In case you were busy having an adorable cat on your chest and being unable to move, or breathe, or — hey, this cat's trying to kill me! — here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
We're headed back to Boston after the Celtics held on for a 92-86 win over the New York Knicks, forcing a Game 6 in their first-round playoff matchup. Kevin Garnett fueled the Celtics with a vintage 16-point, 18-rebound performance. "Man, that takes me back," Garnett said wistfully after his double-double. "Remember when I was crushing it up in Minnesota. Just me and Terrell Brandon. So young, so naive. Maybe I could get that TV show about my posse off the ground now. Do you think the breakthrough success of Entourage makes it more or less likely? I mean, it was gonna be The Monkees meets The Beverly Hillbillies. I guess it could be reality. That's basically what Carmelo's wife has going on. Nah, TV is a young man's game. I was just born too young."
Despite the absence of Sidney Crosby, the Penguins took care of business by thrashing the New York Islanders 5-0 in Pittsburgh. "Oh man, that'll teach us to come on the mainland," Islanders captain Mark Streit said after the loss. "It's weird here. First of all, not everyone takes boats to get places. Also weird, the lack of nautically themed dining establishments. I'm starving for some fried calamari down by a marina; I can't find that in Pittsburgh at all. Total nightmare. They told me, 'Go to a river.' I told them to go up a river, with dumb advice like that. A butt river. Man, I'm hungry."
The NBA playoffs are upon us, with 16 teams competing for the Larry O'Brien Trophy. But what about the other guys? What about the teams we wish were in the playoffs? We may know, in our heads, that they didn't do enough to get into the postseason, but that doesn't change how we feel in our hearts. We'd like to see these teams competing in Bill Simmons's Entertaining as Hell Tournament, but until that day, we'll just have to write longingly about why we wish they had made it to the promised land.
Portland Trail Blazers
Sean Fennessey: This isn't exactly a song for the Blazers because the Blazers were hard to watch this year. Nic Batum was long and lean and aggressively French, J.J. Hickson played like an exploding can of soda, and Weber State's Damian Lillard was a revelation to those who enjoy tiny-man dunks but don't much care for consistency. (He is only the Rookie of the Year because Anthony Davis hasn't totally figured out how to play basketball yet. He will.) I won't miss those Blazers and I certainly won't miss their bench, mostly because their bench doesn't exist beyond the many terrified faces of Meyers Leonard.
In case you were busy living on easy street wait — OH, I FORGOT ABOUT MY TAXES — here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The Boston Red Sox rode a seven-run second inning to cruise to a 7-2 win over the host Cleveland Indians. Red Sox starter Felix Doubront, who got the win after throwing five solid innings, said, "With everything that happened yesterday, I was just out there pitching for the name on the front of the jersey today, not on the back. Which really helped, because even I have trouble pronouncing my last name. It's Doo-Braunt, by the way I think. I'm pretty sure. Like 99 percent. Don't hold me to that until I call my ma, though."
Veteran starter Dan Haren gave up seven runs in 4⅓ innings as the Washington Nationals fell to the Miami Marlins, 8-2. After the game, a shell-shocked Haren said, "I gave up a home run today to Adeiny Hechavarria. I got shelled by the Miami Marlins. Sometimes it's hard to know when it's over. This is not one of those times." He then announced the immediate opening of Haren Buick, Haren Chevrolet, and Haren Kia/Hyundai, which he hoped would become the Southern California destination for peoples' Buick, Chevrolet, Kia, and Hyundai needs.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever.
Sleeping With the Lights On
netw3rk: The Boston Celtics exist in the minds of Eastern Conference playoff teams as something akin to the bogeyman. Even the Miami Heat — who certainly don't fear the Celtics — reach a pitch of intensity in their play against Boston, and a level of exaltation in their victories over them, that betrays a depth of hatred for the leprechauns unmatched by that for any other team.
When you put the bogeyman on his back, you stand over him and you do a dance. Every Eastern Conference team has a litany of Celtics grievances just waiting to be uncorked: the moving screens, the trash talk, the suffocating and gratingly physical defense that dared refs to blow the whistle every 10 seconds. And, yes, the winning. Because the KG-era Celtics didn’t just win; they stormed your arena, tore your relics out of their holy places, and gleefully salted your fields. That’s why, despite no longer being a truly elite team, the Celtics still have a sort of cultural hegemony over the Eastern Conference. The hatred they engender is the ultimate sign of respect.
In case you were busy wondering what living Nicolas Cage's life would feel like, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
The NCAA tournament got under way in Dayton as North Carolina A&T edged Liberty, 73-72. The win was a clear victory for Revisionist Bracketologists, who are well aware of the infringements on liberty that occur when advanced technology mechanizes our agricultural processes. However, the day's other game, in which the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders fell to St. Mary's, was a triumph for Conservative Bracketologists who respect religion's place in society and who do not support raiding, regardless of the color it takes. Fortunately, both groups found common ground in Kentucky's first-round NIT loss to Robert Morris, as John Calipari is both an affront to those who desire a more equitable distribution of finite economic resources and God.
