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NBA Christmas Day 2022: Lakers-Mavericks, Warriors-Grizzlies among five scheduled matchups, per report

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The 2022-23 NBA schedule is expected to be released in the coming days, but there’s already been several leaks of important games on the league’s calendar. It’s already been reported the reigning champion Golden State Warriors are expected to host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on opening night of the season, which is set for Oct. 18.

In addition to one of the opening-night games on the league’s calendar, all five Christmas Day matchups have also been reported. As one of the most important days on the NBA‘s calendar, these games are typically star-studded and sometimes feature rematches from the previous year’s playoffs or pit two of the league’s top stars against each other. Though the regular season will already be two months old by the time Christmas rolls around, the full slate of games also serves as the unofficial start of the NBA season for some casual fans.

Although nothing has been made official just yet, here are the five games expected to take place on Christmas:

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The NBA has certainly hit the mark in featuring some of the league’s top stars, both young and old, and all of these reported matchups have enticing storylines. 

The Warriors vs. Grizzlies game will be a rematch of the Western Conference semifinals last season, where both teams didn’t shy away from trash-talking, even well after the Warriors put the Grizzlies away. When the Warriors eventually won the championship, several Golden State players made sure to take some not-so-subtle jabs at the Grizzlies, including Draymond Green and Ja Morant hoping their two teams meet on Christmas Day. Well, Green and Morant got their wish, and that matchup will surely be a highly anticipated one.

Though the Lakers and Mavericks don’t have the playful trash-talking the Warriors and Grizzlies possess, it will feature the face of the league in LeBron James, and one of the future faces of the league in Luka Doncic. These two teams met on Christmas two seasons ago, which resulted in the Mavericks getting blown out in Los Angeles, but a lot has happened since that dud of a matchup in 2020. The Mavericks are coming off a run to the Western Conference finals due to Doncic’s MVP-level performance throughout the playoffs, and the Lakers will be trying to get back to the playoffs after missing the cut last season. It’s difficult to read how this game will play out given both teams could still make roster moves before this game, but it should be more entertaining than the matchup we got two seasons ago.

The third reported game on this list may be a preview of the Western Conference finals as the Nuggets play host to the Suns. Denver should be fully healthy with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. expected to be back in the starting lineup after both players missed all of last season with injuries. Then there’s reigning two-time league MVP Nikola Jokic at the center of it all. He will have some help again as Denver hopes to prove its place in the championship-contending conversation. The Nuggets will reportedly be hosting the Suns, per the Denver Post, which is a rematch of the Western Conference semifinals from two seasons ago. The Nuggets were without Murray in that playoff series against the Suns, so now they’ll get to show Phoenix what it’s like playing against a Denver team at full strength.

The Knicks and Sixers matchup may not be the most exciting matchup on this list, but it does feature some of the league’s best players in Joel Embiid and James Harden. Though the Knicks don’t have the brightest names on their roster to match up against Embiid and Harden, it’ll be a good test for a New York team that hopes its big offseason acquisition of Jalen Brunson can lift this roster to a playoff contender. 

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The final reported matchup between the Celtics and Bucks is a rematch of the Eastern Conference semifinals from last season. In what was one of the best playoff series a season ago, the Bucks lost to the Celtics in seven games, all without their second-best player in Khris Middleton who suffered an MCL sprain in the first round of the postseason. Middleton recently underwent wrist surgery in July, but is expected back near the start of the season, so he will be ready to go by the time this rematch is set to take place. However, this matchup could look a whole lot different if the Celtics manage to pull off a trade to land Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant. We’ll have to wait and see what becomes of the Durant sweepstakes, but regardless of what happens with that, this matchup — as well as the rest on the full slate of games — won’t be short on excitement on Christmas Day. 





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The Broncos Add Experience To Their Backfield

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(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

 

The injury woes for the Denver Broncos continue to pile up.

