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"The Stack" is here on this Monday after a weekend of saying "I'll Have Another" at various graduation parties.  Oh is that the horse that won the Kentucky Derby this weekend?  We'll have thoughts on that as well as the playoff action from over the weekendd so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, May 7:

1. Many uncompetitive NBA playoff series so far, Thunder sweep.

With a strike-shortened season, perhaps we should have forseen that some of the NBA playoff series with be over quickly.  Well the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to have more than a few days off following their series sweep of the Dallas Mavericks.  The Thunder won game four in Dallas 103-97 Saturday night.  After two close games in OKC, the Thunder came out focused and ready to knock off the defending champions in Dallas.  There will be a new champion in the NBA this year. 

For the Miami Heat, the New York Knicks aren't proving to be too much of a threat, especially with all of the dysfunction surrounding the Knicks following Amare Stoudemire's self inflicted hand wound.  Carmelo Anthony rose up for the challenge though in game four, scoring 41 points as the Knicks beat the Heat 89-87.  He had not stepped up and been the star that Knicks fans expect from him, but he did in game four.  The Knicks need more of those games from him if they want to win the series.  It's not going to happen.  With the injury to Derrick Rose and the Bulls on the brink of elimination (more on that in a second), the road to the NBA Finals is really easy for the Heat.

Speaking of the Bulls, injuries to Rose and Joakim Noah derailed any chance the Bulls had of giving the Heat a run for their money.  They may even derail any chance the Bulls have of making it out of the first round.  The Bulls lost 89-82 to the Philadelphia 76ers, giving the 76ers a 3-1 series lead.  There was a terrible non-call with a minute to go where it looked like Carlos Boozer was absolutely mugged by three 76ers, but t refs never called a foul.  Folks in Chicago have every right to be upset about that.  But the Bulls just aren't the same without their leader and best player Rose.  And now they look like they'll be gone in the first round.

The Boston Celtics are taking it to the Atlanta Hawks, leading the series 3-1 following the Celtics 101-79 beat down of the Hawks in game four.  Seriously did the Hawks even show up for the game?  It certainly didn't look like it.  The Hawks paid Joe Johnson a lot of money and expect him to play like a superstar in the playoffs.  He's been anything but.  The Celtics will win this series.  No chance for the Hawks.

The Los Angeles Lakers too are close to knocking off the Denver Nuggets, beating them 92-88 in game four.  This was a back and forth game.  Perhaps it should not have been.  The Lakres were just nine for eighteen from the foul line.  That has to improve if you want to advance further in the playoffs.  Kobe Bryant had 22 points, but looked at times like he was trying to do too much and took some bad shots.  That's typical, but when you are the best player on the team, you have to do that.  The star for the Lakers though was Steve Blake who scored ten points and made a huge three late.  He had scored just twelve points the previous three games in the series and was the difference maker.  The Nuggets are giving it a great effort, but they just don't have enough I feel to keep up with the Lakers.  

Other series that are highly uncompetitve include the San Antonio Spurs leading three games to none over the Utah Jazz and the Indiana Pacers holding a 3-1 series lead over the Orlando Magic.  Expect these series to be done in short order.

Monday's NBA playff games:

San Antonio Spurs @ Utah Jazz 8:00 PM ET (Spurs lead series 3-0)

Memphis Grizzlies @ Los Angeles Clippers 10:30 PM ET (Clippers lead series 2-1)

2. Kings complete sweep of Blues, Flyers even up series with Devils

The Los Agneles Kings continue to shock the hockey world.  They completed the sweep of the St. Louis Blues with a 3-1 win yesterday to advance to the western conference finals.  Dustin Brown scored two goals including an empty netter with just under thirty seconds to go.  Jonathan Quick was sensational in net once again.  He is the main reason why the Kings have made it this far.  Some of the saves he makes are just unbelieveble.  The Kings are the first eight seed in NHL history to knock off the one and the two seed in the same conference in the playoffs.  They are an incredible 8-1 this postseason.  They will enjoy the rest they get, but don't think that they won't be ready once they hit the ice again against the Phoenix Coyotes it would appear.  The NHL has to love this too to get the L.A. market in the ratings with the Kings playing so good.  Los Angeles is excited about Kings hockey.  Let's hope that continues.

