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Basketball

🏀WNBA, NBA Playoffs in Home Stretch

October 01, 2020
SOURCE: NBA/TWITTER
SOURCE: NBA/TWITTER

The GIST: We’re only one game into the NBA Finals, and though we’re already hoping this series goes a full seven, the LA Lakers may wrap it up a lot sooner.

Tell me everything!: With President Obama, Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade sitting courtside (virtually, of course), the Miami Heat and LA Lakers kicked off the highly anticipated NBA Finals with a one-sided highlight reel. The Heat came out hot, at one point leading the Lakers 25–12, but it didn’t last long.

  • The Lakers were up by 17 at the half, and thanks to unreal performances by Anthony Davis, who put up 34 points, and LeBron James, who did this, the Lakers took Game 1 with a 116–98 win. Unfortunately for the Heat, they lost the game and Goran Dragić, who left in the first half with a foot injury. Ouch. Game 2 tips off tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET.

What about the W?: League MVP A’ja Wilson led the Las Vegas Aces with 23 points in Tuesday night’s 66–63 do-or-die Game 5 win over the Connecticut Sun.

  • With the win, Wilson became the fifth-straight season MVP to make it to the Finals, and all four who came before her went on to win the championship. Foreshadowing? Maybe.
     
  • But Wilson and the Aces will be in a tough matchup against a stacked Seattle Storm squad led not only by former MVP Breanna Stewart but also WNBA legend Sue Bird, who after an injury-filled 2019 season will be looking to repeat on their 2018 WNBA title. Catch Game 1 of the five-game series tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET.
🏀🏈

Podcast Episode 37: Everything you need to know about the NBA Finals

September 30, 2020
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Listen to this episode of The GIST of IT here

Ellen: What is up GISTers? Welcome to The GIST of It. I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz.

Ellen: And we're just two old pals and we're two gals and we're here to give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. So let's get right to it. Ok, Steph, so since our podcast last week, I feel like the world, as well as the sports world has changed drastically, especially in the NFL, that yesterday on Tuesday saw their first positive covid-19 test since the start of their season at the beginning of September. There might be some game postponements this week. We're not sure yet. Something we'll get to a little bit later in this conversation.

Steph: Yes, we'll definitely have to pick that conversation up again later in the podcast. Yeah, I'm with you here, Ellen. I'm a tired adult sports fan. I feel like that should be trademarked at some point. There have been so many late nights for me just to try and keep up with how everything's going. To quote one of the sportscasters, though, on Monday night in the NHL, the bubble has, quote unquote popped there.

Ellen: Ok, so that was so visual when he said that I couldn't help but think of a juicy ass pimple, you just go in and it's like pimple popping. But I was picturing the bubble popping. I don't know. Anyway, that might be too graphic. Sorry about that, but that's literally what I pictured.

Steph: I pictured a marshmallow in the campfire and it's getting bigger.

Ellen: That's really nice.

Steph: So there's no there's an alternative visual for you all out there. But yeah, huge kudos to the Tampa Bay Lightning for holding it down and winning the Stanley Cup on Monday night. They deserved it. I really, truly think they did. And it was a great game to watch the last game on Monday. 

Ellen: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. And since then there's been a couple of cool stories that have come out and one that my inner sports nerd absolutely loves, mostly because it's a relatable story and maybe for us, but also for all of our GISTers, too. John Cooper, the Tampa Bay lightning head coach- his story in terms of him becoming a head coach is just insane. So he played lacrosse in college and then he actually moved to work on Wall Street after college and ended up becoming a lawyer. And then when he was thirty two years old, he ended up just randomly volunteering to become a high school hockey coach. And he was just doing it for a friend as a favor. And then all of a sudden he just became the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning and just won a Stanley Cup. So he didn't get into hockey until he was thirty two years old, doing a friend a favor and now he's hoisting the Stanley Cup. So you just think about how that literally could be you. That could be anyone out there who just understands the game, loves the game, is great at analyzing everything and could go out there and have your dream come true. So I love that story.

