MLB: First day of the playoffs
Houston Astros (Zach Greinke) at Minnesota Twins (Kenta Maeda)
Chicago White Sox (Lucas Giolito) at Oakland Athletics (Jesus Luzardo)
Toronto Blue Jays (Matt Shoemaker) at Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell)
New York Yankees (Gerrit Cole) at Cleveland Indians (Shane Bieber)
Astros: 2 Twins: 4
White Sox: 6 Athletics: 3
Blue Jays: 1 Rays: 2
Yankees: 4 Indians: 0
NBA: Los Angeles Lakers defeat Denver Nuggets 126-114 in game 1 of the Western Conference Finals – Lakers lead series 1-0
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets 126-114 in the first game of this best-of-seven Western Conference Finals. This game was not as close as the score would indicate, the Lakers had a comfortable lead the entire second half. Both teams had their garbage time lineups in the fourth quarter, trying to get through this game without injury or tipping their hand to potential adjustments.
The Lakers shot an absurd 24 free throws in the second quarter. Although they were being aggressive attacking the basket, the calls were all going the Lakers way in the second quarter after a 38-36 Nuggets first quarter. This seemed all too familiar to NBA conspiracy theorists, and although it’s unlikely a showing of intentional bias it was a showing of incompetence and favoritism towards the Lakers’ two superstars: LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Young teams like the Nuggets rarely get these type of calls in playoff games, and today was no exception with both Nuggets’ stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray having to sit large portions of the second quarter because of foul trouble. The Nuggets will get swept if they continue getting this tough whistle, but they cannot afford to worry about something out of their control given how poorly they played.
Game two of the Western Conference Finals will be on Sunday at 4:30 PM PT on TNT.
NBA: Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers in game 1 of the Western Conference Finals
After a second consecutive 3-1 series deficit erased by the amazing play of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, the Denver Nuggets will face their toughest test in LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. The basketball world was looking forward to the battle of L.A. in the bubble between the Lakers and Clippers, but nobody let the Nuggets know they were supposed to step aside. Game one will be a pivotal game for both teams, given that the winner of game one wins the series roughly 64% of the time. But that may not matter to the Nuggets. On the contrary they might want to lose on purpose, since they seem to be most comfortable coming back from 3-1 series deficits and double-digit leads within games.
All joking aside, the Nuggets will have to find a way to keep Nikola Jokic dominating the way he has been throughout the playoffs. The Clippers didn’t have an athletic big to slow him down, but the Lakers do with first team all defender Anthony Davis. Davis has been reluctant to play center his entire career, but during these playoffs has made the switch which has allowed LeBron James to play power forward. This is their ideal positions, especially in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how often Lakers Coach Frank Vogel will go to traditional bigs Dwight Howard and Javale McGee, two 7-footers that Jokic will likely dominate. Not that Jokic can’t dominate Davis, he’s the best offensive center in the game, but it will be more of a challenge to deal with Davis’ length and athleticism. This series will not be won in game one, but it could be an indicator of what’s to come during the rest of this series.
Lakers: 117 Nuggets: 111
Both the Lakers and Nuggets have been slow starters in past playoff series. They both take time to figure out their opponent before making game two adjustments. The Lakers will be the fresher team, having beaten the Rockets in five games in the second round. The Nuggets are coming off of back-to-back three games to one comebacks, being the only team to ever achieve that. Even with a few days off, they’ll still be tired and it’ll likely cost them a chance at game one.
Nashville Predators defeat Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1: The Nashville Predators kept serve at home to win their first game of the series. After losing the first two games in Pittsburgh, the Predators needed to win this game to avoid falling behind by an insurmountable three games to zero. The Penguins got on the board first early in the first period. The Predators would respond by scoring the next five goals in the second and third periods. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne would have his first solid performance of the Stanley Cup Finals in his team’s most important game of the season. These two teams will play game four of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday in Nashville.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Nashville Predators: The Predators host the Penguins in game three of the Stanley Cup Finals. After losing the first two games on the road, the Predators return home to play in front of their home fans. Nashville cannot afford to lose this game and fall behind 3-0 in the series. The Penguins are looking to take a commanding 3-0 series lead to increase their chances of repeating as Stanley Cup champions. This is a pivotal game in the series for both teams.
Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 113-91: The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in game one of the NBA Finals. Although the first half of the game was relatively close, the Warriors took over in the third quarter and never looked back. LeBron James’ stat line of 28 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 assists looks impressive, but they don’t coincide with the performance he put out on the court. James was responsible for 8 of Cleveland’s 20 turnovers and struggled on the defensive end of the floor. On the contrary, Kevin Durant had 0 turnovers in 38 minutes of play. His impressive stat line of 38 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists matched what I saw during the game. He was clearly the best player on the court. In order for the Cavaliers to win, LeBron needs to be the best player on the court. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson struggled with their shots, but played stellar defense all game long. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love had solid games, but nobody for Cleveland stepped up besides their big three. The Cavaliers will need a bigger contribution from their other two starters and bench players. These two teams will play game two on Sunday in Oakland.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors: The Warriors host the Cavaliers in game one of the NBA Finals. This is the third consecutive year that these teams are meeting in the Finals, which hasn’t ever happened before in NBA history. The Warriors haven’t played in more than a week, and the Cavaliers haven’t played in exactly a week. Since both of these teams dominated in their prior playoff series, they’ve been used to the long layoffs before starting the next series. The key to this game will be how each team is affected by the long layoff. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but this game will set the tone for the rest of the series.
Pittsburgh Penguins defeat Nashville Predators 5-3: In an exciting first game of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Penguins defeated the Predators to take a 1-0 series lead. The Predators scored the first goal of the game before it was controversially overturned because of an offsides call. There didn’t seem to be conclusive video evidence to overturn the call, but the refs decided to take away the goal anyways. This would play a huge role in the outcome of the game. The Penguins would score the first three goals of the game late in the first period. Nashville would finally get on the board in the second period on a power play goal. Nashville would score twice in the third period to tie the game. The Penguins would go a Stanley Cup record 37 minutes without a shot on goal before scoring the game-winning goal late in the third period. If the bogus offsides call wasn’t made, the game would’ve been tied at four. Pittsburgh added a fifth goal with a minute remaining after Nashville pulled their goalie. It’s unfortunate that a fantastic game will be remembered because of the bad call that cost Nashville a shot of winning in overtime. These two teams will play game two on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins host the Predators in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals. Both teams will be looking to get off to a fast start to give themselves an advantage in the series. The winner of game one will be heavy favorites to win it all. The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Because of their talent and championship pedigree, they are the favorites in this series. But Nashville is no slouch; Pittsburgh will have to continue playing at a high level to defeat the Predators. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but this game will set the tone for the rest of the series.