As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it.Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.
The Astros are about to become the second team in baseball history to force a Game 7 after being down 0-3. Just a r… https://t.co/fFTYgzT8f6— Jared Carrabis (@Jared Carrabis)1602895849.0
Game 7 of the ALCS saw the Rays jump out to an early lead as Randy Arozarena homered in the first inning and Mike Zunino in the second. Charlie Morton was brilliant over five and two thirds innings pitched, and Pete Fairbanks slammed the door shut on the series and the Astros' season to close out the game. Tampa was able to overcome the Astros momentum to advance to the World Series, but unfortunately for the Braves their outcome was different.
Happy bois https://t.co/anJxD6ufVe— Tampa Bay Rays (@Tampa Bay Rays)1603060778.0
The Dodgers dropped the first two games of the NLCS and then exploded for 15 runs in Game 3 with multi hit efforts from Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Corey Seager who all homered. Atlanta responded in Game 4 however and lit up Clayton Kershaw and Brusdar Graterol breaking the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 3-1 advantage.
With their grave all but dug with one foot in, the Dodgers got six runs batted in between Corey Seager and Will Smith who each homered in Game 5. Seager homered again in Game 6 in the first inning and Justin Turner went back to back adding another solo shot to begin the game. Max Fried gave up another to make it three first inning runs for LA which was more than enough to carry them to victory behind a stellar performance from Walker Buehler who struck out six batters over six innings while giving up no runs.
The Braves led in four of the first five innings of Game 7 before the Dodgers added a run in the sixth and then the seventh inning to make the game 4-3. The combination of Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, and Julio Urias allowed no hits and one walk from the fourth inning on and didn't allow Atlanta to have a chance to get back into the game.
For the 3rd time in 4 years, the @Dodgers are NL Champs! #CLINCHED https://t.co/0g1GoS9AIa— MLB (@MLB)1603079582.0
Game 1 of the World Series between the Dodgers and Rays is Tuesday night with first pitch at 8:09 p.m. EST.
On Saturday night Teofimo Lopez Jr. (16-0, 12 KOs) upset Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) in a unanimous decision after 12 rounds which unified all four belts at 135 pounds. Lopez was already the IBF lightweight champ heading in, and after defeating Lomachenko, Lopez added the WBA, WBO, and WBC titles to his collection.
At just 23 years old, Lopez has been hailed by some as the future of the division, but with Lomachenko standing in the way it appeared that Teofimo's time was a ways off still. Revered as possibly the best pound for pound fighter alive, Lomachenko was expected to come out of this fight as the unified title holder.
ALL. THE. BELTS. At 23 years old, #TheTakeover is now... 👑 The only 4-belt champ in Lightweight history 👑 The y… https://t.co/xUSaXZc4jd— Top Rank Boxing (@Top Rank Boxing)1602997715.0
Instead what we saw was Loma being out-boxed and outclassed for most of the fight. Footwork and hand speed are two pillars of Lomachenko's success, and we saw little of either in his fight with Lopez. Teofimo came out and attacked early which caused Lomachenko into a largely defensive position until later in the fight.
Lopez hit hard and with accuracy and won eight of the 12 rounds on the judge's scorecard. There will undoubtedly be a rematch and expect to see Lomachenko ready to reassume his spot at the top of the division. Following a 14 month layoff, Loma looked a little rusty and he may have been underestimating his opponent. Of course we could be wrong and we may have just witnessed the passing of the torch in the lightweight division to Lopez.
Week 6 of NFL action didn't have a Thursday Night Game on the schedule as the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills game was moved to Monday instead. So like cavemen, we had to wait until Sunday(!) to get some NFL. What we got was a mixed bag of games. It seemed that every game on the slate on Sunday was either a one score game late into the fourth quarter, or a blowout not worth your time.
Here are quick bite takes on each game from Sunday.
Chicago Bears 23 - Carolina Panthers 16 - The Bears defense is really good. They got four sacks, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery in a close game. The Bears are a shaky 5-1 now and need to start figuring out how to get more out of running back David Montgomery. The Panthers on the other hand need to bounce back next week while they're waiting for Christian McCaffrey to return from injury.