In a Western Conference showdown, the Denver Nuggets proved their recent winning ways are no fluke beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 114-104, on the road. "It's not fair," said Thunder forward Kevin Durant after the game. "It's our house. They should have to play by our rules." Scott Brooks lent his star forward a sympathetic ear, saying, "I hear you, Kevin, but be honest, what rules did they break?" Durant fought back tears as he said, "All of them." "Well, that's true," Brooks granted, before asking, "but were they punished for their infractions? Huh? How many free throws did you shoot tonight?" Durant was silent. "Come on, Kevin," Brooks implored. "How many?" "Sixteen," Durant said with a shake of his head. Brooks kept pushing. "And how many did you make?" "Fourteen," Durant said with a grin. Brooks rubbed Kevin's head. "That's pretty good, isn't it? Maybe they just came in here and played really well. And maybe, just maybe, we can learn from this and give ’em 'what for' come playoff time. Does that sound good?" Durant's grin stretched into a broad smile, as he stood up, visibly reinvigorated. "Yeah, Coach, it sure does!"
A survey of the players and teams making moves in last night's NBA action.
1. Portland's Uniforms
These, with all due respect to the deeply serious basketball played last night, were the best thing that happened in the NBA in the last 24 hours. Love the font, love the using of the nickname. I know it's not the first time Portland's trotted these out, but they're very fresh. I'd like to see some other city-nickname-on-the-jersey looks. Or maybe just some weird phrases! How about the Thunder wearing jerseys that say "GHOST HOTEL" or the Hawks rocking ones that said "THE A"? Any other ideas? Comments, people.
With his University of Detroit team nursing a two-point lead in the waning moments against an upset-minded Wisconsin-Milwaukee, point guard Ray McCallum calmly held his dribble on the left wing and waited for a teammate to set a screen. As the screen was set, McCallum read his defender cheating toward it. That subtle movement was all it took. McCallum quickly crossed over toward the baseline and exploded to the rim for a right-hand finish that put his team back up four en route to a crucial Horizon League victory on the road.
If you missed the highlight — or have never even heard of McCallum and the Titans — it’s understandable. The Horizon League rarely produces household names, and very rarely does any of their game footage make it to SportsCenter. But plays like this one are why people might want to start taking notice.
In case you were out pretending like you've seen and have an opinion about Oscar nominee Amour, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
The Cleveland Browns have filled their vacant head coaching position, hiring Rob Chudzinski away from the Carolina Panthers. It has also been reported that Chudzinski is targeting former San Diego head coach Norv Turner to be his new offensive coordinator. "I can't imagine a more Cleveland set of hirings than Chud and Norv," said longtime Browns fan Milt Johnson. When asked to try harder and really push his imagination, Johnson let out an exasperated sigh, saying, "Fine, I guess that they could have hired like Chan Gailey and an old, overweight Golden Retriever named Honey, but I don't really know how having a dog as an offensive coordinator would work."
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
In a battle of top AFC teams, Tom Brady threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots routed the Texans, 42-14. In a rare display of public emotion, Bill Belichick told reporters that putting the damper on a feel-good story like the Texans was "better than Viagra."
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Despite Dwight Howard's 33 points and 14 boards, Steve Nash suffered a bruised leg and the Lakers fell to 0-2 with a 116-106 loss to the Blazers. "Look, I don't want anybody saying Mike Brown should be fired, or anything like that," Howard told the media after the game. "He's our coach, and I just don't want to hear that kind of talk. I won't stand for it." When the confused reporters began to tell him that nobody had suggested it, Howard cut them off. "It's way too early for that talk," he said. "Not cool, guys. Mike Brown? Fired? Way too early. Come on."
Life moves pretty fast in the NBA offseason. Lucky for you, Ben Detrick is here to analyze, summarize, and euthanize all the head-scratching, cap-busting, Bird-righting free agency and draft moves. He'll be checking on all the teams, division by division. For the Atlantic Division, click here. Today: the wild frontiersmen of the Northwest!
As the Nu Spurs — a Western Conference team with dynastic potential from a city that people mainly visit because their van overheated on the way to the meth lab — the Thunder are now operating with the intention of being terrifying. Just as San Antonio elicited moans from basketball fans when they nabbed DeJuan Blair in the second round back of the 2009 draft, Oklahoma City drew the coveted “Are you frigging kidding me?” response when Perry Jones III fell into their laps in the 28th slot. Even Miles Plumlee (despite having a name that sounds like a villain from Django Unchained) went ahead of him, inciting speculation that the Pacers were exacting revenge against the Heat by helping the Thunder.
To complete our community service (and get off probation), we proudly present the second half of our Men in Blazers' NBA-to-English Premier League Global Football Team Support Translator. It’s our charitable attempt to ease the withdrawal pains of our basketball-loving brothers and sisters who have been so cruelly forced to go cold turkey.
Please note: This guide is objective and scientific. It’s the result of crunching data through our CDC 6600 supercomputer, which processed a series of complex variables through a proprietary MiB algorithm, punching out the below results on ticker tape.