With four games in six days to close out the 2020-21 regular season, the finish will come with a flurry for the Phoenix Suns. That tops our look at the five biggest takeaways from the weekend in sports.
1. Did the Suns hold something back against the Lakers?
Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis dominated the Phoenix Suns Sunday night, scoring 42 points in a 123-110 win at Staples Center. With the loss, Phoenix now sits two full games behind Utah for the top overall seed in the Western Conference. The win for L.A. moves them only a game behind Portland for the 6th seed in the West, which is important because the top six teams in each conference avoid the new play-in tournament that determines the 7 and 8 seeds.
Big Takeaway: Not that we’re wearing tin foil hats over here, but the conspiracy thinker in us might wonder if the Suns are thinking strategically for their first round playoff matchup. They’d much rather face a Trail Blazers or Warriors team than the Lakers. Did they intentionally lose a game? No way. Did they not show their best hand against a potential first round playoff opponent? Likely yes, although good luck trying to stop Anthony Davis on any night when he’s playing like that.
2. Diamondbacks go 0-for-road trip.
The Arizona Diamondbacks seemed to be cruising along in high gear at the end of April, winning 10 of 13 to close out the month and begin the May portion of the schedule. They crashed into a brick wall this past week, losing all six games of an East Coast road trip and scoring only 12 runs total. The frustration showed Sunday when infielder Eduardo Escobar and manager Torey Lovullo both got ejected.
Big Takeaway: The Diamondbacks were flat out not competitive against a bad Miami Marlins team and then got shut down by the New York Mets dominant pitching staff. One bad week won’t derail a season, but as we saw in 2020, two will. The D-Backs are back home for four against Miami and three against the Washington Nationals this week. They have to answer with a winning home stand or this season will quickly go sideways. The good news is starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner has looked like the ace in four straight starts. He’ll likely start Tuesday and Sunday on this home stand.
3. Coyotes and Rick Tocchet part ways.
After missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons under his direction, the Arizona Coyotes and head coach Rick Tocchet agreed to part ways on Sunday. Tocchet’s contract was due to expire at the end of June. This ends his four year run as head coach, compiling a record of 125-131-34 in 290 games.
Big Takeaway: Tocchet did the best he could with very limited talent to make the Coyotes competitive again. Remember, this is a franchise that has one playoff appearance since 2012, and that happened last year in the pandemic rearranged season where they won a qualifying series to get into the post-season despite being 11th overall in the conference standings in the regular season. Tocchet has the chops to be a very good head coach in the NHL for years to come – he just never had the players to get it done here in the desert.
4. Cardinals finally get a realistic draft grade.
CBS Sports NFL writer Pete Prisco released his revamped grades for the NFL Draft – from 2018! Three years later, he flipped on his initial reaction, downgrading the Cardinals from a B+ to a D.
Big Takeaway: Three years after a draft is really the only way draft grades should be taken seriously. There were few people who viewed the Josh Rosen pick as a colossal failure when it first happened back on draft day in 2018. Major props to Prisco for looking back on his own work and correcting his takes. If only the Arizona Cardinals could learn to do the same.
5. True (promotional) love is dead.
The internet fell in love with the Diamondbacks Twitter thread about two fans on a second date last Saturday. However, after a week of virtually collecting attention and free tickets to sporting events across the Valley, the YouTube content creator known as MBoneHD announced there would be no more dates with the young lady he was courting.
Big Takeaway: The story went viral when it started with a tweet from fellow YouTuber BuckArmy, who has 111,000 subscribers. MBoneHD’s Let’s Talk Sports channel has 116,000 subs. The couple also attended a Coyotes game last week then were offered tickets from the Cardinals, Phoenix Raceway and GCU Men’s Basketball in addition to all the free media attention they got. MBoneHD probably got what he wanted in the end, even if he didn’t get the girl.