Need to Know Sports: May 5, 2015

I’m introducing a new thing this week. It’s called Need to Know Sports and its a daily email that answers the question, “What do I need to know about sports today?” Whether you’re someone who needs to know everything about sports to feel alive or someone who views sports as being strictly on a need to know basis, this is a good way to start your day.

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Here’s a preview of today’s edition.

Subject: Need to know sports: May 5, 2015

Dear Sports Fan,
What do I need to know about sports today?

Today’s Top Stories

CHICAGO TAKES GAME ONE FROM CLEVELAND: The most intriguing game on yesterday’s sports lineup was Game One of the NBA series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. That these teams would meet in the playoffs has seem fated since the day LeBron James announced he was returning to Cleveland and fans have been anticipating it ever since. The plot became even more compelling when the Cavaliers lost two key players: Kevin Love to a shoulder injury which required surgery and J.R. Smith to a suspension. This focused the narrative even closer on LeBron James and whether his personal brilliance would be enough to carry his team past the Bulls. For one night at least, the answer was no, as the Bulls beat the Cavaliers 99-92.

THE FLOYD MAYWEATHER VS. MANNY PACQUIAO STORIES ARE ROLLING IN: Despite the pedestrian nature of the fight itself, the atmosphere around the fight and the stories that have sprung from it are quite enjoyable to read. This isn’t surprising. Most of my fondness for boxing comes from having read about it, not actually witnessed it. Maybe that’s the secret to enjoying this brutal sport — don’t watch it, read about it. If you do choose to do that, here are three stories to read: Eric Nusbaum’s Vice Article in which he concludes from having seen the fight first-hand, that it was “only the Fight of the Century until they got in the ring.” Bryan Curtis of Grantland asks, “Has there ever been a once-in-a-lifetime sporting event that made everyone feel worse than Mayweather-Pacquiao?” Grantland also sent writer Rafe Bartholomew to watch the fight, not in Vegas, but in the Philippines where Pacquiao is a congressperson and the country’s biggest celebrity.

Yesterday’s Games, Today’s Conversations

National Basketball Association – As covered above, the Chicago Bulls beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 99-92. The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Houston Rockets 117-101 in Game One of their series last night. This was despite playing without their point guard and arguably their best player, Chris Paul. Line: Sometimes missing an important player for one game can provide a spark. It’s missing him for the second and third games that’s more difficult. When will Chris Paul be back?

National Hockey League – The Washington Capitals beat the New York Rangers, 1-0 in another one of these low-scoring playoff games that’s becoming the norm this year. This puts the Capitals up 2-1 in the series. Line: “Game one (when the Capitals scored a goal with less than two seconds left to win the game) was a killer. It just feels like the Caps have the upper hand.”

International Men’s Ice Hockey – USA/Russia – Do you believe in mild surprises? That’s what happened today as the USA beat Russia 4-2. Russia never led the game but they were coming on in the third period and it felt like if they had had another 20 minutes, they might have caught up. It’s just the group round of the tournament, so these teams may meet again. Line: “This US team is an interesting mix of veteran NHL players and up and coming college or junior players. They’re fun to watch and root for!

Today’s Sports Forecast

NHL Hockey

Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild, 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network: This is it for the Wild. Okay, it’s not really it, it. If they lost this one, they wouldn’t be eliminated from the playoffs, but they might as well be because they’d be down 3-0 to the team that’s knocked them out of the playoffs in both of the last two years.

Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET on USA: The Flames are in the exact same position as the Wild. Lose and they’ll be down 3-0. Win and they’re right back in the series.

NBA Basketball

Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks, 8 p.m. ET on TNT: The Wizards shocked the Hawks by winning Game One of this series in Atlanta. They’ve now won five games in a row and haven’t lost in the playoffs. The Hawks, brilliant in the regular season, have been anything but that in the playoffs so far. Is this the night the Hawks recapture their mojo? We’ll see.

Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT: The big story of this game will be whether Grizzlies point guard, Mike Conley Jr. can play. If he does, he’ll be playing with a mask to protect his broken face. Some players have seemed to take power from these masks, so much so that at least one player, Rip Hamilton, wore his mask for the rest of his career.

MLB Baseball

Baltimore Orioles at New York Mets, 7 p.m. ET on regional cable: Is the bloom starting to fall off the rose that has been the Mets early in the baseball season? They’re still in first place of their division but they’ve lost five of their last six games. They’ll be trusting 41 year-old Bartolo Colon with the start against the Orioles.

Champions League Soccer

Real Madrid at Juventus, 2:45 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1: In the draw to choose opponents for the Champions League semifinals, three of the remaining four teams, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid were probably all hoping to play Juventus. It’s no big insult to the italian team but they’re just a tiny cut below the other semifinalists. Real got the lucky draw but today we’ll get our first chance to see just how lucky it was. Juventus is no joke and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them pull an upset today on home soil.

Verisimilitude (or How to Sound Like a Sports Native)

If you’re looking for a little rage this morning, read Jane McManus‘ jaw-dropping and yet totally expected column about how shoddy NFL teams’ vetting process for draftees is… still, even after last season’s Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson fiascos. Meanwhile, somewhere in Pennsylvania, a sporting goods store is offering $10 insurance on any Eagles jersey they sell. If the player gets traded or cut, you can get another jersey for 50% of the normal cost. It’s a bad deal, but good commentary on the hyper-active Eagles’ offseason. Aaron Gordon of Vice Sports did a highly unscientific (and slightly tipsy) analysis of the words used by NFL draft analysts/commentators during the draft. Surprise, surprise, there’s a revealing racial bias. Check out this interview with one of the people behind the documentary, Bounce. It made me want to see it, what about you?

Thanks for reading,
Ezra Fischer

Photo of Bert and Earnie by See-ming Lee.

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