Today in Sports: 5/15/17 Review

NBA:

Boston Celtics defeat Washington Wizards 115-105: The Celtics eliminated the Wizards in game seven to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. John Wall had his worst game of the series when it mattered most, but the Wizards would’ve been swept without him. Bradley Beal put up 38 points on 12-22 shooting from the field. He had a great game, but wasn’t enough to overcome Isaiah Thomas and Kelly Olynyk. Thomas was his usual self, leading the Celtics with 29 points. Olynyk had the game of his life in the most important game of his life. He scored 26 points on 10-14 shooting. The Celtics’ bench combined for 48 points, which was the deciding factor in the game. The Wizards’ bench has been terrible all season. Their starters played more minutes than any starting unit during the regular season because of their horrible bench. Washington’s bench only scored five points in the most important game of their season. They’ll need to improve their bench next season. The Celtics will face the Cavaliers in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday in Cleveland.

Today in Sports: 5/15/17 Preview

NBA:

Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Wizards in game seven of this second round series. The home team has won the first six games of this series. Although the Celtics are favored to win this game, anything can happen in game seven. The Wizards’ bench has struggled throughout the playoffs, especially in the three games in Boston. John Wall has been the best player in the series, but he cannot win this game by himself. The Wizards need to keep the game close when their second unit is on the floor. The Celtics’ backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley has played at a high level in this series. If they are able to outplay the Wizards’ backcourt, they will win the series. The winner of this game will face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday in Cleveland.

Today in Sports: 5/12/17 Review

NBA:

Washington Wizards defeat Boston Celtics 92-91: The Wizards won game six at home to force a game seven against the Celtics in Boston. John Wall hit a clutch three-point shot with three seconds remaining to win the game. Wall has never been a great jump shooter, but he confidently made the biggest shot of his life to keep Washington’s season alive. Wall struggled in the first quarter, but ended up with 26 points and 8 assists. Bradley Beal scored a game-high 33 points. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley both scored 27 points. Bradley had a much more efficient night shooting the basketball, and played at a high level on the defensive end of the floor. He was the Celtics’ best player all game. The last minute of the game was back and forth with both teams hitting clutch shots. Most playoff games have been blowouts this postseason, so it was nice to see a competitive game come down to the last shot. Hopefully game seven is as exciting as game six was. These two teams will play game seven on Monday in Boston.

Today in Sports: 5/12/17 Preview

NBA:

Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards: The Wizards look to keep their season alive in this must-win home game. The home team has won the first five games of this series, which is a trend that the Wizards must continue if they want to avoid being eliminated from the playoffs. John Wall has been the best player in this series. He had his first poor playoff performance in game five, but has been dominant in every playoff home game. Wall will likely play at a high level in game six, but will need help from his teammates to force a game seven. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are the second and third best players on the Wizards. They’ve been inconsistent throughout the playoffs. When they have a good game, the Wizards are hard to beat. With Washington’s terrible bench consistently struggling, the starters will need to play at a high level. Isaiah Thomas has been the star for the Celtics this postseason. Thomas doesn’t have a sidekick that he can consistently depend on, but he has multiple role players that have stepped up at key moments throughout the playoffs. Avery Bradley played like a superstar in game five. Al Horford and Jae Crowder have played like stars during key moments of games. Boston’s depth has been a major key to their success. Thomas is the engine that keeps them going, but he has a lot more help than John Wall does. Although Boston will be favorites in game seven if Washington wins this game, the Celtics cannot get complacent. Both teams will be fighting for their playoff lives in this pivotal game six.

Today in Sports: 5/10/17 Review

NBA:

Boston Celtics defeat Washington Wizards 123-101: The Celtics defeated the Wizards at home to take a commanding 3-2 series lead. Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 29 points on 12-19 shooting from the field. Al Horford scored 19 points and both Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder scored 18 points. The Celtics defeated the Wizards in the first two games in the series largely due to their bench, but this game was won by their starters. John Wall scored 21 points and only had 4 assists. This was by far his worst game of the series. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter had decent games, but they didn’t play well enough to help pull off the upset. The Wizards have struggled in Boston, but will now have to win game seven on the road if they want to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. But they’ll have to win game six at home to force a game seven. These two teams will play game six on Friday in Washington.

Today in Sports: 5/10/17 Preview

NBA:

Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Wizards in a pivotal game five. With the home team winning the first four games, the Celtics are favorites to win game five in Boston. But John Wall has been the best player in this series. In the two games that Washington won in this series, the other starters have helped Wall lead the Wizards to victory. The key to this game will be the other four starters on the Wizards. The Celtics are one of the best defensive teams in the league. They don’t have an answer for John Wall, but they do have the talent to slow down Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat. The Wizards’ bench has been terrible all season, so it’ll be up to the starters to win this game. Isaiah Thomas has been fantastic throughout the playoffs. The Celtics has one of the deepest benches in the league that should be able to feast on Washington’s putrid bench. Washington’s starters have outplayed Boston’s starters in this series, but they haven’t always been able to overcome the runs Boston goes on when both team’s second units are on the floor. With these contrasting styles of play, it’ll be interesting to see which team will step up and play at a higher level than usual. With the series tied at two games apiece, the winner of this game will be overwhelming favorites to head to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Today in Sports: 5/7/17 Review

NBA:

Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Toronto Raptors 109-102: The Cavaliers completed a four game sweep of the Raptors to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Kyle Lowry missed the game due to an ankle sprain. His backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan was dominant in his absence. DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, and Corey Joseph all scored at least twenty points. P.J. Tucker scored 14 points and competed at a high level on the defensive end of the floor against LeBron James. The starters played well enough to win, but they didn’t get enough help from their bench. The Raptors’ bench scored a combined 15 points. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored 35 points and 27 points, respectively. Kevin Love only scored 5 points, but the Cavaliers didn’t need him to contribute in this game. They were the dominant team all series. Cleveland has won their first eight playoff games. They look poised to return to the NBA Finals, but have one more team standing in their way. The Cavaliers will either play the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Washington Wizards defeat Boston Celtics 121-102: The Wizards held serve at home against the Celtics to tie the series at two games apiece. John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter led the way with 27 points, 29 points, and 18 points, respectively. If they all play well, the Wizards are nearly impossible to beat. John Wall has been fantastic all postseason. He’s been scoring at will and gets double-digit assists on a regular basis. Markieff Morris battled through an ankle sprain to score 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. The Wizards’ bench struggled again, but their starters dominated the Celtics’ starters. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 19 points. The rest of the starters scored eleven points or fewer. Boston’s bench played well, but not well enough to overcome the starters’ lackluster performance. These two teams will play game five on Wednesday in Boston.

