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鈥?Playing their best football at just the right time Mike Gesicki Dolphins Jersey , the Baltimore Ravens need only to beat Cincinnati at home on Sunday to reach the playoffs for the first time in three years.Baltimore has won five of six, the lone flaw in that stretch a 39-38 defeat against AFC North champion Pittsburgh on the road.So, the Ravens (9-6) will enter the finale against the Bengals (6-9) riding a wave of momentum that started with a 23-0 rout in Green Bay on Nov. 19 and extended through last Saturday’s 23-16 win over Indianapolis.“It’s very important and I’m very happy with it,” coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday. “That’s the idea.”The NFL moved the Bengals-Ravens game and several others from 1 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. to lessen the possibility of matchups becoming meaningless as the day wears on. Though Harbaugh understands the reasoning, that doesn’t mean he likes it.“I don’t think the NFL did us any favors by moving it back, but they don’t care about us,” the coach said, referring to the notion that ticket-holders who had New Year’s Eve plans now must choose between football and dinner reservations.“That’s kind of tough for the fans. I’m sure they have New Year Eve’s plans,” Harbaugh said. “I hope our fans are OK with it. I hope they’re into it, I hope people get there. The people that have plans, I hope they give their tickets to somebody else so they get there. I want the place to be packed and loud.”Despite their recent surge, the Ravens have been performing before thousands of empty seats at each home game.In a letter to season-ticket holders Trevor Bauer Jersey , team president Dick Cass acknowledged that the decision by some players to take a knee during the national anthem before a Sept. 24 game in London was a factor.“We have had significant numbers of no-shows in the past when our play on the field has not met the high standard we and you have set for the Ravens,” Cass wrote.“But this year has been different. The numbers are higher, and it is noticeable. There are a number of reasons for the no-shows, but surely the one-time protest in London has been a factor.”Those who show up this Sunday afternoon will be watching a game the Ravens must win to clinch a No. 5 seed in the playoffs and a first-round matchup in Kansas City.“I think that we are really coming into our own,” safety Eric Weddle said. “We’re playing the style and game that we envisioned at the beginning of the season. We are a team with momentum, and we just have to get one more.”The Ravens are 16-7 at home in December since Harbaugh took over in 2008, winning the past five games by a combined score of 152-85. Baltimore intends to bolster those numbers against the struggling Bengals, who snapped a three-game skid by defeating Detroit at home Sunday.“We know what’s ahead of us, and we know what’s at stake,” Ravens safety Tony Jefferson said. “We’re excited about the opportunity. It is always good when your future is in your own hands. We just have to go out and get this one last win, and we are in the dance.”Baltimore will be without special teams standout and backup cornerback Jaylen Hill, who tore his ACL and MCL against the Colts.“A non-contact injury Jonathan Villar Jersey , and just unfortunate for him,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a tough young man and was really working hard on special teams, developing as a defensive back.”Harbaugh said it’s possible that cornerback Robertson Daniel will be activated from the practice squad.Also, the Ravens hope to have back receiver Jeremy Maclin, who missed Saturday’s game with a knee injury.

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors already have the most regular-season wins in their history and will finish first in the Eastern Conference, but hope to accomplish more.

The Raptors defeated the Indiana Pacers 92-73 on Friday night to earn their 57th win of the season, which surpasses their previous best of 56, and clinched first place in the conference for the first time.

“It’s gratification but you are not satisfied, I guess is how I would like to put it because we haven’t got to our ultimate goal,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

The Raptors (57-22) conclude their home schedule Sunday when they play the Orlando Magic (24-55) at the Air Canada Centre. They have two more road games to complete their regular season and will have the home-court advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs.

“It is a feeling of gratification in the fact of where we started,” Casey said. “Seven years ago, at the bottom of the conference so to speak Cheap Isaiah Oliver Jersey , bottom of offense, defense and the building process. … DeMar DeRozan coming from a young skinny kid at USC to where he is now. Kyle Lowry coming in and Jonas (Valanciunas) coming from Lithuania and growing, going through his growing pains.”

The Raptors, who have set a team record with 33 home victories, have won 17 of their past 20 games against Orlando, including both meetings this season. Toronto has swept the season-series with the Magic four times in team history, most recently in 2014-15.

While Toronto is hoping for a long playoff run, Orlando is looking at a possible lottery pick in the NBA draft.

The Charlotte Hornets defeated a depleted Orlando lineup 137-100 on Friday night.

Injuries have beset the Magic. Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross have been out with knee injuries and Jonathon Simmons also missed his ninth straight game with a right wrist contusion. Aaron Gordon (sore right calf) and Nikola Vucevic (tight lower back) also were scratched from the lineup Friday.

Talented rookie Jonathan Isaac will miss his fourth straight game Sunday with a sprained left ankle and his injury-plagued season could be over.

“Unless he turns a corner, there is a good chance he doesn’t play again this year,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “The emphasis of his offseason will be to strengthen his lower extremities.”

The Magic had four G-League callups in the lineup Friday and the team had a slow start, forcing Vogel to call two timeouts before eight minutes had been played.

“Our four young guys, they got opportunities to play extended minutes and earn jobs and make a name for themselves Zach Davies Milwaukee Brewers Jersey , and they did not take advantage of that opportunity tonight,” Vogel said.

The Raptors, meanwhile, hope the end of the regular season is just a beginning.

“I mean it just shows you once you put your mind to something to work towards, a goal, it can be accomplished,” DeRozan said. “We did that, now you know we have another goal that we want to reach as well, so it just gives us that confidence to know we can do it and take it to another level.”

Added Lowry: “This year we didn’t know what to expect. We knew things were going to be different and once we got into the season, we started playing well and kept going.”

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Posted in Sports on August 16 at 01:46 PM

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