The never-ending world of sports produces new top stories for us every day. With the NBA Playoffs and NHL Playoffs in full swing, along with the MLB season and a handful of other professional sports, every day is a new adventure in the sports world for fans and bettors. The Daily Six Pack is the vessel that takes you along the path of that adventure with commentary and insight into the stories that you want to know more about.
Here are the top six sports stories for April 23:
America Runs on Duncan
Tim Duncan’s 100th career 20 and 10 game in the NBA playoffs was the driving force behind San Antonio’s series-tying victory on Wednesday night. Duncan was 14-of-23 from the floor and added 11 rebounds and four assists to help the Spurs through what was a night full of adversity. Kawhi Leonard had 23 and 9 in support of Duncan, but there were much bigger stories. Tony Parker was 0-of-6 shooting and had just one point in 30 minutes before leaving the game with a “tight Achilles”. Tiago Splitter, who entered the series with injury concerns, left after 19 minutes of action. Boris Diaw had 12, 9, and 6 to eat up 37 huge minutes for the Spurs. Patty Mills had 18 points in Parker’s place.
But, Duncan was truly the story. The Spurs needed a major lift and they got it from their ageless wonder. The Los Angeles Clippers should be taking a 2-0 series lead to San Antonio. They’re not. With the exception of Matt Barnes, every starter for the Clippers pulled his weight. The hack-a-Jordan philosophy paid off in a big way for the Spurs. DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 15 boards, but that only tells part of the story. Jordan was 6-of-17 from the free throw line and those 11 points proved costly in the 111-107 loss.
With the win, the Spurs became the only road team in this season’s NBA playoffs to win a game. Every other series is 2-0 in favor of the higher seed.
Hawks and Grizzlies Increase Series Leads
The Atlanta Hawks took a 2-0 series lead over the Brooklyn Nets, but it was far from pretty. Atlanta shot 39 percent from the floor in their 96-91 win over the Nets. The Nets committed 16 turnovers to Atlanta’s eight, which was the big difference in the game. Another key factor for the Hawks is that they did a solid job defending on the perimeter. Deron Williams and Bojan Bogdanovic were 4-of-16 from the field and only had 10 points. Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez did damage, but the Hawks were able to withstand that. Jarrett Jack was 9-of-13 off the bench for 23 points, which could signal a change for Game 3.
As for the Hawks and their stat sheet, four starters finished in double figures ranging from 14 to 19 points. Paul Millsap hit all four of his three-point attempts and finished with a team-high 19 points. The Hawks bench did not provide much. Dennis Schroder had 12 points in 19 minutes, but the rest of the bench was kept in check. That will be a concern moving forward in the playoffs.
The injury-riddled series between the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies produced another snoozer on Wednesday night. The Grizzlies won in convincing fashion with a 97-82 triumph. Arron Afflalo missed the game again for Portland and their depth had already taken a hit when Wesley Matthews tore his Achilles a couple months ago. The Grizzlies controlled the flow of the game by committing only five turnovers.
The Blazers should have a better chance at home. They are a team that relies on distance shooting and they are far more comfortable in their own building. The Grizzlies have been able to neutralize Portland by slowing the game down, so the Blazers may want to make some adjustments and run the floor a little bit more from this point forward.
NHL Playoffs Recap
The Anaheim Ducks became the first team to advance with a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets took a third period lead into every game but the final one. It was clear that the Jets were emotionally spent. After drawing from the home crowd to lead most of Game 3, the overtime loss took everything out of the young team and it came crashing down in Game 4.
Two more one-goal games in the Eastern Conference playoffs yielded interesting results. The Ottawa Senators forced a return trip to Montreal for Game 5 with a 1-0 win over the Canadiens. Craig Anderson played very well for the second straight game in relief of Andrew Hammond. The series will probably be over in five games, but the Senators forced another one.
The New York Rangers won 2-1 in overtime to push the Pittsburgh Penguins to the brink of elimination. Kevin Hayes scored 3:14 into the extra period as the Rangers played another strong road game. The Rangers were able to hold down the fort during Pittsburgh’s initial first period push and then controlled the tempo from that point forward. This series should be over in five.
The St. Louis Blues offense erupted for six goals on 17 shots, chasing Devan Dubnyk from the net in the second period. This series looks ticketed for seven games as it heads back to St. Louis tied at 2-2. The Blues got a solid performance from Jake Allen, but it was the play of everybody in front of Allen that was most impressive. The Blues played a flawless game and everybody from grinders to stars got involved in the scoring. This is one of the most compelling series in the first round.
It was a more conventional day of baseball on Wednesday with several close games and a couple of scandals. The San Francisco Giants got away with a baseball no-no as third base coach Roberto Kelly seemed to stop the momentum of Gregor Blanco. After a long delay, all four umpires seemed to miss the call and Joe Panik hit a walk-off sacrifice fly.
David Price was shelled by the New York Yankees in one of his worst starts as a professional against a team that has a lot of experience against him. The Tigers have lost consecutive games for the first time this season as regression has started to hit the team.
The Mets are now 12-3 and 9-0 at home following another win over the Atlanta Braves. The Mets are getting outstanding starting pitching, this time from Dillon Gee. Wilmer Flores improved his slash to .273/.319/.500 for the Mets. He was projected to be a good hitter with no position, but Flores has hardly hurt the Mets so far.
The End For Joe Nathan?
Joe Nathan, who entered the season as the Tigers closer, may have thrown his last pitch. During a rehab appearance with the Toledo Mud Hens, Nathan threw a pitch and immediately grabbed his arm in pain. The diagnosis is a torn UCL with additional damage. Nathan will undergo season-ending surgery, but this is the second Tommy John procedure for Nathan and it’s safe to say that his career is in jeopardy.
He wasn’t going to be a key part of the Tigers bullpen for long, but it’s never good to see a player’s career end because of injuries.
NFL Accountability on the Rise
At least for now. Greg Hardy has been suspended for 10 games after sitting out the entire 2014 NFL season for domestic violence. Hardy settled out of court with Nicole Holder, the woman who accused Hardy of assaulting her and threatening to kill her. The NFL did its due diligence in getting evidence photos and other testimony before deciding what to do with Hardy.
While it’s good that Goodell looked at facts in the case rather than how he handled the Ray Rice incident, the league will have to uphold this type of justice on players accused of future episodes of domestic violence. Frankly, it’s a surprise that Hardy isn’t in jail for a long time, but money talks and the settlement must have been enough.
Braxton Miller to Alabama?
Unsubstantiated rumors have been popping up over the last couple of days that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller may transfer to Alabama. The Crimson Tide need a quarterback with Blake Sims on to the next step in his career and the program clearly doesn’t feel comfortable with Jake Coker.
Miller has been a transfer candidate since the emergence of JT Barrett last season. It’s reasonable to suggest that Miller is third in line behind Barrett and Cardale Jones, the hero of Ohio State’s playoff drive last season. Miller missed the entire 2014 season with a shoulder injury that should be healed by the start of the season. Because Miller graduated from Ohio State, he would not have to sit out a season as a graduate transfer.
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