Steph: I love that story, too, because every so often I Google how to become a hockey coach in Ontario, which is a province in Canada. And I dream about what it would be like to coach a girls hockey team. So I really appreciate that story.

Ellen: Oh, my gosh. We're going to see you one day behind the bench on Team Canada. I just know it, huh?

Steph: Oh, Ellen. You continue to flatter me, but I like to to gas myself up, though here. I do think at the beginning of the playoffs, Ellen, you asked me to pick one team that I thought would win the Stanley Cup. And I think I picked Tampa. And I've been so bad at predictions on the podcast that I need to just read that one into the script here today.

Ellen: Yes. Yes, you got that one. Steph. I'm very proud you went all in and you were right and it's a good thing we didn't get any money. I would've been a sore loser right now sending you twenty or forty bucks or whatever we would have done because we're cheap.

Steph: It's ok you gas me up every day anyways. But we also have horrible timing on the podcast. So apart from me having really bad predictions and while we're recording this podcast, we have some games being played. So pop on the Google, as we love to say, to see if the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA or the Las Vegas Aces are joining the very, very dominant Seattle storm in the WNBA finals. So the NHL may be over, but we are ready for the WNBA finals.

Ellen: Yeah, that Connecticut Sun and Vegas Aces series has been so much fun, so much drama, so close. I didn't expect it to be that close versus Seattle Storm just completely trounced the Minnesota Lynx. It was completely unfair. And Seattle is going to have a lot of rest coming in and waiting for whoever they'll be meeting next.

Steph: And everyone's got different theories, theories about a lot of rest, I'm sure.

Ellen: Yeah, totally.

Steph: And then the MLB postseason started last night. Hockey is out baseball is in and I might be a little bit sad about it. You know, hockey is my sport, but I'm not necessarily mad about it. I stocked up on sunflower seeds before the second lockdown happened here in the city of Toronto for the baseball postseason and Ellen, is this year going to be the year that the L.A. Dodgers finally take home the World Series?

Ellen: I think that it might be Steph and I'm sorry, I'm just picturing you sitting on your couch watching the Blue Jays against Tampa, just eating your sunflower seeds and just spitting them out into this big bowl. Just so gross. The way that baseball players spit so much, it grosses me out. But anyway, outside of you eating sunflower seeds and baseball players being gross with the way that they spit, I would like to see the Dodgers win. I feel like their pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, who's arguably one of the greatest pitchers of our time, truly deserves a World Series title. So I don't know. I hope so.

Steph: So obviously, there's a lot going on. We've kind of bounced all over the map with that one. But today, what we want to give you is the gist of everything that you need to know about the NBA finals between the L.A. Lakers and the Miami Heat. There's a lot of drama, a lot of storylines and a lot of history between these two teams. So this preview is going to be a fun one. Spicy.

Ellen: All right, so let's set the stage for the NBA finals, as you mentioned, Steph, it's the Miami Heat taking on the L.A. Lakers in the NBA bubble at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, which, oh, my gosh, these guys have been at Disney World for such a long time. And I know that Disney is supposed to be the greatest place on Earth, but God damn, I'm sure they cannot wait to get out there. They're probably just itching to get out of Disney and never come back. But anyway, Miami, of course, is representing the Eastern Conference and the L.A. Lakers are, of course, representing the Western Conference. To give you a little bit of a historic background, the Heat have won three NBA championships in their franchise history, while the Lakers are one of the most successful teams in NBA history with 16 championship rings. Ironically, two of the three championships in Miami and for the Heat were won when now Laker LeBron James played for them between 2010 and 2014.

Steph: Such a big team and a lot of drama. Wild to remember that LeBron teamed up with former Raptor Chris Bosh and Forever Heat Dwayne Wade in the decision, quote unquote, effectively forming the first power team back in 2010, also known as the Big Three. So it's going to be super interesting to see him play to see LeBron play against the Miami Heat given this matchup history and given that these teams' history.

