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The NBA is urging teams to make increased commitments toward providing mental health resources to players and staff, releasing updated guidelines Wednesday to reflect the challenge of playing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The league told teams they should establish “education and awareness materials focused on managing mental health during times of uncertainty and coping strategies for addressing the emotional toll of the pandemic.”

“Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of one’s mental health and having access to resources are important aspects of managing the feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and stress that have characterized much of 2020 and will in all likelihood be present during the 2020-21 season,” the league wrote in a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The NBA has mandated that teams offer access to mental health professionals in recent seasons — a program the league calls Mind Health was launched nearly three years ago — but that obviously pre-dates the pandemic and how countless aspects of day-to-day life have changed in recent months.

Most arenas don’t have fans, and those that do allow only a limited number of people at games. Players and coaches are tested daily, travel parties have been pared down from what used to be normal and, starting Tuesday, those on the bench to start a game must wear masks until they enter the contest. Those are a few of the ways the NBA has changed amid the virus.

“All this is a little bit like the Twilight Zone,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked about the mental strain of playing amid a pandemic. “Everything looks the same. In many ways, it can operate in a similar way. But we all know it is different. And that has a different effect on different people, for sure.”

Part of the new guidance from the league: that social distancing guidelines still need to be followed when mental health services are provided at a team facility, and that teams should offer “ample availability for telehealth services” where players can meet with mental health professionals.

Those are in addition to existing requirements put in place last year and remaining for the 2020-21 season regarding making mental health professionals available to players on a voluntary basis, having a licensed psychiatrist available to assist players with any issues, having procedures in place to ensure confidentiality and, more recently, offering services that “should be culturally competent … and meet the needs of the diverse NBA community.”

“We’re trying to have an environment where everybody feels like they can come to our team setting, plug in, be themselves, focus on their craft and be around like-minded people,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. “What we believe is if we build that environment where everybody is thriving … then if there are stressors that are related to health or where we’re at as a country or just the natural stressors of an NBA season, then that environment can raise the level of our players and we can all support each other.”

In a separate move Wednesday, the National Basketball Coaches Association released the quarterly health bulletin that it sends to members, also addressing mental health.

“The usage of mental health tools and support platforms has increased as have the modalities to assist those in need. These include meditation apps, journaling, engaging in therapy with a professional or a support group as well as other mindful techniques, such as yoga,” the NBCA wrote.

Mental health has been a priority for the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association in recent years, especially after players such as Cleveland’s Kevin Love and San Antonio’s DeMar DeRozan opened up about their inner struggles with anxiety and other issues. Many players also spoke out this past summer about the strain of being isolated during the NBA’s restart bubble at Walt Disney World in Central Florida.



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Newly acquired LeVert out indefinitely for Pacers with mass on kidney

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers will be without newly acquired Caris LeVert indefinitely after an MRI showed a mass on his left kidney during a physical to complete this week’s blockbuster four-team trade.

Team officials made the announcement Saturday on Twitter. They say he will undergo more tests and additional details will be released at a later date.

“On behalf of my family and myself, we want to thank the Indiana Pacers for their support and guidance,” LeVert said in a statement. “We are grateful for their extreme thoroughness during the physical process and I am looking forward to joining the team and being part of this great organization as soon as possible.”

The 26-year-old LeVert was acquired Wednesday in the deal that sent Harden to the Brooklyn Nets and two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo to Houston.

LeVert was expected to replace Oladipo and help replace forward T.J. Warren, who is out indefinitely after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot.

It’s unclear what the Pacers will do without LeVert.

“We acquired Caris because of who he is as a young man first and foremost,” Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said. “His basketball skill and on-court play speaks for itself and we know he has a great career ahead of him. We will support Caris through this time and know that he will join us on the court as soon as he is able.”

The Pacers expected to get several advantages from the acquisition.

LeVert’s contract is $4.8 million cheaper this season and likely cheaper than it would have been to re-sign Oladipo after this season.

Plus, LeVert is signed through 2022-23, as are three other Pacers starters. And while the 28-year-old Oladipo continues his comeback from a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee, LeVert looked like a player on the rise.

His scoring totals improved each of his first four seasons in the league and despite largely coming off the bench, this has been his best all-around season. He’s averaging 18.5 points and a career-best 6.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds.