Indianapolis Colts 31 - Cincinnati Bengals 27 - Joe Burrow continues to look good against strong competition to start off his career. Unable to get a passing touchdown, Burrow still picked up a rushing touchdown and had his team in position to win late. Philip Rivers pulled out the win and threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns to edge out the young gunslinger.
We found a way. #ForTheShoe https://t.co/aBUGv0qEyb— Indianapolis Colts (@Indianapolis Colts)1603054039.0
Detroit Lions 34 - Jacksonville Jaguars 16 - D'Andre Swift finally had a breakout game for the Lions going for 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns as Detroit routed the Jags. Kerryon Johnson fantasy owners are waiving the white flag at this point as both Swift and Adrian Peterson appear locked in ahead of Johnson on the depth chart. As for the Jaguars, James Robinson struggled to get anything going on the ground, and Keelan Cole added 143 yards on six catches. Another flat performance from a wavering Jacksonville team.
Atlanta Falcons 40 - Minnesota Vikings 23 - Atlanta finally gets their first win on the season after firing Dan Quinn. Now the Falcons and Vikings both sit at 1-5 going into Week 7. Matt Ryan (371 yards/three touchdowns/zero interceptions) and Julio Jones (eight receptions/137 yards/two touchdowns) shined in the blowout victory over the Vikings. Minnesota missed star running back, Dalvin Cook, as they couldn't get anything going until the second half when Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins connected for two scores. Jefferson is developing into a fantasy standout performer.
Congrats on your first win in ATL, Coach! https://t.co/0QNoYg5Yzw— Atlanta Falcons (@Atlanta Falcons)1603062300.0
Baltimore Ravens 30 - Philadelphia Eagles 28 - As expected the Ravens carried a big lead into the fourth quarter. Unexpectedly, the Eagles scored 22 points in the last quarter and nearly mounted a comeback to send the game to OT. Lamar Jackson needs to run the ball more and it showed again in this game. Jackson finished with 108 yards on the ground and a touchdown, and his 37 yard scoring play was Baltimore's best on the day.
"@Lj_era8 is electrifying when he gets in the open field!" Touchdown ❗️❗️ Tune into the second half on CBS! https://t.co/Vp2d0rXryk— Baltimore Ravens (@Baltimore Ravens)1603048567.0
Pittsburgh Steelers 38 - Cleveland Browns 7 - Pittsburgh's defense hit Baker Mayfield in the mouth all day until he was replaced by Case Keenum late in the game. The Browns probably weren't as good as their 4-1 record heading into this one, but they aren't a bad team. This result is indicative of how good the Steelers are this year. Pittsburgh continued to involve Chase Claypool this week as he finished with four catches for 74 yards and added a score on a rushing play.
And then there were three. @Seahawks | @Steelers | @Titans https://t.co/wk2libIoYI— Sunday Night Football (@Sunday Night Football)1603116900.0
Tennessee Titans 42 - Houston Texans 36 - The Texans were almost able to pull off a victory for their interim head coach, Romeo Crennel like Atlanta did but just fell short. The Titans continue to prove doubters wrong as they roll on now sitting at 5-0. Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry combined for 576 yards of offense and six touchdowns! Even though he's gone, the effects of Bill O'Brien's poor management skills will continue to be felt as the cupboard just feels too bare for Deshaun Watson to work with.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38 - Green Bay Packers 10 - Two things from this game are clear. Tampa Bay's defense is really good and secondly they were ready for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The Bucs offense wasn't exceptional and there were no standout performers. To win this big just shows you how ineffective the Packers were against this defense.
San Francisco 49ers 24 - Los Angeles Rams 16 - Jimmy Garoppolo got back on track in a big way this week against a good Rams team. He connected with George Kittle for 109 yards and a touchdown, and Raheem Mostert led the team with 65 yards on the ground. Jared Goff threw for two touchdowns for the Rams but wasn't able to surpass 200 yards passing.