Ellen: Yeah. Remember when that happened, there was so much hype and there was so many people waiting to see his decision. And that was back in the days when LeBron was still wearing the sweatband on his forehead and they all came out on the stage and there might have been smoke, but I might just be making that up because I love the dramatic flair. But there might have been smoke when they came out on the stage. But I do remember them all standing backwards and then turning around and being like, yeah, we're the big three. And I actually remember in that moment being like F off LeBron, like that was really annoying. I thought that it was absolutely way too showy and ridiculous. But now I do kind of like it. And I love that drama and I love that he did that. But I wonder if LeBron now, as an older LeBron is like, oh, my God, that was embarrassing. As a young LeBron.

Steph: I think he didn't bring back the sweatbands. Just bring back the sweatband. That's all I ask.

Ellen: Yes. Yes. I love the sweatband and I think it's a great look. But anyway, as you are talking about Miami, I think that another kind of layer that adds to this Laker-LeBron-Miami kind of triangle that we have here is that Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra and Miami owner Pat Riley were also the head coach and owner when LeBron was there. So they have familiarity with the kid on how he plays and how to defend him.

Steph: The GIST did post that Erik Spoelstra story on Instagram earlier this week. So in case you missed it, he did start with the franchise back in nineteen ninety five as a video coordinator. And now Eric has the team the chance to secure his third NBA championship as the head coach for the team. That's such a good story.

Ellen: So cool between him and John Cooper. They just have great coaches, stories that we're able to share with today.

Steph: So I really wanted to pull that to the forefront there. Anyways, let's talk about the players that we should be watching in the series for each team and a little bit more of the stories behind each of them. We're going to start with Miami because we think that they're the underdog and I feel a little bit less known in comparison to the players and the Lakers.

Ellen: Yes, I'd say that a lot of the Miami players, not all of them, because they're, as you said, some well-known players on there, but a lot of them have kind of come out of nowhere and been sneaky good in the bubble. They've just really come into their own. So we want us to talk about a few key players on each team. So with the Miami Heat first, let's talk about Jimmy Butler and Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. He is an interesting character. So Jimmy has played for a number of teams in the NBA. He's a former Philadelphia Seventy Sixer. And to me, he definitely plays with that chip on his shoulder in terms of a bunch of other teams dishing him around, not thinking that he's good enough, but he is. He's in the frickin NBA finals. And I think that he's totally worth all the hype and he shouldn't have been from all these other teams. And it's great to see him in the NBA finals.

Steph: My favorite Jimmy story is an off the court story. He's turned out to be a little bit of an entrepreneur in the bubble. He noticed that the Bubble hotel coffee shop had closed,  and he's been making coffee himself in his room and charging his teammates for coffee for 20 bucks a cup, each cup of coffee. He's been making merchandise. He's got the cups branded. I'm all for the Jimmy Coffee experience.

Ellen: Yeah. So funny. I saw an interview with him yesterday because it was a National Coffee Day or something like that. I'm not a coffee drinker, so I couldn't say, I drink tea. Apparently it was National Coffee Day and a lot of the media were like, hey, are you going to give your coffee away for National Coffee Day? And he was like, hell no, it's still twenty dollars. I'm not giving them coffee for free. So I just love that work.

Steph: He gave someone a free cup for a good game.

Ellen: So lucky them, but it's a big bonus. Ok, so moving along from Jimmy and his coffee experience, I'm sure he's going to allow merch for everyone to buy soon because it's just taking off so much. I want to talk about Bam Adebayo so I love Bam. He's only been in the league for a few years now. He entered the league in twenty seventeen and him and Jimmy, the two of them have basically led the heat to the finals in my opinion. I also just think it's so fun because every time he gets a bucket it's not just me, but everyone on social media is kind of like Bam! Bam just got a bucket. His name just works out so perfectly with the action that he's doing on court. It's amazing. So definitely look out for him as one of the key players for the Miami Heat. Another guy who's really come into his own is twenty year old rookie Tyler Herro. So Tyler really came out, came into his own in the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics in game four. He scored thirty seven points, which was the second most points scored by a player age twenty or younger in NBA history. And the only other person who scored more and was just as young was Magic Johnson. And to be within the same group and to be around the same name as someone like Magic Johnson is just so wild and so fun. So kudos to this twenty year old for just being lights out. I'm interested to see if he can actually keep up the intensity and be OK with the nervous energy that comes with the finals.

