James Harden, Chris Paul among stars ‘Under Duress’

NFL Draft. NBA playoffs. This week has it all.

The fate of dozens of franchises between the two leagues are on the line, with NFL teams looking to hit on the ultimate crapshoot and NBA teams trying to survive and advance. Chris Broussard’s latest “Under Duress” list is headed by the two figures under the most scrutiny as the Sixers risk blowing a 3-0 series lead against the Raptors.

Here is the “First Things First” host’s complete list of those “Under Duress.”

Chris Broussard reveals who’s ‘Under Duress’

Chris Broussard reveals who's 'Under Duress'

Chris Broussard reveals which sports figures are under the most pressure this week in the world of sports.

5. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns

The outlook: Everything shifted between the Suns and Hornets the moment Devin Book went down. Perhaps no team would keep rolling after losing an All-NBA player. But Phoenix, which won 28 more games than New Orleans in the regular season, has surprisingly struggled. Moreover, Paul has met an unlikely nemesis in rookie Jose Alvarado, who’s harassed the legendary point guard up and down the court the past few games. With Booker unlikely to play again in the series, CP3 bears the biggest burden. And in year 17, he cannot afford to lose.

Broussard’s thoughts: “Maybe Devin Booker will be back. There’s talk he’ll be back for Game 6, but I don’t think he’s going to be back. And I don’t think he’s going to play a ton of minutes, even if he does come back. So it’s on CP3. Chris, close these boys out. They are pesky. Jose Alvarado has held you to two eight-second violations, just close these boys out. Get rid of them, don’t have to do deal with them, move on to the next round, get Book back. This is CP3’s best chance to win a championship, that elusive one. Don’t play around with these guys and take them to a Game 7 and give them new life in New Orleans because that could get tricky.”

Chris Paul, Suns look to closeout Brandon Ingram & Pelicans

Chris Paul, Suns look to closeout Brandon Ingram & Pelicans

With all the talk going on about New Orleans upsetting Phoenix, the Suns responded with a 112-97 win over the Pelicans and are now one win from advancing despite playing without Devin Booker. Skip Bayless talks Suns-Pelicans.

4. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

The outlook: The league’s official most improved player and unofficial most electric young star made all the winning plays needed for the Grizzlies to pull off another double-digit comeback against the Timberwolves. That includes 18 points in the fourth quarter and an acrobatic layup before the buzzer with the game tied. In the aftermath of it all, everyone is still talking about his dunk. It could be remembered as one of the greatest ever, but not if Memphis doesn’t finish off Minnesota.

Broussard’s thoughts: “You can’t follow that up, Ja, by losing this series. And yeah, I went series. Minnesota, they’re still alive. They have no idea what they blew in Game 5. So they’re coming out tonight and they think they’re going to win. Ja, you got to close them out, get rid of them so that dunk doesn’t become a footnote. That dunk, if they lose this series, will just be a great dunk, a wonderful dunk. Make it mean something Ja. Take these boys out tomorrow.”

Ja Morant’s GW-layup gives Grizzlies 3-2 lead over T-Wolves

Ja Morant's GW-layup gives Grizzlies 3-2 lead over T-Wolves

Ja Morant made the game-winning layup with one second left, leading all scorers with 30 points as Memphis took a 3-2 series edge over Minnesota. Skip Bayless explains why he rates the Grizzlies’ comeback a perfect 10.

3. Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

The outlook: In the past three months, the Niners said they were going to extend Samuel, Samuel disassociated from the team on Instagram and requested a trade, and the front office reiterated their desire to keep the star receiver. If he’s going anywhere, it likely happens Thursday. Samuel would fetch serious draft capital, which the Niners currently don’t have. There’s reportedly significant interest in the All-Pro wideout from many teams, but the one most often linked to a trade is the Jets.

Broussard’s thoughts: “Here’s what I say to you, Deebo: Be careful what you wish for. The Jets? The Jets have had their moments. But think about this: you’re not in a bad situation, I don’t think. A lot of people will be like, once you leave Kyle Shanahan, we’ll see if you’re as good. And if you go to the jets, I’ll just remind you the last guy that was on — you’re not even at this level yet, Deebo — but he was on a hall of fame trajectory, skilled player, Le’Veon Bell. Went to the Jets for some money and we haven’t heard a thing from him since. So just be careful, Deebo . You still don’t have to get traded if you start talking to the Niners’ front office.”

New York Jets has a possible landing spot for Deebo Samuel?

New York Jets has a possible landing spot for Deebo Samuel?

With rumors swirling that the Jets might be first in line when it comes to acquiring Deebo Samuel, Colin Cowherd suggests a deal that would benefit the 49ers.

2. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

The outlook: Mayfield’s days in Cleveland are done. The Browns’ acquisition of Deshaun Watson in March assured as much. But that was five weeks ago, and they haven’t been able to find a willing trade partner. Mayfield’s guaranteed salary in 2022 ($18.9 million) coupled with his uneven play the past four years could ultimately force Cleveland to cut him. We might have our answer this weekend, as a few teams remain in the QB market and might not be enthralled with their options in a lukewarm QB draft class.

Broussard’s thoughts: “Tonight could be the night. He’s been waiting a month and a half to get traded. One report even said he’s definitely going to Seattle. We’ll see if that happens. Others are thinking Carolina could do something. But tonight Baker Mayfield could be moved, or over the weekend he could be moved. Lot to see there. And if he’s not, then we know he’s going to get released and then we’ll see who picks him up. But a big weekend for Baker Mayfield because he finally could find out where his future is. Obviously he’s not going anywhere and being named the starter. He’s going to have to fight for it and play for it, but at least he’ll be out of Cleveland and no man’s land.”

Will Baker Mayfield be traded to Seahawks on Draft Night?

Will Baker Mayfield be traded to Seahawks on Draft Night?

According to one mock draft from NFL Network, it’s a “lock” that Baker Mayfield heads to the Seahawks in exchange for a fourth-round pick. Shannon Sharpe discusses whether the former No. 1 pick will find a new home on Draft Night or not.

1. James Harden/Doc Rivers, philadelphia 76ers

The outlook: Harden hasn’t been himself since he was traded to Philly two months ago. His struggles have been even more pronounced in the playoffs, as he’s shooting 37.6% while averaging 18.4 points per game. It’s become a greater issue in the wake of Joel Embiid tearing a ligament in his thumb just as the Sixers built a 3-0 lead in the series. They’ve lost two straight to the Raptors, which has also turned the attention to their head coach. Rivers is the only one in league history to blow more than one 3-1 lead. No NBA team has ever blown a 3-0 lead.

Broussard’s thoughts: “James Harden, we all know about his playoff struggles in big games, now we’re there. He wasn’t that great in Games 1-5. … But now, Game 6, this is where it begins to haunt James Harden. He’s going to be under immense pressure tonight to get rid of these Raptors. And then Doc. He’s blown three 3-1 leads, more than any other coach in history. … If they lose tonight, I think most people around the basketball world think they would lose the series. So the pressure’s on. Doc, get rid of these boys, get rid of them tonight so that we don’t have to talk about this.”

Is it panic time for 76ers with 3-2 lead over Raptors?

Is it panic time for 76ers with 3-2 lead over Raptors?

The 76ers have dropped two straight closeout games to the Raptors. Marcellus Wiley explains why it is not panic time for Philly just yet.

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