It's the first of May (where has the year gone so far?) and yesterday The Stack made some NHL playoff predictions. Today, it's time to react to both the NBA and NHL playoffs and more so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Wednesday, May 1:
Nuggets stay alive, Grizzlies take series lead
The Denver Nuggets live to fight another day following their 107-100 win over the Golden State Warriors. Nuggets led this game wire to wire. Steph Curry struggled in this game, scoring just 19 points on seven of nineteen shooting. In an interview before the game Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said that the way to stop Curry was to be old school and rough him up a little. Well he was a little unhappy in his postgame press conference with what the Nuggets were doing, calling some of them "hit men" for trying to hurt Curry. Sounds a bit hypocritical to me. The Nuggets were physical and they wanted to send a message. Message received. The Warriors will repsond much better in game six back home.
In the only other game of the night, the Memphis Grizzlies have put the Los Angeles Clippers on the brink of elimination on the heels of the Grizzlies 103-93 victory. GAme might have been different had it not been for Blake Griffin's ankle injury he suffered in practice on Monday. He said he's never experienced an ankle injury like this before. The Clippers are a very fun team to watch, but after three straight losses and with Griffin's injury, it might all be over Friday in Memphis, especially with how the played in Memphis in games three and four.
Tonight's NBA playoff schedule is as follows...
Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks 7:00 PM ET TNT (Knicks lead series 3-1)
Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers 7:30 PM ET NBA TV (Series tied 2-2)
Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder 9:30 PM ET (Thunder lead series 3-1)
NHL playoffs start
The puck dropped on day one/night one of the NHL playoffs and if last night was any indication, we're in for a fantastic couple of months for the playoffs. Two of the three games went to overtime last night and the other game was close the whole way through.
The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 to take a 1-0 series lead. Minnesota scored first on a goal by Cal Clutterbuck five minutes into the game, but the Blackhawks tied the game up in the second on a power play goal that they scored with only five seconds left on the power play. In overtime, Bryan Bickell ended it after a beautful flip pass down the ice led him to get one by Wild goalie Josh Harding. Harding started in place of Nicklas Backstrom who suffered a lower body injury in warmups. Harding played exceptionally well and kept the Wild in this game making 35 saves. The Wild were on their heels for most of the night. They need to find a way to get more shots on net or this series will be over quick. Heck, even if they do the series will probably be over quick. The Blackhawks have so much more depth. If their was a game to steal in this series for the Wild, it was game one and they were close. Have to see how they look Friday for game two.
The other overtime game last night was between the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues. The Blues led 1-0 with under a minute to go in the third period when the Kings pulled the goalie yet it still looked as though the Blues would come away with a victory. That was before Justin Williams made a nice shot putting the puck in top shelf to tie the game 1-1. Then in overtime, with the Kings beginning a four minute powerplay, goalie Jonathan Quick misplayed the puck and gave it right to Blues Alexander Steen who wrapped it around into the net, scoring his second goal of the game and giving the Blues a 2-1 win and 1-0 series lead. Kings wouldn't have been in the game without Quick, who stopped forty shots, but it was his one gaffe, his one glaring mistake that cost the Kings in game one. The Kings will respond in game two and be just fine in this series.
The final game of the night was in Anaheim where the Ducks beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1. This game was tight throughout and was tied 1-1 in the third period before the ageless wonder Teemu Selanne scored on the power play to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead less than a minute and a half into the third. An empty net goal late in the game was the only reason the Ducks made it 3-1 and take a 1-0 series lead. This should be a pretty close series, but Anaheim has too much. I think they win this series.
NHL playoff games tonight include...
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Boston Bruins 7:00 PM ET CNBC
New York Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins 7:30 PM ET NBCSN
San Jose Sharks @ Vancouver Canucks 10:30 PM ET NBCSN
Tim Tebow released from the Jets
Finally the nightmare is over. Quarterback Tim Tebow was finally released from the New York Jets Monday only a couple of days after the team drafted Geno Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft. The news hardly comes as a surprise. Tebow was under-utilized last year to put it nicely. What the Jets did to him was a disgrace. Why trade for him if you never use him? And it's not like the Jets had good quarterbacks ahead of him. Mark Sanchez had a diasterous year. Greg McElroy isn't all that great either. What was the harm in starting Tebow? You saw what he did in Denver. All the guy does is win, no matter how unorthodox he does it or how bad he looks in practice. And why is almost every NFL team shying away from him? It's not as though he wants things to be a circus. He just wants to play football. He wants to be a quarterback. That's the big thing with teams. They don't see him as a quarterback, instead more of a tight end, halfback or even linebacker. If Tebow keeps working hard at the craft of being a quarterback, why can't he start for an NFL team? He's better than every quarterback on the Jets roster and maybe Buffalo and a few other teams. Remember the demand for Kevin Kolb a few years back? Why did everyone want him? He's not that good. Tebow is better than Kolb and he has gone through waivers unclaimed. There should be some demand for him. Let him go in and compete, even for a backup quarterback spot. He has talent, let him show it. Good riddance to the Jets for getting rid of him and wasting a year of Tebow's talents and letting the rest of the NFL sour on him. Hope Tebow finds a spot on a team that allows him to fight for a roster spot.
Jason Collins thoughts
The sports world saw a major shakeup Monday when free agent center Jason Collins, last with the Washington Wizards announced that he is gay, the first active professional athlete to come out of the four major sports. The reaction has been astounding and overwhelmingly positive. Collins has received calls from President Obama and former President Clinton. Clinton has also tweeted about it as has First Lady Michelle Obama.
This could be a revolutionary anouncement by Collins. What will his coming out mean for other athletes, not just at the professional level, but at the collegiate, even high school level. Surely the reaction that Collins has gotten will make it easier for these players to feel more comfortable in coming out. As time goes on though, we have to see how Collins is received. He's 34-years old and a free agent. His career is coming close to an end. You would hope that if he is not on an NBA roster next year that it will be because of his age and skill set and not his sexuality. Had he been 24 or 27 and done this and be in the midst of his career, then we would be able to see how the public reacts. Now he may fade off into the sunset, not given another chance to get on the court. Collins has been good over his twelve year career, but he isn't a big star...until now. Had LeBron James or Kobe Bryant or someone of that stature come out, imagine what the reaction would be to that. Hopefully it would be the same. Would people be more pronce to accept James and Bryant even though they were gay? That is a question that we may find out sooner than later. No not James or Bryant, but someone else, someone who hadn't gotten the courage to say that they were gay. Maybe Collins coming out and saying it is all it will take for others.
In the NFL, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brandon Ayanbadejo and Minneosta Vikings punter Chris Kluwe have been proponents of gay marriage. They've been hoping for that first athlete to come out. Now that Collins has, these two and perhaps others are waiting for the next athlete to come out and see how they are accepted in the locker room. Not everyone in a locker room will be mature about this. Not everyone in the US will be mature about what Collins has done. Plenty of hurtful things will be said. Collins will probably receive some death threats and that's not cool. For an athlete, just like any other ordinary person, it shouldn't matter about their sexuality, but rather the maturity and confidence that they show. For an athlete, are you willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win? What's your production level like? That's what teams and athletes should care about. Not who you go home with at night.
Hopefully what Collins has done inspires others in the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB to come out or at least discuss the issue more and be accepting of others. Well done Collins. You have done a tremendous service to this country by bringing this issue to the forefront of society. Wish you the best during the rest of your NBA career and life on the road ahead.
Coming up Thursday: NBA and NHL playoff reaction