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NFL power rankings, Week 3: Dolphins stake their claim as true AFC contenders after rallying past Ravens

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Nfl Power Rankings, Week 3: Dolphins Stake Their Claim As True Afc Contenders After Rallying Past Ravens
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Each week of the NFL season, The Baltimore Sun will rank all 32 NFL teams. The rankings will take into account not just weekly performance, injuries and roster depth, but how well each team measures up as Super Bowl contenders.

Here are the rankings heading into Week 3:

Super Bowl favorites

1. Buffalo Bills (2-0, No. 1 last week)

2. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0, No. 2)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0, No. 3)

The Bills aren’t losing their top spot this week. Buffalo throttled the Titans, 41-7, on Monday night behind four touchdown passes from Josh Allen — including three to Stefon Diggs — and another dominant performance from the defense. The 2019 Ravens finished with the highest point differential in NFL history (+249), but Buffalo is on pace to break that record.

For all the talk about how much the AFC West improved this offseason, it’s still the Chiefs’ division to lose. Kansas City made an early statement with a 27-24 win over the Chargers on Thursday night by getting production from an unheralded group of players. Rookie seventh-round draft pick Jaylen Watson returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown, while veteran running back Jerick McKinnon and fourth-round wide receiver Justin Watson caught touchdown passes from Patrick Mahomes. This Chiefs team looks deep and ready to compete for the top seed in the AFC.

In the NFC, the Bucs still look like the class of the conference despite missing some key players. Even with receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones and top left tackles Donovan Smith and Josh Wells sidelined by injuries, Tampa Bay made enough plays down the stretch to secure a 20-10 win over the Saints. While quarterback Tom Brady struggled for most of the game until hitting former Ravens first-round pick Breshad Perriman for a go-ahead 28-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Bucs forced five turnovers, including a 68-yard pick-six by Mike Edwards to ice the game. Brady doesn’t have to be perfect to keep winning behind this dominant defense.

The top contenders

4. Miami Dolphins (2-0, No. 8)

5. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0, No. 7)

6. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1, No. 4)

7. Green Bay Packers (1-1, No. 10)

8. Los Angeles Rams (1-1, No. 9)

9. Baltimore Ravens (1-1, No. 5)

It’s time to consider the Dolphins a true AFC contender. In an improbable 42-38 comeback win against the Ravens, Tua Tagovailoa threw for 469 yards and a franchise-record tying six touchdowns, completely changing the notion of what’s possible for the third-year quarterback under new coach Mike McDaniel. Miami might have the league’s best receiving duo in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, who became the first pair of teammates in NFL history to record at least 10 receptions, 150 receiving yards and two touchdown catches in the same game. It remains to be seen whether Tagovailoa and his receivers can keep up this level of production, but there’s no doubt the Dolphins are a force to be reckoned with.

While Miami has a clear blueprint for success, the team it erased a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat has plenty of questions to answer about its own identity. Through three quarters, the Ravens looked unstoppable as Lamar Jackson tore through a Dolphins defense that gave him fits with its Cover 0 blitzes last season. Jackson became the first player in NFL history to record a touchdown pass and run of at least 75 yards in the same game and nearly finished with a perfect passer rating, but even that MVP-level performance wasn’t enough to bail out the Ravens’ atrocious defense. The blown coverages in the secondary raise uncomfortable questions for new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who will need to shore up his players’ communication before Baltimore can even think about competing with the Chiefs and Bills for the AFC title.

The wild cards

10. San Francisco 49ers (1-1, No. 18)

11. Minnesota Vikings (1-1, No. 6)

12. New Orleans Saints (1-1, No. 12)

13. Denver Broncos (1-1, No. 13)

14. Arizona Cardinals (1-1, No. 19)

The 49ers’ decision to keep Jimmy Garoppolo looks pretty good now, doesn’t it? After second-year quarterback Trey Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury, the veteran stepped in to lead San Francisco to a 27-7 win over the Seahawks, completing 13 of 21 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown and sneaking in for a score. In six seasons under coach Kyle Shanahan, Garoppolo is 31-14 as the starter, while all other 49ers quarterbacks are 9-29 in that span. This team is built to win now, and while Garoppolo was benched in favor of the 2021 No. 3 overall pick to start the season, he’s proven he’s good enough to lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl. Losing a player with Lance’s potential is tough to swallow, but it might end up helping the 49ers in the short term.

