Edition 4.21.14

It’s going down…I’m yelling playoffs! Whether you prefer the NBA or the NHL (or both!), ’tis the season for post-season play. Enjoy!

 

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

Boston Strong

There are many emotions going into today’s Boston Marathon. People within and outside of Boston will be thinking of the Boston Strong spirit in their hearts. It will be a tough day, but it will also be a celebration of life and how far we’ve come in a year. Keep an eye out for each of the amazing competitors — from the expected favorites on the men‘s and women’s side to the unexpected heroes from last year’s race who are back at it again. We’ll all be with you today, Boston.

NBA

It was quite an opening weekend in NBA playoff land. In the Eastern Conference, the #2 seeded Miami Heat cruised past the #7 seeded Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday afternoon in Game 1 at home. The Heat were at full strength with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade playing with no minute restrictions. The #3 seeded Toronto Raptors lost on Saturday to the the #6 seeded Brooklyn Nets after some late game heroics by former Celtics-turned-Nets star Paul Pierce. Also on Saturday, the #1 seeded Indiana Pacers fell to the #8 seeded Atlanta Hawks by 8 on their home court in Indianapolis. The Pacers are going to need to step it up in a major way if they want to avoid a first round upset to Jeff Teague and the Hawks. Luckily for them, it’s a long series, and that was only Game 1. Finally, on Sunday, the #5 seeded Wiz Kids aka the Washington Wizards went into Chicago and defeated the #4 seeded Chicago Bulls in a match-up that’s surely going to produce some fun games. Eastern Conference playoffs continue this week.

This weekend offered some equally awesome Game 1s in the Western Conference opening series. The #6 seeded Golden State Warriors and the #2 seeded LA Clippers kicked things off on Saturday afternoon in a great game that concluded with the Dubs winning a close game 1 at the Clips home turf. The Warriors are playing without center Andrew Bogut and still managed to get the big win, although the NBA did admit there was a missed foul call on the Clippers’ Chris Paul. Also on Saturday, the #2 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder were back in action at home against the #7 seeed Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder look to be back at full-strength with star point guard Russell Westbrook looking as healthy as ever and leading MVP candidate Kevin Durant continuing to put on a show night after night. After a strong start this game got closer than expected but the Thunder pulled out the victory in game 1. On Sunday, the #1 seeded San Antonio Spurs pulled away to get a big first round win against the #8 seeded Dallas Mavericks at home. Finally, on Sunday night the #5 seeded Portland Trail Blazers faced off against the #4 seeded Houston Rockets with the Blazers getting the victory in Game 1 in overtime. The Blazer’s LaMarcus Aldridge fouled out with 46 points and 18 rebounds in the win.

San Antonio star Tim Duncan scored 27 points and played a great game in the Spurs’ win over Dallas, but the real star of the show was Coach Gregg Popovich. Coach Pop is not necessarily known for his friendly demeanor during in-game interviews, but he gave a wonderful one to Craig Sager Jr. during the 4th quarter. His dad, Craig Sager, is known for his sideline interviews during NBA games. He is currently undergoing treatment and will miss the NBA playoffs so his son filled in on Sunday afternoon. The entire NBA world has been sending him well wishes, including Coach Cop. #GetWellSager

So, what happens to the teams that are not participating in the NBA playoffs? Well, they are getting ready for the NBA Draft! And with the addition of some key entries, there is even more reason for teams to get excited. This past week Duke freshman Jabari Parker wrote a great essay explaining why he was leaving Duke and announced that he would enter the NBA Draft. Other recent kids who have declared for the draft include: Kentucky’s James Young, Kansas’s Andrew Wiggins, Kansas’s Joel Embiid, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, Arizona’s Nick Johnson, Duke’s Rodney Hood among others and likely more to come.

The NBA Playoffs continue this week — get ready for a number of exciting Game 2s to watch!

MLB

The Boston Red Sox held a pre-game ceremony to honor families and victims of last year’s Boston Marathon tragedy. The team, fans, survivors and family all paid tribute in Fenway Park prior to beginning their game against the Baltimore Orioles, which they would go onto to win 6-5 on Sunday night.

