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 30, 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 NFL, NBA, MLB and more.
weekly top 10 big sports news headlines and major events: April 30, 2023
Sports fans, the consensus is that this has been an extremely fine week. Lots of upsets, Game 6’s and upcoming Game 7’s in both the NBA and NHL playoffs. Aaron Rodgers officially joining the Jets. Plus the NFL Draft! It doesn’t get much better than that. Here are the headlines of note.
1. NBA Playoffs Round 1 Results – Western Conference
Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs is a best-of-7 format – and many of the series ended up going to Game 6 or Game 7. Making for an excellent week for NBA fans! While there are a couple of unknowns, for the most part Round 2 is set. And there are a couple of major upsets and surprises to report.
We’ve scoured CBS Sports, ESPN, The Athletic, the NBA’s own website, and of course the pros on our own Sports Desk, and here are the NBA highlights of note this week:
Round 1: Denver Nuggets (4-1) defeat Minnesota Timberwolves (1-4).
The Timberwolves avoided a sweep with a dramatic win in Game 3. But the Nuggets and their star, two-time reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, recovered their momentum and won the series 4-1.
Round 1: Memphis Grizzlies (2-4) fall to the LA Lakers (4-2).
Who cares if they started this round as the No. 7 seed? The Lakers had something to prove this postseason, and so far, they’re delivering big time. LeBron James and Anthony Davis proved to be an unstoppable force in Round 1. The Lakers won it in six games, demolishing the No. 2 seed Grizzlies with a 40-point win in Game 6. The home crowd went wild, and ESPN notes that this is the Lakers’ first home win to close out a playoff series since 2012.
ESPN also reports that the Lakers are the first No. 7 seed to pull off an opening-round upset since the San Antonio Spurs in 2010. And just the sixth team ever to accomplish this feat.
As our Sports Desk notes, Lebron James seems to be “defying the god of aging.” At 38, he’s playing at an incredible level. Round 2 will be exciting, and we’ll see if James can carry the Lakers through another tough series.
Round 1: Sacramento Kings (3-3) tied with Golden State Warriors (3-3).
As the defending champions, you’d think the Warriors would have put this one away three games ago. Instead, the Kings have proven to be worthy competitors, and today’s Game 7 will determine whether Golden State is going home. Game 6 was their chance to put it away, but the Kings stayed alive with a decisive 118-99 win. And now Sacramento has home court advantage for the final game in Round 1.
The Kings’ Mike Brown was named Coach of the Year. No question, he’s earned it. His roster has a lot of younger players who are in the playoffs for the first time. Most have never played under the immense pressure of a Game 7. This should be a thrilling afternoon of basketball. Go Warriors!!!
Round 1: Phoenix Suns (4-1) defeat LA Clippers (1-4).
On Tuesday, the Suns put the Clippers away with a 136-130 win in Game 5. The Suns’ Devin Booker had 47 points, and the star trio of Booker, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul have proven that they’re a force, even though they haven’t played together for very long.
Western Conference Semifinals Game 1 results:
In a surprise for some, last night the Denver Nuggets scored a dominant win over the star-studded Phoenix Suns, 125-107, to seize a 1-0 score in the best-of-seven series. Proving that the team has more assets to deploy than just Nikola Jokic, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray scored a game-high 34 points.
2. NBA Playoffs Round 1 Results – Eastern Conference
In the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the No. 1 seed went down in a shocking upset loss to the No. 8 seed in Round 1. And New York NBA fans finally have something to cheer about.
Round 1: Milwaukee Bucks (1-4) fall to Miami Heat (4-1).
Arguably the biggest news of the week in the NBA is that the Milwaukee Bucks lost in the first round of the playoffs. They were the number one seed in the East, and they were vanquished by the No. 8 Miami Heat. Playing without their star Giannis Antetokounmpo for much of Round 1, in the end it wasn’t even close: the Bucks won only one game.
