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 84th Masters Tournament saw history made this past weekend, as Dustin Johnson turned in a record setting performance at Augusta finishing at 20 under par in 72 holes. The World No. 1 continued his hot run of play in this major and added his first green jacket and second major victory of his career.
Dustin Johnson wins the 84th Masters Tournament. #themasters https://t.co/aI2zjbuE7h— The Masters (@The Masters)1605469912.0
Tiger Woods looked primed to defend his title after the first two rounds, limiting mistakes and playing with the careful consideration for every shot he's been known for throughout his career. He stumbled on day three, though, and only managed to shoot par which allowed Johnson to put pressure on Woods and the rest of the field heading into day four.
Woods took a 10 on the 12th hole on Sunday which knocked him out of contention, but then followed up with five birdies over the next six holes, which saved his round allowing him to finish with a four over 76. Tiger finished tied for 38th place at -1.
That's how you respond. 💪 Tiger Woods never stopped fighting. https://t.co/CGAH1vxWre— PGA TOUR (@PGA TOUR)1605464386.0
Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im finished tied for second at -15. Justin Thomas took fourth place at -12. Rory McIlroy and Dylan Frittelli were tied at -11 to round out the top five.
The 2020 Major League Baseball awards have been handed out to spotlight this year's winners:
The American League’s best in 2020. José Abreu is the AL MVP. 👏 https://t.co/eWMVJpr74T— MLB (@MLB)1605223338.0
Abreu led the AL in RBI (60), finished second in HRs (19), and fourth in BA (.317). He helped a young White Sox team to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Providing a steady bat in the middle of an explosive lineup, Abreu benefitted from having protection around him for the first time in his career. A former Rookie of the Year, Abreu now sits atop the American League as its most valuable player.
Freddie Freeman Atlanta Braves
#MVFree indeed. @FreddieFreeman5 is your 2020 NL MVP. 👏 https://t.co/FUBGRHnvy3— MLB (@MLB)1605225131.0
Freeman put together an impressive campaign in the truncated season, finishing second in the MLB in OPS (1.102) and led the MLB in runs (51). Freeman also finished second in the NL in batting average (.341), on base percentage (.462), and slugging percentage (.640).
Although the Braves fell short of the World Series, Freeman's achievement, like Abreu's, represents a veteran leader helping the development of a talented young team around him. Expect a step forward for the Braves next year behind the reigning NL MVP.
AL Cy Young
Shane Bieber Cleveland Indians
UNANIMOUS! Congrats to 2020 Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber! 🏆 https://t.co/vOLku4Os3F— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOX Sports Cleveland)1605137196.0
For the first time since 2011, the AL Cy Young was awarded unanimously. Bieber had a historic season setting a league record for strikeout rate (41.1%) and recorded the lowest qualifying ERA (1.63) since 1969. Opposing batters averaged a paltry .167 against Bieber in 2020, which is also the best opposing BA since 1969. Considering the Indians are not in the business of keeping its talent once their payday comes due, enjoy him while you can Cleveland. Yankees, you're on the clock.
NL Cy Young
Trevor Bauer Cincinnati Reds
Name a better way to celebrate. You can’t. @budweiserusa https://t.co/9WxTXPC7C5— Trevor Bauer (@Trevor Bauer)1605295731.0
Speaking of the Indians not retaining talent, the NL Cy Young winner is former Cleveland Indian, Trevor Bauer. Imagine if Cleveland was able to send out Bieber and Bauer on back to back nights this season with Bauer bringing his 1.73 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings. We can only speculate what the results would've been, but Bauer led a good pitching group in Cincinnati and brought them to the playoffs. Often outspoken, rarely outdueled.
AL Rookie of the Year
Kyle Lewis Seattle Mariners
Lewis burst onto the national scene with his five tool skills. He can hit home runs as well as rob them and is reminiscent of another transcendent talent that used to roam the outfields of Seattle.
