The weekend is finally upon us and it’s a holiday weekend to boot! A lot of great things were going on last night and a lot of great things are on tap for the weekend. The NBA playoffs are heating up even more and the NHL playoffs have provided plenty of excitement over the last few days. This weekend also includes UFC and NASCAR, so sports junkies will have all day entertainment to celebrate this great country of ours with friends, family, and, of course, a Six Pack.
A Salute to the Troops
This is an exciting time of year with the playoffs in the NBA and the NHL, MLB action, and various other sporting events, but none of it could be possible without the sacrifice of our brave servicemen and women throughout the years. From the earliest conflicts in our nation’s history to the battles still be fought to preserve the freedoms that we know and love, our military has long, proud tradition of defending our country. Some paid the ultimate sacrifice.
We all want to focus on firing up the grill, entertaining friends, enjoying the extra day off, or immersing ourselves in sports, but I ask that all of you take a moment, a minute, an hour, or any other length of time to think about those that are no longer with us. Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, but it is also a day of perspective. It’s nearly impossible to find somebody who has not been affected by the loss of a family member or friend that proudly served in the United States military. A heartfelt thank you to those soldiers, their families, friends, and anybody else that they left behind. Also, a thank you to all of our living service members, past and present.
A Harden-Fought Loss
James Harden did everything that he could. For the second straight game, Harden finished one assist shy of a triple-double, but it wasn’t enough as the Golden State Warriors opened up a 2-0 series lead. Harden had 38 points, 10 boards, and nine dimes, but his fumble of the game-winning shot attempt preserved the Warriors’ 99-98 victory.
It goes without saying that Game 3 is a must-win for the Houston Rockets. They erased a 3-1 series deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers in the last round, but a 3-0 hole against the Warriors is a death sentence for their NBA Finals dreams. The Rockets got a gutsy effort from injured center Dwight Howard, who had 19 points and 17 rebounds. He certainly wishes he had a couple of the four free throws he missed on seven attempts.
It’s not shocking that Steph Curry led the Warriors with 33 points. Klay Thompson had an off day by going just 1-of-7 from three. There are a lot of angles to take when looking at this game. Neither the Rockets nor Warriors played all that well. Houston shot the ball poorly from distance, as did Golden State. Golden State turned the ball over 16 times. The Rockets were brutal defensively most of the night.
But, the better team won and now the lesser team has its back against the wall. Game 3 is on Saturday.
The Anaheim Ducks lost home ice advantage by losing Game 2. They got it right back by winning Game 3. Simon Despres’s goal with 55 seconds left in the second period held up and the Ducks celebrated a 2-1 win to hand the Blackhawks their first loss of the playoffs at home. The Blackhawks outshot the Ducks 10-5 in the third period as they feverishly tried to tie the game. The Blackhawks were 0-for-5 on the power play, while Anaheim scored on their lone attempt.
In a storyline to keep watching throughout the postseason, Kyle Cumiskey played just 12 shifts and 8:51 of ice time on defense. Kimmo Timonen played 11 shifts and 6:50 of ice time. That left Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook to each log over 28 minutes of ice time. After four Blackhawks defensemen played at least 46 minutes in their triple overtime win in Game 2, the defense for the Blackhawks will be running on fumes by the end of this season.
Game 4 will be on Saturday and it will be a must-win scenario for the Blackhawks. Given their lack of depth on defense, having to win three out of four, including two in Anaheim with the long travel will be a daunting task.
Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It
MLB pitcher Will Smith, whose unfortunately common name is shared with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was ejected on Thursday night for having a foreign substance on his arm and using it on the baseball. Smith had a mixture of rosin and sunscreen, which is often used by pitchers to get a better grip on the ball on chilly nights. He was using it in the bullpen and forgot to remove it before entering the game. Or so he says.
In any event, Smith and Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell both echoed the same sentiments. Pitchers use things to improve grip all the time. Smith was adamant after the game that it does not give a competitive advantage. Braves slugger Freddie Freeman told the media that he has no problem with a pitcher trying to get a better grip because it’s preferable to getting hit in the head.
This latest incident may force MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to take another look at the rules for doctoring a baseball. Pitchers used to do a lot of different things to the ball, like scuff it with a nail file, apply spit to it, or whatever else they could find. That forced the rule, but it seems to be antiquated nowadays. Whether or not it alters the trajectory of the ball is up for debate, but it’s certainly better than hitters getting plunked.
A dual main event is on tap for UFC 187 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas this weekend. Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier will fight for the vacant light heavyweight title vacated by the suspension of Jon “Bones” Jones. Jones was supposed to be in this fight, but his hit-and-run arrest last month resulted in felony charges and an indefinite suspension from UFC.
Vitor Belfort and Chris Weidman will meet for the middleweight title. This could be Belfort’s last shot at the title. Weidman enters a perfect 12-0. Belfort is 38 years old with 34 professional fights under his belt, and has not fought since he headlined UFC Fight Night 32 in November of 2013.
In total, 12 matches are on the entire fight card, which begins on UFC Fight Pass, moves to FOX Sports 1, and then to pay-per-view. Look for our preview of the main event card this afternoon.
Sunday Night Lights
The NASCAR circuit enjoyed a celebration of the stars last weekend by taking a break from the Sprint Cup Series. The Sprint Showdown and Sprint All-Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway gave the stock car community a chance to pay homage to the best of the best in the sport. On Sunday night, things return to normal. Matt Kenseth has the pole position for the Coca-Cola 600.
Odds are not out for the longest race of the NASCAR season as of yet, but Joey Logano finished second in qualifying, following by Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Denny Hamlin. Hamlin won the All-Star race last weekend and Biffle was the champion of the Sprint Showdown. Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex Jr. round out the top 10 positions. Jimmie Johnson will start 13th.
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