It’s a truly shocking ending to the season for the Bucks, who were the favorites to win it all for the second time in three years. Vegas deemed Milwaukee approximately a -1,200 favorite to defeat Miami in their opening-round series!
Kudos to Jimmy Butler, who scored 42 points in Game 5 (he scored an incredible 56 in Game 4). Butler’s successful throw is what pushed the match into overtime, setting the stage for Miami’s 128-126 win.
Round 1: Boston Celtics (4-2) defeat Atlanta Hawks (2-4).
The defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics fended off a serious challenge from the No. 7 Atlanta Hawks, who pushed the series to Game 6. After two dominant Boston victories to open the series, Atlanta took Game 3.
The Athletic notes that the Celtics’ Round 2 odds against the 76ers could come down to the condition of Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. “Embiid has an LCL (lateral collateral ligament) sprain in his right knee that [head coach] Doc Rivers said will make him doubtful for at least Game 1 Monday in Boston. There is only one day off between each game in this series, so the clock is loudly ticking on Embiid’s return.”
Round 1: Philadelphia 76ers (4-0) sweep Brooklyn 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.
The 76ers meet the Celtics for Round 2, with Game 1 scheduled for tomorrow night.
Round 1: Cleveland Cavaliers (1-4) fall to the New York Knicks (4-1).
Gotham went wild this week when the New York Knicks actually got the job done. They delivered their first Round 1 series victory since 2013, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Round 1 series, 4-1. The sports press credits New York’s “physical, aggressive” play and their superior offense with the win. They also note that the Cavs seemed unprepared for the series and were flatfooted against their resurgent opponents. The Knicks will meet the Miami Heat in Round 2.
It’s been a very long drought for loyal Knicks fans. 23 years have passed since the team reached the Eastern Conference finals, and 24 since their last NBA Finals appearance.
Our Sports Desk believes that the Knicks actually have a great opportunity to win this round. On the other hand, they note that the Heat’s Jimmy Butler is probably the most underrated player in the NBA, considering his aforementioned stellar performance against the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks.
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. It’s been a thrilling first round, with seven of the eight matchups going to 3-2. In fact, the next two days will see three Game 7’s that no one would have predicted when Round 1 started.
Here are some of the highlights and what to know heading into this week.
In the Eastern Conference, all eyes are on the Bruins-Panthers and the Rangers-Devils. Both have Game 7’s either tonight or tomorrow. The Maple Leafs and the Hurricanes have already advanced to Round 2.
Round 1: Boston Bruins (3-3) ties Florida Panthers (3-3)
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 the Panthers have proven to be more than worthy postseason foes. Florida won decisively in Game 2, and went on to tie the series 3-3. ESPN writers note that the Panthers have scored their wins this series with decisive play in the third period, and are playing as if they have nothing to lose.
Now on the brink of an upset, the Bruins are clearly fighting the “President’s Trophy Curse,” which sees many teams enter the Stanley Cup playoffs on top only to lose ignominiously in the postseason. Perhaps due to that pressure, they’ve been playing surprisingly poorly, giving up multiple chances to put the Panthers away in Game 6. Tonight is the decisive Game 7.
Round 1: Toronto Maple Leafs (4-2) defeat Tampa Lightning (2-4)
In a series where the two teams seemed very well-matched, it came down to a thrilling Game 6 to determine the outcome. Tampa Bay won Game 1, but then Toronto took Games 2 and 3. They battled to 3-2 with the Maple Leafs up by one. Then, Game 6 went Toronto’s way, with a win in overtime that advanced them to Round 2.
Round 1: Carolina Hurricanes (4-2) eliminate New York Islanders (2-4)
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 and fought their way back to 3 – 2 in the series. Sadly for the Isles, however, last night’s Game 6 proved decisive for the ‘Canes. They eliminated the Isles with a 2-1 overtime win.
