"The Stack" 5-16-18

Deandre Ayton may be staying in Arizona after the Suns got the number one overall pick in last night's NBA Lottery.

The Stack is back with a much later post on this Wednesday. My apologies for the delay in getting this out. Playoff talk and a lottery (not a scratch off) so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Wednesday, May 16th:

Celtics get by Cavs despite LeBron’s 42 point effort

The Boston Celtics knew they were going to see a different LeBron James. Heck, Tristan Thompson even predicted that LeBron was going to have an epic game. Well James got off to a brief slow start with a couple of turnovers and two missed free throws, but then he settled in and torched the Celtics. He started making threes. He had 21 points in the first quarter alone. He was great and the Celtics had to do everything they could just to keep pace. With the Cavs up seven at half, you thought they were going to take game two and control of the series. Not so fast. The Celtics dialed up the defense and particularly the offense in the third quarter going off and erasing that seven point lead. Before you knew it they were up by seven points going into the fourth quarter. Seriously what happened to Cleveland?! They still had a chance going into the fourth quarter, but that was quickly diminished because they couldn’t score at all. All five Celtics starters scored in double figures. That will help negate a triple-double by the King. Perhaps the Cavs tailed off in the second half because LeBron wasn’t himself after a collision in the first half that strained his neck. Either way, he had no help. When the Cavs win it is because they give James the help he needs and deserves. He can’t do it all by himself Skip Bayless. Tough loss for the Cavs, but given the Celtics road struggles in the postseason, they may be fine as long as they win games three and four.

Tonight, it’s game two of the western conference finals between Golden State and Houston with tipoff at 9 PM ET on TNT.

Lightning strike, get back into series with Caps

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach John Cooper had said that the Lighting just weren’t themselves through the first two games of their series with the Washington Capitals. They got back to playing like themselves in game three. They used their speed, they delivered some hits and more important used their power play to give themselves a lead and confidence. That confidence would last all game long as they beat the Capitals 4-2 and to get back in the series in which they are down 2-1. Steven Stamkos got the scoring started in the first period with a power play goal and if you were a little slow coming back from the first intermission, it was 3-0 less than four minutes into the second period. Wait, what? The Capitals didn’t look like themselves. They weren’t as crisp. They got a goal and some brief momentum back down 3-1 and had a three-on-one but failed to score after Alex Ovechkin gave up the puck. Though they did get a powerplay right after that, the failed to capitalize (see what I did there? That was unintentional) and they really couldn’t get back into it from that point on. Huge win for the Lightning. Have to wonder if some doubts are creeping back into the minds of the Capitals and their fans. A win in game four will do wonders. We’ll see if they can do it.

Game three in the western conference finals are tonight between the Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights. Puck drops at 9 PM ET on NBCSN. The series is tied 1-1.

Suns win the lottery

For the first time in franchise history, barring a trade, the Phoenix Suns will pick first in June’s NBA Draft following their win in the NBA Lottery Tuesday night. Funny how a team doesn’t win much during the regular season and then scores their biggest win of the year thanks to the magic and luck of some ping pong balls. I have shouted conspiracy when it comes to the NBA Lottery in the past, but I won’t here. I can’t. If it truly were a conspiracy, the NBA would have made the Brooklyn Nets get no worse than the third overall pick. That pick goes to Cleveland and any help in making sure LeBron stays in Cleveland is huge. The second pick goes to the Sacramento Kings. Not the Chicago Bulls. Not the New York Knicks. The Kings. Maybe this will be what it takes for the Kings to snap what is now the longest playoff drought in the NBA. I doubt it, at least not this year. If you want an extremely unlikely conspiracy theory, perhaps the NBA just wanted Deandre Ayton to stay in Arizona and get drafted by the Suns and maybe the Kings are second so they can get a great player and end the longest active playoff drought in the NBA. Yeah, unlikely. Here is the NBA Lottery order:

1. Phoenix Suns

2. Sacramento Kings

3. Atlanta Hawks

4. Memphis Grizzlies

5. Dallas Mavericks

6. Orlando Magic

7. Chicago Bulls

8. Cleveland Cavaliers

9. New York Knicks

10. Philadelphia 76ers

11. Charlotte Hornets

12. L.A. Clippers

13. L.A. Clippers

14. Denver Nuggets

We’ll see how it all goes down in June when the NBA Draft comes around.

Coming up Thursday: NBA and NHL Playoff reaction