It’s been 11 long years since we’ve been able to say this: We have a Phoenix Suns playoff game to watch! Although the official playoff schedule isn’t out yet, we expect the Suns to tip off at some point next weekend against the winner of Wednesday’s play-in tournament game between the L.A. Lakers and Golden State Warriors. Let’s ramp up the intensity with our five biggest takeaways from the weekend in sports.
1. Suns earn No. 2 seed in Western Conference.
The Phoenix Suns had an outside chance to claim the top seed overall in the West, but they never got the loss from Utah they needed. The Suns did take care of business this past week to close out the regular season with a thrilling 118-117 win over Portland on Thursday, a 140-103 blowout over San Antonio on Saturday and an E’Twaun Moore buzzer–beater-enabled 123-121 win over the Spurs on Sunday.
Big Takeaway: Fans got a taste of what playoff intensity is like when the Suns outlasted the Blazers on Thursday. Portland came in as a desperate team that wanted to win to clinch the No. 6 seed in the playoffs and the Suns were without starting center Deandre Ayton. The Suns showed they can stand up in high-pressure, playoff-like intense situations and come out on top. Phoenix will face either the Lakers (Lebron James/Anthony Davis) or the Warriors (Steph Curry) in the first round of the playoffs. We’re excited to wear out the edge of our seats watching!
2. Cardinals schedule has many benefits.
The NFL schedule release last week gave us a look at how the 2021 season shapes up week-to-week for the Arizona Cardinals. The big highlights are the three prime-time games at home including a Christmas night against Indianapolis.
Big Takeaway: The Cardinals are very lucky to have these prime-time night games at home, especially a Monday night game against the L.A. Rams in Week 14 (the Cardinals have lost eight straight to the Rams). Weeks 1 and 2 also shape up nicely for the defense because they face big, powerful running backs Derrick Henry (Tennessee) and Dalvin Cook (Minnesota) early in the season when players are fresh and relatively healthy. Henry is legendary for running over defenses late in the season when players are tired, nicked and banged up and don’t want to tackle him. While the schedule sets up nicely, it’s still up to the players and coaches to show they can perform late in the season because they spoiled a good start in 2020 by losing five of the last seven games to miss out on the playoffs.
3. Injury bug strikes struggling Diamondbacks.
After losing six straight on the previous road trip, the Arizona Diamondbacks did not fare well on the seven–game homestand last week, going 3-4 against the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals. Injury was literally added to insult as more players hit the injured list, notably catcher Carson Kelly (broken toe) and starting pitcher Zac Gallen (elbow). Luke Weaver may soon join them after leaving Sunday’s start early with a shoulder issue.
Big Takeaway: Injuries are hitting this team way too hard this season. The D-Backs have already lost these several key starters for extended time: IF/OF Ketel Marte, RF Kole Calhoun, 3B Asdrubel Cabrera, 1B Christian Walker and SP Taylor Widener. The loss of Marte has hurt the most, but he figures to make a rehab start in the minors this week and hopefully returns to the club soon. If Carson Kelly and Zac Gallen miss significant time, it’s hard to imagine this team competing at all the rest of the season.
4. Whirlwind Golf Club opens to #LetThemPlay
Barstool Sports, the Thunderbirds and Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass are all reportedly stepping up to host a NCAA Div. I Women’s Golf Regional qualifier this week in Chandler after the event’s original date in Louisiana was cancelled. The NCAA deemed a golf course in Baton Rouge as “playable but not up to championship level” due to rain last week, effectively cancelling the 12-team regional and giving the top six seeded teams an automatic entry into the national finals at Scottsdale’s Grayhawk Golf Club later this month. Barstool’s resident golf guru and Arizona resident Sam Riggs Bozoian went to work on behalf of the women golfers to get the Let Them Play Classic up and running.
Big Takeaway: The NCAA’s decision to cancel the Louisiana event despite having a playable course is wildly careless and indefensible. Several golfer’s college careers came to an abrupt end because of that call. However, it’s comforting to know there are heroes (Barstool, Whirlwind and the Thunderbirds) living here in our own backyard trying to make it right.
5. Beers inside baseball bats wins the weekend on the internet.
Here’s a cool photo that went viral over the weekend, a one–dollar beer inside a baseball bat shaped container at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans minor league baseball game.
Big Takeaway: We’re having a hard time deciding what we like most about this: the bat or the dollar–priced beer. Also, minor league baseball is back after the pandemic wiped out all of the 2020 season. Everything in this photo is a win.