First, it was Tim Patrick who suffered a season-ending ACL injury during their practice in early August.

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Now, the Broncos will lose another valuable player on offense as running back Javonte Williams also suffered a season-ending ACL injury during their Week 4 game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

The team addressed the hole in their roster by signing his replacement.

NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero tweeted, “The #Broncos are signing RB Latavius Murray off the #Saints’ practice squad, per source. With Javonte Williams out for the season, Murray now joins Melvin Gordon and Mike Boone in the Denver backfield.”

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Murray Brings Experience To Denver’s Backfield

The Broncos will be the fifth team Murray will play for in his ten-year career.

He had two stints with the New Orleans Saints, the first in 2019 when he signed a four-year, $14.4 million contract.

Murray stayed with New Orleans for two seasons before joining the Baltimore Ravens last year.

The Ravens acquired him after losing J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to season-ending injuries.

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He returned to the Saints as a member of the practice squad and was elevated to the active roster on October 1.

Murray was re-assigned to the practice squad, giving Denver the chance to sign him.

The sixth-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft also suited up for the Minnesota Vikings and the then-Oakland Raiders.

The Broncos will need Murray’s experience to help elevate their struggling offense.

Denver scored 23 points in their loss to Las Vegas and a combined 27 points in their two wins.

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Meanwhile, Williams finished their Week 4 game with ten carries for 28 yards.

On the other hand, Melvin Gordon committed his fourth fumble of the season, resulting in a defensive touchdown by Raiders cornerback Amik Robertson.

The Broncos will try to bounce back in Week 5 when they face the Indianapolis Colts.

The post The Broncos Add Experience To Their Backfield appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Chargers’ Defense Is Still Problematic Despite Week 4 Win

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(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

 

After a head-scratching 38-10 humiliation in Week 3 at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Los Angeles Chargers were looking wobbly with a 1-2 record.

But they got back on track on Sunday by defeating the struggling Houston Texans, 34-24.

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Los Angeles’ offense looked strong, as Justin Herbert had his usual strong game despite fractured rib cartilage, Austin Ekeler had a total of 109 yards and three touchdowns from scrimmage and wide receiver Mike Williams had 120 yards.

However, there is still reason for concern, as the Chargers’ defense had some troubles against a Houston offense that is rather weak.

If they don’t rectify their defensive deficiencies soon, they could end up with additional losses in games they should’ve won, which could end up costing them a playoff spot.

 

The Chargers Gave Up Too Many Big Plays

Last season, when Los Angeles missed the playoffs, its defense was perhaps the biggest culprit.

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It finished 23rd in total yards allowed and 29th in points allowed, and its run defense was particularly problematic.

To sew up that hole, the Chargers went out and signed defensive tackles Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day, and they also traded for star pass rusher Khalil Mack.

They also bolstered a secondary that needed improvement by bringing in J.C. Jackson, a young and rising cornerback who made the Pro Bowl last year while leading the NFL in passes defended.

But so far, all these new additions haven’t paid off the way many thought they would.

Through Week 4, the Bolts are 20th in yards allowed, 29th in passing touchdowns allowed and 30th in points allowed.

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After running out to a 21-0 lead on Sunday, they allowed Houston to get within 27-24 on the back of several big yardage plays.

One play that stood out was a 75-yard run by running back Dameon Pierce that resulted in the Texans’ first touchdown of the game.

Notice all the missed tackles and blocks on that play by L.A.

The Texans aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, as they rank 17th in points scored and 29th in total yards, and their running game is especially weak.

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But L.A. allowed Pierce to gain 131 yards and score a touchdown on 14 carries.

How much of this was its problems on defense, and how much may have only been due to complacency and inattention after running up such a big lead?

 

The Chargers Are Missing Some Pieces

The glaring absence on Sunday for L.A. was Joey Bosa, it’s four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher who suffered a groin injury in Week 3 and will be out for at least several weeks after having surgery.

