By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and Boston’s already slim playoff chances took a massive hit on Monday night with news that All-Star Jaylon Brown will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ligament in his wrist. The Celtics, likely heading to the Eastern Conference play-in tournament, were unlikely to contend for a championship even with Brown, but entering the postseason without him dooms the team to an even earlier exit. Depending on match-ups, Boston may not even escape the play-in tournament.
Portland has likely cemented its place outside of the play-in tournament thanks to a four-game winning streak, and the Blazers will look to make it five straight in a must-watch showdown against the top-seeded Jazz tonight. The Blazers are rounding into form following the return of center Jusuf Nurkic and the integration of trade deadline acquisition Norman Powell. Portland’s defense remains a work-in-progress, but as long as Damian Lillard’s shot is falling and the supporting cast stays healthy, the Blazers are going to be a tough beat in the playoffs.
Los Angeles needed overtime, but the Lakers managed to post a short-handed win over the Knicks in a Tuesday-night thriller. The upset win for the Lakers pushes the team to within one game of the Dallas Mavericks in the quest to avoid the Western Conference play-in tournament. Dallas, coming off a loss to the Grizzlies on Tuesday, has three remaining games (Pelicans, Raptors, Timberwolves). Los Angeles faces the Rockets, Pacers, and Pelicans to close out the season.
In a potential first-round playoff preview, the Golden State Warriors notched an upset win over the Phoenix Suns. More shocking than the win itself is that the Warriors accomplished the feat despite a less-than-dominant showing from MVP candidate Stephen Curry. Instead, Andrew Wiggins (38 points) and Draymond Green (11 points, 10 boards, 11 dimes) led the way for Golden State. The Warriors are fighting the Grizzlies for the eight-seed in the West, while Phoenix enters the final few days of the regular season sandwiched between the top-seeded Jazz and three-seed Clippers.
Luke Voit was activated from the injured list by the New York Yankees on Tuesday. The slugging first baseman has been sidelined since late March following knee surgery. Though far from a household name, Voit is a vital part of New York’s offense, having led baseball with 22 home runs during the abbreviated 2020 season. The Yankees offense has been a disappointment this season. Adding Voit’s power back into the lineup will significantly boost the team’s effort to turn things around.
Padres superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has tested positive for COVID-19, sending him to the sidelines for at least the next week-plus. Tatis has already missed time this season due to injury, so San Diego has a backup plan in place, though replacing Tatis’s production is far from easy. Joining Tatis Jr. on the sidelines is outfielder Wil Myers, who also tested positive. At least three other San Diego position players will be out for a game or two due to contact tracing. San Diego enters the day two games behind the Giants for first place in the NL West.
In his first start since a stint on the sidelines with a back issue, Mets ace right-hander Jacob deGrom is headed to the IL. Though an MRI revealed no structural damage, the Mets have to be extra cautious with the two-time Cy Young winner. Across six starts and 40 innings, deGrom boasts a 0.68 ERA and career-best marks in K/9 (14.63) and BB/9 (1.58). Getting deGrom healthy is paramount to New York’s chances of contending in the NL East.
Arguably baseball’s best outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic is set to join the Seattle Mariners. Acquired in a steal of a deal last off-season with the New York Mets, Kelenic has established himself as a superstar prospect, bashing a pair of home runs in his Triple-A debut last week. Long-term, Kelenic projects as a plus hitter with solid power and strong defense in right field. There will likely be some growing pains, but Kelenic deserves every bit of hype that will come courtesy of his big-league debut.