Things haven’t gone as planned for the team Garoppolo and the 49ers face on Sunday night, either. Russell Wilson lost his return to Seattle in part because of new coach Nathaniel Hackett’s head-scratching decision to attempt a 64-yard field goal instead of letting Wilson — the man Denver traded three players and five draft picks for and gave $165 million guaranteed — try and convert a fourth-and-5 with 20 seconds left. In Sunday’s sloppy 16-9 win over the Texans, the Broncos struggled so much getting the snap off in time that the Denver crowd started counting down the play clock. It’s only been two games, but Hackett already looks overwhelmed, and his offense isn’t delivering on its promise. To make matters worse, cornerback Patrick Surtain and receiver Jerry Jeudy are dealing with injuries. Denver needs to get its act together, and quickly.

The Cardinals finally seem to have their act together, but it took seven quarters to get there. Trailing 23-7 entering the fourth quarter Sunday, Arizona scored 16 straight points — including two wild 2-point conversions by quarterback Kyler Murray — to force overtime, where cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. returned a fumble by Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow 59 yards for the game-winning touchdown. The win doesn’t let coach Kliff Kingsbury and a disappointing defense off the hook, but it at least provides some hope that Murray can put the team on his back. We won’t get a fair assessment of the Cardinals until receiver DeAndre Hopkins returns from his six-game suspension, but it’s clear Murray needs more help.

Talented enough to compete

15. Detroit Lions (1-1, No. 25)

16. Cleveland Browns (1-1, No. 17)

17. Dallas Cowboys (1-1, No. 28)

18. New England Patriots (1-1, No. 27)

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1, No. 16)

20. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2, No. 11)

21. Las Vegas Raiders (0-2, No. 15)

A 36-27 victory over the Commanders is proof of concept for Lions coach Dan Campbell that his team is ready to take the next step. Amon-Ra St. Brown has established himself as one of the league’s best receivers, recording nine receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns Sunday to become just the eighth player in league history with at least eight receptions in eight consecutive games. No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson had three sacks, all in the first half, and Jared Goff threw four touchdown passes. This could be the start of a special season for Detroit.

Two teams that looked hopeless in Week 1 proved that season openers can often be misleading. After losing quarterback Dak Prescott to a thumb injury, the Cowboys turned around and beat the defending AFC champion Bengals, 20-17, on a last-second 50-yard field goal. Cooper Rush led a game-winning drive in the second start of his career and linebacker Micah Parsons continued to build his case as the best defensive player in the league, giving Dallas hope that it can survive Prescott’s absence and still compete for a playoff spot.

The Patriots’ 17-14 win over the Steelers won’t strike fear in the rest of the AFC, but it does show that New England is sturdy enough to remain in the thick of the playoff race. Quarterback Mac Jones still looks shaky, throwing an interception into double coverage in the first quarter and nearly tossing another in the third, but the defense limited Pittsburgh to 4.2 yards per play and the offense ran the ball well on a 13-play drive to close the game. It’s far from coach Bill Belichick’s best team, but it has the potential to get back to the postseason.

Showing signs of life

22. New York Giants (2-0, No. 24)

23. Washington Commanders (1-1, No. 22)

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1, No. 31)

25. New York Jets (1-1, No. 32)

The Giants’ best start since 2016 is certainly exciting, but this team is going to need to vastly outperform its potential to make the playoffs. (Remember, the Panthers started 3-0 last season before finishing 5-12.) What’s encouraging is the play of the defense led by former Ravens coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale. Even without top edge rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari, Martindale has generated enough pressure to rattle opposing quarterbacks, with Baker Mayfield the latest victim in Sunday’s 19-16 victory. Quarterback Daniel Jones isn’t showing any signs of a Josh Allen-type leap, but he’s avoided making big mistakes. The Giants are going to need more from their receivers to have any hope of keeping this winning streak going.

