Back again, and the Lakers recovered from Game 3’s unexpected loss to win Game 4 and take a commanding 3-1 advantage over the Miami Heat. The Lakers won on the defensive end, with Anthony Davis showcasing his skills while leading the effort against a motivated but overmatched Jimmy Butler. During the regular season, L.A.’s defense ranked among the best in the NBA. However, the Lakers haven’t quite lived up to that reputation within the Orlando bubble. Last night, Davis and company exhibited its potential as a shut-down defensive team. Now, the Heat need to win three straight beginning on Friday, or the team’s incredible playoff run is over, and the LeBron James and the Lakers will be NBA Champions.
On Monday night, the Cam Newton-less New England Patriots put up a valiant effort against the defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs in defeat. The Patriots defense held Kansas City without a touchdown until late in the third quarter—a near-impossible feat considering the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes. New England’s defensive effort was incredibly impressive, and it underscores the Patriots’ place among the AFC contenders with a healthy Newton under center. Newton’s status for Week 5 against the Denver Broncos remains unknown. The Chiefs (4-0) will host the Las Vegas Raiders (2-2) on Sunday.
In the night-cap on Monday night, the Green Bay Packers benefitted from another dazzling showing from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Despite the absence of receiver Davante Adams, Rodgers was once again brilliant, making a star of tight end Robert Tonyan (six grabs, 98 yards, three touchdowns). Green Bay’s pass rush was also excellent, routinely pressuring Matt Ryan, with Za’Darius Smith racking up multiple pressures and sacks in the contest. Green Bay heads into its bye week at 5-0, while the Falcons are still searching for a win with a match-up against the Carolina Panthers (2-2) on tap for Week 5.
Baseball’s postseason had a full slate of games on Tuesday, with the Atlanta Braves kicking things off with an offensive explosion against the Miami Marlins. Starter Max Fried had a rare off-day on the mound, but his teammates lifted him with a nine run-effort. In a best-of-five series, Game 2 is a relative must-win for the Marlins. Two exciting young hurlers will square off as Pablo Lopez looks to lead Miami against Ian Anderson. Anderson has the pedigree of being a former first-round pick and highly-touted prospect, but Lopez—though unheralded—established himself as one of baseball’s better pitchers in 2020.
Elsewhere in the National League, the Dodgers took a 1-0 lead over the Padres following a solid yet unspectacular performance from starter Walker Buehler, who struck out eight across four innings. San Diego turned to Mike Clevinger on the mount, but the star struggled in his return from injury, exiting after recording only three outs while seemingly battling through the elbow impingement that forced him to miss the Wild Card round. San Diego will turn to Chris Paddack for today’s Game 2, and the Padres need a better showing from the youngster than he delivered against the Cardinals in the first round. Veteran Clayton Kershaw will take the bump for L.A.
Tampa Bay evened its series with the Yankees on Tuesday night despite a pair of homer runs from New York slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The Rays withstood a fight from the power-laden Yankees lineup, holding on for the win. New York struck out 18 times in the game, a post-season history record for a nine-inning contest. Today’s Game 3 is pivotal, and it will be a match-up of veterans on the mound as Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees is countered by Charlie Morton of the Rays.
Rounding out the match-ups, the Houston Astros sit with a 2-0 advantage of the Oakland A’s thanks to a pair of home runs from George Springer and an excellent outing for Framber Valdez on the mound. The A’s are backed against the wall in need of a three-game winning streak to avoid elimination. Oakland is turning to rookie left-hander Jesus Luzardo for Game 3’s must-win contest. Houston is countering with Jose Urquidy due to continued arm issues for veteran Zack Greinke.