The right shoulder of Suns point guard Chris Paul and now the left groin of Lakers forward Anthony Davis are among the most important storylines emerging from the weekend in sports. Here are our five big takeaways from the holiday weekend.
Lakers’ star big man unlikely to play Game 5.
Anthony Davis is reportedly unlikely to play Tuesday night in Game 5 of the Suns-Lakers first round playoff series (tied 2-2) due to a left groin strain, and his status is unclear for the rest of the series. Davis fell to the ground hard late in the second quarter during Game 4 on Sunday, and missed the remainder of the game. Without Davis on the court, the Suns took control of the game, leading by double digits most of second half and evened the series to win back the home court advantage.
Big Takeaway: This is devastating for the Lakers and a huge advantage for the Suns. Even though L.A. still has LeBron James on the court, Davis is the key for everything they do offensively and defensively, as evidenced by his poor performance in Game 1 (Suns win) and not being on the court in Game 4 (Suns win). He’s an impossible matchup and dominates any game he feels like. Even if he’s able to play, he won’t be anywhere near 100 percent, so you have to like the Suns chances to emerge victorious in two of the next three games.
Chris Paul trending in the right direction.
While the Lakers’ star player injury is trending down, Chris Paul’s shoulder appears to be steadily improving game by game. On Sunday, Paul led the Suns in scoring with 18 points and chipped in 9 assists and three steals. It was by far his best game of the series, but he nearly didn’t get the chance to play, as he explained in the postgame interview.
Big Takeaway: Put this clip in the dictionary next to the word leadership. Paul’s 32 minutes on the floor in Game 4 were effective and impactful and not like any of the gameplay we saw from him since his injury in Game 1. Paul’s shoulder is reportedly improving every day and now the Suns have all the momentum in this series. Game 5 tips off at 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Buckle in!
Fans are back and it’s mostly good, but some are behaving badly.
NBA teams are allowing more and more fans to return to arenas post-pandemic. The roar of the crowd is beautiful to hear again. However, we’ve seen a few incidents of ugly behavior. A New York Knicks fan has reportedly been banned for life from Madison Square Garden for spitting at Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young. A Philadelphia 76ers fan dumped popcorn on Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook as he was headed back to the locker room for treatment on an injury. A Boston Celtics fan was arrested for throwing a water bottle at Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving after Irving stomped on the Celtics logo at mid-court. And finally, a fan in Washington was apprehended for running on to the court during the game. Watch the security guard tackle him here.
Big Takeaway: Living through pandemic lockdowns have changed a lot of us for better or worse, but fans have always acted like this. These four incidents are four people out of tens of thousands who attended playoff games last week. Dumb behavior has happened before and it will happen again.
NBA broadcasters will be back in arenas soon.
Marc Stein of The New York Times reports the TNT network will have its announcing crews back inside NBA arenas to broadcast playoff games starting on Wednesday night. It marks the end of remote broadcasting for TNT, something that has irked a lot of TV viewers since sports resumed after COVID cancellations.
Big Takeaway: This is a long overdue move for the cable channel that carries the bulk of these early playoff games. Broadcasters in the arena see so much more of the action than they do from home or some off-site studio. There’s been too much guessing on calls, lack of crowd noise and delayed reaction that has made the viewing experience awkward for many.
Diamondbacks end losing skid, then run into deGrom.
The Arizona Diamondbacks ended a 13-game losing streak with a nice 9-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Their reward was facing the best pitcher in baseball on Monday, and New York’s Jacob deGrom shut them down for six innings, allowing two hits and striking out eight. The D-Backs not only struggled at the plate, they gave us an all-time bonehead blooper on an easy fly ball that dropped between outfielders Ketel Marte and David Peralta.
Big Takeaway: How bad was the month of May for the D-Backs? Five wins. That’s it. Five wins and 24 losses. Arizona went from two games above .500 to 17 games below in one calendar month. It may be too early to start comparing this team to the 2004 team that went 51-111, but the comps will come eventually. At least the losing streak ended at 13 games.