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Basketball

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Four Big League Championships to Take Place Over the Next Month

September 21, 2020
SOURCE: CODIE MCLACHLAN/DALLAS MORNING NEWS
SOURCE: CODIE MCLACHLAN/DALLAS MORNING NEWS

The GIST: For the first time in forever, we’ll be treated to four big league championships in a one-month period, and kicking it all off is the Stanley Cup Final.

Tell me everything!: After beating the New York Islanders in six games, the Tampa Bay Lightning joined the Dallas Stars in the final round of the strangest season of hockey ever.

  • The Stars took Saturday’s Game 1 with a convincing 4–1 finish. Four different Stars players scored (including this beauty from Jamie Oleksiak), but 34-year-old rookie playoff starter Anton Khudobin was the real star, making 35 saves. Game 2 starts tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

What about basketball?: The NBA is getting there. After going down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Celtics bounced back in Game 3, trouncing the Miami Heat 117–106 and serving them with just their second loss of the playoffs. Game 4 isn’t until Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

  • In the Western Conference, the LA Lakers made it 2-0 in their series against the Denver Nuggets with a 105–103 win last night. The Nuggets are used to coming back though, so don’t count them out just yet. Game 3 is tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET.

Sweet. Gimme more!: The WNBA is a round away from their finals, too...but it may take them a little longer to get there. After the Connecticut Sun absolutely demolished the Las Vegas Aces in yesterday’s semifinal Game 1, the Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm were supposed to start their series. But due to a number of Storm players’ “inconclusive” COVID-19 test results, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert decided to postpone the game until new tests can be administered. Solid leadership!

Any other playoffs?: The MLB regular season ends on Sunday (doesn’t it feel like it just started?) and playoff spots are quickly filling up. Five teams in the American League and two in the National League have clinched, and more are expected today with 11 games on deck. Check out the full playoff picture here.

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NBA and NHL Playoff News

September 17, 2020
SOURCE: GARRETT ELLWOOD/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: GARRETT ELLWOOD/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: The NBA Conference Finals have arrived! Four teams are duking it out for conference glory and a shot at the Larry O’Brien.

Who’s made it this far?: Let’s start with the Western Conference, because this postseason, West is best (for the fans, anyway). Despite entering the playoffs as the conference’s third ranked team, the Denver Nuggets somehow found themselves taking on the underdog role, especially after they went down 3-1 in the conference semifinals against the surging No. 2 LA Clippers.

  • Down but not out, the Nuggets rallied — with some major help from superstar-in-the-making Canadian Jamal Murray — to force, and then win, Tuesday night’s epic Game 7, becoming the first team in NBA history to win back-to-back series after being down 3-1. Maybe Kawhi Leonard should have stayed with the Toronto Raptors.
  • Starting tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET, the Nuggets will face the West’s best, LeBron James and the LA Lakers. Yesterday, James was named an All-NBA player for a record-breaking 16th time. So, yeah, this series should be good.

And the Eastern Conference?: It’s the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics. The Celtics had a tough road after taking the defending champ Raptors to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but it’s been smooth sailing for the Heat, who’ve lost only one game this postseason.

  • This series started on Tuesday with an 117–114 overtime win for the Heat (because of course). Tune in tonight as Game 2 tips off at 7 p.m. ET, or, even better, head over to ESPN Radio to hear our fave basketball analyst, Doris Burke, make history as the first woman to call the Conference and NBA Finals on a national radio broadcast. A true icon.

Sweet. Any other playoff news?: And then there were three in the NHL. On Monday night, the Dallas Stars punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals with an overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights, taking the series 4-1.

  • So now we’re just waiting for the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders to decide who wants the other spot in the Finals more. Tampa’s up 3-2 in the series, which could end tonight. Puck drops at 8 p.m. ET.

🏀Shey Peddy's Buzzer Beater

September 17, 2020
SOURCE: JULIO AGUILAR/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: JULIO AGUILAR/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: What’s the best way to get revenge on the team that cut you a month before the postseason? Hit a buzzer beater to eliminate them from the WNBA playoffs, just like Shey Peddy did on Tuesday.