Houston Rockets defeat San Antonio Spurs 125-104: The Rockets dominated the Spurs to even the series at two games apiece. After a poor performance in game three, the Rockets rebounded by shooting 44.2 percent from three point range. Since they shoot so many three point shots, the outcome of their games usually depends on how well they shoot. The Rockets did a great job of penetrating the Spurs’ defense and kicking the ball out to open shooters. This was their recipe for success in game one, but they got away from this strategy in games two and three. James Harden led the Rockets with 28 points and did a fantastic job of getting his teammates involved.  The Spurs struggled without Tony Parker, even though his backups did a solid job replacing him in this game. They could’ve used his veteran leadership in the second half when they were struggling. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge each scored 16 points. The Spurs needed a greater contribution from their two best players. These two teams will play game five on Tuesday in San Antonio.

Today in Sports: 5/7/17 Preview

NBA:

Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors: The Cavaliers look to sweep the Raptors in Toronto. Raptors’ All-Star Kyle Lowry will miss this game with a left ankle sprain. Without Lowry, DeMar DeRozan will have to pick up the slack. He’s been inconsistent throughout these playoffs. The Raptors traded for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline to try and knock off Cleveland in the playoffs. So far this plan has backfired. Ibaka and Tucker are both free agents after the season, so they may have wasted their one opportunity. LeBron James has played at an extremely high level in all seven postseason games. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have been inconsistent, but have shown flashes of brilliance. They’ll need to be more consistent if they want to repeat as NBA champions. This is a must-win game for Toronto, but even they know the series is over.

Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards: The Wizards will attempt to hold serve at home and even the series at two games apiece. After losing the first two games in Boston, the Wizards dominated the Celtics in game three to keep their chances of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals alive. They cannot afford to lose game four at home. Although it’s possible to win a series after falling behind 3-1 (Warriors blew a 3-1 lead!), the Wizards are not talented enough to pull off that feat. John Wall has been fantastic throughout the playoffs, and will need another fantastic performance to help even the series. Wall’s teammates have been inconsistent during the playoffs. They cannot afford another poor performance. Isaiah Thomas has elevated his game in these playoffs, which has been an amazing feat because of the tragic loss of his sister before game one of their first round series. Thomas and the Celtics have an opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. This is the most important game for the Wizards this season.

San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets: The Rockets look to rebound after a game three loss at home to even the series at two games apiece. After losing Tony Parker in game two, the Spurs pulled off a shocking upset in game three on the road. The Rockets have struggled from behind the three point line in the last two games. They’ll have to make these open shots if they want to advance to the Western Conference Finals. After game one, coach Gregg Popovich decided to put Kawhi Leonard on James Harden. Leonard has done a fantastic job of limiting Harden’s impact. Harden has struggled with his shot in the last two games, but he’s had a tough time finding open looks. He’s getting to the hoop but is having trouble finishing over the Spurs’ bigs. Harden will need to do a better job of putting the ball in the hoop when he gets near the basket. His teammates will have to help him by knocking down open threes. The winner of this game will be favorites to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Today in Sports: 5/4/17 Review

NBA:

Washington Wizards defeat Boston Celtics 116-89: The Wizards defeated the Celtics in a must-win home game to win their first game of this series. After losing the first two games in Boston, the Wizards needed to fight back (I see you Kelly Oubre) against the heavily favored Celtics. All five Wizards starters scored in double figures, led by John Wall’s 24 points. The Wizards’ starters needed some help from their bench, and Bojan Bogdanovic stepped up to the challenge. He scored 19 points on 4-7 shooting from behind the three point line. Isaiah Thomas struggled all game after scoring 53 points in game two. Thomas scored just 13 points on 8 shots. He’ll have to put up more shots in game four if they want to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Washington will need another strong performance to even the series at two games apiece. These two teams will play game four on Sunday in Washington.

Golden State Warriors defeat Utah Jazz 115-104: The Warriors defeated the George Hill-less Jazz to take a 2-0 series lead. Draymond Green played another fantastic game, scoring 21 points to go along with his 7 rebounds, six assists, four steals, and stellar defensive effort. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson all played at a high level, but none of them dominated on both ends of the floor like Green. Gordon Hayward bounced back from a disappointing game one to score 33 points on 11-21 shooting from the field. Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 16 rebounds to go along with his stellar defensive play. Utah missed their floor general George Hill in this game, and will need him going forward if they are going to pull off this monumental upset. After a terrible first quarter, the Jazz outscored the Warriors by seven points in the final three quarters. They showed that they can play with the Warriors if they limit their fast break offense. But that’s much easier said than done. These two teams will play game three on Saturday in Utah.

Today in Sports: 5/4/17 Preview

NBA:

Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards: The Celtics look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead against the Wizards. Since no NBA team has ever won a seven game series after losing the first three games, this is a must-win game for the Wizards. John Wall has been fantastic in the first two games, but he hasn’t gotten much help. He’ll need his backcourt mate Bradley Beal to be more consistent for the rest of this series if they want to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Wizards have one of the worst benches in the NBA, so they’ll have to play above their talent level to defeat the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas has been fantastic all postseason, which has been extremely impressive to watch due to the difficult circumstances affecting his personal life. Thomas has gotten help from him teammates in ways that John Wall hasn’t, which is why the Celtics have a 2-0 series lead. The Wizards need to defend their home court to keep their chances alive of advancing the Eastern Conference Finals.

Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors: The Warriors look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Jazz. Both teams had poor performances in game one, but the Warriors still won the game comfortably. The only chance that the Jazz have of winning against this stacked Warriors team is by playing at a high level during an off night for Golden State. If both teams play at a high level, the Warriors will win convincingly. If both teams struggle, the Warriors will win convincingly. The Jazz have the personnel to give the Warriors fits, but cannot win if Gordon Hayward has another poor performance. George Hill is arguably their most underrated player, and he won’t play because of a toe injury. This is a huge blow to the Jazz. They have enough problems trying to beat Golden State when healthy, so losing a key starter will make this a nearly impossible task. If they are able to even the series without Hill, they should be confident going into game three. If Utah struggles again, Golden State might put the game away in the first half.

Today in Sports: 5/2/17 Review

NBA:

Boston Celtics defeat Washington Wizards 129-119 (OT): The Celtics defeated the Wizards in one of the most exciting playoff games in recent memory to take a 2-0 series lead. This was the battle of the point guards, in which Isaiah Thomas and John Wall combined for 93 points. All five Wizards starters scored in double figures, which was impressive because Markieff Morris was playing with a bad ankle sprain. The Wizards were worried that he wouldn’t be able to play. Otto Porter and Bradley Beal scored 13 points and 14 points, respectively. But Wall needed more help from Porter and Bradley. John Wall scored 40 points and had 13 assists, but seemed to tire towards the end of the fourth quarter and overtime. Isaiah Thomas single-handedly led his team to victory by scoring a game-high 53 points. He played his best basketball when his team needed him most – in the fourth quarter and overtime. Thomas didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates, but they did just enough to win the game. These two teams will play game three on Thursday in Washington.

Golden State Warriors defeat Utah Jazz 106-94:  The Warriors won the first game of this series at home against the Jazz in a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. Neither team played a great game, but the Warriors did enough to maintain a double-digit lead throughout most of the second half. George Hill and Gordon Hayward both struggled with their jump shot. They combined to score 19 points on 7-24 shooting from the field. Rudy Gobert scored a team-high 13 points, which isn’t nearly enough to challenge the heavily favored Warriors. Steph Curry scored a game-high 22 points, but could’ve scored a lot more if the game was close. The Warriors spread out their minutes and points because they had a comfortable lead for the majority of the game. Draymond Green was the best player in the game, dominating on both ends of the floor. These two teams will play game two on Thursday in Oakland.

Today in Sports: 5/2/17 Preview

NBA:

Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics: The Wizards will look to rebound after losing game one of this series in Boston. After falling behind 16-0, the Celtics were unstoppable offensively in the final three quarters. Both teams have defensive stoppers on their roster, but nobody decided to play defense in the first game. Both teams will try to make adjustments to their defensive strategies, and the team that makes the better adjustments should win game two. Isaiah Thomas was unstoppable for the Celtics, so the Wizards will need to come up with a game plan to limit his impact. Thomas is undersized, so their plan should include being physical with him. The Wizards have one of the best starting units in the NBA, but they’re a very top-heavy team. They’ll need to get more contributions from their bench if they want to pull off this upset. Markieff Morris sprained his ankle in the first game, and may not be able to play in game two. If he does play, it’s safe to assume that his mobility will be limited. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but this game will determine which team has the home-court advantage in this series.

Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors: The Jazz and Warriors begin their second round playoff series in Oakland. After sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, the Warriors had time to rest heading into this series. Coach Steve Kerr is still sidelined indefinitely because of complications from his back surgery, but Mike Brown has done a stellar job in his absence. Superstar Kevin Durant was injured in their first round series, but he should be fully recovered by now. The Jazz needed seven games to eliminate the Clippers in their first round series. They have dealt with injuries all season, and unfortunately those injury problems have continued in the playoffs. Rudy Gobert missed multiple games with a knee injury, and still seems a bit limited in his movements. Derrick Favors stepped up admirably in his absence, but he’s dealing with nagging injuries too. Even if the Jazz are at full strength, they’ll be heavy underdogs in this series.

Today in Sports: 4/30/17 Review

NBA:

Boston Celtics defeat Washington Wizards 123-111: After starting the game down 16-0, the Celtics stormed back to defeat the Wizards in game one of this second round playoff matchup. The Wizards’ backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal scored a combined 47 points, but didn’t get enough help from their bench to pull off the upset. The Wizards had a tough time on the defensive end of the floor in the last three quarters of the game. Markieff Morris rolled his ankle and missed the rest of the game. The injury looked painful, which may be a major issue going forward. Isaiah Thomas had an eventful game with 33 points and one missing tooth. He didn’t allow the missing tooth to slow him down one bit. After losing the first two games of their first round playoff series, the Celtics look like a completely different team. They’re playing like the team that finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference. These two teams will play game two on Tuesday in Boston.

Utah Jazz defeat Los Angeles Clippers 104-91: The Jazz eliminated the Clippers by winning game seven of this first round playoff series in Los Angeles. After losing game six at home, the Jazz were the underdogs heading into the series’ decisive game. A lot of teams would have folded after losing an opportunity to win the series at home, but the Jazz rebounded by winning this road game in convincing fashion. Chris Paul picked a terrible time to have his worst game of the series, scoring just 13 points on 6-19 shooting from the field. DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford were the only two Clippers that played well, but they weren’t enough to make up for their teammates’ poor performances. Paul Pierce’s career came to an ending with this defeat. I speak for everyone when I say that he was ‘The Truth’. Rudy Gobert only scored one point in 13 minutes due to foul trouble, but the Jazz were able to overcome his poor performance because of Derrick Favors stepping up in his absence. Favors isn’t a defensive presence of Gobert’s caliber, but he made up for his lack of length and agility with supreme effort on that end of the floor. He was an offensive monster too by scoring 17 points on 8-11 shooting from the field. Gordon Hayward and George Hill both had clutch performances when their team needed it most. The Jazz begin their second round series against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday in Oakland.

Today in Sports: 4/30/17 Preview

NBA:

Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Wizards for game one of this second round playoff series. These two teams do not like each other, so it should be a physical series. After losing the first two games to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, the Celtics found their stride and won the last four games of the series. The Wizards defeated the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs in six physical games. The Celtics are the favorites to win the series, but the Wizards aren’t afraid of playing the role of the underdog. They know they have enough talent to defeat the Celtics if they play up to their potential. This series should be fun and extremely competitive.

Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers: The Jazz and Clippers will meet in Los Angeles for the right to face the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs. This game epitomizes the best two words in sports: game seven. After losing game six at home, the Jazz are now the underdogs heading into this matchup. The Clippers are without Blake Griffin for the rest of the playoffs, but have relied on superstar Chris Paul in his absence. The winner of this game will face the Warriors on Tuesday in Golden State.

Today in Sports: 4/26/17 Review

NBA:

Washington Wizards defeat Atlanta Hawks 103-99: The Wizards won a pivotal game five at home to take a 3-2 series lead over the Hawks. Dennis Schroder and Paul Millsap were phenomenal again, but they weren’t enough to overcome a lackluster performance from the Hawks’ bench. John Wall and Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 20 points and 27 points, respectively. Otto Porter Jr. had an efficient day with 17 points on 4 shots. Their bench also struggled, but the three-headed monster of Wall, Beal, and Porter Jr. were enough to seal the victory. These two teams will play game six on Friday in Atlanta.

Boston Celtics defeat Chicago Bulls 108-97: The Celtics won their third straight game in this series to take a 3-2 series lead over the Bulls. Chicago was without point guard Rajon Rondo for a third straight game, which may end up being the deciding factor in this series if Rondo isn’t able to return. Rondo was inconsistent all season, but played at an elite level in the first two games of the series. He’ll try to play in game six, but it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to return. Jimmy Butler had his first mediocre game of the series, and his teammates were not able to pick up the slack. The Tacoma, Washington backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley each scored 24 points. Chicago will need to slow down the Celtics’ backcourt if they want to win game six and keep their season alive. These two teams will play game six on Friday in Chicago.

Today in Sports: 4/26/17 Preview

NBA:

Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards: After losing the last two games in Atlanta, the Wizards return home to face the Hawks in a pivotal game five. With the series being tied at two games apiece, the winner of this game will be overwhelming favorites to advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Hawks have played up to their potential for two straight games, but haven’t shown the ability to dominate the Wizards on the road. John Wall has been the best player in the series through four games, but hasn’t gotten the help from his teammates on the road that he did at home. Now that they’ve returned home to Washington, Wall will need his teammates to play at a high level if they want to win this series. The Wizards cannot afford a slip up against a less talented Hawks team. Although this game isn’t the deciding game in the series, it is crucial for both teams that they play at a high level in this pivotal game five.

Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics: The Celtics return home to Boston to face the Bulls in a pivotal game five. After losing the first two games at home, the desperate Celtics evened the series by winning back-to-back road games in Chicago. Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo missed games three and four with an injury, and likely won’t be able to return in this series. The Bulls struggled without their point guard in the last two games, and will need some sort of contribution from Rondo’s replacements. With the Celtics back in the driver’s seat, they cannot afford another home loss to this injured Bulls team. Although this game isn’t the deciding game in the series, the winner will be overwhelming favorites to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Today in Sports: 4/24/17 Review

NBA:

Toronto Raptors defeat Milwaukee Bucks 118-93: The Toronto Raptors took a 3-2 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks with a dominating win in game five. The Raptors got off to a fast start and never looked back. The Raptors didn’t get much of a contribution from their bench, but all five of their starters scored in double figures. The “trash bros” backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan played their second consecutive great game, even though Lowry was playing through a back injury. The Raptors were led by Norman Powell, who scored 25 points on 8-11 shooting from the field. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 30 points on 12-19 shooting. He had a great all-around game, but didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates. Khris Middleton had another terrible game. He scored only 8 points and looked out of rhythm throughout the game. Milwaukee needs to win the last two games of the series if they want to advance to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs. These two teams will play game six on Thursday in Milwaukee.

Atlanta Hawks defeat Washington Wizards 111-101: The Hawks defeated the Wizards at home to even the series at two games apiece. Although the Wizards have the better starting unit, all five of the Hawks’ starters scored in double figures. The Hawks also got bench contributions from Kent Bazemore and Jose Calderon. The Wizards were led by their backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, but didn’t get help from the rest of their starters. After a terrible game three, Beal bounced back to lead the Wizards with 32 points. John Wall scored 22 points, but wasn’t as efficient in game four as he was in the first three games of the series. Although the Hawks won both games at home, they are still the underdogs in this series. These two teams will play game five on Wednesday in Washington.

Golden State Warriors defeat Portland Trail Blazers 128-103: The Warriors completed a four game sweep of the Trail Blazers with a convincing win in Portland. The Warriors got off to a fast start by scoring 45 points in the first quarter. Damian Lillard was dominant again for the Trail Blazers, but he didn’t get help from anyone besides Al Farouq Aminu. C.J. McCollum had his worst game of the series, scoring just 6 points on 2-12 shooting from the field. Although this was Kevin Durant’s return game, he only scored 10 points in 20 minutes of play. The Splash Bros picked up the slack by combining for 55 points. The Warriors were playing for coach Steve Kerr, who has missed the last few games because of complications from back surgery. Hopefully he’ll be able to return to coaching during the second round of the playoffs.

Today in Sports: 4/22/17 Review

NBA:

Toronto Raptors defeat Milwaukee Bucks 87-76: The Raptors defeated the Bucks in a defensive struggle that evened the series at two games apiece. The Raptors were able to regain the home-court advantage by shutting down Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Khris Middleton also struggled with his shot all game, which caused the Bucks to lean on their role players. Tony Snell was their best player all game, but he doesn’t have the talent of Antetokounmpo or Middleton to lead the Bucks to victory. Both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry had a great game for the Raptors. This was the first game in the series that both of their stars showed up. These two teams will play game five on Monday in Toronto.