The New Jersey Devils are close to sending the Philadelphia Flyers home for the offseason following thier 4-2 win in game four to take a 3-1 series lead.  The Flyers came out hot grabbing a quick 2-0 lead scoring a power play goal and a shorthanded goal.  But the Devils came back to tie the game 2-2 after the first period.  Dainius Zubrus scored in the second period to give the Devils a 3-2 lead, a lead they would not give up.  The Devils kept peppering Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with shots, outshooting the Flyers 43-22 for the game.  The Flyers could not find a way to get one by Martin Brodeur, celebrating his 40th birthday yesterday, after the first two, and when they needed one in the third period, Brodeur was there to deny them.  Not a bad birthday gift all things considered.  The Devils are playing really well right now.  The Flyers are not.  It may be that thy were so focused on beating in-state rival Pittsburgh in the first round that they used up all of their energy and focus.  They can still beat the Devils, but at this point, I wouldn't put any money on it.    

Monday's NHL playoff games:

Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers  7:30 PM ET (series tied 2-2)

Nashville Predators @ Phoenix Coyotes 10:00 PM ET (Coyotes lead series 3-1)

3. Exciting finish in Kentucky Derby gives I'll Have Another the victor

The hats, the mint juleps, the throngs of fans, the 138th Kentucky Derby had all that and more.  It also had history made as I'll Have Another came storming down the final furlong to win the Kentucky Derby.  I'll Have Another is the first horse to win from the 19th post in Derby history.  I'll Have Another and rookie jockey Mario Gutierrez were both not well known heading into the day, it's safe to say they are now.  At the time of the race, I'll Have Another was a 15-1 shot to win the Derby, and for the first three-quarters of the race, it didn't look good.  Hansen and Bodemeister were in front for almost the entire race, while I'll Have Another was back a ways, but came charging ahead to win the race by one-and-a-half lengths.  Bodemeister finished second while Dullahan finished third.  Now the real question is will I'll Have Another win the triple crown?  Highly unlikely.  He just doesn't seem to be a horse likely to win three straight races, but crazier things have happened.  Next up, a trip to Maryland for Pimlico in a couple of weeks.

4. Cincinnati Bengals 2012-13 NFL schedule preview

The Cincinnati Bengals surpised many people last year making it to the playoffs led by the terrific rookie tandem of quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green.  Expectations are high in Cincinnati.  Will they take that next step forward or take a step back?  Their full schedule can be found here.  Now here are a few interesting notes on this season's Bengals schedule:

  • They begin the season at Baltimore (week 1) and end the season at home against Baltimore (week 17).  They finished last season at home against Baltimore as well.
  • The battle of Ohio between the Bengals and their state rivals, the Cleveland Browns, takes place week 2 (in Cincinnati) and week 6 (in Cleveland).
  • The Bengals will be making back-to-back trips to Pennsylvania weeks 15 and 16 (@ Philadelphia, @ Pittsburgh).
  • The Bengals won't be traveling for a month in the middle part of the season as they have three straight home games and a bye.  (Week 7 vs. Pittsburgh, Week 8 BYE, Week 9 vs. Denver, week 10 vs. New York Giants)
  • The Bengals success last year has gotten them into the primetime slot three times this year (week 1 @ Baltimore 7:00 PM ET ESPN, wee 7 vs. Pittsburgh 8:20 PM ET NBC, and week 15 @ Philadelphia 8:20 PM ET, NFL Network).

Tuesday's team: Cleveland Browns

5. Minnesota Vikings stadium vote today

The fate of Vikings football in Minnesota could very well be decided today as the stadium bill will receive a vote on the house floor.  If it passes, it will then move on to the Senate.  Opposition is stiff and House Majority Leader Kurt Zellers R-Maple Grove says he does not support the bill.  That could make it very tricky passing this bill, especially since the Republicans hold the majority of the votes in the house.  Plus, politics appears to be getting involved with the bill that could affect the outcome as Governor Mark Dayton, a Deomcrat, vetoed a tax bill that the Republicans had passed.  Zellers says that that will be a factor in the votes for the stadium bill, a bill that Dayton has been working really hard on and supports.  A rally was held at the Mall of America on Saturday with several legislators, Dayton and Vikings officialls as well as defensive end Jared Allen.  Hundreds of people attended the rally. 

This political roller coaster ride the Vikings stadium bill has been on is just sickening.  People need to forget the party lines and put politics aside to pass this bill and ensure that Vikings football will stay in Minnesota for years to come.  If the bill is voted down, the Vikings are most likely gone.  The final push has been made as people from around the state and the region have contacted their elected leaders telling them to pass the bill.  Whether the elected leaders listen or not will be found out today.  If they don't pass the bill, expect no one to be re-elected this November.  It is a nerve-wracking day for Vikings fans.  May God bless us all on this day and hoepfully tomorrow we'll be talking about the Vikings new stadium bill that was passed in both the house and Senate.

 

Coming up tomorrow: NBA and NHL playoff reaction plus other top sports stories from Monday.

Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.

 

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