May. 02, 2017
"The Stack" 4-26-17
The Stack is back on this Wednesday and this is really our last day of the week fully recapping the playoff action. We will try and touch base on it a little bit Friday and maybe let you know who won in Thursday’s blog, but it will primarily be NFL Draft talk and other headlines the rest of the week. Good to have the Stanley Cup Playoffs resume again tonight with the second round starting. Let’s see what’s all in “the stack” for today, Wednesday, April 26th:
Rockets clinch, Spurs and Jazz one win away from advancing
Before the NBA Playoffs started, in my playoffs preview I was hoping that this series would be the lone series to go seven games because I wanted to see James Harden and Russell Westbrook go at it night after night. It became apparent pretty early in this series though as has been most of the year that the Thunder were only going to force it to seven games if Westbrook played out of his mind and received at least manageable support from the rest of his teammates. Well Westbrook did play out of his mind, but his teammates didn’t help him much and despite a surge in the third quarter that saw the Oklahoma City Thunder outscore the Rockets by 12 to enter the fourth quarter with a five point lead, Westbrook rested for a few minutes and the Houston Rockets took advantage. They shot back ahead and then held off the Thunder to win 105-99. Westbrook had 47 points, eleven rebounds and nine assists. That’s right, essentially half of his team’s points. Meanwhile the Rockets were led by Harden with 34 points and Lou Williams was huge coming off the bench with 22 points. That was ultimately the difference in this game. The Thunder’s bench provided just eleven points all by the same player, Alex Abrines. The Rockets got 44 points from their bench. The Thunder need to find a star to pair with Westbrook in the offseason or it is going to be more of the same next year.
The San Antonio Spurs have been given all that they can handle and more against the Memphis Grizzlies and had to grind one out again last night earning the 116-103 victory. It was what, a five point game late in the fourth quarter before the Spurs went on a 13-0 run to put the game away. The Spurs haven’t provided much help to Kawhi Leonard in this series, making him do it all, but he received a little more help with Tony Parker dropping 16 points and Patty Mills coming off the bench to score 20 points. Hopefully they can end this series in Memphis on Thursday, but I won’t be holding my breath, not with the way the Spurs have played in this series and with how tough the Grizzlies have looked.
The Utah Jazz can eliminate the Los Angeles Clippers from the playoffs with one more win following their 96-92 win in L.A. Tuesday night. The Jazz looked like they were in control when Rodney Hood knocked down a three pointer to give the Jazz a 69-58 lead less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Clippers came storming back with an 11-0 run to tie the game. The fourth quarter was really all about runs, because the Jazz responded with the next eight points only to see the Clippers get back within two with three minutes and change to go. That was the closest they would get as the Jazz would fend them off to win 96-92. Tough loss for the Clippers, but one that should be expected when you don’t have a superstar like Blake Griffin in your lineup. I fully expect the Jazz to win game six and then the questions will really start if the Clippers are going to blow things up or not. It’s going to be interesting in Los Angeles this summer and it really doesn’t anything to do with the Lakers, at least not yet. All eyes or most eyes anyway will be on the Clippers.
Derek Jeter, Jeb Bush win bid to buy Marlins
The Miami Marlins will be under new management perhaps fairly soon. A group led by former New York Yankees great Derek Jeter and former Florida governor Jeb Bush have from owner Jeffrey Loria for a cool $1.3 billion. Major League Baseball still needs to approve the sale, but they will hopefully and they should, because they would be dumb not to. Loria has a reputation about him as being cheap and always wanting to make more money rather than put a product on a field that could compete for championships. He did go after quite a few free agents when the Marlins opened up their new ballpark, but apart from that he has been stingy most any other year with this time. With Jeter you have a proven winner and he will make sure the Marlins are doing whatever they can do to be competitive and win year in and year out. Bush is well known in Florida obviously and I believe he is pretty well liked in the state. These two bring immediate credibility to the successful bid and eventual purchase of the team. If I am a Marlins fan, (I’m really thinking of you Marlins Man), then you should be happy today about what transpired on Tuesday.
Quick NFL Draft news items
A few NFL Draft related stories have been making headlines the last few days. Michigan safety Jabril Peppers and Alabama running back Reuben Foster have both tested positive for a failed urine test due to a diluted sample. Both have fairly reasonable explanations talking about that they weren’t feeling well and putting a lot of water into their bodies ahead of the NFL Combine, but it is still something they must answer to and it could cost them some money as their draft positions could slide.
Another prospect who could see his draft stock drop and his draft position slide is Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley who has in a Cleveland hotel earlier this month. His lawyer has firmly denied all allegations. Witnesses have also stepped forward to say that Conley did nothing wrong. I don’t want to call the woman a liar, because something very wrong may have indeed happened to her, but with the draft just hours away, it does feel like something just doesn’t sit right with this case. Hopefully investigators find out exactly what happened and they can clear Conley’s name if indeed he is innocent. If he did do anything wrong, then he needs to be charged to the fullest extent of the law. We’ll see how much this affects him Thursday night. This is serious enough to make him possibly a day two player now.
Finally, we (and when I say we I mean the general public and not this blog) have been made aware of Texas running back D’Onta Foreman’s tragedy that happened last season at Texas when he two months after he was born prematurely. It’s an incredibly sad story, but if you look for inspiration look at the game that Foreman had at Texas Tech before he heard of his son’s passing. 341 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Foreman is going to hopefully have a very successful NFL career. He has what it takes to succeed in this league and he and his girlfriend are expecting once again with their baby being due September 16th. I wish them nothing but the best.
Wednesday and Thursday’s playoff games
Atlanta Hawks @ Washington Wizards 6 PM ET TNT (Series tied 2-2)
Chicago Bulls @ Boston Celtics 8:30 PM ET TNT (Series tied 2-2)
Toronto Raptors @ Milwaukee Bucks 7 PM ET TNT (Raptors lead series 3-2)
San Antonio Spurs @ Memphis Grizzlies 9:30 PM ET TNT (Spurs lead series 3-2)
Nashville Predators @ St. Louis Blues 8 PM ET NBCSN (Game 1)
Edmonton Oilers @ Anaheim Ducks 10:30 PM ET NBCSN (Game 1)
New York Rangers @ Ottawa Senators 7 PM ET CNBC (Game 1)
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Washington Capitals 7:30 PM ET NBCSN (Game 1)
Coming up Thursday: 2017 NFL Mock Draft round 1