There are just three rounds left in the AFL season and, as both the ladder and ESPN Power Rankings show, the race for the top four is just starting to hot up.To reflect just how close it is, Hawthorns slip-up to Melbourne at the weekend has resulted in a fall of four spots from first to fifth in the rankings.The Hawks will likely need to win their final three matches if theyre to secure the minor premiership, as their percentage is far below that of the teams which are just one win in arrears. But, with crucial matches coming up against a desperate North Melbourne and West Coast in Perth, it wont be easy for the premiers.Another battle is emerging in the middle of the table: North Melbourne did itself no favours going down to the Bulldogs last week and, looking at its run home, may struggle to hold eighth spot.The Saints sent a statement to the Roos in its 12-goal win over the Blues and, should they cause an upset at home this week against the Swans, a shock finals berth could be on the cards.St Kildas run home is rated a 7 to the Roos 5, but even one of Norths home games (against Sydney) is to be played in Hobart.LegendForm: The higher the number, the better a teams recent form.Draw: The higher the number, the easier a teams upcoming draw.Fitness: Determined by the number and quality of fit players available. A list in good shape is ranked around a 7; a list missing three or four best-22 players might be considered a 3 or 4.X-Factor: The number and quality of genuine match-winning players.Attack: Potency of the teams offence.Defence: Ability of the team to prevent the opposition from scoring. Grey Air VaporMax On Sale . The Browns coaching search remains incomplete. Womens Air VaporMax Online . Three came down to the fourth quarter while quarterbacks continued to shine in all four games; so important to the overall quality of the game. http://www.cheapairvapormaxoutlet.com/ . - The Oakland Raiders re-signed offensive lineman Khalif Barnes on Friday. Cheap Air VaporMax Store .5 million, one-year contract on Friday. Hawkins, who turns 41 in December, will compete with Rex Brothers for the closers role at spring training. Supply Air VaporMax Shop . Anthony Calvillo, through 20 CFL seasons, was frequently invincible and largely stoic in the heat of competition. But underneath the professional exterior he was, and is, compellingly human. WALTHAM, Mass. -- There are nights when Isaiah Thomas?returns to the Boston Celtics practice facility to get up shots, and when hes finished, he takes a moment to look at the 17 title banners that ring the court and marvel at how he got here.Sometimes Im in here alone, and Im like, man, I play for the Boston Celtics. Im the franchise player for the Boston Celtics. Like, it doesnt make sense, said the 5-foot-9 Thomas, the 60th and final pick in the 2011 draft.But at the end of the day, I dreamed about stuff like that. So even though nobody believed that, I believed that one day it was going to happen. For it to happen and for me to be living my dream, its like every day Im happy.For the start of the season, Nike debuted campaigns for some of its top NBA players. There are posters around Boston that show Thomas driving at the rim with Chicagos Jimmy Butler trying to defend from behind with the headline, Pick me last again.It isnt lost on Thomas that a mere 20 months ago, he wasnt particularly happy. He was a third-string point guard tangled in the Phoenix Suns backcourt spiderweb. Still, it came as a surprise when the team dealt him -- four months into a four-year contract -- to the Celtics in the frenetic final moments before the 2015 trade deadline.Since that day, Thomas has spearheaded Bostons run to consecutive playoff appearances, earned his first All-Star nod, represented the Celtics on stage at the NBA draft lottery, served as the teams primary recruiter in the pursuit of top free agents including Kevin Durant and emerged as the face of one of the leagues most storied franchises. With help from Thomas, the Celtics landed another All-Star this summer,?Al Horford, and are the popular choice to push the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.Thomas beams with excitement when he talks about the potential for this years squad. But after looking forward, hes presented with a curveball that takes him back: What if the Celtics had never traded for him?Where would I be? I dont know. Probably somewhere else, Thomas said. I mean, the Phoenix thing just wasnt working out. It seemed like they didnt want me as bad as they did when the summertime happened. You never know. I dont know where I would be. Id be somewhere.Would Thomas be the face of another franchise?You never know. I mean, I always felt one day I was going to be, no matter where it was, he said. I dont know. Thats a tough question. I dont know where I would be. Knowing me, things would have worked out somewhere, but who says it would have worked out like it has since I got traded?As the conversation continues, Thomas is still processing the hypothetical. He eventually circles back to the question.I guess if that trade with me didnt happen, and this team never jelled -- everything just came together, slowly but surely, especially having a great coach in Brad Stevens -- if that all didnt happen, then Al Horfords not coming here. Kevin Durants not considering us, Thomas said.And the worlds not talking about the Boston Celtics as being