Washington National’s outfielder Bryce Harper was pulled from Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at the end of the 6th inning. Although, Harper had been battling tight quad muscles throughout the week, rookie manager Matt Williams confirmed that he pulled the star from the game due to a “lack of hustle.” The Nats would go on to lose the game 4-3. Harper was back in the line-up on Sunday’s game against the Cards, which the Nats won 3-2.

Saturday’s game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays featured both highs and lows that had nothing to do with the final score. The Rays’ Evan Longoria hit his second home-run of the season to become the all-time leading home-run hitter in Tampa Bay history. On the other side, starting pitcher Ivan Nova of the Yankees left the game with elbow soreness that would sadly later be diagnosed as a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. He will be placed on the DL. The Yankees-Rays series concluded Sunday, with the teams splitting 2-2 over the 4 games.

In all things brawls, Sunday afternoon featured one between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Carlos Gomez of the Brewers and Travis Snider of the Pirates were ejected from the game after a shouting match turned into a fight in the third inning. The Brewers would go on to win the game.

NHL

The Colorado Avalanche are up with a 2-0 lead in their first round playoff match-up against the Minnesota Wild. Thanks in large part to their 18-year-old star player, Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon has been nothing short of a wizard on the ice and has led the Avalanche to the strong start. Remember his name — this kid has got the “it” factor and wants to prove it. These teams face off again on Monday night.

The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in double overtime on Saturday to get their first post-season victory in franchise history. Oh, and they also tied the series 1-1. The Boston Bruins defeated the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday to tie their series up at 1-1 as well.

Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks has been suspended for 3 games for his hit against the St. Louis Blues’ David Backes. The hit took place in Game 2 of the Western Conference opening series match-up between the two teams. Backes had to leave the game after the injury, and Seabrook apologized. The Blues ended up winning the game in overtime, and now lead the series 2-0. The teams will be back on the ice on Monday night.

The NHL playoffs continue this week, with a number of games in the opening round series. Check out the schedule here.

Other

Another big win for Liverpool! The top futbol squad notched a 3-2 win over Norwich on Saturday. This victory matters for their standings in the Champions League because of a surprising home defeat this past Friday, as Chelsea fell to Sunderland. Can Liverpool hold on to win their first Premier League title in 24 years? Time will tell…

Michelle Wie won the LPGA Lotte Championship title on Sunday, her first title in women’s golf since 2010. Wie has had quite the successful season so far in 2014 — look for this victory to propel her to more success as the year continues.

Age is just a number. At 49, Bernard Hopkins defeated Beibut Shumenov in a split decision for the WBA belt title in boxing.

Lewis Hamilton scored a big racing victory at the China Grand Prix on Sunday. The successful driver out-dueled teammate Nico Rosberg for his third consecutive win for the Mercedes Team.

 

JUST FOR FUN

Why wear a hat if you could have one of these hair styles?
Some fans take it to the next level

Are you afraid of the dark? or at least haunted hotels?
Think twice about where you stay when you play the Oklahoma City Thunder

 

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Off-Season Friendship
Hockey is the
only thing that matters
Long-time friends NHL stars Drew Doughty and Logan Couture only want to win during the playoffs

Serena Burla
Running saved her life
Talented marathoner Serena Burla has overcome amazing challenges to get back on her feet

Yasiel Puig
The story of his journey to LA
MLB star Yasiel Puig fled Cuba for Mexico before eventually landing with the LA Dodgers

Matt Barnes
The
LA Clippers’ X-Factor
Veteran player Matt Barnes may hold the key for a playoff run for the Clippers

Supplemental trouble
Nick Calathes is suspended for 20 games
The Memphis Grizzlies will be without guard Nick Calathes for this year’s NBA playoffs

Bite your tongue
Sometimes things are better left unsaid
Raptors GM Ujiri got a little caught up in energizing his fans at their rally before the Raptors/Nets game

Increased Projections
NBA salary cap is expected to increase more than already expected
Although the official numbers won’t be released until July, sources anticipate a nearly $5 million rise

 

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