Steph: Mhm. Yes, I do need to interject one more time with an off the court story here, Ellen. Speaking of Herro and because you know I love a little bit of gossip, I love a little bit of pop culture mixed in with my sports. Lakers player Kyle Kuzma's ex-girlfriend Katya Elise Henry is now dating Tyler Herro. So keep an eye on the court for Kuzma and Herro's interaction dynamic. I just think this is a really juicy story that we all need to know about.

Ellen: Oh I can't wait to see the chirps or if there are any chirps that will be super exciting. I hope they get mic'd up on game or something and we could see what they say. Oh please. That would be so fun. So outside of Tyler, the last person who we wanted to talk about was Goran Dragic. He's thirty four years old, so he brings a lot of experience to the squad and he's just a super strong ball handler, one of the best point guards in the league. So keep an eye out.

Steph: Ok, we've gone through the Heat. Let's get into the Lakers key players now. First up, the next NBA superstar to suit up for the Toon Squad alongside Bugs Bunny. Of course, we have to start this section off with LeBron James, who needs no introduction. This is LeBron's first playoffs with the Lakers. But in his career, he's played in ten NBA finals, winning three of them. To put that into perspective, to put these numbers into perspective, because it's a lot to wrap my head around. What this means is LeBron has been to the finals more than twenty seven current NBA franchises. It's kind of like a chirp, I don't know.

Ellen: It's kind of sad for those other franchises. It's like, yo man, you can't do anything without this guy.

Steph: Oh, he's a Batman, you might say. If we're going to create an analogy here. So the Robin to LeBron's Batman is Anthony "The Brow" Davis. Davis is six foot ten. And he was truly phenomenal back in his college days and obviously still is now. He was first drafted to the New Orleans Pelicans and has made some serious impact since coming into the Lakers team over this past season.

Ellen: Yeah, and you know what I love about Davis, what I don't love is his unibrow. But kudos to him for rocking it and just not succumbing to me. And what I don't like about that unibrow. But anyway, what I do love about Davis is that he has such a powerful game to him and he totally leverages his height in such an incredible way. But he is also just so graceful, like he has such a nice touch around the basket. He can pull up and hit a jumper. He can pull up and hit a three. And to me, I always just think about these NBA players being so tall and so athletic and not klutzy, and yet they're graceful at the same time and they have finesse. It's just so cool to see the athleticism of these big, tall people on the strong side. But also there they have as light as a feather touches like a ballerina. And Anthony Davis has all of that.

Steph: The NBA's YouTube channel put out a twenty one minute highlight reel of Davis's time on the Lakers this past year. So there's a twenty one minute receipt to everything that just Ellen just said, if you wanted to check that one out. And we have another fresh Laker, but star Laker with Danny Green. Danny Green, he used to be with our beloved Toronto Raptors, but he could be the only player this year to go back to back in winning NBA championships, which is pretty cool. So, you know, good for you, Danny Green. And same as last year, Danny is a cold blooded killer shooting threes. So finally, my gals, that leaves us with big man Dwight Howard, who dubbed himself Superman Dwight Howard. He is also a six foot ten. Sorry. I'm sorry to sound a little bit like a Hinge profile here. I was simply stating these men's height. But of course, he is a huge presence under the basket. He's not necessarily as good as he used to be, but he's definitely good enough to still make a difference on the court.

