After a long holiday weekend, the farthest thing from your mind is a six pack. Fortunately, you can’t get a buzz off of The Daily Six pack, which is a list of the top six sports stories in the world today with insight and analysis into how they affect the teams and players involved, as well as the betting market. With all sorts of things to recap and look forward to this week, join us as we take a look around the leagues and see what is happening.
A Terrifying Fall
Golden State Warriors fans are probably still holding their breath about the fall that Steph Curry took on Monday night. The Warriors lost the game 128-115, but that wasn’t the concern for Golden State. Curry says that he is fine and should play Game 5, but there were all sorts of injuries that could have happened. He landed on his neck and shoulder after going airborne over Trevor Ariza. There could have been broken bones, a concussion, or worse. Surprisingly, Curry seems to be just fine, though probably in a little bit of pain.
The Warriors put the Rockets on the brink of elimination with a blowout win in Game 3 and seemed to take their foot off the gas a little bit in Game 4. The loss of Curry didn’t help matters either. James Harden’s second 40+-point effort paced the Rockets and kept their 2015 NBA Finals hopes alive.
This series should be done in five games. Travel problems in and around Houston due to flooding could delay both teams from leaving, so Game 5 could be a little bit sluggish compared to the rest of the series. Keep that in mind when handicapping the game. See if you can find out the itineraries for both teams.
One of the underrated elements of this Warriors team is how good of a coach Steve Kerr has been. This is his first head coaching job and his time in the front office seems to have helped him with determining player skill sets and putting his players in best positions to succeed. Kerr will have a coaching advantage over either Eastern Conference boss, so the Warriors are going to be a very attractive pick for the NBA Finals, in large part because of Kerr, even if bettors aren’t betting with that as the focus.
A lot of things happened over the weekend in this Cleveland Cavs vs. Atlanta Hawks series. The series should end on Tuesday night as the Cavs have a chance to finish off the Hawks with a sweep. Matthew Dellavedova is in the news again. It was his loose ball scrum that injured Kyle Korver and then he was the victim of Al Horford’s Flagrant-2 foul that completely changed the dynamic of Game 3.
“Delly”, as he is affectionately referred to in Cleveland, is now beloved by the Cavs’ fan base and vilified by seemingly everybody else. I’m not going to debate the call. There’s no benefit to that. It’s done and over with Horford did not face any supplemental discipline for the elbow drop on Dellavedova. What this does speak to is the importance of the Cavs’ bench and depth and the impact that it has had. With Kevin Love out and Kyrie Irving severely banged up, Cleveland needed somebody to step up. Dellavedova has played the “pest” role nicely, but has also contributed offensively. Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, and JR Smith have saved this team in the postseason and GM David Griffin deserves a ton of credit for those two acquisitions.
LeBron James’s ridiculous 37-18-15 stat line in the Game 3 overtime win left him completely gassed. The earliest that the NBA Finals can begin is June 4, so the Cavs definitely have some incentive to end the series on Tuesday night. The same can be said of the Warriors on Wednesday.
The NBA playoffs have become a war of attrition more than anything else. Injuries have changed the complexion of most of the series this postseason and there may be more to come.
NHL Eastern Conference Playoffs Update
The New York Rangers face elimination for the fourth time this postseason on Tuesday night. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who were 32-8-1 at home and 18-17-6 on the road during the regular season, have won two of the three games at Madison Square Garden this postseason and are just 5-4 at home, compared to 6-3 on the road. The Rangers trailed the Washington Capitals 3-1 last round and won three straight to advance to the conference finals for the second straight season.
This has been a really difficult series to handicap. Game 1 went as expected with a 2-1 Rangers win, their seventh by that score this postseason. The teams combined for 25 goals in Games 2, 3, and 4, before the Lightning shut the Rangers down with a 2-0 win in Game 5. The Rangers had given up 20 goals in their first two series, spanning 12 games. The Rangers have allowed 16 goals in five games in this series.