Round 1: New Jersey Devils (3-3) tie New York Rangers (3-3)
The Rangers started out strong this series with 2 wins, but the Devils fought back to win Game 3. Somehow the Rangers faded in the middle games, allowing the Devils to win three in a row and gain a 3-2 lead after Game 5.
Now, Greater New York is going wild, because the Hudson River Rivalry has come down to a decisive Game 7 tomorrow night at the Prudential Center, after a thrilling Game 6. New Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in the stands for Game 6, which was a thrill of its own (smart move, Mr. Rodgers). Playing at home last night at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers stayed alive with a decisive 5-2 win.
4. NHL Playoffs – Western Conference
The final matchup in Round 1 in the West is a shocking Game 7 for the Colorado Avalanche against the Seattle Kracken. The Golden Knights, Oilers and Stars have all advanced to Round 2.
Vegas Golden Knights (4-1) dominate Winnipeg Jets (1-4)
On Thursday night, the Vegas Golden Knights eliminated the Winnipeg Jets with a 4-1 win in Game 5.
Edmonton Oilers (4-2) beat LA Kings (2-4)
The Kings won both of their two games in this series in overtime, giving fans some hope that this might turn into a Cinderella story. But it wasn’t to be – the Oilers closed out the series 4-2, with a very close win in Game 6.
Dallas Stars (4-2) wins over Minnesota Wild (2-4)
The first game in this series was a nail-biter, going into double overtime. The Wild ultimately prevailed to win Game 1. Each team went on to win lopsided victories. At one point, the Wild had a 2-1 lead. But after Game 5, Dallas was up 3-2. And on Friday night, they put the Wild away in Game 6 with a 4-1 win.
Colorado Avalanche (3-3) tie Seattle Kracken (3-3)
The Kracken upset the defending national champs, the Avalanche, in Game 1. And surprise upsets have been the storyline throughout this series, which to the shock of many fans is currently tied 3-3. Remember, the Kracken are only in their second season as a franchise. And did we mention that the Avalanche as the defending national champions?
The Kracken actually could have finished this off in Game 6, but Colorado beat Seattle to stay alive for tonight’s Game 7.
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 with the best record in the league, an astounding 23-5. As of this posting, they’re 4.5 ahead of the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. And 8 ahead of the New York Yankees.
We have no words. We’ll just note that while our Red Sox are a the bottom of the AL East, they’re just one game behind the Yankees. So there.
Speaking of the Yankees, their team captain Aaron Judge left Thursday’s game early. The team reports that he has a “mild hip strain,” and he’s not yet formally on the IL.
In the rest of the AL, the Minnesota Twins continue to lead the Central division, currently by 2.5. The Cleveland Guardians are second and the Detroit Tigers are 5 back in third place. In the West, there’s not much change this week, either. The Texas Rangers lead the Houston Astros by 2.0, with the LA Angels in third place, 2.5 games back.
6. MLB Standings – NL
In the NL East, the New York Mets are still in second place, but now they’re 3 games back of the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins and Phillies are close behind, tied for third and 3.5 back.
In the Central division, the Pittsburg Pirates have pulled ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers by 1.5. The Cubs are a distant third, 5 back. And in the NL West, the standings are pretty much unchanged from last week: the Diamondbacks lead the Dodgers by one, with the Padres 2 back.
7. NFL Draft
historic night for Black quarterbacks
Thursday’s NFL draft was historic for many reasons. Perhaps the most important is that it’s the first time in league history that three Black quarterbacks were in the top 10 picks. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young of Alabama was number one; he’s joining the Carolina Panthers. The Texans then picked C.J. Stroud of Ohio State with their number two spot. And the number four pick, by the Indianapolis Colts, was Anthony Richardson of Florida. At 20, he’s one of the youngest players in the draft and dazzled teams with his performance at the Combine earlier this year.