Ellen: Yeah, I like Dwight. He's a jokester. Not someone to keep too close an eye on because he isn't making that huge impact. But he's still just so fun. And, you know, for the Lakers, Steph, we could have gone on and on. They have so much depth, it's actually scary. But outside of the depth to me that the Lakers have one thing that I'm worried about for Miami is that even though they're super skilled, they're very talented, they're excellent shooters. They're just a small team compared to L.A., the Celtics. When Miami played the Celtics, the Celtics are also a small team. And so they didn't have too many issues there. But when you have so many tall players on the Laker side of things and so many big guys, my guess would be that the Miami Heat need to lean into their bench a little bit more and we'll be starting to bring in some more of those big men. My guess would be one of those big men would be Canadian, Kelly Olynyk, long flowing blond hair. You see him on the court. He's going to have to come off the bench more often for Miami if they want to have any chance in stopping Davis, LeBron or Dwight Howard under the basket.

Steph: Mm. And even though most of these games are going to be starting at nine p.m. Eastern Time, Ellen and I am a sleepy adult, I do really want this series to go to seven games because obviously the fuck doesn't want an NBA Finals series to be going to seven games. But I also think that the Lakers do have a chance to take this in five or six games, considering especially that they did beat the Heat in the two games that they played them this regular season.

Ellen: Yeah, that's a really good point. But also devil's advocate. The second time that these guys played the Lakers only won by one basket. They only won by three points. So, you know, it could happen that Miami does actually force it to seven games. And, you know, I love LeBron. I think he's great. I love what he's been doing this year. But I also love an underdog. And I think that would be so fun to see. The Heat upset the Lakers, who the Lakers have been everyone's favorites for such a long time, including the favorites of so many celebrities. That's another thing that we need to talk about is this is a celebrity filled NBA finals. So Halsey is this low key, but now high key super avid Lakers fans, she created this burner Twitter account just to be able to go off about everything that's happening in the NBA, which I absolutely love, and then you have Snoop Dogg, too, who's just literally completely into everything that the Lakers are doing. But on the other side, Miami, there's a lot of star power, too, including DJ Khaled, and you know that he's going to be all in. So I'm also very excited. And you might be more excited because I know that you are on Twitter more than I am. But I'm excited to see how the celebrities also get into this seven game series. I think it is going to be exciting to see, you know, how they trash talk each other going back and forth.

Steph: I was just going to say, Ellen, I am 100 percent going to have my phone open and we scrolling through Twitter whenever these games are on just to see the commentary and to see what everyone else is saying. And I'm hoping that some of my favorite people pop up onto my timeline as secret Lakers fans. But, you know, fun things aside and, you know, celebrities aside, I think it's important to wrap things up here with keeping top of mind what the season was all about. And while there's so much going on on the court, of course, I think we need to tip our non-existent hats again to everything and everyone that the NBA and the WNBA have done throughout the playoffs in the fight against racial injustice. Players on each of these teams and each of these leagues have been really, really vocal throughout bubble basketball. Both of the leagues have used the real estate on their jerseys to bring attention towards racism, systemic racism and oppression, as well as police brutality. And the players, they did get together in both leagues and did a wildcat strike after unarmed black man Jacob Blake was shot seven times by police officers. And after the incredibly unjust and offensive ruling in Breonna Taylor's case, players condemned the decision, saying that the law showed no accountability for the death of Breonna Taylor, but rather accountability for the property next door. Unsurprised, these players once again pointed towards who and what the law was built to protect. And so keeping in mind the amount of work that these athletes have done this season to keep all of these issues top of mind.

Ellen: Yeah, I'm really glad that you're bringing that up, Steph, because we owe so much to these two leagues, all the players, all of the personnel, but also the leagues that have supported the players and personnel and all of the messages and everything that they have been wanting to do in order to speak up and to stand up for everything that they believe in and for everything that is truly right. It has also been incredible to see how they've also used their platform around getting people to vote and to register to vote and to vote before the election in November and to really get into the civic side of everything, too, because that is the conversation that's on top of everything and involved with everything that they've been talking about for the entire season. So I think that we just have to say a huge thank you to the W. A huge thank you to the NBA for everything that they've done. And also, we do need to say to the MLB and to the NFL that are still playing it's your turn to take the torch and move the needle into all of the progress and change that we need to be seeing and take all of this momentum from the W and the NBA and keep it moving.

