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 May 7, 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: May 7, 2023
It’s been a busy week in the world of sports, with the NBA and NHL playoffs, plus the Kentucky Derby and MLB games. Here are the headlines of note.
1. NBA Conference Semifinal Results to Date – Western Conference
Phoenix Suns (1-2) trail Denver Nuggets (2-1)
The star-studded Phoenix Suns have had a disappointing run so far in their series against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. The Suns lost the first two games on the road. Happily for Phoenix fans, they rallied at home on Friday night to win Game 3, 121-114. Kevin Durant and Devin Booker combined for 86 points.
The No. 4 Suns will attempt to even the best-of-seven series against the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in Game 4, tonight in Phoenix. They’ll have to do it without point guard Chris Paul, who missed Game 3 with a groin injury and is expected to be out for Game 4 as well.
LA Lakers (2-1) lead Golden State Warriors (1-2)
So far, the most entertaining matchup in the NBA semifinals has been the Lakers versus Warriors. Two legends are facing off: LeBron James and Steph Curry. Only one will advance to the next round, so the stakes couldn’t be higher. The first two games were in San Francisco, and the Lakers took Game 1, forcing the Warriors to scramble to tie the series. Which they did, in a 127-100 blowout win in Game 2.
Last night for Game 3, the Lakers were at home and the tables were turned again. Los Angeles now leads 2-1 after their 127-97 victory Saturday night. ESPN notes that despite the marquee billing, James and Curry haven’t been the deciding factors in the series so far – it has been the tactical and strategic moves made by the two head coaches. They’re playing a complicated game and its a master class in coaching.
Game 4 is Monday night in LA.
2. NBA Conference Semifinal Results to Date – Eastern Conference
Boston Celtics (2-1) lead Philadelphia 76ers (1-2)
This semifinal round got off to a rocky start for the Celtics. The 76’ers won Game 1 at Boston, even without this year’s MVP Joel Embiid, who was out with a right knee sprain. Instead, James Harden led the way, with 45 points.
But the tide seems to be turning. Embiid was back on the court for Games 2 and 3, but Philadelphia lost both games, and are currently down 2-1 to Boston. Game 4 is this afternoon at Wells Fargo Center.
On a much happier note for 76ers fans, before Game 3, Joel Embiid was awarded the MVP trophy and his small son Arthur ran onto the court, causing his dad and many others to shed some tears. So. Precious.
New York Knicks (1-2) trail Miami Heat (2-1)
The Knicks split Games 1 and 2 at home versus the Heat. Last night the series moved to Miami, and the Heat took advantage of being at home to take a lead in the best-of-7 series at 2-1. Since his return from an injury, Jimmy Butler has been a force that the Knicks haven’t been able to overcome.
an epic rivalry
The rivalry between these two teams is long-running. It may be a faded memory for some, but the drama was one of the defining storylines in the NBA in the late 1990’s. The Knicks and the Heat met in four consecutive postseasons from 1997 through 2000. Each time the games were bruising and physically aggressive, and even the coaches joined in some of the melees.
Why? Well, Pat Riley had been the Knicks head coach, and he abruptly resigned in the summer of 1995 after a Game of Thrones level struggle for power against Knicks team president David Checketts. He joined the Heat as both team president and head coach, and negotiated a stake as an owner of the team, as well.
You can imagine how that went over with Knicks fans. Ever since, games between the two teams have seen incredibly fierce competition that sometimes boiled over into fisticuffs. Riley built a dream team of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade and the Heat went on to win three national championships. Meanwhile, the Knicks have run through numerous head coaches but have had a long drought as a team that really matters. Until now.
Riley is still the team president for the Heat, but he has stayed out of the spotlight for years. Will this be his last win over his former team? Watch this space for further updates.
3. Milwaukee Bucks fire their head coach
After winning the NBA national championship just two years ago, the Milwaukee Bucks were knocked out in Round 1 of the playoffs by the Miami Heat. It was a stunning fall for the Bucks – they were the No. 1 seed and managed to win only one game. Which is a new NBA record that no one wanted to achieve.
The disastrous Round 1 performance led to the team’s firing head coach Mike Budenholzer this week. It was a hard blow for Budenholzer, who lead the Bucks to the national championship in 2021 after a 50 year drought for the franchise. Memories are short in Milwaukee, apparently.
Our Sports Desk notes that now rumors are flying that Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo is unhappy about Budenholzer’s termination and wants to be traded. And since hope springs eternal, one of the teams rumored to be interested in him is . . . the New York Knicks. Count us as skeptical that the Knicks would ever pay up for a someone of that caliber. But we’d love to be proven wrong (looking at you, Mr. Dolan).