Atlanta Hawks defeat Washington Wizards 116-98: The Hawks dominated the Wizards to win their first game of the series. They outscored the Wizards 38-20 in the first quarter and never looked back. Dennis Schroder, Paul Millsap, and Taurean Prince all had huge games for the Hawks. The Wizards were switching every pick and roll all game long, which ended up being a failed strategy. The Hawks were attacking the mismatches and scored at will. The Wizards’ starting unit struggled all game. John Wall was fantastic again, but didn’t get any help from the other four starters. Wall had the highlight of the game when he went coast-to-coast and dribbled the ball behind his back before dunking on Kent Bazemore. That was the only highlight of the game for Washington. These two teams will play game four on Monday in Atlanta.

Memphis Grizzlies defeat San Antonio Spurs 110-108 (OT): In the most exciting game of the playoffs, the Grizzlies defeated the Spurs in overtime on a last-second shot by Marc Gasol. The final few minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime were absolutely fantastic. This is what playoff basketball is all about. Kawhi Leonard was the best player on the floor and made his case for being the league’s MVP (although it is a regular season award). He hit multiple clutch shots in the final minutes to send it to overtime. A few times I caught myself calling him Kobe because his performance was mamba-esque. He led all scorers with 43 points and played fantastic defense all game long. Mike Conley played like a superstar point guard. He hit clutch shots down the stretch and helped rally his team when it seemed like Leonard was going to win the game singlehandedly. After Leonard hit a game tying shot in the final seconds of overtime, Marc Gasol put in an ugly looking game-winning shot with a second remaining. These two teams will play game five on Tuesday in San Antonio.

Golden State Warriors defeat Portland Trail Blazers 119-113: In a game that the Warriors were missing star Kevin Durant and coach Steve Kerr, Golden State took a commanding 3-0 lead in this series. The Trail Blazers got off to a fast start with a 67-54 halftime lead. But the Warriors came out in the second half and dominated to get the victory. Klay Thompson took over the third quarter by hitting multiple threes. The Warriors started getting stops defensively, which fueled their fast break offense. The Warriors have won both games without Kevin Durant, which shows how dominant of a team they are. Portland’s star backcourt put in a combined 63 points, but they were not enough to defeat the heavily favored Warriors. These two teams will play game four on Monday in Portland.

Today in Sports: 4/22/17 Preview

NBA:

Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks: After a pathetic showing in game three, the Raptors will look to bounce back and even the series at two games apiece. The Raptors cannot afford to go down 3-1 in the series, even though they are the more talented team and have the potential to win three straight games against the Bucks. The problem with this Raptors team is their confidence. If they go down 3-1 in this series, they’ll have to win despite being a perennial playoff underachiever. They added Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline, which will end up being a huge waste if they don’t make it out of the first round (especially if both leave in free agency). The Bucks have outplayed the Raptors in all three games of this series. With this game being in front of their home crowd, they have a good chance of taking a commanding lead in this series. The winner of this game will be huge favorites to advance to the second round.

Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are playing the Wizards at home in a must-win game. After losing both games in Washington, the Hawks cannot afford to go down 3-0 in this series. They’ve been competitive in the first three quarters of both games, but have struggled to close in the fourth quarter. John Wall has been the best player on the floor in both games. The Hawks don’t have a player that can stop him, so they’ll have to collectively try to limit his impact. The Wizards have the much more talented starting lineup, so the Hawks will need their bench players to rise to the occasion if they want to stay competitive in this series

San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies: After a convincing win in game three, the Grizzlies can even the series at home against the Spurs. After game two, the Grizzlies’ coach was critical of the referees. Although they won game three, the Spurs still received more foul calls than the Grizzlies. But that didn’t matter, because coach David Fizdale got his point across. He wanted his team to realize that they shouldn’t change their game plan because of how the refs were calling the game. The Grizzlies are a tough and aggressive team, and they cannot afford to stray from that style of basketball because they aren’t getting calls. Fizdale moved Zach Randolph into the starting lineup, which ended up being a fantastic decision. Although this game is extremely important for the Grizzlies, the Spurs will still be the favorites to win the series no matter who wins this game.

Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers: The Trail Blazers return home to Portland in this must-win game against the heavily favored Warriors. After an embarrassing loss in game two, the Trail Blazers’ star backcourt needs to bounce back and lead their team to victory. With Kevin Durant missing game two, the Trail Blazers had their best chance to steal a road game from the Warriors. The Warriors will be heavy favorites to advance no matter what happens in this game. Durant may miss this game too, which likely won’t end up mattering. Portland needs to win four straight games to make Damian Lillard’s “Trail Blazers in 6” prediction come true. If Lillard doesn’t have a stellar game tonight, the Warriors will take a commanding 3-0 lead in this series.

Today in Sports: 4/19/17 Review

NBA:

Washington Wizards defeat Atlanta Hawks 109-101: The Wizards defeated the Hawks in a back-and-forth game by dominating in the finals minutes of the fourth quarter. After an evenly matched first quarter, the Wizards dominated the second quarter to take a seven point lead at halftime. The Hawks dominated the third quarter to take the lead back before getting dominated in the fourth quarter. Although the back-and-forth style of game was exciting, it was ruined by the referees. It’s a common theme in the playoffs to see refs taking over the games, and it’s so damn embarrassing to watch. It seemed like the refs were calling fouls on every possession. Nobody paid money to watch you ref, we all want to see the players decide the game on the court. Luckily, the Wizards were the better team on the court and deserved to win. John Wall and Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 32 points and 31 points, respectively. Now that the Hawks are down 0-2 in the series, they’ll need to win game three in Atlanta. Neither of these next two games are must-win games for the Hawks, but they’ll have to dig themselves out of a serious hole if they aren’t able to even the series before heading back to Washington for game five. These two teams will play game three on Saturday in Atlanta.