The goaltending matchup will be the key in this game. Ben Bishop has outshined Henrik Lundqvist in this series and that has made all the difference. The Rangers need their all-world goaltender to play up to his capability on Tuesday night or the Lightning will be making their second Stanley Cup Finals appearance in franchise history.
For more on this game, check out our game preview.
NHL Western Conference Playoffs Update
The Anaheim Ducks will have two chances to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals after escaping Game 5 with an overtime victory. The Ducks were less than two minutes away from taking a 3-2 series lead with a regulation victory when Jonathan Toews scored two goals in 72 seconds, including one from below the goal line, to send the game to overtime. Ryan Kesler’s shot on a 2-on-1 break kicked off of Corey Crawford’s pad right to Matt Beleskey who fired home the game-winner 45 seconds into overtime.
This has been a fascinating series. The Blackhawks have won in triple overtime and double overtime in Games 2 and 4 and the Ducks have won the other three games, two of them in regulation. The growing storyline from this season that has been hammered home in these Six Pack recaps and also the game previews is that the Blackhawks need to find a way to get over the hump on defense. Kyle Cumiskey played only 10:48 in Game 5 and Kimmo Timonen managed to be on the ice for two of Anaheim’s goals in his 8:06 of ice time.
It will be interesting to see how much Chicago’s top defensemen have left in Game 6. Another long trip two-thirds of the way across the country following a wave of emotions in Game 5 will take its toll. The Ducks are re-energized with their win because it bailed out goaltender Frederik Andersen, who has been so good this postseason for the Ducks.
Game 6 is on Wednesday night, so there will be more on that game in tomorrow’s Six Pack, but there will be a lot of talk about this game and this series throughout the day today.
Not Lovin’ It
Ray McDonald was released by the Chicago Bears after yet another domestic violence arrest. This one also included charges of child endangerment. Police were called to an apartment in Santa Clara, CA, home of McDonald’s former team, the San Francisco 49ers. The accuser is McDonald’s former fiancée and the child is theirs.
McDonald has been in and out of legal trouble and it’s likely that his NFL career is over. Frankly, it should be. There are way too many allegations in the past, and now the present again, for him to continue receiving gainful employment in the NFL. The Bears were hesitant to sign McDonald, but GM Ryan Pace put together a compelling enough argument to take a gamble with non-guaranteed money. Clearly it did not work out. There is also a pending rape allegation against McDonald.
At least the Bears did the right thing and got rid of McDonald right away. The NFL and its teams are taking a much harder stance on domestic violence of late and the Bears acted swiftly. It will be interesting to see which team, if any, takes a chance on Ray Rice as he returns from his season-long suspension for knocking out his fiancée in a hotel elevator. Greg Hardy already found work, so the ability to contribute on the football field still supersedes human decency for some teams.
Carl Edwards got back into the winner’s circle on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Circuit with his win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Edwards snapped a 31-race drought and picked up his first win as a member of Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards and his crew decided to push it with his low fuel level and the decision paid off handsomely.
Juan Pablo Montoya took the victory in the Indy 500, his second career victory in the legendary race. He only led nine laps, but it was enough to push him to the win.
Chris Kirk saved par with an outstanding chip shot on 18 to win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in Fort Worth, TX. Kirk’s 12-under was one shot better than Jason Bohn, Jordan Spieth, and Brandt Snedeker. Spieth shot an opening round 64, but his second-round 73 really hurt. The top of the board put up a lot of low scores on Sunday, including a 63 from Bohn and a 65 from Spieth.
Josh Hamilton returned to the field for the Texas Rangers and went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in Texas’s 10-8 win over Cleveland on the diamond. Hamilton had a misplay in left field on a sinking liner from Jason Kipnis, but looked fine otherwise.
Daniel Cormier choked out Anthony Johnson to win the light heavyweight championship belt at UFC 187. Chris Weidman had no trouble with Vitor Belfort to defend his middleweight title and extend his perfect record to 13-0. Andrei Arlovski provided the only upset with a first-round knockout of Travis Browne.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.