Will anything ever go right for the D.C. fan?
This weekend suggested otherwise. The Wizards blew a big lead in a playoff game against the Celtics, the Caps look overmatched by the Penguins, and even when the Nationals score big the weekend still has a sour taste with a series loss to the Mets and the loss of Adam Eaton. Such is life for a fan of a D.C. sports team. Let’s get this week started with your Monday morning edition of The Cheat Sheet.
NBA Playoffs: Celtics fight tooth and nail in Game 1 vs. Wizards; former Celtic Paul Pierce hits end of the road
Isaiah Thomas continues to be an inspiration for the Boston Celtics, and he led by example once again on the court in Game 1 of a second-round matchup with the Washington Wizards. In the latest sequence of events of what Chris Mannix of The Vertical called “unimaginable,” Thomas attended his sister’s funeral on Saturday, flew back to Boston for Game 1 and had his front teeth knocked out in a hard collision in the first quarter. Thoams scored 33 points in the game to help the Celtics claw back from a 16-0 deficit en route to a 123-111 victory. Thomas didn’t do it all alone, of course. As a team, the Celtics drained 19 three-point shots, which tied the franchise’s postseason record previously set in a series-clinching win against the Philadelphia 76ers in 2002.
— Leading Sports Media (@LeadingSports_) April 30, 2017
Because the Celtics got down so much right out of the gates, Twitter once again did not fail to determine their fate far before it should have. A Falcons fan should know better…
GET BOSTON TF OUTTA HERE LOL
— HIM THERE (@Spooooooon11) April 30, 2017
This series is just getting started, and already it feels like this is going to be a wildly entertaining matchup.
As for former Celtics coach Doc Rivers and player Paul Pierce, Sunday was not as kind. The Los Angeles Clippers were taken out of the postseason fun by the Utah Jazz, bringing the career of Pierce to an official close. The Jazz were led by a 26-point effort from Gordon Hayward in a 104-91 Game 7 victory in Los Angeles. It is the first postseason series win for the Jazz since 2010.
The Jazz are moving on to take on the Golden State Warriors in Round 2, but took a moment to wish farewell to Pierce.
Congrats on a Hall-of-Fame career, Truth! ? pic.twitter.com/8yWmxYqcLZ
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) May 1, 2017
Others from around the world of basketball and beyond shared their appreciation for Pierce in a video tribute from The Players’ Tribune. Among those sending their love were Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Kansas head coach Roy Williams, David Ortiz, and… Donnie Wahlberg?
Farewell to The Truth. pic.twitter.com/vskkO1qZJL
— The Players’ Tribune (@PlayersTribune) April 30, 2017
Pierce took to Twitter to share his thanks to his fans, former teammates, coaches and so on.
THANKU TO ALL MY NBA BROTHERS AND SISTERS ASSOCIATED WITH THE GAME A GAME IVE LOVED MY WHOLE LIFE BUT NOW TEADY FOR A NEW CHAPTER STAY TUNED
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) May 1, 2017
The time Pierce shared an image of a rocket ship emoji, suggesting he wasn’t sure how to use emojiss, will always be my favorite tweet from Pierce…
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) July 8, 2015
While Pierce sets off into retirement with the experience of winning a championship to look back on, the pressure may be mounting for Chris Paul.
Chris Paul has played in 76 career playoff games, the most all-time by a player without a Conference Finals appearance.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 30, 2017
As for Rivers, he adds another horrible Game 7 to his profile.
Doc Rivers: Coached 3 of the 6 worst Game 7 home losses in Shot-Clock Era – '05 Celtics, 27 PTS; '09 Celtics, 19 PTS; 2017 Clippers, 13 PTS.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 30, 2017
With the Clippers coming to another unfulfilling end to the season, the talk is already focusing on what direction the Clippers go now. Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick are all about to enter free agency, and things have clearly not been able to work out the way they were expected at the time the Clippers put this team together.
Ducks double-up Oilers in Edmonton in Game 3
After taking the first two games of their second round matchup in Anaheim, the Edmonton Oilers were ready to take firm control of the series on home ice, but the Ducks had other plans in mind. Things in Edmonton got off to a chilling start before the first dropping of the puck when the home fans bailed out the stadium’s microphone system by singing the National Anthem… of the United States.
— NHL (@NHL) April 30, 2017
Honestly, how many American fanbases could do the same for the Canadian national anthem?
