This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly report on the big sports news headlines and major events, plus a preview of what’s up next. For April 23, 2023, here are the weekly top 10 sports news headlines to know – the big stories and major events in sports news this week in the NBA, MLB and more.
weekly top 10 big sports news headlines and major events: April 23, 2023
1. NBA Playoffs Round 1 Update – Western Conference
Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs is a best-of-7 format – so it can go on for a long time if teams are evenly matched. With several leading stars out with injuries or suspensions, it’s been a pretty good week for the underdogs. We’ve scoured CBS Sports, ESPN and the NBA’s own website, and here are the highlights of note:
Denver Nuggets (3-0) versus Minnesota Timberwolves (0-3).
The Nuggets could sweep this series with a win tonight. Game 3 on Wednesday night ended on a dramatic note. The Nuggets were trailing by three when Jamal Murray scored with 55.9 seconds left. Nikola Jokic broke Denver’s record for assists and achieved his 14th triple-double of the season. And the Nuggets ultimately rallied for a 122-118 win.
All this, while Nuggets coach Michael Malone had to sit out his second game in a row due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. David Adelman has been filling in as acting head coach.
Memphis Grizzlies (1-2) versus LA Lakers (2-1).
Who cares if they started this round as the No. 7 seed? The Lakers have something to prove, and so far they’re doing it. In last night’s Game 3, at home in LA, the Lakers dominated in the the first quarter, racking up a historic 35-9 lead. Ja Morant rallied back to keep the Grizzlies in the game, but it wasn’t enough. The Lakers got the win, 111-101. Game 4 is tomorrow night in LA.
The win at home was surely made even sweeter given the consistent trash talk directed toward James by Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks. He hasn’t missed a chance to bash James at press conferences. But LeBron may have the last word. And in any case, it’s not bothering him. When asked about the verbal taunts, King James replied “This is not my first rodeo.”
Brooks was ejected early in the third quarter of Game 3 when he hit James in the groin in a flagrant foul. Really not a good look, kid.
Sacramento Kings (1-2) versus Golden State Warriors (2-1).
Game 4 in this series is later today, and as the defending champions, you’d think the Warriors would be close to putting this one away with a sweep. Instead, the Kings have proven to be worthy competitors. Playing without their two best defenders, Draymond Green and Gary Payton II, the Warriors scored a must-win Game 3 with a blowout win, 114-97. Green was suspended for one game after stepping on Domantas Sabonis’ chest in Game 2. Payton II is out due to illness.
Green will be back for Game 4, given the Warriors good odds to even this up.
Phoenix Suns (3-1) versus LA Clippers (1-3).
In last night’s Game 4, the Phoenix Suns took advantage of playing against a Kawhi Leonard-less Clippers (Paul George was also sidelined) for a second straight game, and now lead 3-1. The Suns’ star trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Chris Paul is starting to gel, and when they’re in a groove there’s no stopping them. The one bright spot for Clippers fans is that Russell Westbrook is playing like his old self again after a disastrous stint with the crosstown Lakers.
2. NBA Playoffs Round 1 Update – Eastern Conference
In the Eastern Conference, one team is already on to the semifinals. And the No. 1 seed could actually be in trouble.
Milwaukee Bucks (1-2) versus Miami Heat (2-1).
The No. 8 Heat have been taking advantage of the No. 1 Bucks, who have been playing without their star Giannis Antetokounmpo. And in a shocking twist, with a 121-99 win in Game 3, Miami now holds a 2-1 series lead.
Boston Celtics (2-1) versus Atlanta Hawks (1-2).
In another triumph of the No. 7 seeds, the Atlanta Hawks could tie their series against the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics with a win today. CBS Sports notes that “After two dominant Boston victories to open the series, Atlanta took Game 3. With home-court advantage tonight in Game 4, the Hawks have a shot at tying things up and putting the Celts on the defensive when the series returns to Boston on Tuesday.”
Sixers (4-0) versus Nets (0-4).
The 76ers swept the Nets to advance to the semifinals, even without their star Joel Embiid. With their star lineup decimated when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both departed, the Nets’ poor performance is not a huge surprise. Still, losing to James Harden, once viewed as one of the three saviors for the franchise, has to hurt.
Meanwhile, 76ers coach Doc Rivers delivered the troubling news that Embiid’s latest MRI didn’t look so good. He gave no timetable for the player’s expected return.
Cleveland (1-2) versus Knicks (2-1).
The Knicks have given Gotham denizens something to cheer about so far in this series. Bouncing back from a loss in Game 2, they routed the Cavs in Game 3, with a 99-79 victory, pulling ahead 2-1 in the series. Game 4 is this afternoon at Madison Square Garden. If the Knicks can pull this off, it will be their first series victory since 2013.
3. NHL Playoffs – Eastern Conference
The NBA may steal the spotlight, but let’s not forget that the NHL is also in the postseason, with the Stanley Cup playoffs well underway. Here are some of the highlights and what to know heading into this week.
In the Eastern Conference, all four series are close as of this posting.
Boston Bruins (2-1) v Florida Panthers (1-2)
The Bruins entered the playoffs with the best record in the regular season. And after setting new NHL records for wins (64) and points (135). But there won’t be a sweep, as the Panthers won decisively in Game 2. Game 4 is later today in Florida, as the Bruins fight the “President’s Trophy Curse,” which sees many teams enter the playoffs on top only to lose ignominiously in the postseason.