The post-Urban Meyer bump is real for the Jaguars, who beat the Colts at home for the eighth straight time, 24-0. The addition of receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones has clearly helped second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who looks much more comfortable under the direction of coach Doug Pederson. A young defense also looks much improved, recording five sacks and three interceptions Sunday. The Jags have forced six turnovers through two games after creating nine all of last season.

We’d be remiss not to talk about the Jets’ stunning 31-30 win over the Browns, which ended up being only the third-most impressive comeback of the weekend. Former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes in the final two minutes, giving the Jets a much-needed shot in the arm after a dreary home-opening loss against Baltimore. It’s not fair to assess second-year coach Robert Saleh until quarterback Zach Wilson returns, but at least his team isn’t giving up.

Searching for a spark

26. Seattle Seahawks (1-1, No. 21)

27. Tennessee Titans (0-2, No. 20)

28. Chicago Bears (1-1, No. 23)

29. Atlanta Falcons (0-2, No. 29)

30. Indianapolis Colts (0-1-1, No. 14)

31. Carolina Panthers (0-2, No. 30)

32. Houston Texans (0-1-1, No. 26)

The Falcons’ 0-2 start isn’t surprising, but their play on the field is. After blowing a 16-point fourth-quarter lead against the Saints in Week 1, Atlanta nearly pulled off an improbable comeback of its own against the Rams. Trailing 28-3 in the third quarter, the Falcons got two touchdown passes from Marcus Mariota and a 26-yard touchdown return on a blocked punt to cut the deficit to 31-25 with less than five minutes left. They couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch to knock off the defending Super Bowl champs, but the fight alone is encouraging for a team that has some promising young players. They’re far from the worst team in the league.


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The NRA’s highest-rated Republicans are also mostly election deniers

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The Nra'S Highest-Rated Republicans Are Also Mostly Election Deniers
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In the abstract, it makes sense that candidates who are strong supporters of gun rights are also more likely to reject the 2020 election results. The guideline is partisanship. Vigorous adherence to positions like those advocated by the National Rifle Association is expected of Republican candidates in most places, and most Republicans still think the 2020 election was stolen — which, of course, doesn’t. was not.

In practical terms, however, the overlap between gun ownership and voter denial is bewildering. Many of the strongest proponents of freely available firearms center their views on the idea that guns are necessary to fight an oppressive federal government. If this government is seen as also illegitimate, the risk of violence would necessarily seem to increase.

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Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that lobbies for new legislation aimed at combating gun violence, decided to assess the extent of the overlap between the aforementioned viewpoints for one particular group of Republicans: those who seek to get elected. They looked at the letter grades the NRA uses to measure candidates’ support for gun rights and overlapped the findings with FiveThirtyEight’s examination of the prevalence of denial about the loss of Donald Trump in 2020.

A total of 397 candidates for House or state-level office (Senate, governor, executive offices) had both NRA rank and a publicly expressed position on the election. Of those, 138 were both given an A or A+ rating by the NRA and were classified as having “totally denied” the election by FiveThirtyEight. In other words: 52% of all A/A+ grade recipients were complete election deniers and 73% of complete election deniers had an A or A+.

Add to those who were rated A- or Aq (an A qualified by the lack of a voting record) and 186 of the 397 candidates had an A and were complete election deniers.

If we overlap the 2020 vote in the jurisdiction each candidate hopes to represent, an interesting pattern emerges. Those most likely to deny the election results and get the highest NRA ratings are also very likely to represent/seek to represent the places Trump won in 2020. Most others – especially those whose opinions on the FiveThirtyEight election could not determine – hope to represent the places President Biden won. It is safe to assume that some of those who held back from sharing their opinions did so because they recognized that an embrace of voter denial would not play well with their potential voters.

There is also the flip side of this overlapping voting history to consider. The fact that most of these jurisdictions are places where Trump won means that the Republican candidates included in this analysis are also more likely to win. There are 115 Grade A/A+ NRA recipients who have completely denied the election results and hope to represent places that were red in 2020.