Yes girl! Tell me more: In August, Peddy was dropped from the eighth place Washington Mystics and quickly picked up by the fifth place Phoenix Mercury. Thanks to some fun basketball karma, the teams faced off in Tuesday night’s first round single-elimination playoff game.

  • Down by two with less than a second left, Peddy nailed a three-pointer to secure an 85–84 win over the Mystics, knocking them out of the postseason. Talk about throwing Shey-de! The Mercury will now play the Minnesota Lynx in the second round.

Love it! What about the other game?: Before that nail-biter, the No. 7 Connecticut Sun upset the No. 6 Chicago Sky in a not-so-nail-biting 94–81 win and will move on to face the LA Sparks. Reminder: the second round of the playoffs is also single-elimination. How are your nails looking?

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NBA, MLB, NHL Playoff Series Updates

September 14, 2020
SOURCE: NBA.COM
SOURCE: NBA.COM

The GIST: Major league playoffs in September are no joke (of course we’re not kidding). Two playoffs are underway and another is just around the corner. Let’s go!

Tell me about the NBA: The conference finals are almost set. The Boston Celtics, who beat the defending champion Toronto Raptors in an up-and-down Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semis on Friday night, will face the Miami Heat, who surprisingly took the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks in five games to advance. This series starts tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. ET.

  • In the Western Conference, the LA Lakers breezed past the Houston Rockets for a conference final berth, which means we’re just waiting on the last game of the round: the highly anticipated Game 7 between the Lakers’ La La Land rivals, the LA Clippers, and the Denver Nuggets, which is also set for tomorrow night.

And the NHL?: They’re in the thick of the conference finals in the Canadian bubble. On Saturday night, the Dallas Stars rallied for a 2–1 win against the Vegas Golden Knights to bring their series lead to 3-1. Every game is a must-win for the Knights now, including tonight’s Game 5 at 8 p.m. ET. Talk about nerve-wracking.

  • The New York Islanders, the lowest remaining seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs, are in must-win territory, too. They lost Game 4 to the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday and now trail 3-1 in the series. Game 5 is set for tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET.

What about MLB?: Baseball playoffs haven’t started just yet, but we’re close. There are only two weeks left in the stunted regular season, which ends September 27th, and an unprecedented 16 teams (up from 10) will make the postseason.

  • As it stands, the Chicago White Sox are leading the American League while the LA Dodgers are dominating the National League, and, outside of the Toronto Blue Jays, there aren’t many surprises in the standings. Batter up!

🏀Toronto Raptors Force Game 7 Against Boston Celtics

September 10, 2020
SOURCE: TORONTO RAPTORS/TWITTER
SOURCE: TORONTO RAPTORS/TWITTER

The GIST: The Toronto Raptors just love drama. Not only did they treat us to double overtime (OT) in their Game 6 matchup against the Boston Celtics last night, but now they’re taking us to a high-stakes Game 7. Coolcoolcool.

Talk about anxiety inducing: Seriously. Down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals and facing elimination, the Raps pulled out all the stops in a back-and-forth game, but Boston forced OT...and a missed three-pointer by Norman Powell brought it to double OT.

  • Powell came in clutch in the double overtime though (just check out this play!) and after nearly an hour of play, the Raps took it 125–122. Phewf.
     
  • This game was an instant classic, and hands down, Kyle Lowry was the difference maker with a 33-point performance. The man can do it all, including making a bucket while literally falling over. A national hero.

What now?: Now, for the greatest phrase in all of sports: Game 7. It’s do-or-die, winner-takes-all, tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET. Cancel all your plans. You can’t miss this one.

Sweet. Any other Canadian news?: Uh, not great news. The Raps are all we have going for us at the moment: the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs after losing their Game 7 to the Vegas Golden Knights last Friday, and all seven Canadian players were eliminated from the U.S. Open. Petition to make basketball our national sport?