David Johnson is back and Larry Csonka Jersey , he says, better than ever.
The Arizona Cardinals running back, an All-Pro in 2016, missed last season after dislocating his left wrist in the season opener. The wrist is healed and he is a full participant in the team's weight and conditioning program that began this week.
"I'm very motivated," he said Thursday. "It's not really about (showing) the people out there, it's really about myself and coming back for the team, for my teammates, for the coaches. Everything being so new, it's really about coming back and bouncing back and being able to play the sport."
By new, Johnson means the coaching staff. Bruce Arians, who utilized Johnson almost as much as a receiver as a ball carrier, has retired. New coach Steve Wilks brought in Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator. McCoy has talked about designing an offense around the ability of the players.
And that would mean a lot of David Johnson.
Drafted in the third round out of Northern Iowa in 2015, Johnson's multiple abilities as a runner and a receiver were on full display his second season under Arians' wide-open system.
Johnson led the league in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in 2016, setting an NFL record by topping 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first 15 games. He probably would have made it 16 had he not injured a knee in the season finale against the Los Angeles Rams.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound back rushed for 1,239 yards that season and caught 80 passes for 879 yards. The performance earned him All-Pro honors at the flex position.
Because it was his wrist that was hurt in the opener at Detroit, Johnson could still run and do other workouts designed for him by strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris, who was retained by the new staff. Johnson said he probably is in the best shape of his life.
"We seen David all of last year, seeing him work out Chad Henne Jersey , running the field. We thought he could play every Sunday," teammate Patrick Peterson said. "He's always looking good. That guy's a freak of nature. I know he can't wait to get back on the field."
Getting Johnson in the weight room is no problem. Getting him not to overdo it is a challenge.
"He's a freak," Morris said. "I will never, ever take credit for anything David Johnson (does). I have to protect David from David to be honest with you, because he always wants to load the bar with more and more and more weight."
Johnson said he does that sometimes just to see Morris' reaction.
"I've always been a hard lifter in the weight room, ever since high school," Johnson said. "Buddy yesterday was telling me not to put so much on the squat rack, but sometimes I'm hard at listening to what he is saying. I know he has my best interest, but sometimes I feel like I need to put more weight on, and I like to get under his skin a little bit because it rattles him and he starts using these huge words that no one understands."
Being hurt, Johnson said, was "a blessing in disguise" because he's been able to spend so much time with his young son. There was no father in the picture when Johnson was growing up.
"That I didn't have a father figure in my life, it really pushed me to do everything I can for him," he said, "be at every milestone, be there for anything that's going on in his life. I've seen the little things, like his teeth growing, him walking, crawling Darian Thompson Jersey , his laughing, just being there for every little thing that happens in his life. "
With 2.4 seconds left and the Boston Celtics leading by one, Marcus Smart had a chance to all but clinch Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and eliminate Philadelphia by making a pair of free throws.
He missed the first.
He could have made things more difficult for the 76ers by missing the second one on purpose, and forcing them to go the length of the court with the clock running. He chucked it against the rim; it went in.
That gave the 76ers a chance to win with a desperation 3-pointer. The full-court inbounds pass went into the left corner, and who was there to intercept it, heaving it back into the air to run out the clock?
To the surprise of no one in a Celtics uniform, it was Smart.
”That’s a Marcus Smart sequence. That just describes him so well,” guard Jaylen Brown said after Boston beat Philadelphia 114-112 on Wednesday night to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year. ”If it came down to one guy coming up with it, everybody’s got their money on Smart.”
Jayson Tatum scored 25 points, Brown had 24 and Terry Rozier scored 17, sinking a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game with 9.8 seconds left after forcing Joel Embiid’s turnover. Al Horford added 15 points and eight rebounds for Boston.
The Celtics will play Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year. Game 1 is Sunday in Boston. It’s the Celtics’ first back-to-back trips to the conference finals since making it five straight times in the original Big Three era from 1984-88.
”When you get here, you’re flattered by the thought of the Boston Celtics,” coach Brad Stevens said. ”You realize if you’re going to break records here, you’re going to break bad ones. Because none of the good ones are reachable.”
Embiid had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers, Dario Saric had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Ben Simmons added 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists. The 76ers rode The Process back into the playoffs for the first time since 2012, winning won 20 out of 21 games before Boston beat them three straight times to open the conference semifinals.
”The Process is never going to end,” Embiid said. ”This is a process to get to the playoffs Terron Armstead Jersey , we did it. This was a process to get to the conference finals, we didn’t. Next year, that’s our goal.”
In a game that featured 21 lead changes – the most in the playoffs this year – the Celtics scored eight straight points in the final 1:37, taking the lead on Tatum’s layup with 23 seconds left. Embiid had a chance to tie it but he missed a heavily contested layup, failed to tip it back in and then grabbed that rebound, too.
Rozier knocked the ball out of his hands, off his leg and out of bounds with 10.8 seconds left.
”Just a championship play, that’s all,” said Rozier, who made a pair of free throws to make it 113-109 – eight straight points for Boston.
J.J. Reddick’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to one, and then it was Smart’s turn. Coming off the bench, he had 14 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
”He’s made for this,” Stevens said. ”He’s made for these moments. We can go through the stat line all you want, but when your season’s on the line and you need to do really hard things, he can do really hard things.”
BLEDSOE AND ROZIER
After striking up a long-distance friendship with Drew Bledsoe during the Milwaukee series, Rozier finally met the former Patriots quarterback for real.
Rozier first invoked Bledsoe’s name during a trash-talking back-and-forth with Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe, pretending to confuse the two. Drew Bledsoe joined the fun by recording a video that was played for the TD Garden crowd during Game 7.
But on Wednesday Kenny Clark Jersey , the football player was there in person, meeting Rozier before the game and sitting courtside with Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck.
NO OFFENSE TAKEN
Stevens has never put much stock in coach of the year awards.
So predictably, the news earlier Wednesday that he didn’t receive a single vote for this season’s National Basketball Coaches Association’s trophy, which went to Toronto’s Dwane Casey, didn’t faze him either.
”The way that thing works is you get one vote…I looked at the sheet and there’s no way that I would have voted for me over any of the other 29 people,” Stevens said. ”The guy that should have won got it.”
Other coaches to receive votes were Brett Brown, Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Quin Snyder and Terry Stotts.
The winner of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the NBA’s Coach of the Year Award will be announced next month.
76ers: Embiid was called for a technical foul for elbowing Horford under the basket midway through the third period. Horford made the free throw, and Aron Baynes made two for the original foul to give Boston a 75-63 lead, its biggest of the game to that point. … Embiid is 0-8 on game-tying or go-ahead shots in the final minute this season, according to ESPN.
Celtics: G Shane Larkin (left shoulder sprain) was unavailable after running into a hard pick in Game 4. That left the coach Brad Stevens with an eight-man rotation. … With seven 3-pointers in the series, Baynes has more in these five games than in the other 409 games of his career combined, according to ESPN. … Boston was 6-for-20 in the third, with six turnovers, watching a nine-point lead wither to one. … Tatum and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell are the only t Buffalo Bills Customized Jerseys