Anyway, once the game got underway, it was all Ducks. Rickard Rakell scored on a breakaway just 25 seconds into the game to put the Ducks up 1-0, and Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg each scored in the first period to set the tone. Anaheim notched three more goals on the night, including a second goal from Silfverberg to go with an assist to get a much-needed win. Edmonton came back to tie the game at 3-3, but Anaheim retook the lead in the second period and never looked back.
With 6 goals tonight, the Ducks have tied their franchise record for a playoff game. The last instance?
April 30, 2015 vs the Flames.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 1, 2017
Road teams are a perfect 3-0 in this series so far. Meanwhile, in Nashville, the Predators took a 2-1 lead with a win on home ice against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. The defense was the name of the game for the Predators, and two defensemen (Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi) scored goals in the 3-1 win. At least one defenseman has had a part in 12 of the last 13 goals scored by Nashville, according to NHL.com. Eventually, something like that may catch up to them, but it seems to be getting the Predators by for now.
But what about the big takeaway from the weekend? If you blink, you may miss the Washington Capitals in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs because the Pittsburgh Penguins are blitzing right through them now. After coming out on top with a close 3-2 victory in the series opener in D.C., the Penguins wasted the Caps in Game 2, 6-2. Now, the series heads back to Pittsburgh and the Capitals once again look like their usual postseason selves. It’s a bit of an epidemic in Washington D.C., where the local sports team goes on a tear in the regular season only to be ousted in disappointing fashion in the postseason. We are not there just yet, of course, but the Penguins look like a team that could potentially go 16-0 this postseason. Heck, the Caps can’t even beat the Penguins when putting seven players on the ice.
Speaking of D.C. regular season hype, Nationals come from behind to beat Mets (23-5) but lose key player to torn ACL
As we have discussed before, the New York Mets are in a complete burning pile of trash this season, and it looks as though Sunday was the most appropriate way to end the month of April.
You read that correctly. The Nationals ripped the Mets to shreds on Sunday by the score of 23-5. The best part of it all is you can officially call this a come-from-behind victory after trailing 1-0 after the top of the first inning. Anthony Rendon was a cheat code in the game, going a clean six-for-six with three homers and 10 RBI. Not a bad week at the office, and he did it all in one game. Bryce Harper also set an MLB record for most runs scored in the month of April, with 32 after scoring four times in the rout.
Anthony Rendon: 2nd player with 6 H, 3 HR, and 10 RBI in a game since RBI became official in 1920.
The other was Walker Cooper (1949 Reds). pic.twitter.com/h7CCykECf5
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 30, 2017
Before the game, the Nationals confirmed Adam Eaton will miss a significant amount of the 2017 season due to a torn ACL, meniscus tear and a high ankle sprain suffered the previous night in the ninth inning. That is a tough blow for one of the Nationals’ best offseason moves. Neither the team nor Eaton said the season is officially over, and the Nationals will wait until after Eaton undergoes surgery to hopefully put together a timeline. But a torn ACL can take even the best athletes at least six months to recover, and six months would take us into October.
The Mets did take the first two games of the weekend series, but it ended on quite the sour note. Losing by 18 runs put aside, Sunday was the latest chapter in how much of a mess the team appears to be in this season. Noah Syndergaard was pulled from the game in the second inning with a reported “possible lat strain,” and he is said to be going in for an MRI today in New York. With the situation not getting much better in the Mets clubhouse, Terry Collins vented to the media in a stern way…
An agitated Terry Collins discusses Syndergaard's injury. Sandy Alderson says an MRI is scheduled for 7 a.m. Monday. pic.twitter.com/rtI3v0Fe4Y
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 30, 2017
Collins is starting to feel like a manager walking a tightrope, and I’m not even sure it is all his fault.
Day after NFL Draft wraps in Philly, Bills fire GM
Well, file this one under the category of bizarre timing. The Buffalo Bills fired general manager Doug Whaley on Sunday and cleaned house in the scouting department. How about that for a ringing endorsement of the draft class just assembled? Owners Terry and Kim Pegula will lead the search for a new GM, but the question about the timing of the decision is still a curious one.