More than 100 of them are candidates for the House.


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At least 15 dead after 2 migrant boats sink in Greek waters

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At Least 15 Dead After 2 Migrant Boats Sink In Greek Waters
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ATHENS, Greece — At least 15 people died when two boats carrying migrants sank in Greek waters on Wednesday night, and rescuers were searching for dozens of people still missing, authorities said Thursday.

The Coast Guard said 15 bodies were found near the eastern island of Lesvos after a dinghy carrying around 40 people sank. Five people were rescued and three had been located on a rocky outcrop near the sinking site. A second rescue effort was launched several hundred kilometers to the west, near the island of Kythera, where a sailboat carrying around 100 migrants struck rocks and sank on Wednesday evening.

Officials said 30 people were rescued after the boat hit rocks off the harbor in the village of Diakofti in the east of the island. Winds in the area were up to 45 mph.

“We could see the boat crashing against the rocks and people climbing over those rocks to try to save themselves. It was an amazing sight,” local resident Martha Stathaki told The Associated Press. “All the locals here have come down to the port to try to help.”

Fire rescuers lowered ropes to help migrants scale cliffs on the seafront. Local officials said a school in the area would be open to provide shelter for those rescued. Navy divers were also due to arrive on Thursday.

Most migrants arriving in Greece travel from neighboring Turkey, but smugglers have changed routes in recent months to avoid the heavily patrolled waters around the Greek islands near the Turkish coast.

Kythira is about 250 miles west of Turkey and on a route often used by smugglers to bypass Greece and head straight for Italy.


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Bidenomics pushes US national debt past $31 billion for first time

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The Biden administration’s relentless reliance on borrowing pushed the gross national debt to over $31 trillion for the first time amid record inflation, rising interest rates and fears of a recession imminent.

U.S. government debt closed at $31.1 trillion on Monday, according to Treasury Department data released Tuesday.

The step comes as the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates to tackle the highest inflation in 40 years, and the government borrows money to fund tax cuts even as it sends billions of overseas taxpayer dollars to Ukraine in aid.

“Many of the concerns we’ve had about the trajectory of our growing debt are starting to play out as we increase both our debt and our interest rates,” said Michael Peterson, chief executive of the Foundation. Peterson, who promotes deficit reduction.

“Too many people were happy with our debt trajectory, in part because rates were so low.”

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a US federal agency that provides Congress with economic and fiscal analysis, has warned of growing US debt under the Biden administration, warning that investors could lose confidence in the government’s ability to repay what it owes, as Breitbart News reported.

Those worries, the budget office said, could lead to “a sharp rise in interest rates and spiraling inflation.”

The $31 trillion threshold poses a political problem for President Biden, who has pledged to seek a more sustainable fiscal trajectory and reduce federal budget deficits by $1 trillion over a decade.

It also directly contradicts Biden’s assertion in September 2021 that his $3.5 trillion spending program actually costs “zero dollars” due to his safe and capable handling of taxpayers’ money.

“My build back better program costs nothing,” read a post from Biden’s Twitter account.

His message argued that the money was currently being “wasted” on “tax breaks, loopholes and tax evasion” and should be redistributed to working Americans as directed by his office.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that Biden’s debt addiction has added nearly $5 trillion to deficits since he took office.

This projection includes Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill, a variety of new spending initiatives approved by Congress, and a student debt cancellation plan that is expected to cost taxpayers nearly $400. billion dollars over 30 years.

Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University, told AP “it took this nation 200 years to rack up its first trillion dollars in national debt, and since the pandemic we’ve been adding more at the rate of 1 trillion almost every quarter.”

Predicting high inflation for the “foreseeable future,” he said, “when you increase government spending and the money supply, you will pay the price later.”

Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: or by e-mail to: [email protected]

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Merced family kidnapping update: 4 family members, including baby, found dead, sheriff says

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Merced Family Kidnapping Update: 4 Family Members, Including Baby, Found Dead, Sheriff Says
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MERCED COUNTY, Calif. — The four family members who were abducted from a Merced County business have been found dead, the sheriff announced Wednesday night.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said the bodies were found in an orchard near Indiana and Hutchinson roads.