In some ways, its defense was able to apply pressure on Houston quarterback Davis Mills, as he threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.

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Mack had one of those sacks, and he has been as good as advertised this season, as he is sitting on five sacks, five tackles for loss and seven QB hits thus far this year.

The Chargers seem to have the players they need to have an air-tight defense – it’s time for them to pull their full weight.

The post Chargers’ Defense Is Still Problematic Despite Week 4 Win appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Women to get more rest between hoop games at next World Cup – Sportsnet.ca

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SYDNEY – Players at this year’s World Cup had a few concerns about the competition, including the compact schedule and the timing of the tournament, and the women took their complaints right to the top.

FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis talked with many of the players during the course of the recently competed tournament. He offered a quick solution for the rest concerns, but changing the date will take more work.

The next World Cup in 2026 will once again feature 16 teams instead of the 12 at this year’s tournament – and players will have more time to recuperate between the final rounds.

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“We will not play three days in a row, that will not happen again,” Zagklis said. “This is not something we want to see repeated. It’s too heavy on the players.”

At this year’s tournament, the quarterfinals, semifinals and medal games were played over three straight days. Overall, teams that reached the gold-medal game would have played eight games in 10 days. The 2018 World Cup had a break between the quarters and the medal round.

While the scheduling change is a welcomed positive step for the players, there’s still the issue of timing. The WNBA tried to work with FIBA by shortening its season. Still, the league’s playoffs continued until the start of the World Cup, forcing about a dozen players to basically travel a few thousand miles, get off a plane and start playing for their national teams.

Many European leagues tip off soon after the World Cup ends, so it’s difficult to move it to a later start date.

Zagklis said FIBA will be working with the stakeholders to provide the best possible solution for the players _-though indicating the change will likely have to come from the WNBA or the other pro leagues.

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“The World Cup is turning next year 70 years old, the women’s world has been there much before virtually every women’s league in the world and it is the top female competition,” Zagklis. “So the calendar starts again with the World Cup.”

USA Basketball chairman Martin Dempsey said there is a sense of urgency for FIBA to address the scheduling problem, especially with the WNBA set to expand over the next few years.

“The time to have that conversation is before it happens, not after,” Dempsey said. “So we really do need to figure out with the `W,’ the NBA and FIBA how to keep all of these enterprises viable because we don’t want to run the risk of creating a very diluted World Cup.

“We’ve got to have a really serious ongoing conversation about how to keep things in sync so that they don’t clash.”

Five of the U.S. players competed in the WNBA Finals that ended three days before the World Cup started. Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and tournament MVP A’ja Wilson missed the first two games for the U.S.

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Before the scheduling change was announced, players made their positions clear.

“I don’t know if FIBA gave a damn about anyone,” Plum said.

“Rest would be a good thing,” Wilson said. “Having some time between would definitely help.”

The site for the 2026 World Cup hasn’t been announced yet and getting to Australia might have been the most difficult place for everyone because of its location.

Serbia coach Marina Maljkovi? noticed how tired many players were. She coaches in Turkey in the winter and said players across the leagues need a break.

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“You see a lot of players that lacked freshness. You can see it, any single team going from club season to WNBA, WNBA to national team,” Maljkovi? said. “This year it’s very, very complicated. … Talking to players, they really suffered this season because of the tight schedule everywhere. I guess there will be smart people who will sit around the table and see what we can do about that.”

Aside from the logistical issues, the World Cup was a huge success in Australia. The total attendance of 145,519 was the highest in the history of the competition. There were nearly 16,000 fans at the gold-medal game between the U.S. and China, which was the largest since the 1953 championship game played in Chile in a stadium that had 35,000 fans.

“By all metrics, we have seen a tremendous effort by the hosts,” Zagklis said. “Record sales in merchandise, record attendances, fantastic atmosphere in the games, so it’s hard to challenge the conclusion that we’ve been able to experience the best World Cup ever.”

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