Everything you need to know heading into the weekend in the world of sports.
Over the last few years, Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson has made a habit of playing mind games with four-time NBA MVP LeBron James. Before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Stephenson continued the pattern (remember 2012?), and said that LeBron’s trash talk was a sign of weakness. LeBron would go on to score 32 points and add 10 boards in a convincing Game 4 win, shutting Stephenson up in the process. Temporarily.
Adam started out Tuesday’s show ripping Stephenson for poking the bear.
You’d think that after being humbled by King James, Lance Stephenson would conduct his business in a more professional manner.
The blogosphere had some fun with Stephenson blowing in LeBron’s ear, but Adam wasn’t impressed.
Paul George was outstanding in Game 5, scoring 21 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Pacers alive and force a Game 6 in Miami. However, all anybody wants to talk about is Lance Stephenson “getting in the head” of LeBron James. With the series shifting back to Miami for a Game 6, and the Heat owning a chance to advance to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, I would expect a big game from LeBron. He clearly wasn’t too thrilled when Stephenson blew into his ear, so expect him to score anywhere from 35-45 points and get the last laugh.
Interview of the Week
2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay joined Adam live in studio and talked about winning “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing.” You could hear the emotion in his voice, particularly when he talked about being an American driver winning the race on Memorial Day weekend, and doing it with his family in attendance. Hunter-Reay, who won the IndyCar Series Championship in 2012, also talked about his rivalry with Helio Castroneves and getting a sense of redemption after coming up short in the Indianapolis 500 last year.
Underrated Story of the Week
The New York Mets fired their hitting coach Dave Hudgens and released veteran reliever Jose Valverde after losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Memorial Day. Of course, the problem with the Mets isn’t something that can be boiled down to one player or coach. It could be that, as Hudgens suggested on his way out the door, general manager Sandy Alderson has his hands tied because the Mets can’t spend any money.
That excuse doesn’t really fly though.
Remember, the Mets gave outfielder Chris Young a one year, $7.25 million contract in the first few weeks of free agency; Nelson Cruz signed a one year, $8 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles weeks before spring training and is a significantly better hitter.
New York also gave up on Ike Davis at first base a few weeks into the season, despite David Wright telling Adam in February he was glad the Mets didn’t sell low on him.
The Mets went cheap in the bullpen and, lo, and behold, have had issues closing out games this year. Who didn’t see that coming? They have replacement-level players in their lineup, and Curtis Granderson has struggled after signing a big contract this offseason. The bottom line is that this team is not very good, mainly because it was poorly constructed. Sandy Alderson might have said that the Mets can win 90 games, but there’s a better chance they lose 90 games instead, thanks in large part to his bad personnel decisions.
GIF of the week
I’ve watched this GIF approximately 500 times this morning and I still have no idea how Henrik Lundqvist made this save in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. Absolutely ridiculous; and as it turned out, The King needed to stop every one of the 18 shots he faced in Game 6. The Rangers won 1-0 on a Dominic Moore’s second period goal to advance to their first Stanley Cup Finals since 1994.
GIF courtesy of Xtraframes
5 Things to Watch This Weekend
- The No. 1 game this weekend is the aforementioned Game 6 in Miami on Friday night between the Pacers and Heat. Miami leads the series 3-2, and hasn’t lost on their home floor in this year’s playoffs. James spent most of Game 5 in foul trouble and clearly wasn’t himself, but as I mentioned earlier, I would expect him to bounce back in a big way and the Heat to win Game 6 in dominant fashion. Should the Pacers force a Game 7 …
- … you can check it out Sunday, June 1. The Pacers haven’t reached the NBA Finals since 2000, when the Lakers beat them in six games to win the first of three consecutive championships with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
- Meanwhile, in the NBA’s Western Conference finals, the Spurs bounced back after dropping two straight games in Oklahoma City to take Game 5, 117-89. The Spurs had jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, but thanks in part to Serge Ibaka’s surprise return from injury and dominant performances by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder held serve on their home court to even up the series. It was all San Antonio on Thursday night though, as Tim Duncan scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the way. The series shifts back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 on Saturday night, as the Spurs look to close out the series and reach the NBA Finals for the second straight season.
- The Western Conference finals in the NHL continue, as the Los Angeles Kings looks to eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks and make their second appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in the last three seasons. The resilient Blackhawks survived a double-overtime thriller in Game 5, as Micheal Handzus tallied the winning score past Jonathan Quick. Game 6 is Friday night, and Game 7 (if necessary) is on Sunday. The winner of the series will host the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals next Wednesday.
- Phil Hughes was much maligned toward the end of his Yankees career, finishing 4-14 with an ERA of 5.19 in 2013 as the Yankees missed the playoffs for only the second time since 1995. He signed with the Minnesota Twins this offseason and is enjoying a resurgence. Not only is he 5-1 with a 3.23 ERA, but his HR/9 and BB/9 rates are significantly down, as he has clearly benefited from leaving hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. The Twins visit the Bronx this weekend and Hughes is scheduled to pitch in the series finale on Sunday.