miami’s Big Three era.

Green is one of my absolute favorite players in the game, and his rebel-may-die approach on and off the court is captivating. Authenticity is rare, and rarer still when combined with actual greatness. But sometimes the rebel not caring has real consequences — say like in 2016, or perhaps at some point in this series.

Go too far on the court, as he almost did in Game 2, and missing gametime could be enough to turn things the Celtics way. Go too far off it, and the Celtics may find that extra motivation and anger in deciding it’s time to shut up the overconfident superstar, just as many wanted to with LeBron & Co. back in 2010.

Pressure is real, and too so are the forces that Green has the potential to unleash.

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They say not to let your mouth write checks your body can’t cash. In Draymond’s case, whether it’s the line he flirts with while playing or the lines he drops when he’s not, he should be cautious not to write checks that his team won’t be able to cash.



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Serena Williams announces retirement plans: Tennis superstar ‘ready for what’s next’

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One of the most prominent American athletes is ready to retire. Tennis legend Serena Williams has announced her retirement plans in the latest issue of Vogue. She did not put an exact timeline on when she will stop playing, but does plan to play in the upcoming US Open.

“It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine,” the tennis star told Vogue. “I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”

In an Instagram post promoting the Vogue piece on Tuesday morning, Williams wrote “I’m gonna relish these next few weeks,” insinuating that the US Open — which begins on Aug. 29 — will be her last tournament.

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Williams, 40, changed the sport of tennis when she broke onto the scene in 1995. Since then, she has won the Australian Open seven times, Wimbledon seven times, the US Open six times and the French Open three times. Altogether, she has 23 Grand Slam singles titles to her name, the most by any player in the Open Era.

The only person with more Grand Slam titles is Margaret Court (24).

“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,” Williams told Vouge. “And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York [the US Open]. But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.”

During her career, Williams was at the top of the Women’s Tennis Association rankings for a joint-record 186 consecutive weeks, and finished as the year-end No. 1 five times. 

CBS Sports will have more on this breaking news story.

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Patrick Mahomes peels back curtain on AFC Title loss | FIRST THINGS FIRST

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Patrick Mahomes revealed that he learned a valuable lesson from blowing an 18-point lead against the Cincinnati Bengals, and losing out on the AFC Championship: Never take your foot off the gas. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback said that the lead had the team playing it safe, thus allowing Joe Burrow to stage a comeback, and taking their spot in the Super Bowl. Mahomes asserts he won’t make that mistake again, and Greg Jennings shares his thoughts on the QBs comments.



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Fantasy Football Rankings 2022: Sleepers from advanced model that nailed Damian Harris’ big season

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Dalton Schultz of the Dallas Cowboys made major strides last season, when he jumped to the No. 3 tight end in the Fantasy football rankings. With Dallas losing two of its top four wideouts this offseason, Schultz could potentially vault to the very top at his position as a major component in a high-octane offense. Thus, despite his gaudy 78-808-8 stat line from a year ago, Schultz could still be in the conversation as one of the 2022 Fantasy football sleepers.

Others like Kyle Pitts and Zach Ertz also have chances to be even more productive considering the skill position personnel losses of their respective teams. The tight end position isn’t very deep outside the likes of Travis Kelce and George Kittle, but there is value in the middle of the Fantasy football rankings 2022. Who should you keep an eye on before going on the clock? Before crafting your 2022 Fantasy football draft strategy, be sure to check out the 2022 Fantasy football cheat sheets from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

Last year, the model accurately predicted that Patriots running back Damian Harris would dramatically outperform his fifth-round Fantasy football ADP. The result: Harris became the early-down workhorse for New England and rushed for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns to finish as the No. 8 running back in all of Fantasy football. He finished ahead of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Josh Jacobs and Chris Carson, who were all coming off the board at least 20 picks earlier on average.

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The same model has a proven track record providing Fantasy football tips, also identifying A.J. Brown as another sleeper in 2020 and players like Julio Jones and JuJu Smith-Schuster as Fantasy football busts last season. Additionally, it’s called past Fantasy football sleepers like Derrick Henry in 2019, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara in 2018, and Davante Adams in 2017. Anybody who banked on players like those made a run at their league title.

The model is powered by the same people who generated projections for all three major Fantasy sites, and it beat human experts last season when there was a big difference in ranking. The projections update multiple times daily, so you’re always getting the best Fantasy football advice.

Now, SportsLine has simulated the entire NFL season 10,000 times and released its latest Fantasy football rankings 2022, along with plenty of sleepers, breakouts and busts. Head to SportsLine now to see them

Top 2022 Fantasy football sleepers

One of the 2022 Fantasy football sleepers the model is predicting: Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki. The former Penn State star has increased his catches and receiving yards every year and posted a 73-780-2 stat line last year. He’s finished as a top 11 Fantasy tight end each of the past three seasons and is playing on the franchise tag in 2022, so he has all the motivation needed for a career year.

Miami appointed Mike McDaniel as its new head coach and the former 49ers assistant was a big part of Kittle’s ascension into the league’s elite. He should utilize Gesicki similarly, as the athletic tight end will be a complement on intermediate routes to Tyreek Hill’s deep routes. Gesicki didn’t even finish among the top 10 tight ends in snaps last year, so there’s room for improvement, and SportsLine’s model pegs him as a top-10 player in its 2022 Fantasy football TE rankings.

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Another sleeper that SportsLine’s Fantasy football rankings 2022 have identified: Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. Injuries aside, McCaffrey has been the top Fantasy football player over the last few seasons. He would be the clear No. 1 pick in Fantasy football drafts if owners could certify a clean bill of health for Carolina’s star.

However, he has become one of the Fantasy football sleepers 2022 based on his 2022 Fantasy football ADP, which is early in the third round. SportsLine’s model expects him to have a better season than James Conner and Aaron Jones, who are both being selected before him in most drafts. While there might be injury concerns surrounding McCaffrey, he is worth selecting as a sleeper pick.

How to find proven 2022 Fantasy football football rankings

SportsLine is also extremely high on a surprising quarterback you aren’t even thinking about being taken in the middle rounds of 2022 Fantasy football drafts. This quarterback is listed as a shocking top-five option ahead of superstars like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar JacksonYou can only see who it is, and the 2022 Fantasy football rankings for every player, at SportsLine.

So which 2022 Fantasy Football sleepers should you be targeting? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get 2022 Fantasy Football cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Damian Harris’ huge season, and find out.

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