Denver Broncos 18 - New England Patriots 12 - In a game that only saw one touchdown on a Cam Newton run, field goals ruled the day and Denver made six of them. Drew Lock returned as starting QB for Denver this game and still looks like he has some rust to shake off.
Miami Dolphins 24 - New York Jets 0 - The Jets probably could've used the recently released running back Le'Veon Bell in this one as they weren't able to score a single point. Adam Gase needs to be fired immediately and the Jets should forfeit the remainder of their games in 2020.
New York Jets 2020 Season Highlights: https://t.co/wBNd0YYPOh— NFL Memes (@NFL Memes)1603058524.0
In a must win game for the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George was finally able to look like the best player on the floor in a playoff game.
After a slow start, George poured it on in the second half on his way to a game high 41 points in Game 5. The performance elevated the Clippers over strong outings from the likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul as L.A. outlasted Phoenix 116-102.
The Clippers don't have much time to bask in their win however as they have to turn around and play two more elimination games just to make it out of the West. The Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead as Los Angeles struggled to find their identity without Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers are to stave off elimination any longer, George has to continue this level of play.
It should also be stated that Reggie Jackson has been really good for Los Angeles throughout the playoffs and is someone that the team leans on to take and make tough shots in crunch time. His fearlessness attacking the rim provides a lot of space for his teammates.
Reggie Jackson after getting his free agency bag this summer https://t.co/kgR7AUeQZ5— Josiah Johnson (@Josiah Johnson)1624936925.0
The Suns have dropped two of the last three games, and their win came in Game 4 which saw a final tally of 84-80 so it's tough to gauge how much stock to take in that victory. What I'm trying to say is the Clippers have definitely looked the part of a Western Conference Champion the past three games, and the Suns are at risk of flaming out.
Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (MCL sprain) will not play tonight in Game 5 of the WCF against the Phoenix Suns.— Chris Haynes (@Chris Haynes)1624923130.0
The Clippers' starting big man, Ivica Zubac, was out with a knee injury while Los Angeles out scored the Suns by 26 in the paint. So far in every game but one (Game 3 when L.A. beat Phoenix 106-92) the team that has scored the most points in the paint has ended up winning. Both teams are good from the free throw line and it gets the opposition into foul trouble so it is a sound strategy for either side. But Deandre Ayton wasn't able to get much going offensively in Game 5 finishing with only 10 points in 37 minutes.
For the Suns, they were quick to point out their own shortcomings following the loss. Coach Monty Williams noted, "It's just unacceptable the way we started the game," he continued on to compare the Suns and Clippers in Game 5, "We showed up in the first quarter, and they played with desperation."
Monty Williams: “Leadership is tricky - if you can’t get people to follow you, you’re just walking by yourself”— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel Nichols)1624922492.0
Chris Paul who had 22 points and eight assists talked about Phoenix's inability to hold onto advantages, "We've got to close quarters better," Paul goes on to say, "that's been a problem for us all series long."
Paul has been a leader both on and off the court helping this young team to play far above the level anyone expected them to this season, but he's also been a part of many teams that fell short in the playoffs.
A championship run is the one knock on his hall of fame resume, and it seemed destined to happen this year especially after the Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead. But he isn't the only player who has had their reputation affected by playoff performances.
The nickname Playoff P isn't an endearing one. It has become synonymous with Paul George and his failures in the postseason up to this point. Any success that the Clippers were going to have this year was always likely to be attributed to Kawhi Leonard, but now that he is sidelined it's all on PG to carry the load.
George entered rarified air Monday night joining the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant as players who scored 20 or more points in each of the first 18 games in a postseason. All of their teams reached the Finals. George is hoping to follow suit as the Clippers are headed back home to host Game 6.
Following a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and coach, Doc Rivers, are questioning if Ben Simmons is the right guy to be running their offense through moving forward.
Offense being the key word here.