a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference. Thats just fact.Its like a 10 percent chanceOn Feb. 19, 2015, Thomas sat near the back of the Suns bus that was set to take the team to the airport for a flight to Minnesota, where Phoenix was set to open the second half of the season. As the final minutes before the trade deadline ticked off, Thomas hoped the team would make a move to alleviate the backcourt logjam that was making everyone involved miserable.Although Thomas was fairly certain the Suns were going to move publicly disgruntled Goran Dragic, Thomas still phoned his agent to check in as the clock ticked toward 3 p.m. ET. Despite his being just four months into a four-year, $27 million deal, Thomas knew there was a chance he could be moved too.My agent was like, There might be something, but its like a 10 percent chance, Thomas said. And he didnt even bring up Boston.Back at the Celtics practice facility, Ainge had resigned himself to the fact that there simply might not be a deal to be made -- enough so that Ainge phoned Stevens about 10 minutes before the trade deadline and told him the roster was likely going to stay intact. Across the country in Sacramento, Stevens told an assistant to get the players ready for the start of an afternoon practice at Sleep Train Arena.Eight minutes later, Ainge called back. The Suns had re-engaged about a deal for Thomas that Ainge hadnt really considered a possibility because Phoenix had balked a few days earlier when Boston called to see if Thomas were available.On the Suns bus, word arrived that Dragic had been dealt to the Miami Heat. Thomas recalls a sense of relief washing over the bus, as players were excited that the backcourt logjam might ease.The deadline passed, but news about deals was still trickling out. Wright, who had been traded from Boston to Phoenix one month earlier, stood up and announced, IT, you just got traded! Thomas thought it was a joke. A Phoenix assistant coach climbed onto the bus a couple minutes later and confirmed the news.All the Suns got in return for Thomas was veteran guard Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first-round pick (it was Clevelands pick and checked in at No. 28 that year). Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, who cut his teeth in Bostons front office, later admitted, If I could get a mulligan, thatd be it.Gerald Green, who often shared the floor with Thomas in Phoenix during that 2014-15 season, said the two talked often about how they might thrive in the right situation. Green signed with Boston this summer, in large part because of Thomas presence and the Celtics status as contenders in the East. It doesnt surprise Green to see Thomas flourishing.We didnt want to see Isaiah go [in Phoenix], Green said. We were kind of blown away when he got traded because he was really one of the guys that kept the team pumping, on and off the court. So when he got traded, we kind of felt down as a team in Phoenix. We knew he was going to be successful here in Boston. We didnt know just how successful he could be.Just to see him to that point and this point now, I just smile, man. He was a guy that one team didnt want him, two teams didnt want him, and now a team like the Boston Celtics, who have championship aspirations, are just in love with him. It just makes me smile, man. Its kind of like looking at your little brother grow up.Isaiah was what we neededStevens isnt one for hypotheticals, but presented with the question of where Boston would be without Thomas, he admits that Thomas arrival was exactly what this team needed to move forward at that point.Ive never really thought about [what might have happened without Thomas], but it made us different because we had a guy that -- and Ive said this many times -- Isaiiah was what we needed, Stevens said.dddddddddddd Theres no question about that. And the players around him make him better too. I think he is such a good fit for the guys that are here, and they are such a good fit for him. And thats why it works, right? Hes been great. Its fun having him around.Its easy to forget now, but the Celtics roster was in a constant state of flux during that 2014-15 campaign, in which Boston carried a staggering 40 different players. The roster overhaul really started in December, when the team traded Rajon Rondo, the last holdover from the 2008 title squad, to Dallas in exchange for a package that included Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder?and draft picks.Crowder, used to playoff appearances in Dallas, remembers being leery of what Boston was trying to do, so much so that he confronted Stevens after a practice in January and demanded to know if the young coach was OK with tanking. Stevens was adamant that his lone focus was getting better, and the Celtics, a .500 team through mid-January, started making the sort of progress that calmed Crowder in the month leading up to Februarys trade deadline.That progress also gave Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confidence to explore moves that had the potential to make the team better at a time when some wondered if Bostons rebuild would be better served by stripping talent and losing games.I think the biggest thing for us was, under most circumstances, [the Suns deal] would be a trade that we would do because of how we felt about Isaiah, all day long, Ainge said. The only downside