It’s Thirsty Thursday and that means it’s time to crack open a Six Pack and look at the top stories from the sports world. There’s plenty to talk about with the playoffs still going in the NBA and NHL, as well as plenty of baseball. Over the next couple of days, we’ll look at the Preakness Stakes and the weekend’s UFC action.
Here are the top stories for May 14:
The Atlanta Hawks took a 3-2 edge over the Washington Wizards with an 82-81 win in Game 5 on Wednesday night. Al Horford’s game-winning bucket with 1.9 seconds left put a capper on a game that managed to have a lot of excitement and drama even though only 163 points were scored. The Wizards shot 37.5 percent from the floor and 23.5 percent from beyond the arc, even with the return of John Wall. Wall’s fractured hand was very clearly a factor. In 37 minutes Wall scored 15 points with seven assists, but he turned the ball over six times.
The Hawks were a little bit better at 41 percent from the floor, but shot 22.7 percent from deep and turned the ball over 23 times. Al Horford had 23 points and 11 rebounds, including the game-winning bucket. This was a game that the Hawks clearly needed to have. Both teams have been plagued by inconsistency throughout the series, but the Hawks could not go into a must-win situation in Game 6 on the road.
I know that we’re all NBA fans, but this series has been brutal. As mentioned yesterday, all of these series have been brutal. Between bad basketball, questionable officiating, and far too many replay reviews, these series have lacked the excitement that the NBA playoffs should have. We’ve seen four buzzer-beaters in the last week and it doesn’t feel that way, does it?
Turning the Tables
The Golden State Warriors have officially flipped the series against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies scored 78 points in their Game 5 loss. It often gets lost that the Warriors were one of the top teams in defensive efficiency because they score so many points and often allow a fair amount of points because of the pace they play at. They really cranked up the defensive intensity in Game 5.
Good defense allowed the Warriors to get out and run and they outscored the Grizzlies 29-6 on the fast break. The Warriors also hit their open looks from distance by going 14-of-30 from three-point range. The Grizzlies were just 4-of-15. Perhaps the most impressive part of Golden State’s 20-point win is that it was methodical. Golden State just kept gradually adding on. In some of these blowouts this postseason, the winning team has started fast and put distance between the two teams on the scoreboard. In this one, the Warriors just systematically dismantled the Grizzlies.
It’d be a surprise to see this series go to seven games, even though Memphis is at home in Game 6. Steve Kerr has outcoached Dave Joerger and the Grizzlies don’t really have an answer for it. Memphis has gotten no production from its bench in this series and the Warriors have taken over.
In a series that deserved overtime in Game 7, the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals went to overtime. Derek Stepan put a fortuitous bounce past Braden Holtby to send the Rangers into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Capitals have nobody but to blame but themselves after failing to close the series out on three different occasions. They controlled most of the play in the third period and overtime, but they never got a quality scoring chance to take the lead or win the game.
The biggest problem for the Capitals is that their depth lines were the best throughout the series. Alex Ovechkin scored in Game 7, but he was mostly a non-factor in the second half of the game. Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider were constantly around the puck for the Rangers and eventually got rewarded for their efforts.
The Rangers will be favored to take down the Tampa Bay Lightning in the next round. This should be a pretty fast series with a lot of up and down play. It could be very exciting.
No other headline necessary. Corey Kluber was ridiculous on Wednesday night for the Indians. He lost his no-hitter in the seventh, but only pitch count robbed him from making an attempt at history. Far rarer than the no-hitter or perfect game is a 20-strikeout performance. Kluber punched out 18 St. Louis Cardinals over eight innings in a 2-0 Indians win. Kluber had 113 pitches after eight, but acting manager Brad Mills went to closer Cody Allen, robbing baseball fans everywhere of potential history.
By Game Score, Kluber had the best eight-inning start ever. Kluber should have gone back out for the ninth. Per many experts, Kluber has some of the best pitching mechanics in baseball. Most of his pitches were stress-free with only two runners on base all game long and 20 strikeout games are so rare. Managers have obsessed over pitch counts and injuries have spiked anyway.
In any event, if you saw the game, you saw history.
Montador Family to Sue NHL
Former NHL defenseman Steve Montador agreed to donate his brain to science in the event of his death. The 35-year-old died suddenly in February. Friends and family had noticed behavioral pattern changes and Montador had dealt with depression. On Wednesday, the Canadian Sports Concussion Project confirmed what most people suspected. Montador was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
CTE is a fancy way of talking about repeated head trauma. Many football players and hockey players have shown signs of it following their playing careers and some have died as a result of it. Some NFL suicides have been attributed to CTE and it has become a hot button issue. Chris Borland recently retired due to his concerns about CTE.
Stories like those, with ex-players or their families suing the leagues or players retiring at a young age are going to become more and more frequent as more research is done.
The Madden Curse will hit the New York Giants this season after Odell Beckham, Jr. was named the cover player for the 2016 version of the popular video game. On a rather slow news day, this story sent ripples throughout Giants Nation as the 22-year-old won the fan vote to be on the cover.
The Madden Curse has taken Adrian Peterson, Peyton Hillis, Brett Favre, Marshall Faulk, Michael Vick, Ray Lewis, Donovan McNabb, and Shaun Alexander as victims in the past. Hopefully Beckham sleeps with a rabbit’s foot or gets a tattoo of a horseshoe before next season.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.