Some interesting playoff results highlighted Monday’s day in the world of sports. It was a relatively calm and quiet Monday after a busy weekend that included the Kentucky Derby, the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, and an NBA playoff game that probably will not be matched by any other game this season. Even though it was a quiet day, the sports news and insight that you need to know is available on the quietest and busiest of sports days in the Daily Six Pack.
Here are the top sports stories for May 5:
Game 1 Dud
The Houston Rockets were in the most ideal of NBA playoff spots in Game 1. The Los Angeles Clippers had one day off to travel in between closing out the San Antonio Spurs and starting the second round. Chris Paul was sidelined with the hamstring injury that hampered him in Game 7 of the first round on Saturday. The Rockets responded with a 117-101 loss.
It was an embarrassing display of basketball from the Rockets, but a lot of credit needs to go to the Clippers as well. When they should have tired late in the game, they simply poured it on, outscoring the Rockets by 20 points in the second half. All five starts for the Clippers finished in double figures and Jamal Crawford added 21 points in 32 minutes off the bench. The Hack-A-DeAndre plan did not work as Jordan hit six of his 11 tosses from the stripe.
It was a strange game overall for the Rockets. James Harden only took 13 shots in the game and had 20 points. Corey Brewer and Josh Smith each took 12 shots off the bench and combined to shoot 1-of-10 from beyond the arc. Dwight Howard had 22 and 10 to pace the Rockets. It was Blake Griffin that stole the show with 26, 14, and 13 for one of the most impressive triple-doubles from a big man in playoff history.
The Rockets tried to push the pace, as they did all season long, but that only seemed to fuel the Clippers. A fast-paced series may start to have an impact in the later games, but the Clippers managed the quick turnaround beautifully. The Rockets will be favored in Game 2, but the fact that they lost this game so badly without Chris Paul in the lineup is a big problem.
Lost That Loving Feeling
The Cleveland Cavs missed Kevin Love in Game 1. That wasn’t the sole reason that they lost, but it had an impact on the offensive end of the floor. The Cavs were victimized by a hot-shooting Bulls team in their 99-92 defeat. The Cavs mostly overcame a slow start after falling behind by 12 before the first buzzer, but they never led in the game. The deficit was trimmed to just two points in the fourth quarter, but the Cavs could not get over the hump.
Chicago made two-thirds of their wide open mid-range looks, while the Cavs struggled on mid-range jumpers, which is one of the strengths of Kevin Love’s game. Chicago’s Big Three of Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose, and Jimmy Butler combined for 66 points, 20 rebounds, and 15 assists against just three turnovers. Cleveland’s Big Three of Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and now Iman Shumpert (?) combined for 71 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists. Depth was a major issue for the Cavs thanks to the suspension of JR Smith. Irving had 30 to lead the Cavs and James was an assist shy of a triple-double, but LeBron was just 9-of-22 from the floor.
The biggest concern for the Cavs is that Tristan Thompson was ineffective on the offensive end. In 37 minutes, Thompson had just two field goal attempts. Thompson will need to get more involved in the offense when he is in the game with Love out. He pulled down three offensive rebounds, eight total, but he needed to be more assertive offensively.
It’s also fair to wonder about the coaching mismatch in this series. Tom Thibodeau has been down this road many times. After some tumultuous moments with his team earlier this season, things seem to have gotten better. David Blatt seemed lost during stretches of this game. The fact that the Cavs were beaten so badly in the first and third quarters is a matter of coaching. It’s just one game, and the Cavs will probably bounce back in Game 2, but it is definitely something to be worried about.
A Capital W
In what was a fantastic game between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers, the Capitals took a 2-1 series win with a 1-0 victory. Jay Beagle’s bad-bounce goal was the difference in the game and Braden Holtby was terrific with 30 saves. This was truly an outstanding game with great pace and excellent action up and down the ice. It was also a physical game.
Overall, it was a bit of a rarity for the Rangers, who failed to pay attention to the details. The Rangers were destroyed in the faceoff circle by a 40-18 count. The Rangers spent most of the third period getting their defense involved in the offensive zone, but their play along the boards was not up to par. The Capitals defensemen did a great job stopping the Rangers from cycling and made it a point to beat up on smaller players like Martin St. Louis and Dan Boyle.
Jay Beagle, who has been one of Washington’s best players throughout the playoffs, scored the lone goal and also won 10 of his 12 faceoffs. An adjustment needs to be made by the Rangers after such a poor showing in the faceoff circle. The Capitals were able to establish puck possession and it made the Rangers very vulnerable. The Rangers play with a speed advantage over most teams and they cannot do that without the puck.
This will be a long series. Both teams played well on Monday night, though I am nitpicking the Rangers. This is the best series of them all and it has provided great theater so far.
Was Pacquiao Hand“cuffed” During Mayweather Fight?
Neal ElAttrache confirmed what trainer Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao said after the fight with Floyd Mayweather about a shoulder injury. The famous orthopedic surgeon, who often does surgery for MLB pitchers, said that Pacquiao will be out of action well into 2016 as he rehabs from a “significant” rotator cuff tear.
Pacquiao reportedly suffered the tear in mid-April, and there were some discussions about postponing the fight, but the amount of money at stake and the hype leading up to the bout were far too much to overlook. Pacquiao did seem tentative throughout the fight and this injury certainly would explain that.
Paperwork problems before the fight prevented Pacquiao from getting any advanced treatment on the injury, which was a factor in the bout according to Pacquiao’s camp. All of this will be met with a lot of cynicism from casual boxing observers and even some fight fans. It looks like a good way to set up a rematch. Mayweather argued after the fight that he was injured and sore as well, but the torn rotator cuff diagnosis goes above and beyond standard aches and pains for boxers in their mid-to-late 30s.
La’el Collins is now listed as an undrafted free agent. He will not be eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft and barring an NFL decision on his status, he will not be eligible for the supplemental draft either. Collins was asked to comply with the investigation of the shooting death of a pregnant ex-girlfriend. The baby was born alive, but has since passed away.
Collins is not a person of interest in the case. Regardless, NFL teams took him off of their draft board last week and a projected first-round pick went undrafted. Rex Ryan reportedly met with Collins in Baton Rouge on Monday as the new Buffalo Bills head coach was in the area. Nothing has come out of that meeting, which was not agreed to by Collins’s representation.
Collins will have to sign as an undrafted free agent and work his way into the financial security that he expected from being a first-round pick. It’s a sad situation all around, especially for the family of the deceased.
The Boston Red Sox have gotten off to a very slow start this season and their task may have gotten more difficult on Monday. Hanley Ramirez slammed into the outfield wall and sprained his shoulder. If it turns out to be serious, it could mean more surgery for Ramirez, who has had surgery on that same left shoulder on two other occasions.
At worst, Ramirez will likely be placed on the disabled list on Tuesday and the Red Sox will have to move forward without him. That will likely mean more playing time for Brock Holt.
The free agent spending spree has not worked out so far for Boston, as the Red Sox are just 12-14. They are only four games back in the mediocre AL East and they have lost four straight and seven of their last 10.
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