was we were going to get better in the second half of the year, when there wasnt much hope for us to really contend.That was the biggest question that, ultimately, it came down to. We just liked Isaiah better than a few spots higher in the draft, and we ended up making the playoffs that year, and I think that was good for lots of reasons -- just the morale of the team and our coaches.More than anything, we ended up getting a player thats hard to find in any draft, let alone going from -- what did we pick, 16 that year? If we had not done the deal, we probably would have ended up at maybe 12 or 13, I dont know. And we got Terry Rozier with that pick, whos going to help us this year.Its crazy to see Tom Bradys name on my phoneDespite everything he has accomplished the past 20 months, Thomas is far from satisfied. He is enthralled by the success of others at the pinnacle of their sport. Thats why hes close with boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Thats why, in a summer filled with adventures, he ranks getting to meet Hall of Famer -- and childhood idol -- Allen Iverson as maybe his biggest thrill. Also, after they exchanged numbers at the Durant pitch in the Hamptons, Thomas now casually exchanges text messages with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.Its crazy to see Tom Bradys name on my phone. It doesnt seem real. Just like playing for the Celtics and being that guy doesnt seem real, Thomas said. Like meeting David Ortiz and him knowing who I am, all that stuff doesnt seem real. Im blessed, man. And I dont take it for granted because a year and a half ago, it was like, I was the third-string point guard. Years before that, I was the 60th pick. A lot has changed, and its been nice.What hasnt changed is Thomas desire to improve. Thomas averaged 22.2 points and 6.2 assists per game last season, and that barely tells the story of how important he was to Bostons offense. Hes eager to prove to naysayers that he can maintain an All-Star level of play and continue to evolve his game. But what matters most to him is proving hes a winner, and his No. 1 goal is to take this team deeper in the playoffs.I just know the great players never get satisfied, he said. Im trying to put my name in the same categories as those players, whether it be Floyd Mayweather, Tom Brady. Im trying to learn from them and use my platform to be able to reach out and have relationships with those great players because I want to see how they think.I dont know it all. I dont know how to win at a high level when it comes to winning playoff series. But I want to learn. I think thats the best thing about the great players: They want to learn, they are willing to learn, and they are willing to get better.The Celtics starters endured some bumps early in training camp while integrating Horford -- mostly because everyone was being too unselfish -- but preseason play suggests the first unit should be one of Bostons strengths. Horford is such an ideal fit for this team, particularly the way he moves the ball offensively, and his back-line defense will help a team that tied for the fourth-best defensive rating in the league last season.Even better, Horfords quiet demeanor allows Thomas to remain in the spotlight. Before preseason games at TD Garden, Thomas was announced last, with Horford coming out a spot before him during starting the lineup.Als an easy guy to coexist with, Stevens said. Theres no question about that.Thomas recognized that more talent was needed to get this team where it wanted to go. He would have been fine sacrificing some of his own spotlight if the team could have hooked Durant, and Thomas wants Ainge to keep swinging for the fences. Thomas knows that more talent helps make the game easier for him. Hes thrilled to have Horford as his new running mate; it even allows Thomas to shoot for loftier goals, individually.I want more. I tell people: I want to be All-Star, I want to be All-NBA, one day I want to be an MVP, he said. Thats not just me talking. Thats goals that I have. Being on the Boston Celtics and being able to win and make the playoffs, those are achievable.Thomas, motivated highly by those who think his All-Star appearance last season was a fluke, has looked very much like a player hoping to get a return trip this February. Through Bostons first three games, Thomas is averaging a team-best 24.7 points per game while shooting 53.1 percent from the floor. Bostons offensive rating is 107.9 points per 100 possessions when Thomas is on the floor.Thomas can become the third Celtics player in the past 50 years to average 24 or more points in Bostons first four games on Wednesday against the Bulls, and would join elite company in Paul Pierce and Larry Bird.Its fair to wonder where Boston would be if that 2015 deadline had passed without activity. How would morale have been after another trip to the lottery? How would the Celtics have added talent without establishing a winning environment?Where would the Celtics be without Thomas? It seems fair to say the future wouldnt look quite so bright. China NFL Jerseys Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap Basketball Jerseys Online Stitched Hockey Jerseys Wholesale Baseball Jerseys Football Jerseys Outlet College Jerseys For Sale Cheap MLB Jerseys Wholesale Soccer Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys For Sale Wholesale NFL Jerseys ' ' '