Last Week in Sports (4/15 – 4/22)
The NBA and NHL playoff pictures grow clearer, and the MLB never ceases to surprise in this last week in sports.
First No-Hitter of the Year
In what’s been a year filled with no-hit bids (12 so far), the first successful no-hitter of the season comes to us from Oakland against an unlikely opponent, the blazing hot Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox are the winningest team in baseball at the moment and were coming off their 8th straight win on Saturday, with 17 wins and 4 losses to start the year, while the Oakland A’s are fourth in the AL West at only 11 – 11. But that didn’t stop Sean Manaea from single-handedly ousting Boston from contention on Saturday night, as he threw 108 pitches, notched 10 strikeouts, and recorded the first Oakland no-hitter since 2010 – and the first no-hitter on a Red Sox team in 25 years.
The NBA Coaching Carousel Begins
Several NBA teams have already started the interview process for their next head coach after a couple weeks of firings across the league. The Hornets, the Knicks, the Magic, and the Suns have made the separation with their old head coaching boos official, while the Bucks and the Grizzlies are expected to replace interim coaches over the next few weeks. With a lack of qualified candidates in the professional basketball coaching basket, a few names keep cropping up again and again.
David Fizdale is a hot ticket item after his separation with Memphis came not based on performance but from a disagreement with management. Mike Budenholzer, current coach of the Atlanta Hawks, is also looking to make a move and is entertaining several organizations. Meanwhile, the Knicks seem enamored with Mark Jackson, a former player of theirs, a native New Yorker, and the coach responsible for building the sturdy foundation the Golden State Warriors now enjoy.
With front office dysfunction in many of the teams looking to switch coaches, it’s no surprise that most coaches want to work in Phoenix. The team has several young pieces (but especially Devin Booker) that are thought to be potential All-Stars in the near future as well as a likely high pick in the draft this summer. With the right basketball CEO in place, the Suns could be in Western Conference contention in just a few short years.
As many expected in the West, the Jets and the Golden Knights have advanced to the second round with ease, only losing one game between the two of them, while the Sharks pulled out a surprise sweep of a higher-seeded Ducks squad. The Predators, meanwhile, beat the wild card Avalanche to complete the Western Conference second round matchup picture with Nashville vs. Winnipeg and Vegas vs. San Jose.
In the East, only two teams, in the Penguins and the Lightning have advanced, with the Bruins still one win away from facing Tampa Bay after a second loss on Saturday. Pittsburgh awaits the winner of a hardfought Washington/Columbus series, after dropping 8 goals on the Flyers on Sunday. (Shop NHL playoff tickets)
Donning silver suits at the behest of their fearless leader, LeBron James, the Cavs were able to tie up a series that started with a stunning home loss in Cleveland. In what’s been a raucous and slightly violent matchup, the Cavs are starting to play with the drive required to win in the playoffs, if only just the first round. LeBron keeps doing his thing regardless of whether or not the world is falling apart around him. He’s averaging 32.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 8 assists over the first four games of the series.
The Wizards and the Bucks have, somewhat miraculously, been able to tie their respective series with the Wizards surprising a number one seeded Toronto Raptors team and the Bucks winning handedly against a hobbled Boston Celtics. Raptors’ guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have been aiming to escape a narrative for the last few years that they disappear come playoff time, so the added pressure of losing two straight is no small factor to consider in game five.
Meanwhile, the Spurs and the Timberwolves were both able to notch a win over the weekend, though the teams are expected to lose out in the upcoming games of their series. Minnesota marks their first playoff win since Kevin Garnett and Latrell Sprewell donned T-Wolves jerseys in 2004. The Trail Blazers were not so lucky, eliminated from contention by Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Playoff Rondo in an unexpected series sweep. (Shop NBA playoff tickets)