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India vs Australia Live streaming 4th Test

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How, where and when to watch Australia vs India 4th Test live match at 5:00 AM IST on January 17, 2021

Tim Paine’s half-century, Cameron Green’s 47 and crucial contributions from Australia’s tail took them to 369 on the second day of the fourth Test against India in Brisbane. For the visitors, T Natarajan, Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur grabbed three wickets each to apply the brakes. Once Paine and Green’s 98-run partnership was broken, India made further inroads; but Pat Cummins gave Australia the perfect start by removing Shubman Gill for a low score. Rohit Sharma then fell for 44 to Nathan Lyon, as heading into the third day, India’s hopes rest on Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, who took them to 62 for 2.

Australia vs India 4th Test is available to view in India on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3 and Sony Six channels.

When does the Aus vs Ind live streaming start?
The Aus vs Ind live streaming will start at 5:00 AM India time on January 17, 2021.

Where is the Aus vs Ind match being played?
The Aus vs Ind match is being played at the Gabba in Brisbane.

On which TV channels will Aus vs Ind live coverage be available?
In India, Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3 and Sony Six will telecast the match live.

Where can one find Aus vs Ind live score and commentary online?
The fastest and most comprehensive live score and details will be available here: Aus vs Ind live

Who are the captains for the Aus vs Ind game?
The captains are Tim Paine (Australia) and Ajinkya Rahane (India).

Who are the umpires for the Aus vs Ind game?
The on-field umpires for tomorrow’s game are Bruce Oxenford and Paul Wilson. The TV umpire will be Paul Reiffel.

Who is the match referee for tomorrow’s Aus vs Ind game?
The match referee for is David Boon.

All telecast and streaming timings are according to information received from the host broadcaster.

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Browns’ Garrett wants to ‘leave an impression’ on Chiefs’ Mahomes

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CLEVELAND — Myles Garrett has only respect for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, a generational talent on another level from other players in the NFL.

Reverence aside, Garrett hopes to make Mahomes remember meeting him in the playoffs.

Forever.

“I want him to be able to go home when he has his kid or kids and tell them that he went against Myles Garrett,” the Browns‘ star defensive end said Friday after he and his teammates had their last full practice before facing top-seeded Kansas City in Sunday’s divisional playoff game.

”It is not just me versus him — it is the Browns versus the Chiefs,” Garrett said. “But individually, I like to leave an impression on everybody I go against.”

Garrett’s ready to take on the Super Bowl champions, and he believes the Browns (12-5) are as well.

Cleveland’s not being given much of a chance at Arrowhead Stadium, but that was the case a week ago when the Browns went into Heinz Field as underdogs and stunned the Steelers despite missing their coach and two top players because of COVID-19.

The Browns are healthier, and Garrett insists hungrier. Satisfaction hasn’t been attained.

“You have to prove what you are worth day in and day out,” Garett said. “Every time those lights are on and we are on the field, we have to show that we are a great team. Here is another opportunity to show that.”

It’s a monumental task for the Browns, who will be facing an offense with no weaknesses and a quarterback capable of turning the mundane into magical.

There is no one like Mahomes, who has 38 TD passes this season and can lean on playoff experience Garrett and the Browns lack.

“He is kind of regarded as the face of the league right now,” Garrett said.

Since coming back after missing two games with COVID-19, Garrett has played well but isn’t delivering the same game-swinging plays he did earlier this season, when strip-sacks and fumble recoveries were common place for the All-Pro.

Garrett’s been close. He wants to be closer this week against Mahomes.

“I’m due,” Garrett said.

Is now the time?

“Absolutely. This should be the game to do it,” said Garrett. “One of the best teams in the league, if not the best team in the league, but they have to go in there and they have to prove it, and we have to prove that we can battle with anybody.”

Garrett has done plenty of studying on Mahomes, and knows the Browns can’t take a play off. None.

The key to stopping the Chiefs is forcing mistakes, and Mahomes rarely makes any.

“The guy is great with his feet and he is great throwing off of the run,” Garrett said. “He can make plays in any part of the field so we have to be prepared for that. Do not jump for those ball fakes. If you take your shot at him, make it clean and try to take the ball away from him.

“The best place to be on the field with Patrick is with the ball in our hands instead of him because he is great with it.”

The Browns have gone further than anyone outside the team expected.

Garrett wants to keep going.

“We are here. We might as well be great,” he said. “Nobody is excited about just getting a ticket to the dance. Like I said, you want to dance with the pretty girl. You want to shoot your shot, and the worst she can say is no.

“As long as you go out there and you take your best shot, you will be proud of the result, but we are not satisfied until we see how far we can get.”



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