The Carolina Panthers defeated the New York Jets Sunday afternoon 35-27 at MetLife Stadium. The Panthers offense did not look particularly sharp despite the win. Cam Newton missed some throws, receivers had some drops and bad routes. But, a win is a win.
After the game Cam addressed the media and talked about the importance of winning games, despite one facet of the team not performing well. Even though the offense wasn’t clicking, wide receiver Devin Funchess had a great game. He had 7 catches for 108 yards on 12 targets. Funchess and Newton seemed to like a particular matchup when he was lined up on the left side of the field and they exploited it.
I asked Newton about his chemistry with Funchess and how it has developed. Cam discussed “Fun’s” intellect as something people don’t talk about enough. When asked a follow up question Newton talked about “Fun’s” ability to recognize the DB’s technique and when and how Cam should get the ball to him.
The Panthers are now 9-3 and have a big game next week against the Saints. The team has high expectations and hope to make a deep playoff run. Newton and Funchess’ continued chemistry on offense will obviously be key.
The Boston Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets Tuesday night at the Barclays Center 109-102, winning their 13th straight game. Celtics star point guard Kyrie Irving had 25 pts and 5 asts. He didn’t shoot it well (8-20), but made the the shots and plays when they mattered most. Throughout the game, which was there for the Nets to win, Kyrie displayed the dazzling handles and creativity that make him one of the elite players in the league. After the game, in the locker room media scrum the questions began to focus on the Celtics primetime TNT showdown on Thursday night against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Celtics will be looking to push the streak to 14 and get a true test to see how they compare to the best in the league. Ever the competitor, Kyrie is looking forward to this matchup.
Now that he is the focal point and the engine that drives coach Brad Stevens system, Kyrie looks at this matchup against the Warriors from a more holistic perspective. He sees it as an opportunity for he and his teammates to gel. While the team is 13-2 and sits atop the league standings, the offense still hasn’t really clicked yet and the team is working through “growing pains.” Winning 13 straight makes it a little easier, but Kyrie knows they have a long way to go. He also knows there will be a lot of attention paid by us in the media to the various individual matchups. Kyrie v Klay, Kyrie v Steph, etc.
For the most part Kyrie says you have to work off the team concept and not get caught up in the 1on1 matchup. I asked him, how hard it is to stay disciplined when another elite guy comes at you. He said: “the special players figure out a way to go back at them, within the system.” It was a good answer and also revealing. As the engine of this system and the man with the ball in his hands the majority of the time, he can dictate when to go back at someone and challenge them. A luxury he didn’t always have while playing in Cleveland with LeBron James.
Kyrie is relishing this role as team leader and focal point of the offense. He has communicated numerous times how excited he is to be working within Stevens’ system in Boston. Thursday night at home against the Warriors will be a showcase of the league’s elite and another step in the process for Kyrie and his Celtics.
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum’s game is so smooth, couple that with the way he carries himself on and off the court, and you’d think he was a veteran. But, the 19-year-old rookie is only 15 games into his NBA career and if he stays on his current trajectory Celtics fans will have a lot to cheer about for years to come.
Tatum and the Celtics won their 13th straight game Wednesday night defeating the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. Tatum scored 19 points on 9 shots and looked so effortless with it. He is averaging 14 pts a game and 5.7 rbs. Not eye popping stats but he’s doing it efficiently, plus he’s on a team that’s really good. Most rookies get to put up a lot of stats because they’re on bad teams. Tatum is on a playoff team and one many experts pick to win the eastern conference.
Following the game in the media scrum I asked Tatum about his transition to the NBA and why the game looks so easy for him. I also asked what’s the hardest thing about being in the NBA. His answer has nothing to do with basketball.