Houston Rockets defeat Oklahoma City Thunder 115-111: The Thunder looked poised to steal this game on the road through three quarters, but weren’t able to hold on in the fourth quarter. The Rockets were able to get contributions from their role players, which is something that plagued the Thunder in this game. This was an issue partly due to Russell Westbrook’s “hero ball” that he played towards the end of the fourth quarter. He decided that he’d take over the game, but was missing a bunch of contested jumpers. His shot selection has always been an issue, and it plagued his team down the stretch when he went cold. But it’s hard to blame a guy who scored 51 points to go along with his 13 assists and 10 rebounds. This was the highest scoring triple-double in NBA playoff history. But these stats can be misleading. Westbrook shot an abysmal 17-43 from the field. Although he struggled down the stretch, the Rockets’ ability to make shots in crunch time was the most important deciding factor of this game. James Harden led the Rockets with 35 points, but he struggled shooting from the field. He scored 18 points from the free throw line. He was able to contribute in other ways and was uplifted by his teammates’ contributions. The Thunder return to Oklahoma City down 0-2, and they’ll need to win these two home games if they want to get back in the series. These two teams will play game three on Sunday in Oklahoma City.

Golden State Warriors defeat Portland Trail Blazers 110-81: In a game that the Warriors had to play without superstar Kevin Durant, the Trail Blazers came up flat when they had their best chance to steal a game on the road. If the Trail Blazers can’t win this game on the road, they don’t have any chance of winning on the road in this series. Portland was able to keep the first game competitive, so they should’ve had some confidence going into this game. Knowing that Durant wasn’t going to play should’ve made life easier, but the Trail Blazers fell flat on their faces. The star backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum were incredible in game one, and they were incredibly bad in game two. They combined for 23 points, which is basically how many points each scored by halftime of game one. The Trail Blazers need to win both games at home to have a chance of winning the series, but that looks extremely unlikely. Damian Lillard’s prediction of winning the series in six games looks foolish now. They’ll probably end up getting swept. These two teams will play game three on Saturday in Portland.

Today in Sports: 4/19/17 Preview

NBA:

Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards: The Hawks and Wizards will play game two of this series in Washington before heading to Atlanta. The Wizards were able to win game one at home thanks to a dominating third quarter. The Wizards are the favorites in this series, and are the much more talented team. John Wall was the best player on the floor in game one, and should be able to dominate again against a Hawks team that doesn’t have an elite defender to slow him down. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but whatever team wins this game will have the advantage in the series before heading to Atlanta.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets: After a dominating win in game one, the Rockets will try to keep the home-court advantage in this series before heading to Oklahoma City. The Thunder were completely outclassed in the first game. Russell Westbrook was outplayed by fellow MVP candidate James Harden, and the Rockets’ supporting cast outplayed the Thunder’s supporting cast. Westbrook is the star of the Thunder, and he doesn’t have much help surrounding him. He’ll need a herculean performance if they want to even the series before heading home to Oklahoma City.

Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors: The Warriors look to take a 2-0 series lead before heading on the road to Portland. The Trail Blazers kept the game close through three quarters due to their backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The Trail Blazers’ stars were dominant all game, but they didn’t get any help from their supporting cast. The Warriors have a lot more depth than the Trail Blazers, and got contributions from everyone that stepped on the floor. Draymond Green was the best player in game one, dominating on both ends of the floor. Kevin Durant is probably going to miss this game, which will give the Trail Blazers a better chance of winning. But even without Durant, the Warriors are one of the best teams in the NBA. With Durant’s injury, this becomes a must-win game for the Trail Blazers. If they cannot win this game, they don’t have a chance of winning any games in Golden State (and therefore can’t win the series because they don’t have the home-court advantage). The Trail Blazers need to even up this series otherwise they’ll make Damian Lillard’s prediction of winning in six games look like a bad joke.

Today in Sports: 4/16/17 Review

NBA:

Washington Wizards defeat Atlanta Hawks 114-107: The Wizards and Hawks played a tight game until the third quarter when the Wizards pulled away. All five starters for the Wizards were in double figures, which was a common theme this year. The Wizards’ starters played more minutes than any starting unit in the NBA. Teams typically play their bench less minutes in the playoffs, which should be an advantage for the top-heavy Wizards. But they could get worn out if their bench doesn’t give them any help. John Wall was the star of the game with 32 points and 14 assists. The Hawks’ starters didn’t play well enough to give them a chance. Their bench outplayed the Wizards’ bench, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to make a big enough impact on the game. These two teams will play game two on Wednesday in Washington.

Golden State Warriors defeat Portland Trail Blazers 121-109: The Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Trail Blazers in game one at home. The game was incredibly close through three quarters because of the scoring output of the Trail Blazers’ backcourt. C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined for 75 of Portland’s 109 points, but that wasn’t enough to defeat the heavily favored Warriors.  Draymond Green was phenomenal on both ends of the floor. He had 19 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, 5 blocks, and 3 steals. The Warriors have too much firepower for McCollum and Lillard to beat them singlehandedly. The Trail Blazers need other players to step up. If Jusuf Nurkic isn’t able to return during this series, the Blazers could be in serious trouble. Game two will be played on Wednesday in Golden State.

Chicago Bulls defeat Boston Celtics 106-102: The Chicago Bulls pulled off the upset on the road in game one of this series. The Bulls have the best player in the series in Jimmy Butler, who went off for thirty points. The Bulls also have two former champions in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo who can provide valuable leadership. Bobby Portis was a major contributor off the bench with 19 points. Isaiah Thomas played a fantastic game just one day after the tragic death of his younger sister. Nobody knew if he would play going into the game, and nobody would’ve blamed him if he decided to sit the game out. Instead, he battle hard and led his team with 33 points. But the Celtics didn’t get enough of a contribution from the other starters. These two teams will play game two on Tuesday in Boston.

Houston Rockets defeat Oklahoma City Thunder 118-87: In the game that most NBA fans looked forward to more than any other playoff game, the Rockets dominated the Thunder in a game that wasn’t close after halftime. If this game was the deciding factor on who should win the MVP award (which it won’t be), James Harden would be walking away with the trophy. Russell Westbrook had a nice game with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists, but that isn’t up to the level he played at during the season. He also had 9 turnovers and was forcing up bad shots at times. James Harden scored a game-high 37 points, to go along with his 9 assists and 7 rebounds. His teammates also gave him more help than Westbrook’s teammates, which was a common theme throughout the season. Harden’s Rockets are a more talented team, which is why they are favored in this series. Russell Westbrook has to do everything for the Thunder if they want to win, which is something that he’s capable of doing at times. These teams will play game two on Wednesday in Houston.

