"The Stack" is here today with a shorter version after the NBA playoff preview yesterday. We do have plenty of playoff action to talk about though so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Wednesday, May 2:
1. Lakers take 2-0 series lead over Nuggets...Celtics, 76ers even playoff series
Two words...Kobe Bryant. That's all you need to know. Bryant was sensational, scoring 38 points in the Lakers 104-100 win over the Denver Nuggets. They now hold a 2-0 series lead heading into Friday's game three in Denver. The Nuggets played pretty well in the first half, but Bryant was just too hot. In the second half, the Lakers were able to pull away thanks to Bryant and some great offensive rebounding that kept possessions alive and killed any Nuggets momentum. The Nuggets kept themselves in the game thanks to their speed, and slow transition defense from the Lakers, something L.A. must correct. Having said that, the Nuggets just don't matchup well with the Lakers. The Lakers are too big for the Nuggets to handle. The post play dominance is staggering. The Lakers cotinue to look like a serious contender to make it to the NBA Finals, even win it.
Earlier in the night, the Rajon Rondoless Celtics struggled for three quarters. But basketball is a four quarter game and the Celtics came to play in the fourth quarter, holding the Hawks to only fourteen fourth quarter points as the Boston Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks 87-80 to even the series up 1-1. The star for Boston was Paul Pierce who had 36 points and 14 rebounds. This was the chance that Atlanta needed to take control of the series and put all of the pressure on Boston headed back for game three. But now the Celtics have homecourt advantage and getting Rondo back will certainly help. Expect the Celtics to hold serve at home and put all the pressure on the Hawks when they return back home for game five.
So how important is Derrick Rose to the Chicago Bulls? Pretty important judging from last night's game between them and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls never looked really in rhythm and looked a little shellshocked to be playing without their star point guard. The 76ers took full advantage of that, destroying the Bulls 109-92 to even the best of seven series up 1-1. The Bulls were fine for the first half, holding an eight point lead at halftime, but 76ers head coach Doug Collins apparently lit a fire underneath his guys in the locker room as the 76ers came out on a tear, outscoring the Bulls 36-14 in the fourth quarter. The Bulls were never able to recover. Philadelphia has to feel like all of hte pressure is on Chicago and truth be told, it is. The 76ers are playing with house money. They may just pull off the upset here in this series unless the Bulls can figure out a way to put the Rose injury behind them. Game three is Friday in Philadelphia.
Wednesday night's NBA playoff games:
Utah Jazz@ San Antonio Spurs 7:00 PM ET (Spurs lead series 1-0)
Indiana Pacers @ Orlando Magic 7:30 PM ET (series tied 1-1)
Los Angeles Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies 9:30 PM ET (L.A. leads series 1-0)
2. Devils earn road win to even series with Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has had a rough playoff at times this year and Tuesday night was no exception as the New Jersey Devils scored four third period goals including one by Travis Zajac, his fifth of the playoffs as the Devils won 4-1 to even the series up 1-1. The Devils were the far more aggressive team, outshooting the Flyers 35-20 including 12-2 in the second period. The Devils played more desperate. They played like if they lost one more game they would be out. That's the way they're going to have to play in this series against the Flyers if they expect to win the series at all. Plus it helps when your future hall-of-fame goalie Martin Brodeur turns in a strong performance as he did last night. This series could and hopefully will go the distance. Both teams are very good.
Wednesday night's NHL playoff games:
New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals 7:30 PM ET NBC SN (series tied 1-1)
Phoenix Coyotes @ Nashville Predators 9:00 PM ET CNBC (Phoenix leads series 2-0)
3. Buffalo Bills 2012-13 NFL schedule highlights
We got away from this last week, so it's time to get back into it and take a look at some of the interesting notes from the upcoming season for each team in the NFL. Today's team, the Buffalo Bills. Getting Mario Williams has created a lot of buzz and excitement for the Bills in upstate New York. Their full schedule can be found here and here are some notes on the upcoming season for the Bills:
- The Bills success for the season will depend in large part on how they play on the road in the first half of the season. Six of the Bills first nine games are on the road.
- The benefit though is that four of the last five games for the Bills are at home including the regular season finale against the New York Jets.
- The Bills will have to make back-to-back west coast trips in weeks 5 and 6 as they play @ San Francisco and @ Arizona respectively.
- The Bills only have one nationally televised game, the NFL Network game against Miami week 11 in Buffalo.
- The Bills annual "home" game in Toronto is week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Tomorrow's team: Carolina Panthers
Finally a couple of other quick notes before we go. Tampa Bay Rays 3B Evan Longoria is expected to miss 4-8 weeks after partially teaing his left hamstring. This is a big blow for the Rays, but they have played very well so far this year and will continue to just have another guy step up in Longoria's absence..To the NFL where the Buffalo Bills are working out QB Vince Young. We'll have to wait and see if he gets the gig. He's had a difficult career. Maybe Buffalo is what Young needs more than Buffalo needs Young...Finally, will the saga with the Minnesota Vikings quest for a new stadium ever end? It will at some point, but it has just been a roller coaster ride. Yesterday's ride sent it to the valley. If no stadium deal is reached, the Vikings will leave. It's that simple. Here's hoping the state politicians will work together and forget the party lines before it's too late. At this point, who knows.
Coming up Thursday: NBA and NHL playoff reaction
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.