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"The Stack" 5-17-16

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook clearly looked to have traveled in last night's opening game of the western conference finals against the Golden State Warriors. The referees did not make the call and the Thunder would win 108-102 to win game one. Some bad officiating in these NBA Playoffs. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook clearly looked to have traveled in last night's opening game of the western conference finals against the Golden State Warriors. The referees did not make the call and the Thunder would win 108-102 to win game one. Some bad officiating in these NBA Playoffs.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Sidney Crosby's game-winning goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the eastern conference finals. It was Crosby's first goal in nine games.
Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports
 

We’re heading down the stretch of playoff season in the NBA and NHL.  Fewer headlines throughout the world of sports so that means “the stack” will eventually be going to two to three posts a week for the summer.  The Stack is here though with playoff reaction from last night so let’s get right to “the stack” for today, Tuesday, May 17th:

 

Thunder shock Warriors, steal game one

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder won their first game of the season against the Golden State Warriors and in doing so sent a message and perhaps set the tone for the season with the 108-102 win in game one of the western conference finals, but the big storyline of this one is another missed call by the refs late in the game.  Up 105-102, Russell Westbrook got the ball and made it across halfcourt and clearly slid his feet as he tried to stop and call a timeout.  It was an obvious travel.  The ref though granted Westbrook the timeout.  The ref was trailing the play so he should have been able to see the travel.  It’s impossible to say that the Warriors would have tied the game on a three on the ensuing possession.  They did not play well in this game.  They had a 13 point lead early in the second quarter and at the half.  Westbrook and Durant though played really well in the second half as did Steven Adams who chipped in with 16 points.  This was not the Warriors best effort.  Maybe the long layoff had something to do with it.  You have to give the Thunder a ton of credit for coming back and making the necessary adjustments.  At the end of the day they won this game, but they certainly received a boost from the terrible non-call in this game and the horrendous officiating we’ve seen in the playoffs this year.  The eastern conference finals start tonight after the NBA Draft Lottery special at 8 PM ET on ESPN.

 

Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers 8:30 PM ET ESPN

 

Penguins even series up with Lightning

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins came out in game two like gangbusters, realizing the importance of the game and knowing they couldn’t go down to Tampa trailing 2-0 in the series.  They peppered Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy with shots from the moment the puck dropped.  In fact, the Lightning would have been out of this game really early if it wasn’t for some phenomenal saves by Vasilevskiy.  The Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead less than halfway through the first period and it could have been more.  The Penguins looked like they would make it more with a couple of powerplays later in the first period, but the Lightning killed both penalties and moments after those kills, the Lightning scored goals.  What looked like a game bound to be a Penguins victory was tied 2-2 after the first period and the energy was sucked out of the building.  The Penguins applied plenty of pressure in the third period getting a number of scoring chances, but Vasilevskiy would deny them each and every time.  To overtime we would go and finally Sidney Crosby, suffering through an eight game goalless drought would end said drought by scoring 40 seconds into overtime after the Penguins forced a turnover and Bryan Rust set up Crosby perfectly to get it past Vasilevksiy on the short side.  Penguins win 3-2 and the series is tied 1-1.  Huge relief for the Penguins.  They can take a game down in Tampa regardless of if their fans can come in with their Penguins jerseys on or not.  Going back to Crosby, I guess his goal makes it all that more remarkable the Penguins are even in this position.  He didn’t score a goal in the Washington Capitals series and the Penguins still won the series.  Shows how much depth this team has and how many other guys are stepping up.  Game two of the western conference finals is tonight in St. Louis.

 

San Jose Sharks @ St. Louis Blues 8 PM ET NBCSN (Blues lead series 1-0)

 

Bills injury concerns

 

The Buffalo Bills’ hopes of winning the AFC East are slim going into the season and injury news to two first round picks Monday did nothing to change that for the better.  If anything, they are even more slim now after it was revealed that rookie linebacker Shaq Lawson and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (both Clemson guys) have undergone or will undergo surgery to deal with a shoulder and broken foot respectfully.  Watkins underwent surgery on his broken foot three weeks ago and the team is confident he will be ready for the start of the regular season.  Like we’ve seen though in the past with Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons and Dez Bryant last year with the Dallas Cowboys, the foot injury might result in Watkins not being his same explosive self that we’ve seen in previous seasons.  The Bills have to be holding their breath that Watkins will come out of this just fine.  Lawson had told teams prior to the draft that he wouldn’t need surgery on his shoulder heading into the season, but after aggravating making a swim move on a tackling dummy, he will now be sidelined 5-6 months after his surgery.  Not good news for the Bills or for head coach Rex Ryan who may be in a make-it-or-break-it year.

 

Coming up Wednesday: NBA & NHL Playoff reaction plus the NBA Lottery winner and more


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