Simmons is an all-world defender possessing the ability to guard virtually any opponent on the court from the perimeter to the rim. But it was his lack of offensive help throughout this playoff season that stood out beyond any accomplishments this year. Simmons joined Rudy Gobert as unanimous selections for the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this year and also finished fifth in the NBA in assists per game with 8.8 per contest.
For a player that relies so heavily on driving to the basket to get shots off close to the hoop, it's expected for that player to draw plenty of contact resulting in a lot of free throw opportunities. That was certainly indicative of what we saw from Simmons in the first two rounds of the 20-21 playoffs.
He got to the line 45 times against the Hawks in their second round matchup, but only converted 15 freebies which equates to a 33% free throw percentage in the series. Simmons shot just 34.2% from the stripe if you include their first round games against the Wizards, which accounts for the worst free throw percentage by a player with at least 70 attempts in a postseason in NBA playoff history.
With a minimum of 70 attempts, Ben Simmons' 34.2% free throw percentage this postseason is the worst in a postseaso… https://t.co/EvEcQxEe8m— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPN Stats & Info)1624244835.0
In the four games that Atlanta beat Philly in this series, they lost by a combined 17 points. If Ben Simmons shoots just 70% from the line and makes 31-45 during this series, that adds 16 to Philadelphia's series point total. Obviously, the attempts might not directly impact the losses, but from a very broad overview, it would draw the series significantly closer — especially taking into account that three of the four losses the 76ers took in the series were lost by four points or fewer.
Also let's not allow people to say that the free throw stat is overblown and out of context. It's not. Shaquille O'Neal, who is notoriously one of the worst free throw shooters in league history, still managed a career playoff free throw percentage of 50%. That's why we saw the conception of "Hack-a-Shaq" where teams would intentionally foul O'Neal to put him on the line rather than allowing him to hurt them in other ways.
We've begun to see teams adopt this practice now with Simmons, which is just flat out embarrassing for a player of Simmons' pedigree. We have seen what he's able to do with the ball. He flies down the court on fast breaks, is a brilliant creator for teammates, and is one of the better finishers at the rim that we have in the league today.
We've already touched on his defensive prowess that has elevated him to becoming NBA All-Defense multiple times and a three time All-Star. But what do the Sixers do with Simmons before next season?
The 24-year-old point-forward still has plenty of time to work on his game. We've seen other players add a jumper later in their careers to great success; just ask Vince Carter how that works. But, usually, in order to develop a perimeter shot, there is at least a solid foundation to build on — that being the ability to consistently hit free throws.
Simmons is a career 60% free throw shooter, and he shot right around the mean during the regular season. The decline in made shots from the charity stripe in this postseason is cause for concern that this isn't the beginning of a trend.
Add to that Simmons' reluctance to take shots further away from the basket, and defenses have the luxury of ignoring Simmons in the half court set. We have seen teams (like the Jazz and 76ers) that rely heavily on the pick and roll get shut down in these playoffs, and it's teams like Atlanta and Phoenix that are able to spread defenses thin by putting multiple shooters on the court at one time succeed.
In 34 career playoff games, Ben Simmons has made 5 shots outside of 10 feet (from the basket).— Paul Hembekides (@Paul Hembekides)1624277710.0
Joel Embiid was phenomenal in the postseason, so let's not ignore that fact. Also, he was playing on one knee and still almost willed the Sixers to a win. But again, Embiid was not 100% in the playoffs, which limited his abilities.
Doc Rivers answers a question whether Ben Simmons can be the point guard of a championship team https://t.co/8xL35u98RC— Rob Perez (@Rob Perez)1624244460.0
Following their loss, Doc Rivers was asked if he thought Ben Simmons could be the point guard of a championship team, to which he responded, "I don't know that answer to that question right now," which doesn't provide a whole lot of confidence in Simmons' status with the team next year. Trade rumors have already begun to circulate, and it would make sense for this Philly team to hit the reset button now.
If Simmons continues to be exploitable in big moments, as we've seen him be so far in his career, his value is only going to go down. Adding further complications into the situation is the team just agreed to a new contract extension with Simmons and is due to make between $33 and $40 million per season over the next four years.
