"The Stack" 4-16-18
Victor Oladipo was great in helping lead to the Indiana Pacers to a 98-80 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers in game one of their series Sunday.
The Stack is back on this Monday and the NBA and NHL Playoffs are in full swing. We have reaction to all of the games from this weekend so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Monday, April 16th:
Weekend NBA Playoff reaction
Every team in the playoffs have played one game. Most of the games have not been great and we’ve only seen one eye-opening upset. The playoffs started Saturday with Golden State laying a beatdown on the San Antonio Spurs 113-92. Steph who? The Warriors didn’t need Curry in this one. The Spurs could sure have used Kawhi Leonard, but it doesn’t sound like he is going to come back for this series. That is not very pleasing to his head coach, Gregg Popovich.
Continuing on Saturday, the Toronto Raptors are the Washington Capitals of the NBA. They can be so good during the regular season, but come playoff time they struggle. This was once again on full display Saturday against the Washington Wizards. It was a one point game entering the fourth quarter and the Wizards kept hanging around in the game, but fell behind by 12 points with 3:31 to go and really couldn’t get much closer. Not a very convincing win at all for the Raptors.
Know who did have an impressive and convincing win on Saturday? That would be the Philadelphia 76ers who laid a South Beach beatdown on the Miami Heat in the second half of their game. The 76ers would win 130-103. Ben Simmons was tremendous in this game. He dished out 14 assists. This is a fun team to watch. Once they got going they didn’t miss much. I expect that to happen much of the series.
The final game on Saturday was an upset with the #6 seed New Orleans Pelicans taking down the #3 seed Portland Trailblazers, but it wasn’t jaw dropping. New Orleans is good. Anthony Davis is a beast. What was probably more eye-opening is that Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum got off to such slow starts. They couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn and though they eventually picked it up in the second half, they ultimately could not beat the Pelicans, losing 97-93.
On Sunday, the party got started with a good game and the first overtime game of the 2018 NBA Playoffs. The Greek Freak and the Milwaukee Bucks someone got a three to drop with a half-second left in the fourth quarter to force overtime with the Boston Celtics, but ultimately would fall 113-107. Pretty sweet game.
The eye-opening upset has to go to the Indiana Pacers who jumped out to a 19 point first quarter lead on the road in Cleveland against LeBron and they never looked back in route to a 98-80 victory. What in the heck happened to LeBron James and the Cavs? That is a great question. Victor Oladipo was tremendous all year long. If he keeps playing like that, the Pacers are going to succeed in their question for the upset.
The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t have to sweat things out too bad against the Utah Jazz. The Thunder would win 116-108 thanks in large part to the hot shooting they received from Paul George. He was eight-for-eleven from beyond the arc and finished with 36 points. He was sensational. Russell Westbrook added 29 points. More games like that from George and the Thunder are going to be a threat in the playoffs.
The final game of the weekend took place in Houston and man did the Minnesota Timberwolves give the Rockets all they can handle, but Houston would win 104-101 thanks to James Harden who finished with 44 points. He is a remarkable player to watch. The Timberwolves need to play better defense on him and they need to make that adjustment right from the outset in game two. Clint Capela also had a big game. The Timberwolves gave it their all, but just couldn’t quite come up with the upset win. Game two will not be much of a contest I feel like.
Monday’s NBA Playoff schedule
Miami Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers 8 PM ET TNT (76ers lead series 1-0)
San Antonio Spurs @ Golden State Warriors 10:30 PM ET TNT (Warriors lead series 1-0)
Weekend NHL Playoff reaction
The Colorado Avalanche have impressed me through two games with their play, but the Nashville Predators have just been that much better. The Predators beat the Avalanche 5-4 on Saturday. They are getting contributions from a variety of different players, from Viktor Arvidsson to Ryan Johansen to Kevin Fiala. Pekka Rinne hasn’t been great in net thus far through the first two games, but they should be able to get by the Avalanche in five games.
The Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t have any issues with the New Jersey Devils. They scored early and often and hung on to beat the Devils 5-3. The Lightning scored four consecutive goals in the second period including two on the power play to put this game away.
In Boston, the Bruins laid a whooping on the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3. They were probably a little amped up because of the hit by Toronto’s Kadri in the first game of the series. Four goals in the first period will doom any team. That’s what happened to the Maple Leafs. They have been dominated in the series so far.
The Anaheim Ducks are in big trouble. They lost at home to the San Jose Sharks 3-2 and are now in a 2-0 series hole. They will have to win at least one game in San Jose in either game 3 or game 4 or they are done. Given their injuries it may not be all that surprising, but still. We’ll see what happens.
On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins avenged a game two loss to the Philadelphia Flyers by laying a beatdown on the Flyers 5-1. Sidney Crosby scored. Evgeni Malkin scored. When they are on their game, the Penguins with their depth are tough to beat.
The Minnesota Wild got back in their series with the Winnipeg Jets with a 6-2 win in game three. Inconsistent officiating early on led to some interesting penalties and the Jets cashed in on a power play to take a 1-0 lead, but the Wild responded with a power play goal of their own. Zach Parise scored his third goal of the series and Jordan Greenway added his first career NHL goal in helping the Wild score four goals in the second in route to their victory. Given that the Jets flew in on Sunday due to the historic blizzard the Twin Cities saw this weekend, we’ll see if they are a different team on Tuesday in game four.
The real stories though happened in the final two games of the day. The Washington Capitals are the Toronto Raptors of the NHL. The Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Capitals 5-4 in overtime to take a 2-0 series lead with both of the wins coming on the road. The Capitals were great offensively, but Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was simply tremendous stopping 54 shots. If it wasn’t for him the Blue Jackets would have lost. The Capitals were fantastic on the power play scoring three goals, but costly mistakes led them to lose their second straight overtime game in the series and now puts them in must-win territory in game three in Columbus. The Capitals continue to disappoint.
And what can you say about the Vegas Golden Knights. They scored three straight goals all in the third period and hung on to beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 to take a 3-0 series lead. They are one win away from the sweep and a series win which would be their first in franchise history. This team cannot be taken lightly. They have been tremendous. What a ride. What a story. Can’t wait to see what comes next.
Monday’s NHL Playoff schedule
Boston Bruins @ Toronto Maple Leafs 7 PM ET NBCSN (Bruins lead series 2-0)
Tampa Bay Lightning @ New Jersey Devils 7:30 PM ET CNBC (Lightning lead series 2-0)
Nashville Predators @ Colorado Avalanche 10 PM ET NBCSN (Predators lead series 2-0)
Anaheim Ducks @ San Jose Sharks 10:30 PM ET CNBC (Sharks lead series 2-0)
Coming up Tuesday: NBA and NHL Playoff reaction plus other top stories in sports