Today in Sports: 4/16/17 Preview

NBA:

Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards: The Hawks and Wizards will meet in Washington for game one of this first round playoff series. The Hawks are one of the hottest teams in the NBA during the last few weeks of the season, which could give them confidence heading into this series. The Wizards struggled a bit during the regular season’s last month, but are the more talented team in this matchup. The Wizards played their starters more than any team in the league, which could lead to them being worn out during this postseason run. Their bench is an issue, but teams typically play their bench fewer minutes in the playoffs. They definitely have the talent advantage over the Hawks, but Atlanta has enough firepower to keep the series close. Game one will be crucial in both teams’ efforts to advance to the second round.

Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors: The Trail Blazers and Warriors will meet in Golden State for game one of this first round playoff series. The Trail Blazers are one of the hottest teams heading into the playoffs. They are led by the duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. This backcourt is as talented as any in the NBA. After the addition of center Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers started playing up to their potential. Nurkic suffered an injury and may miss the series, which could be detrimental to their chances of pulling off the upset over the heavily favored Warriors. Golden State didn’t win as many games as last season, but they are a much more talented team because of the addition of superstar Kevin Durant. Lillard predicted the Trail Blazers would win the series in six games, so he’ll need to help his team pull off the upset in game one if he wants to make his prediction come true.

Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics: The Bulls and Celtics will meet in Boston for game one of this first round playoff series. The Celtics were able to take the number one seed after the Cleveland Cavaliers stopped trying to win during the last few games of the season. The Celtics have a lot of talent on both sides of the floor. Isaiah Thomas has been one of the best players in the league all season, and could take over the series if Chicago isn’t able to limit his impact. The Bulls are one of the most confusing teams in the league. They have the best player in this series in Jimmy Butler, and have playoff veterans in Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. The Bulls have the talent to beat the Celtics, but they’ve underachieved all season. This is an interesting 1-8 matchup, and it could be closer than most first round series that include the top seed.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets: The Thunder and Rockets will meet in Houston for game one of this first round playoff series. This is a dream matchup for all fans of basketball. Not only are Russell Westbrook and James Harden competing for the MVP, but they’re facing each other in the first round of the playoffs. These two MVP candidates were once teammates, but they weren’t even the best player on that team. The Thunder have been led by Russell Westbrook’s historic season. The Rockets are one of the most exciting teams in the NBA. Coach Mike D’Antoni brought his fast-paced style of basketball to Houston, and it has been run to perfection due to James Harden’s ability to adapt. He was a shooting guard before this season, but Harden has changed his game to become a point guard in D’Antoni’s system. These two teams are led by superstars, but Houston is the favorite because they have more talent around their superstar. This series will be must-see TV.

Today in Sports: 4/12/17 Review

NBA:

Toronto Raptors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 98-83: The Cavaliers decided a few days ago that it is more important to rest their starters before the playoffs than try and compete for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. The defending champion Cavaliers are confident that they can win a seven game series against the Celtics without home-court advantage. The last time these two teams played, the Cavaliers dominated the Celtics in Boston. It’s hard to bet against LeBron James, but the Cavaliers aren’t playing their best basketball heading into the postseason. This strategy will be questioned all offseason if the Cavaliers don’t make it back to the NBA Finals. Although this game was played by backups for both teams, this could be a potential second round playoff matchup. The Raptors are a much more dangerous team with the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline. With the return of a healthy Kyle Lowry, this Raptors team has enough firepower to make an NBA Finals run.

Boston Celtics defeat Milwaukee Bucks 112-94: In a game that was a lot closer than the score suggests, the Boston Celtics were able to clinch the number one seed in the Eastern Conference by defeating the Bucks. This game was extremely close through three quarters before the Celtics were able to pull away in the fourth quarter. The Bucks were resting most of their starters including superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. This game shouldn’t have been close, but it seemed like the Celtics were feeling the pressure of competing for the top seed. Since the Cavaliers lost, the Celtics would’ve been the number one seed even if they lost this game. If this is how the Celtics play under pressure, they may have a disappointing showing in the playoffs.

Miami Heat defeat Washington Wizards 110-102: The Miami Heat’s improbable season came to an end after a victory over the Wizards. The Heat needed either the Indiana Pacers or Chicago Bulls to lose in order to clinch a spot in the playoffs, but both of those teams won and clinched playoff berths. The Heat had one of the greatest endings to a season for a non-playoff team in NBA history. They had a ton of injuries and had one of the worst records in the NBA halfway through the season, but they never gave up. Coach Erik Spoelstra deserves a ton of credit for the way he led his team to the precipice of the playoffs. Although they came up short, this season proves Miami has a bright future ahead of them.

Indiana Pacers defeat Atlanta Hawks 104-86: The Indiana Pacers clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with a win against the Hawks. The Pacers would’ve missed the playoffs if they lost this game. The Pacers have a great challenge ahead of them in the first round of the playoffs when they face the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Although LeBron has had the Pacers’ number in past postseason matchups, this year’s Cavaliers limped into the playoffs. The Pacers aren’t as big of a threat as they’ve been in year’s past, but they still have superstar Paul George leading the way. George looks like the pre-injury Paul George again, and that could be a major problem for the Cavaliers. The defending champions will be heavy favorites in this series, but you can’t sleep on a team with a superstar of Paul George’s caliber.

Playoff standings –

Western Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Houston Rockets
  4. Los Angeles Clippers
  5. Utah Jazz
  6. Oklahoma City Thunder
  7. Memphis Grizzlies
  8. Portland Trail Blazers

Eastern Conference:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Atlanta Hawks
  6. Milwaukee Bucks
  7. Indiana Pacers
  8. Chicago Bulls

Today in Sports: 4/12/17 Preview

NBA:

All non-playoff teams: Fans of non-playoff teams should watch their team’s season finale. This will be the last time to watch your team until next season.

Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers: Although this is an extremely important game for the Cavaliers, there is a good chance that they will rest their starters. The Cavaliers are in second place in the Eastern Conference and are just one game behind the Boston Celtics. They rested LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in their last game, which cost them the top seed in the playoffs. The Cavaliers seem to care more about resting their players than getting the top seed. The Cavaliers destroyed the Celtics in Boston the last time they played, so they might not be worried about beating the Celtics on the road in the playoffs. This strategy is extremely risky and may come back to bite them in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: The Boston Celtics are currently one game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. With Milwaukee already locking up the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, there’s a good chance the Bucks will rest their starters including superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. This could help the Celtics clinch home-court advantage.

Washington Wizards at Miami Heat: This game is a must-win for the Miami Heat. They are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They are tied with the eighth seeded Chicago Bulls, but they don’t own the tiebreaker. They are one game behind the seventh seeded Indiana Pacers, but in this case they own the tiebreaker over Indiana. If the Heat lose to the Wizards, their valiant effort to get back into postseason contention will be wasted. There are multiple scenarios that could lead to the Heat making the playoffs. If the Heat and Pacers win and Bulls lose, the Pacers and Heat will be the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively.  If the Heat and Bulls win and Pacers lose, the Bulls and Heat will be the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively. If all three teams win, the Heat will stay in ninth place and will miss the playoffs. The Heat must win and hope either the Bulls or Pacers lose.

Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers: The Indiana Pacers control their own destiny. If the Pacers beat the Hawks, they will clinch the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Pacers lose, they could fall to eighth place if the Heat or Bulls win. The Pacers will miss the playoffs if they lose and both the Heat and Bulls win. If all three teams win or lose, the playoff standings will remain the same. The Hawks have already clinched the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and may decide to sit their starters. This would be an enormous help for the Pacers. Indiana cannot focus on all the potential playoff scenarios, they just need to focus on themselves and beat the Hawks to clinch a spot in the playoffs.

Today in Sports: 4/8/17 Review

The Masters:

Third-round play at The Masters concluded with a tie at the top of the leaderboard. Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia are tied at -6 heading into Sunday’s final round. Jordan Spieth had another nice round on Saturday and is now tied for fourth place at -4. Sergio Garcia is one of the world’s most prominent golfers without a major. He’ll try and finally break that streak on Sunday.

 

NBA:

Boston Celtics defeat Charlotte Hornets 121-114: The Boston Celtics won an important game in Charlotte against the Hornets. The Hornets have nothing to play for but pride, and made the game close after a dominating third quarter. Nicolas Batum’s 31 points and 8 rebounds led the Hornets. Isaiah Thomas led his team with 32 points in this must-win game. The Celtics are now a half game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.

Brooklyn Nets defeat Chicago Bulls 107-106: The Chicago Bulls continue to disappoint with another baffling loss. The Bulls are in the thick of the playoff hunt, but laid an egg against the NBA’s worst team. The Nets don’t have an incentive to tank because their first round pick belongs to Boston, so they’ve continued to play hard despite being the laughingstock of the league. Dwyane Wade scored 14 points in his return and superstar Jimmy Butler put in 33 points. But that wasn’t enough as the Bulls fall to eighth place in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining. They are tied with the ninth seeded Miami Heat and are in danger of missing the playoffs.

Miami Heat defeat Washington Wizards 106-103: The Miami Heat won another impressive road game against a Washington Wizards team that is trying to get the third seed in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards are currently in fourth place, just one game behind the third seeded Toronto Raptors. With their playoff ticket already punched, they are trying to improve their seed so they can avoid the Cavaliers in the second round. On the other hand, the Miami Heat would be at home if the playoffs started today. They are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, but are tied with the eighth seeded Chicago Bulls. With the Bulls owning the tiebreaker, the Heat will have to jump ahead of them in the standings with only two games remaining.

Portland Trail Blazers defeat Utah Jazz 101-86: The Portland Trail Blazers won an important game at home against the Utah Jazz. With this loss, the Jazz fell from fourth to fifth place in the Western Conference. They’ll face the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, and have two games remaining that will determine which team will get the home-court advantage. The Trail Blazers are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference. They have a 1.5 game lead over the ninth seeded Denver Nuggets. The Trail Blazers control their own destiny, and are surging at the right time with eight wins in their last ten games.

Today in Sports: 4/8/17 Preview

The Masters:

Third-round play at The Masters begins today with a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard. Sergio Garcia is one of the leaders at -4 and is in search of his first career major. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Phil Mickelson are all within striking distance.

 

NBA:

Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets: The Celtics will try to take advantage of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ baffling loss yesterday to an Atlanta Hawks team that was resting four starters. The Hornets haven’t lived up to expectations this year, but are plenty talented enough to knock off the Celtics as they try to move closer to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are one game behind Cleveland with both teams having three games remaining.

Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets (NBATV): The Bulls are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference going into today’s matchup with the NBA’s worst team. They are tied with the eighth seeded Indiana Pacers and are just one game ahead of the Miami Heat. With three games remaining, the Bulls are trying to get ahead of the sixth seeded Milwaukee Bucks so they can avoid facing either Boston or Cleveland in the first round. This is a game the Bulls cannot afford to lose.

Miami Heat at Washington Wizards: This season’s most surprising team has been the Washington Wizards. After a slow start to begin the season, John Wall and company have been one of the most consistent teams during the last few months. Currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards are just a half game behind the third seeded Toronto Raptors with three games remaining on their schedule. To a certain degree, the Miami Heat have also been one of the more surprising teams after a slow start to the season. With all the injuries that the Heat suffered this season, Erik Spoelstra deserves a ton of credit for helping his team back into the playoff race. The Heat are one game behind the eighth seeded Indiana Pacers in a very competitive Eastern Conference. This game has major playoff implications.

Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers: The Utah Jazz are one of the more underappreciated teams in the NBA this season. With all the injuries that they’ve suffered, the Jazz are in fourth place in the Western Conference. They are one game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers, another talented team that has suffered crippling injuries throughout the season. The Jazz cannot get a top three seed and won’t fall below fifth, so they’ll face the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. These last three games will determine which team will get home-court advantage. The Trail Blazers have disappointed this season but still have a chance to make the playoffs. They are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference with three games remaining. The Denver Nuggets are one game behind them, so this is a crucial game for the Trail Blazers.