Toronto Maple Leafs (2-1) v Tampa Lightning (1-2)
Toronto is on a roll, having won the last 2 games. Tampa Bay will be at home for a must-win Game 4 tomorrow night.
Carolina Hurricanes (2-1) v New York Islanders (1-2)
After losing their first two games, the Isles returned home for the first-ever playoff match at the new UBS Arena, and home court advantage did the trick. They earned a must-win in Game 3. Game 4 is in New York this afternoon.
New Jersey Devils (1-2) v New York Rangers (2-1)
It’s Greater New York versus Greater New York, and so far, New York is on top. The Rangers started out strong with 2 wins, but the Devils fought back to win Game 3. The Rangers are at home for Game 4 tomorrow.
4. NHL Playoffs – Western Conference
Vegas Golden Knights (2-1) v Winnipeg Jets (1-2)
With last night’s game going into a second overtime, the Vegas Golden Knights won a 5-4 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. They now have a 2-1 lead in the series.
Edmonton Oilers (1-2) v LA Kings (2-1)
The Kings won both of their two games in this series in overtime. Game 4 is tonight in LA, and given their track record, it could be another nail-biter for the home crowd.
Dallas Stars (1-2) v Minnesota Wild (2-1)
The first game in this series was a nail-biter, going into double overtime. The Wild ultimately prevailed, 3-2. Since then, each team has won one lopsided victory, to give the Wild a 2-1 lead. They’ll be at home tonight for Game 4.
Colorado Avalanche (2-1) v Seattle Kracken (1-2)
The Kracken upset the defending national champs, the Avalanche, in Game 1. But since then, Colorado has dominated, taking a 2-1 lead. Seattle will get its shot at a home win tomorrow night.
5. MLB Standings – AL
The Tampa Bay Rays started this MLB season on an incredible tear, becoming just the third team in the modern era to go 13 – 0 to start the season. While their initial run has ended, they remain atop the AL East, 4.5 ahead of the Baltimore Orioles and 5 ahead of the New York Yankees.
In the rest of the AL, the Minnesota Twins continue to lead the Central division by just 1, with the Cleveland Guardians hot on their trail. And in the West, the Texas Rangers lead the Houston Astros by 2.5, with the LA Angels and Seattle Mariners are tied for third, 3.5 games back.
6. MLB Standings – NL
In the NL East, the New York Mets are in second place, just half a game back of the Atlanta Braves.
In the Central division, the Milwaukee Brewers lead the Pittsburg Pirates by just half a game, with the Cubs in third place, 2.5 back. And in the NL West, the Diamondbacks lead the Dodgers by one, with the Padres 1.5 back.
7. Mets’ ace Scherzer suspended for using “sticky stuff”
Three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer of the New York Mets was suspended for 10 games after being ejected from the field on Wednesday at a game in LA. An umpire checked his hands three times and ruled that he had violated the MLB’s policy on the use of sticky substances by pitchers.
Rosin is allowed under the rules to help pitchers get a better grip on the ball – as long as it is not used “in excess.” Scherzer says that he was only using rosin – and sweat from his head, which helps it adhere better. He initially planned to appeal the suspension, but later in the week declined to do so. In the end, he’ll miss one game in the Mets rotation.
8. “Prime Time” in college football
This weekend’s Wall Street Journal features a profile of the intense rebuilding effort underway for the football program at the University of Colorado under the leadership of its new head coach, Deion Sanders. Hired in December, Sanders was known as “Prime Time” during his professional career, having played in both the MLB and NFL. His task? To take the worst team in 2022 and turn them into winners.
Yesterday, Sanders made his debut in the team’s annual Black & Gold Day – a spring football game that garnered outsized attention this year due to Sanders’ star power. In front of a sold-out stadium, the team’s offense played its defense, and fans got to see what they hope is a glimpse of their future this fall.
It’s way too early for predictions, but this program has received a major shot in the arm – and a much-needed dose of swagger. What happens after that? Wait and see.
9. Newcastle United delivers a strong ROI for its new owners
Also in the Wall Street Journal comes word that it is actually possible to invest in a failing sports team and achieve a solid return on investment. Shades of Ted Lasso! The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia acquired the team a year ago for $380 million. The new owners then invested in upgrades that totaled an estimated $110 million.
Naysayers said it was a poor investment, especially given that marquee teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham were either available or thought to be coming on the market soon after the Newcastle deal was struck.
But in a last laugh, at least for this season, Newcastle leads Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premier League standings as of this posting.
10. a heartwarming ending in Wrexham
In what’s being lauded as a Hollywood ending, Wrexham, the small British soccer club purchased in 2021 by American actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, has won sufficient games this season to advance to a professional league for the first time in 15 years.
Starting in August, the team will move up to League Two, which is actually the fourth highest tier in English soccer. Does anyone else see the movie pitch that surely circulating around Hollywood right now? The script will write itself (even ChatGPS wouldn’t find this difficult), and the casting decisions are certainly clear. The only open question is who directs. We can’t wait for the drop of the first trailer.
Weekly Top sports news headlines and major events to know: April 23, 2023
That’s our take on the big sports news headlines and major events, and a preview of the week ahead, including what to know about basketball, baseball and more. Have a great week, dear reader. See you next Sunday.