All the talk ahead of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals centered around, and rightfully so, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks, respectively. And while neither man was poor, in fact each was exemplary, it was a third party that rose up and surprised us to be the star man on the night. That man ended up being Brook Lopez, an unsung hero in the middle of the paint for the Bucks all season long. On this night at home, he would score 29 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter to help his team overturn a seven point deficit at the beginning of the period on the way to a 108-100 victory. The big man wasn’t just good in the paint, he was also lethal from beyond the arc, knocking down a late three-pointer to effectively seal the game up and ensure his team went up 1-0 in the series. Giannis added 24 points, 14 boards, and six assists of his own, while the game’s high scorer was Leonard with 31 points. Ten of those came from the charity stripe, with him failing to miss a single free throw in the opening game of the series.
The ‘Baby’ Braves once again look like they have a young star to pin their hopes on for the future in Austin Riley after the 22 year-old outfielder belted a home run on his debut on Wednesday night in Atlanta against the St. Louis Cardinals in a 4-0 win. His smashing drive, which gave the Braves a 2-0 advantage, was met by a sense of inevitability as the Cards outfielders didn’t even bother to move. He had come into the game having homered 15 times in AAA already, so the power is certainly there from him and should complement what is already a well above average young ball club. Mike Saroka continued his strong showings from the mound, giving up just three miserly hits in seven innings to improve to 4-1 on the season.
Game 3 of the Western Conference Playoffs in the NHL failed to disappoint on Wednesday night, living up to the lofty expectations this season’s run to the Stanley Cup have given us, as the San Jose Sharks took back home ice with a 5-4 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues far from home. But it was not without controversy, as a hand pass by Timo Meier, one of the unmistakable stars of this postseason, was not called in the lead up to Erik Karlsson’s winner. That was the second of his goals on the night and proved to be enough to give his team what could be a vital 2-1 edge in the series. David Perron scored twice for the Blues in the loss, while Joe Thornton also had two goals and an assist for the Sharks.