4. NHL Playoffs – Eastern Conference
Carolina Hurricanes (2-0) lead New Jersey Devils (0-2)
After the New Jersey Devils won Game 7 in Round 1 of the playoffs over the New York Rangers in a heart-breaker for Rangers fans, they’re down 2-0 to the Carolina Hurricanes. They’ll meet this afternoon in a must-win game for the Devils. It’s a best-of-seven series.
New Jersey fans are taking hope from the reminder that this is a familiar situation for the Devils: they lost the first two games of their opening round series against the New York Rangers, but rallied to win Round 1 in seven games.
Toronto Maple Leafs (0-2) lag Florida Panthers (2-0)
The Devils aren’t the only NHL team in a must-win situation. The Maple Leafs lost the first two games of their series to the Panthers – and both of those games were at home. As the series moves to Florida, Toronto is expressing confidence – mostly because they’ve arguably been in position to win twice in this series, but let those potentially victories fade away.
5. Rangers part ways with head coach Gerard Gallant
Less than a week after losing in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup to the New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers are making a leadership change. The franchise announced yesterday that they had come to a mutual agreement with Gallant that it was time for a change. Gallant had coached the Rangers to the playoffs in in each of the two seasons he coached the team. Seems harsh, but as we see again this week in the NBA and the NHL, no matter how beloved or successful in the past, a head coach is only as good as his/her/their latest season.
6. NHL Playoffs – Western Conference
Dallas Stars (1-1) tie Seattle Kraken (1-1)
Game 3 in this series is tonight in Seattle, and the home crowd will be understandably fired up. This is only the second season for the Kracken, and they’ve made it into Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. They departed Dallas with a split series, and now it’s on them to leverage their home court.
Vegas Golden Knights (1-1) tie Edmonton Oilers (1-1)
After a 5-1 win last night, the Oilers have tied their Round 2 series against the Golden Knights. Game 3 is tomorrow night in Edmonton. Oilers superstar Leon Draisaitl scored two goals in Game 2 and now the conversation has turned to speculation on whether or not he’ll break the NHL record for the most goals in a single postseason.
7. Kentucky Derby
Mage, ridden by Javier Castellano, led a field of 18 horses to win the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, just hours after the morning-line favorite, Forte, became the fifth horse scratched ahead of the race.
It has been a dark time for the Derby – and for all of horse racing – as 7 horses died over just the course of Kentucky Derby Week, and an additional 5 were scratched just before yesterday’s race. Add to that the multiple doping suspensions that have plagued the industry, and the future of the sport in America is under serious scrutiny.
8. MLB Standings – AL
The Tampa Bay Rays remain the best team in baseball this week, and the New York Yankees continue to hold the last spot in the AL East. They’re above the 50-50 water mark – but just barely. Our Boston Red Sox are in third place. Just sayin. Thought you should know.
Jeers for Aaron Boone
As is typical in Gotham, calls from the crowd for the head of Yankees manager Aaron Boone are now a regular part of the home game routine. Is it is his fault that sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are both injured? Give the dude some credit for the two wins the Yanks chalked up against the Rays on the road this weekend.
In the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins are on top, followed by the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Guardians. In the AL West, the Rangers are one game ahead of the Angels and 2.5 ahead of the Astros.
9. MLB Standings – NL
The story from New York is no better in the NL at the moment. The Mets have fallen to 6 games behind the Atlanta Braves. At least they’re still in second place. The Mets have struggled for the past 10 games or so, as their 2 ace pitchers have not delivered. Justin Verlander just returned to the mound this weekend, and gave up 2 home runs in the first inning. Happily, he did better after that. As previously reported, Max Scherzer was suspended for 10 games for the “sticky stuff” found on his fingers. Ugh!
In the NL Central, it’s the Pirates, Brewers and Cubs in first, second and third, respectively. And in the powerhouse NL West, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks remain locked in a close race, with LA half a game ahead as of this posting.
10. At least we have Aaron Rodgers
The air is slowly coming out of the balloon for those of us who hoped that New York City might finally regain its relevance in sports. In the NHL, the Isles and the Rangers fell in Round 1 of the playoffs. The Yankees and Mets are at or near the bottom of their divisions. And the Knicks are not looking so good against the Heat in the NBA conference semifinals series. Ugh!!!
Our Sports Desk reminds us, though, that there’s still reason to hope. The newest star in the New York sports firmament is the New York Jets’ Aaron Rodgers. He has shown up at Rangers and Knicks home games, his confident grin giving everyone a much-needed shot in the arm. The NFL season is still months away. Ask most Gotham sports fans, and they’ll say that it can’t get here soon enough.
Weekly Top sports news headlines and major events to know: May 7, 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.