Kyle Lewis x Ken Griffey Jr. (first 72 games) Lewis Griffey Jr. 17 HR 11 41… https://t.co/bPhJXlbweu— Danny Vietti (@Danny Vietti)1600910043.0
NL Rookie of the Year
Devin Williams Milwaukee Brewers
Williams became the first reliever to win the ROY award since Craig Kimbrel in 2011. Williams posted a 0.33 ERA and struck out 53% of the batters he faced this season.
AL Manager of the Year
Kevin Cash Tampa Bay Rays
It was a foregone conclusion that the Yankees would win the AL East this year, but the Rays came out of nowhere with a bunch of unknown players to take the division convincingly. Cash's trademark is player usage and tinkering with lineups. The mind of Kevin Cash is a big reason the Rays got to the World Series, but his decision to replace Blake Snell in Game 6 might have cost them a shot at a Game 7 against the Dodgers. Still, the Rays have a bevy of young talent under cost controlled contracts and they should continue to compete for the AL pennant for the foreseeable future.
NL Manager of the Year
Don Mattingly Miami Marlins
Mattingly became the fifth person to win both an MVP award and Manager of the Year award after leading the Marlins to the postseason in 2020. It was their first appearance in 17 years in what was supposed to be a transition year as they look to rebuild. Mattingly certainly got the most from his players and may be the kind of presence to make Miami a free agent destination if ownership is willing to spend.
Don Mattingly has been named the 2020 National League Manager of the Year. He is the 5th former MVP to win the awa… https://t.co/iGeZvpfyaA— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPN Stats & Info)1605050970.0
Now that the league has set December 22 as the start date for the 2020-2021 season the offseason, which historically provides plenty of rumors and player movement, has been dramatically shortened. That will likely mean less transactions preseason, but may set us up for an exciting trade deadline.
That doesn't mean there aren't some interesting rumors floating around, however. A deal appears to be in place to send Dennis Schroder to the Lakers in exchange for Danny Green and the Lakers' 28th overall pick in the upcoming draft. This would provide the newly minted NBA Champions a versatile scoring guard that can play both on and off the ball. Schroder will be coming from Oklahoma City, where he played with Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who are both ball handlers.
Lakers and Thunder have agreement in principle on deal to send Dennis Schroder to Los Angeles, and No. 28 pick in W… https://t.co/tyH2iPPZZJ— Shams Charania (@Shams Charania)1605459149.0
Having to share ball handling duties with LeBron shouldn't affect Schroder's effectiveness, and the playmaking LA will be losing in Rajon Rondo will likely be made up for by a veteran free agent signing later in the offseason.
The biggest trade rumor going around NBA Twitter right now involves the future of James Harden. Now that Mike D'Antoni and Daryl Morey have parted ways with the Rockets, Houston has a problem. It was just a year ago that the Rockets were thought to have the team and the plan to win an NBA title. Now they're looking for a new identity.
ESPN Sources with @RamonaShelburne and @ZachLowe_NBA: As Houston’s James Harden considers his future with franchise… https://t.co/Uf9k102itA— Adrian Wojnarowski (@Adrian Wojnarowski)1605477080.0
Harden's preferred landing spot has emerged, and it's in Brooklyn. That would reunite him with former teammate Kevin Durant and form a backcourt of Harden and Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn would likely have to send DeAndre Jordan and some players to match contracts up along with a slew of draft picks, but just the thought of this super team is making December 22 feel too far away.
NFL Quick Bites
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens fall on Sunday night to the Patriots. Baltimore falls to 6-3 and gives up some ground to Cleveland in the AFC North.
On Thursday night, the Colts dominated the Titans in an important division matchup. With the win the Colts draw even with the Tennessee at 6-3. The Titans have lost three of their last four games.
The Buccaneers get back on track with a 46-23 win over Carolina. Tom Brady made good use of his receivers in this one. Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown all had at least six receptions in this game.
Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins keep rolling with their fifth win in a row. They beat the Chargers 29-21 and are now 6-3.
Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins connected on a last second Hail Mary to beat the Bills 32-30. A contender for play of the year, and a competitive game that may have been a Super Bowl preview.
Drew Brees left the game against the 49ers with a rib injury. His status for Week 11 is uncertain. If he's unable to go Jameis Winston will be under center for the Saints.
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.