All scouts fired in Buffalo. That's tough.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 30, 2017
After the draft, Bills head coach Sean McDermott told the media Whaley did “a phenomenal job” in preparing for the draft. The free agency period is still ongoing. The talks about a potential change at GM had been rumored for a while, but the Pegulas allowed Whaley to go through and organize an entire draft before cutting him loose. Pegula even admitted Whaley was instrumental in the draft prep, but this sudden change could indicate Whaley’s role was more scaled back and diminished than we’ve been led to believe. Still, why put your head coach in that position to compliment a guy being shown the door in the next few hours?
Then again, Whaley is a GM who claimed he had no idea why Rex Ryan was fired, so perhaps the writing really was on the wall.
– Earlier we touched on the retirement of Paul Pierce, but thankfully Vince Carter says retirement is not on his radar.
– As you know, the NFL Draft wrapped up on Saturday. When all of the picks were in, there were 28 undrafted players that chose to leave school early to pursue a shot at the NFL. Those shots are still coming by way of undrafted free agency, but are college football players receiving more and more bad advice about their playing future? That’s up for debate.
– When Joe Mixon was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals (because of course the Bengals drafted Joe Mixon), ESPN shocked many by airing the video footage of Mixon punching a woman in a bar. The reaction was mixed to say the least.
– A lot of people watched the NFL Draft this year. Among them was Florida State’s Travis Rudolph, and he watched it all unfold with a friend he made last August that caught the nation by storm.
— theScore NCAAF (@theScoreNCAAF) April 30, 2017
– Among the many undrafted free agents was Trey Griffey. The son of Ken Griffey Jr. is heading to the Indianapolis Colts.
– The NFL Draft may be over, but the NHL Draft lottery has set the stage fo the upcoming NHL Draft. The New Jersey Devils took the top pick overall, followed by the Philadelphia Flyers in a wild lottery process. The Colorado Avalanche were not fans of watching the lottery unfold. The Devils are also planning to reach out to Ilya Kovalchuk about a return to the NHL.
– On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers hit back-to-back-to-back home runs against the Philadelphia Phillies in the 9th inning. Interestingly, the Phillies hit back-to-back-to-back home runs against the Atlanta Braves last Sunday. That leaves me wondering the last time a team hit back-to-back-to-back home runs and had the feat done against them in the same span of a week. If anyone knows, leave a comment below.
– At least he’s having a good time out there…
– Freddie Freeman isn’t a fan of Miller Park, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers. He compared it to a “bad-lit Little League Field.”
– What exactly was the grounds crew member responsible for this batter’s box doing?
— Matt McCutcheon (@mccutcheonmatt) April 29, 2017
– Lets’ go to South Korea, where they do know how to paint the lines of the batter’s box, and watch an old video of Eric Thames pretending to charge the mound in an all-star game…
Eric Thames fake-charging the mound in Korea ??? pic.twitter.com/YlJwpk1hhs
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 1, 2017
Of course, if Thames was really going to charge the mound, he would have had to hop on one foot for some reason…
– It took an English policeman six days to finish the London Marathon, but keep in mind he did so while crawling the entire distance while wearing a gorilla costume.
– Jimmie Johnson was ripped on Twitter after crashing into Dale Earnhardt Jr.
– Joel Embiid remains an entertaining follow on Twitter…
Sometimes I ask myself "What's wrong with me?"…. Haven't found the answers yet
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) May 1, 2017
– T.Y. Hilton’s four-year old son is already moving his way up Mel Kiper’s big board for 2035 with moves like these.
– Michigan’s football program has returned home from Italy, and Jim Harbaugh is already looking forward to upcoming trip possibilities such as South Africa. I think Jonathan Tannenwald from Philly.com is on to something, but it may be best not to give Harbaugh any ideas.
— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) April 29, 2017
– What did you accomplish by the time you were 29? Julian Naglesmann is checking off “manage Hoffenheim to the Champions League” on his list. Meanwhile, is the balance of power shifting from Arsenal to Tottenham?
– Also, Cristiano Ronaldo continues to be pretty good.
RECORD: Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored more goals in Europe’s top six leagues than any other player in history (367).
Legendary. ? pic.twitter.com/oN6QwH4DrI
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 29, 2017
– Want to make your own Wolverine-style claws but don’t have access to adamantium? This video will help you out.
One last gratuitous moment of procrastination
As a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, even I had to respect the energy brought to the NFL Draft podium by Drew Pearson. He lived in this moment.