May. 02, 2017
"The Stack" 4-18-17
Kawhi Leonard was a perfect 19-for-19 from the free throw line and held off a huge Grizzlies rally to help lead the Spurs to a 96-82 win Monday night and a 2-0 series lead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are one loss away from being swept. They blew a 2-0 lead and lost 3-2 to the Nashville Predators in overtime Monday night who now are up 3-0 in the series.
The Stack is back on this Tuesday and again all we have is some reaction to the playoff action from last night on the court and on the ice so let’s get right to it and see what’s in “the stack” for today, Tuesday, April 18th:
Cavs, Spurs win Monday night
Only two playoff games in the NBA Monday night. Get used to it. At most on the weeknights there will be three games. The first round of the playoffs seems like it takes forever. Anyway, last night saw both the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs take 2-0 series leads over the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies respectively. The Cavs didn’t have too much trouble with the Pacers thanks in large part to a third quarter that saw them outscore the Pacers 33-20. The Pacers trailed by just five points at the break, but Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love were just too much. They combined for 89 of the team’s 117 points. That’s tough to beat. I still think the Cavs are susceptible, but they will beat the Pacers pretty easily in this series.
The Spurs looked like they were going to blow the Grizzlies out of the building at the end of the first half, but the Grizzlies fought back in the second half. The Spurs got lackadaisical and a 26 point lead at one point was cut to just four in the fourth quarter. The Spurs were extremely carless with the ball with too many ill-advised turnovers. They pulled away though for the 96-82 victory and the big difference was free throws. The Spurs were 31-for-32 from the line. Kawhi Leonard was a perfect 19-for-19. Tremendous. I don’t like San Antonio taking their foot off the gas pedal and letting Memphis back in it, but I sense they won’t let that happen twice in Memphis.
Night on the ice
The Washington Capitals are in big trouble. They not only blew a two goal lead to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they also lost in overtime for a second consecutive game 4-3. This is major cause for concern because Braden Holtby had been great in net during the regular season. Keep in mind this Maple Leafs team has nine rookies on it. The Capitals are a veteran led squad. A late penalty by Lars Eller for high-sticking for the Capitals put the Maple Leafs on the power play and they took advantage with just seconds to go on the power play at the start of overtime with a goal Tyler Bozak. Again, the Capitals are in trouble. It’s panic time yet again.
The Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins also went to overtime, the second straight time they have done so. Just like in game two, the Senators came out on top 4-3. This was a 3-0 nothing game in favor of the Senators just minutes into the second period, but the Bruins would get two goals in a 42 second span just minutes after the last Senators goal. They would score a power play goal later in the period to tie the game, but in overtime it would be a power play goal by Bobby Ryan just under six minutes into overtime would give the Senators the 4-3 win. We’ll see if the Bruins can bounce back. I hope they can. It’s now been back-to-back nights that the Boston sports fans have gone home sad with the Celtics losing Sunday night to the Chicago Bulls. And the Bruins loss was on Patriots Day now less.
The Chicago Blackhawks are in even bigger trouble than the Capitals. They finally broke through and scored their first goals of the series against Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators and they carried a 2-0 lead into the third period. They couldn’t hang on to it though. Bridgestone Arena was largely quiet for most of the night until the Predators finally scored when a shot by Viktor Arvidsson hit off the back of the glass and popped right by Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. A mad scramble ensued and Filip Forsberg knocked the puck in to cut the lead to 2-1. The Predators would tie the game at 2-2 when Forsberg scored again although the Blackhawks argued that Arvidsson interfered with Crawford. Arvidsson did make contact with Crawford, but after review the goal stood. The commentators remarked how they don’t know what goalie interference is anymore. I’m guessing because Crawford was out of the crease that is why the goal stood. The arena was rocking by this point and Predators fans were serenading Crawford. The Predators would end it in overtime when 20-year old Kevin Fiala scored with under four minutes left in overtime. They now have a 3-0 series lead. Absolutely stunning. I did not see this coming at all.
The Anaheim Ducks overcame a 4-1 deficit and rallied to score the final four goals of the game and beat the Calgary Flames in overtime 5-4. It’s a devastating loss for the Flames who now trail 3-0 in the series and are on the brink of elimination. The Ducks scored twice with less than ten minutes left in the third period after it looked like the Flames had this game well in hand. A two goal lead is not safe in hockey and four teams had a two goal lead at some point Monday night. Three of them lost. The only one that won was Ottawa and even they blew a three goal lead and were tied with Boston before winning in overtime. The Flames are playing competitive with the Ducks, but the Ducks are just a little better at this point.
Playoff games tonight
Milwaukee Bucks @ Toronto Raptors 7 PM ET NBA TV (Bucks lead series 1-0)
Chicago Bulls @ Boston Celtics 8 PM ET TNT (Bulls lead series 1-0)
Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Clippers 10:30 PM ET TNT (Jazz lead series 1-0)
Montreal Canadiens @ New York Rangers 7 PM ET NBCSN (Canadiens lead series 2-1)
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Columbus Blue Jackets 7:30 PM ET CNBC (Penguins lead series 3-0)
Edmonton Oilers @ San Jose Sharks 10 PM ET NBCSN (Oilers lead series 2-1)
Coming up Wednesday: NBA & NHL Playoff reaction plus other top headlines in the sports world