“Our worst fears have been confirmed,” the sheriff said. “We have found the four people from the abduction and they are in fact deceased.”

“There are no words at this time to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident,” he added. “I said earlier, there’s a special place in Hell for this guy.”

Authorities at a press conference on Wednesday showed surveillance video of a man abducting the baby, Aroohi Dheri; the child’s mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, from their business.

The suspect, Jesus Salgado, is in custody but remains sedated in a hospital after attempting suicide.

DEVELOPMENT: We will add more details to this report as they become available.

California Family Kidnapping: Chilling New Video Shows Suspect Takes 2 Zippered Family Members, Mother and Baby

Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All rights reserved.


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Jerry Vainisi, general manager of Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX championship team, dies at 80 – The Denver Post

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Jerry Vainisi, General Manager Of Chicago Bears Super Bowl Xx Championship Team, Dies At 80 - The Denver Post
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Former Chicago Bears manager Jerry Vainisi, general manager when the team won Super Bowl XX in January 1986, died Tuesday at age 80.

Vainisi served as the Bears’ general manager for four seasons, promoted to that position by franchise founder and owner George Halas in the summer of 1983. The team confirmed Vainisi’s death Wednesday night.

Vainisi remained in that role throughout the 1986 season, and during that time, under coach Mike Ditka, the Bears won 47 games and three NFC Central championships and had an iconic season in 1985. They went 15-1 during the regular season. season, then crushed three playoff opponents by a combined score of 91-10 en route to their only Super Bowl title and their first NFL championship since 1963.

“I will always appreciate the few years I spent with Jerry and will be eternally grateful to him for his decision to hire me as Bears controller in 1983, which started my 40-year career with the Bears.” , Bears president Ted Phillips said Wednesday. . “My thoughts and prayers are with him and his entire family.”

Vainisi’s exit from Halas Hall with two years remaining on his contract came after the Bears suffered a 27-13 home loss to the Washington Redskins in their postseason opener after the 1986 season. a 14-2 regular season, the Bears started Doug Flutie at quarterback in the playoff game. This became a burning issue at Halas Hall and was partly behind then-president Michael McCaskey’s efforts to replace Vainisi.

Flutie, who the team traded for just 12 weeks earlier, had started just one game for the Bears before that playoff game and went 11 for 31 for 134 yards with a touchdown pass and two interceptions in the season-ending loss to the Redskins. .

In an emotional statement after the firing, Ditka choked up when he called Vainisi “my best friend”, and when he found out that McCaskey had called for Vainisi’s resignation, Ditka was so upset he cried. He threatened to quit and tried to talk McCaskey out of letting Vainisi go.

“I was completely surprised and was very, very hurt,” Ditka said.

Vainisi joined the Bears as a controller in 1972 after leaving accounting firm Arthur Andersen. He also served as the club’s treasurer and lawyer before being appointed general manager. He replaced Jim Finks, who had resigned.

Finks is widely considered the primary architect of the Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl team roster.

After leaving the Bears, Vainisi spent three seasons as vice president of player personnel for the Detroit Lions before working in operations for what started as the World League of American Football and was later renamed NFL Europe. . Vainisi was with the Lions in 1989 when they used the No. 3 pick to sign Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.

Vainisi, a Chicago native, worked as a ball boy in the 1950s at the Green Bay Packers’ summer camp. After earning an accounting degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from Kent College in Chicago, Vainisi was a sportscaster in Monmouth, west-central Illinois.

In 2010, Vainisi was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. In 1999, he became chairman and sole owner of Forest Park Bank and also served as its chairman and chief executive.


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Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell makes his new team debut, and it was just ‘a little bit different’

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Cleveland Cavaliers Star Donovan Mitchell Makes His New Team Debut, And It Was Just 'A Little Bit Different'
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PHILADELPHIA — Less than five weeks after being acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a stunning blockbuster of a trade to cap a frenzied NBA offseason, Donovan Mitchell made his debut for the Cavaliers on Wednesday in the preseason opener. of Cleveland.