This follows a historic Super Bowl, in which for the first time ever, two Black starting quarterbacks faced off. Look at you, NFL. The times, they are a-changin.’
houston shakes things up in first round
In other NFL Draft news, the New York Times explains how the Houston Texans shook up the normal first round routine early on this year. After Houston secured C. J. Stroud with their number 2 pick, they immediately traded with Arizona for the No. 3 pick. They selected Will Anderson, Jr. from Alabama with that slot, locking down two of the most valuable positions in the NFL – quarterback and edge rusher -within just the first three picks.
While the Texans get high marks for their picks, our hometown Detroit Lions failed to cover themselves in glory. They took a running back with their first pick, which most people thought was a wasted effort, given that they already have two strong and experienced players in that position on their roster. Our Sports Desk notes that running backs are usually picked in later rounds, and speculates that perhaps this is a strategic move to shore up their quarterback Jared Goff.
other noteworthy picks
Other moves of note? The Arizona Cardinals shored up support for their quarterback, adorable Kyler Murray, by drafting an offensive tackle in the top 10 picks.
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Jalen Carter with their No. 9 pick despite the controversy swirling around the defensive tackle. Carter was a force at Georgia for two seasons – but then he pleaded no contest earlier this year to two misdemeanor charges stemming from a fatal car crash in January that killed one of his teammates. At one time, there was speculation that Carter would be the number one pick this year. The Wall Street Journal notes that many pundits still consider him to be the most talented player in this year’s class. Time will tell.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis slipped into the 2nd round, and ended up being picked by the Tennessee Titans. This is newsworthy only because he was quite vocal pre-draft that he should go #1. In his defense, he is the “prototypical big quarterback” and many expected him to go to the Colts with their No. 4 pick. But Levis’ production fell off last year versus the 2021 season. And in the end he had to sit through round 1 being repeatedly passed over until the Titans made their move.
belichick strikes again
Finally, it wouldn’t feel right if there was no story about Bill Belichick and his agenda during the NFL Draft. Our Sports Desk notes that at the last minute on Day 1 of the draft, the New England Patriots coach made a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the last high-quality offensive lineman. The New York Jets had their eye on that player, and intended to move on him just 2 picks later to protect their new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Apparently, Belichick will never pass up a chance to mess with the Jets . . .
8. Aaron Rogers to the Jets; Lamar Jackson staying with the Ravens
Speaking of the Jets, it has finally happened! Aaron Rodgers is officially joining the team as the starting quarterback. Even though everyone knew it was happening, there was still a real buzz when it was finally announced this week.
And further down the turnpike, there was jubilation in Baltimore as quarterback Lamar Jackson agreed to a record-breaking contract that will keep him with the Ravens for the long-haul. The deal is reportedly worth $260 million over 5 years. That would be $52 million a year for those who can’t do math in their heads, making him the highest-paid in the league on an annual basis. For now.
9. Britney Griner holds first press conference after returning home from Russia
WNBA player Brittney Griner, 32, held an emotional, inspiring press conference on Thursday – her first since being released from captivity in Russia after 9 months after having been wrongfully held as a pawn in a prisoner exchange. The audience of reporters, politicians and diplomats interrupted the Q&A several times with applause. Tears were shed and Griner’s fighting spirit, resilience and sense of humor were all evident.
Her smile lit up the room and she vowed to be a forceful advocate for other Americans wrongfully detained by Russia, including Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. Griner will return to the court for the Phoenix Mercury when the season starts in a few weeks.
10. Wait, is New York a sports town now?
As denizens of Greater New York, the consensus on our team is that sports are always best when the New York teams are relevant. So to have the Knicks, the Devils and the Rangers still alive in their playoffs, and the Mets (and, we certainly hope) the Yankees competitive, these are very exciting times. Plus, now the Jets have a future Hall of Fame quarterback and a real shot at the playoffs. Yep – it’s good to be in Gotham right now.
Weekly Top sports news headlines and major events to know: April 30, 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.