AP Photo/John Raoux
"Hey Jameer, I'd be in a rush too if I had to make up a 20-point deficit."
If you're a casual pro hoops or hockey fan, this is the weekend where stuff just got real as the NBA and NHL playoffs switched to conference finals mode. Meanwhile, the second leg of Thoroughbred Racing's Triple Crown saw a winner, tennis' biggest rivalry got back on track and several streaks went snap on the baseball diamond.
You Can't Keep a Good Low Seed Down
Apparently regular season records and playoff seeds don't mean a thing in the NHL anymore. On Friday the Flyers overcame a three-goal hole to beat the Bruins in Boston, simultaneously wrangling themselves out of a three-game deficit in the process. Game, series Philly. On Sunday the Men In Orange faced off against Montreal, making it the first time a 7th and 8th seed have faced each other in the Conference Finals. Riding Friday's momentum, the Flyers embarrassed the Canadiens 6-0. No rest for the wicked? No problem. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks managed to poach Game 1 of their series against the Sharks thanks to the glove and stick of Antti Niemi. If he wasn't such a stellar goalie, he'd make an excellent intergalactic bounty hunter.
What Was That About Old and Slow?
Thanks to three series' sweeps, the only game on the NBA Playoff docket was Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. A younger, deeper Magic team was supposed to put those wily Celtics to pasture, but Ray Allen proved he still had the sweet touch. Boston led by as much as 20 points before Vince Carter realized that just because Orlando hadn't lost in a month, it wasn't time to mail it in. Despite the rally the Celtics took Game 1, 92-88.
Dude, That's My Preakness
On Saturday ladies in outrageous hats and other horse racing enthusiasts gathered at Pimlico for the 135th running of The Preakness Stakes. Owner Bob Baffert took a gamble by swapping out his jockey for 25-year-old Martin Garcia, a Triple Crown rookie who'd eventually ride the appropriately-dubbed Lookin At Lucky to victory as they held off second-place finisher First Dude. Unfortunately, Lookin won't be running in Belmont, leaving First Dude first place in our hearts to win on name awesomeness alone.
Admit It Rog, You Missed Him
Rafael Nadal stared down his old nemesis Roger Federer at the Madrid Masters on Sunday. Given that he was on native soil clay, it shouldn't have been a surprise that Nadal won in straight sets. We suppose this means that Rafa's back to full strength and signals plenty of trouble for Roger and the rest of the field coming into the French Open. Meanwhile, in a less illustrious straight-set loss, Venus Williams couldn't withstand the onslaught of France's unseeded Aravane Rezai. Perhaps Venus was just too preoccupied wondering how Serena's boyfriends' movie, Just Wright, was going to open at the box office?
It's Hard Out There for a Pitcher
Cliff Lee joins Zack Greinke in the "What did I do to deserve this?" club after the Mariners choked away another late-game lead, leaving the former Phillies ace with a 1-2 record despite a 2.08 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. Roy Oswalt (2-5 W-L, 2.62 ERA) had the terrible luck to fall 2-1 on Saturday, (no) thanks to the undefeated Tim Lincecum. Meanwhile, Twins DH Jason Kubel tagged Mariano Rivera with a grand slam. The closer hadn't allowed a run this year. Rivera also surrendered his fourth career bases loaded walk.
His Kingdom for a Gallon of Gas
Kyle Busch continued his winning ways at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, taking his second race of the weekend in the Sprint Cup Series event. Jimmie Johnson was hit with a speeding penalty on that final pit stop. Busch would've sealed a trifecta by taking the Trucks Series race, but ran out of fuel short of the finish line. Can't sweep 'em all, we guess.
Down to the Wire
A timely strike from Diego Milito gave Inter Milan Italy's Serie A title, while two goals from Lionel Messi ensured Barcelona would repeat as La Liga champs over Real Madrid. Now that the major pro clubs are done for the season, can the World Cup come any sooner?