And, after finishing with 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range, to go with five assists in 19 minutes in a 113-112 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center, Mitchell admitted that the idea of ​​donning a different jersey than the Utah Jazz he wore the first five years of his career will take some getting used to.

“One hundred percent,” Mitchell said with a smile, when asked if it felt weird wearing a different jersey for the first time. “It just didn’t feel real to me…it still hasn’t hit me yet.”

Mitchell said he spent Monday looking out the window of the Four Seasons above downtown Philadelphia, and it was only then that he really realized that he was about to officially play for another team for the first time.

“Today I just sat there and had one of those moments where you sit there and look outside and see everything and it’s like, ‘Wow. It’s really here,’” a- he declared.

“Then once you’re on the court, basketball is still basketball. But all the little things, it’s definitely weird. A little different. But I’m excited. It’s going the way I thought it would, in the good meaning.”

Mitchell’s arrival in Cleveland to augment a burgeoning young core with All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen and finalist for last season’s Rookie of the Year award in Evan Mobley has the Cavaliers hoping this season will mark a rise in fortune to places the franchise hasn’t seen in decades when LeBron James was out of town.

When was the last time Cleveland made the playoffs without James? The 1997-98 season. When was the last time the Cavaliers won a playoff series without him? Thirty seasons ago, during the 1992-93 campaign, when Cleveland were swept by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in four games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

But to do those things — especially in what is arguably the deepest version of the Eastern Conference the NBA has seen in a generation or more — Cleveland will first need to get its two dominant guards, Mitchell and Garland, on the same page.

Ahead of Wednesday night’s game, Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff laid out the criteria that will show the process taking hold, saying the focus was on avoiding playing basketball “your turn.” , my turn”.

Afterwards, he, Garland and Mitchell were all happy with how things went in their first dry run against another team.

“I thought it was pretty seamless,” Bickerstaff said. “The way they played together, the way the ball moved, everyone got involved… as long as we play in the same style that we want to play, where it’s not just one guy based, but on the team, I think it will go well for us.”

And, for the most part, it did Wednesday night. Mitchell’s first mark as a Cavalier – a 3-pointer from right wing – came with an assist from Garland, who finished with 12 points and four assists on a 4-for-7 shot in 15 minutes, and was sandwiched between setting Mitchell down to Kevin Love for a pair of triples himself.

“I think we did a lot of things right,” Mitchell said. “You walk up the floor and it’s like, ‘He got it.’ But it’s not like, ‘He isolated him.’ It’s like, he made it, made a play, created… I said in the locker room, we didn’t call a lot of plays in the first half. It speaks to our ball movement.

After Cleveland relied almost solely on Garland to create an offense for himself and his teammates last season, he was thrilled with his first look at life playing alongside Mitchell – even within the meaningless confines of the first. half of Cleveland’s preseason opener, largely because of how it’s going to take the pressure off him to do everything offensively.

“I think it was the spacing, for me,” Garland said, when asked what he noticed the most while playing alongside Mitchell. “Just out of the pick and roll, there are so many threats on the other side, and it’s just a lot easier…you can just pick your poison. You have to live with it.

“It was just fun there, to be honest with you.”

As Cleveland waits to get Evan Mobley back on the court after spraining his ankle over the weekend, the Cavaliers also have another decision to make between now and opening night: who will start at small forward alongside Garland, Mitchell, Mobley and Allen.

There are a few possible options, including Caris LeVert, who started Wednesday’s game, Dean Wade, who hit 3 triples off the bench, and Isaac Okoro, the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Bickerstaff said his ultimate decision on who to plug in there will be determined by how well they can help unlock the best attributes of the four stars around them.

“It’s really going to be about fit, and it’s going to be who makes these four guys better,” he said. “Who helps them on the attacking side of the pitch? Who helps them on the defensive side of the pitch? Who can defensively protect the guys in certain situations? How does that help our matchups? Offensively, how does that help us space the floor? Those are all things we take into consideration.”


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