As the two cornerstone pieces of The Process appear to be two Scotties without a Mike, the early departure for the East's top seed will likely mean a big shakeup in the near future. If Embiid is healthy, he is elite without question. Maybe Philadelphia will go out and add around their two stars, but unless the organization is confident that Simmons can avoid another atrocious offensive performance in future playoff series, all they have is a really good regular season team.
The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.
After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.
LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.
The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.
🗣 DEVIN BOOKER— Phoenix Suns (@Phoenix Suns)1622601795.0
The idea of effort is something that was lacking on the purple and gold side last night though. It didn't take long after Booker started hitting everything that the Lakers team started playing sloppy and launching up bad threes in a failed attempt to not let the game get out of hand. Well it did.
The two teams were among the best defensive teams in league this season, the Suns finished seventh in overall team defensive rating and the Lakers first. The Lakers typically like to use their defensive prowess to control pace and work in the half court with their combination of speed on the wings and their combination of big men down low that includes Andre Drummond, Marc Gasol, Anthony Davis (when healthy), and former Sixth-Man of the Year winner Montrezl Harrell. Incase you forgot Harrell does in fact still play for the Lakers, but before last night if you blinked for too long you would've missed him on the court.
WHY ISN’T MONTREZL HARRELL GETTING PLAYING TIME?????@MONSTATREZZ #FreeMontrezl https://t.co/j55u9zg9kN— NBALakersReport (@NBALakersReport)1622603465.0
For some unknown reason Trez has been an afterthought in Frank Vogel's rotations, not only in this series, but throughout parts of the regular season. With AD being ruled out for Game 5, it would've been logical to think that we'd see an uptick in minutes for the high energy reserve, and we did. But not until the game was far out of hand in the second half. While the Suns were building a 30 point lead we saw Phoenix's guards cooking the slower big men of the Lakers off pick and rolls.
30 points is the largest lead at half in Suns playoff history. 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/UoozhMf6Io— Phoenix Suns (@Phoenix Suns)1622604230.0
It's understandable to want some size to limit Deandre Ayton, but when it's Booker, Payne, and Bridges hurting you offensively why not see how a quicker and more agile defender like Harrell might fare slowing down the pick and rolls? We saw Jae Crowder having success doing that on the other side for the Suns all night!
It's not fair to just talk about how bad the Lakers were, in fairness it looked like they were getting open looks and were just collectively having an unlucky shooting night. Maybe they all got it out of their system now? But the Suns would have beat anyone on that home court last night. Let's give all credit to them by playing one of the best games ever seen against a LeBron James-led playoff team. Devin Booker is an absolute star and this team plays with a very focused chip on their shoulder which has been manicured by Chris Paul. His leadership has made ALL the difference for this Phoenix team and it can be seen most on the defensive side of the ball. The Suns players have adopted Paul's attitude and intensity on that end and it all paid off last night.
We've seen LeBron actively frustrated during playoff games on the court, and last night is one of the most cringe-worthy to have seen. James spent way too much time talking to officials about calls, and not just between whistles. It would be interesting to know how many possessions the Lakers played four on five because James never made it back on defense before the Suns put more points on them. LeBron was seen leaving the court with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, and sure it could be to start receiving treatment on the injured ankle. But we know the real reason he left. We can only hope he didn't punch anything on the way to the locker room.
While the teams will travel back to L.A. for Game 6, the Lakers know they are in a must-win situation. We saw the rest of the team around LeBron scrambling because they felt the pressure. James was the only Laker in the second half that kept the team functioning. When we've seen a visibly dejected James like we did last night, it's been because he knew his team didn't have it. I don't think that's the case with this Lakers team.
There's plenty of talent on the roster even without Anthony Davis. Maybe Game 6 is when we get to see Harrell getting some meaningful minutes. Maybe Vogel can devise a way to get Andre Drummond more involved offensively. Maybe AD plays and isn't slowed by the groin injury. Or maybe you should've listened to us back in January when we told you the Suns were a pretty good basketball team.