An exciting Monday in the sports world left a lot of things undecided in the playoffs of the NHL and NBA. The Washington Capitals advanced to the second round in their winner-take-all game against the New York Islanders, but the other playoff series in action on Monday night all need at least one more game to be completed. Twenty-six MLB teams were in action following the postponement of the game between the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles due to safety concerns from rioters in Baltimore. There’s no shortage of news to talk about from Monday’s outcomes and the top six stories from the previous day are covered every weekday here at BangTheBook in the Daily Six Pack.
Here are the top sports stories for April 28:
The Beat Goes On
The Milwaukee Bucks were the biggest surprise winner in the NBA on Monday night with their 94-88 win over the Chicago Bulls to force Game 6 on Thursday in Milwaukee. Outside of the Bucks, nobody was happier than the Cleveland Cavaliers to see the Bucks extend the series at least three more days. Kevin Love will miss the second round with the injury that he suffered against the Celtics, though the diagnosis made it sound like Love’s season is over. Along with the dislocation, joint and bone bruising, Love tore his labrum.
Regardless, the Bucks have shown a lot of heart in this series and their defensive intensity has been impressive. The Bulls did not look very engaged in Game 5 at home. They were held to a series-low 88 points and took several bad shots in the fourth quarter. Give credit to the Bucks, who shot 10 percent better than the Bulls on the night and overcame 17 offensive rebounds by Chicago to force Game 6. Michael Carter-Williams had 22 in the win. Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler combined for a 10-of-41 shooting performance.
It wasn’t easy, but the Brooklyn Nets head back to Atlanta with their series against the Hawks tied at 2-2. The Nets needed to rally from an eight-point deficit entering the fourth quarter and did that to win the game in overtime. There are some things to watch from this game that could impact the series moving forward. The Nets effectively used seven guys in the game as Mason Plumlee only played four minutes. Nine players for the Hawks played at least 11 minutes. The Hawks have been bothered by injuries, but they have played a deeper bench so far. Atlanta outscored Brooklyn 60-44 in the paint, which should be a point of emphasis in Game 5.
The Portland Trail Blazers stepped up at home and won, as most people expected. They needed a fourth quarter rally to do it, though. The Trail Blazers outscored the Grizzlies by 14 in the final stanza to win 99-92. Beno Udrih had 13 off the bench for the Grizzlies, who desperately need Mike Conley back soon. Damian Lillard put Portland on his back with 32 points and seven dimes. The Trail Blazers clearly won the point guard battle with Conley out and it made a big difference. LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 and 12 but missed 16 of his 22 shots. Arron Afflalo returned to the lineup and was 0-of-5 from the floor and -19 during his 19 minutes.
Looking ahead, the Grizzlies should finish off this series, but who knows about the next game of the other two series. The Bulls have not looked good throughout this series against the Bucks and Milwaukee is a young team gaining some confidence right now. They could push that series to seven games. The Hawks were in position to take a commanding 3-1 series lead and let it slip away. That one looks ticketed for seven games.
NHL Playoffs Update
The Washington Capitals won 2-1 over the New York Islanders to set up a date with the New York Rangers in the second round. The Tampa Bay Lightning won 5-2 to force Game 7 at home. The Lightning had the best home record in the NHL this season, so they are happy to take their chances on home ice.
The Red Wings have a lot of concerns entering Game 7. Outside of a spectacular stick save by Petr Mrazek, the goaltender struggled yet again. He’s had a boom or bust series for the Red Wings and they have no idea what to expect in the deciding game. The Red Wings were just 1-for-7 on the power play in this one. It was surprising to see such a lack of discipline from the Lightning given the stakes, but it did not hurt them.
More on the second round playoff series coming up in later editions of the Six Pack this week.
A Major Lapse in Judgment
The NFL Draft begins on Thursday night with the first round. Rounds 2 and 3 are coming up on Friday. On Monday, projected first-round pick Shane Ray was cited for possession of marijuana. The Missouri product had a chance to be the top linebacker off the board, but who knows what impact this arrest will have. Ray was cited for a personal amount of marijuana, as well as a minor traffic violation for what seems like driving in the HOV lane with nobody else in the car since the citation was for “not driving in the right lane”.
Ray was not impaired, but this obviously has to serve as a red flag for teams. Marijuana use in the NFL is more rampant than teams, players, and fans would like to believe. It’s largely just a matter of getting caught or not. To Ray’s credit, he owned up to everything and was not driving under the influence. This is sure to drum up the debate about legalizing marijuana once again, but the facts in this case are that a high draft pick (pardon the pun) did something stupid two days before securing his financial future.
Ray’s court date is June 30. It will be very interesting to see how teams value his talent against this arrest. It could be a wake-up call or it could be a precursor to something more. That’s a risk that some team will take on, probably on Friday.
Josh Hamilton Trade Finalized
Josh Hamilton is back with the Texas Rangers after a very public, very ugly smear campaign against the troubled outfielder signaled the end of his time with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Hamilton had shoulder surgery on February 4 and self-reported a relapse with alcohol and cocaine during the offseason. Major League Baseball could not discipline Hamilton due to the provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement and he will be eligible to play when his finishes rehabbing his shoulder.
Hamilton forfeited some of the money he was owed over the duration of his contract to return to Texas and he has an opt-out clause for 2016. Hamilton had veto power over any trade and he reportedly shot down two trades to National League West teams, either because of his comfort level in Texas or as a middle finger to Arte Moreno and the Angels, who completely tore down Hamilton and his character.
As I said on Twitter last week, I’m rooting for Josh Hamilton the baseball player, but I’m rooting more for Josh Hamilton the human being to get his life back on track. That goes for all addicts. If you need help, get it. You’re not alone.
Developing Situation in Baltimore
The riots that are going on in response to the death of Freddie Gray are having a major effect on the Baltimore Orioles. Because of the curfew forced upon the city by the mayor, the Orioles are going to have to reschedule game times for Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in order to adhere to the curfew restrictions.
The Orioles were offered the chance to move their games to Nationals Park, but they declined. Safety concerns certainly exist in and around the ballpark as rioters and looters wreak havoc on the city. This is a very unique situation in sports, so it’s something that could be a bit of an issue for the players. It’ll be something to monitor throughout the week.
Legal Trouble for Jon “Bones” Jones
As I briefly mentioned in yesterday’s Six Pack, Jon “Bones” Jones is scheduled to fight at UFC 187 next month and that bout is now in jeopardy. Jones has been charged with leaving the scene of a crime, a felony that can carry jail time. Jones turned himself in to Albuquerque police after Sunday’s hit-and-run accident that left a pregnant woman with a broken arm.
Police reports state that a man fitting Jones’s description left the scene after stopping large handfuls of cash into his pants. Marijuana was found at the scene in the car driven by Jones. Jones has had dependency problems before, testing positive for metabolites of cocaine and driving under the influence while wrecking his Bentley.
Jones is scheduled to defend his light heavyweight belt against Anthony Johnson on May 23 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. So far no changes have been made to the card, but one has to wonder how Dana White will approach the knowledge that marijuana was found in the car. A drug test is probably forthcoming, if one has not been done already, and that could put the fight in limbo.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.