Steph: Mm hmm. Yes, keep the momentum from these two leagues moving, especially since the NHL really hit the snooze button on that one.

Ellen: Ok, to close out our podcast, Steph, we are going to feature a WTF moment slash story submitted by one of our GISTers, so one of our listeners. And this week's submission comes from Lauren, who is from Nashville, Tennessee.

Steph: Tuesday morning, Lauren submitted a tweet from ESPN journalist Diana Russini, who said that a league source texted her saying, "We're shutting down Tennessee until Saturday." That followed up with a report that the Titans players and staff tested positive for covid-19.

Ellen: Yes, multiple players and multiple staff have tested positive for covid-19 on the Tennessee Titans. Of course, we still don't know who those players were, who the staff are or anything like that. And we think that Tennessee will probably keep that pretty close to their chest. They are supposed to be playing on Sunday, I believe, against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is looking like they might still play the game. But things are very up in the air right now as to whether or not they're going to play it, if they're going to host it or if they're going to travel. It's still very up in the air. And it makes me a little bit nervous.

Steph: I am holding my breath, nervous about how this is all unfolding.

Ellen: Yeah. And you know, what I want to know, Steph, is what is the NFL going to do about it? Can they pivot now to bubbles or neutral sites? Could they get a regionalized travel schedule going? Can they leverage any empty college stadiums for the next month on the West Coast while we're waiting for the PAC 12 to start playing again? What I'm nervous about is that, you know, the MLB didn't act fast enough and the MLB now is hosting the wild card series at one stadium. But then after that, they're going to this neutral site bubble system in California and Texas. So if the MLB had such a hard time with doing this, the NFL, granted has way less games, only playing on Sundays, Thursdays and Mondays. But still, I would have wanted them to change faster. So it's going to be really interesting to see how the NFL actually handles this.

Steph: Certainly can't wait for it to just go away or to treat this as an isolated incident. And this isn't going to be the only incident for sure.

Ellen: No, definitely not. So this is definitely a WTF moment. More so as of course, this was going to happen. We knew that this was going to happen. You didn't really do anything about it, but hopefully there will be change coming out of it. And for next week, we also want to hear more of your WTF moments. Again, it can be from the pro sports world, amateur sports world, or even just a WTF moment you've had in your own life and in real life, let's say, lately. So over the next week, email Steph and I at pod@thegistsports.com with your WTF moment and you may be featured on next week's podcast.

Steph: All right, sports pals. That was the gist of it from Ellen and I. Thanks so much for tuning in. If you like us, you like the pod and you want to help us get the word out, please leave us a review and give us those five stars. You can also tell your pals, your sports pals to subscribe to The GIST of It on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or Stitcher.

Ellen: Yes. And once you're done telling your friends about us, we'd love for you to check out thegistsports.com and sign up for our free twice weekly newsletter where every Monday and Thursday morning we give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world in less than five minutes. Again, you can subscribe at thegistsports.com. Otherwise Steph and I want to hear from you. We want to chat. Get in touch with us over email at pod@thegistsports.com or DM us on Instagram, @thegistnews.ca or @thegistusa. Again, I'm Ellen Hyslop,

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz.

Ellen: And this has been The GIST of It. Take care of yourselves and we'll chat next week.

🏀Miami Heat, LA Lakers to face off in NBA Finals, Starting Wednesday

September 28, 2020
SOURCE: ESPN STATS & INFO/TWITTER
SOURCE: ESPN STATS & INFO/TWITTER

The GIST: The stage is set. The LA Lakers and Miami Heat have punched their tickets to the NBA Finals.

How’d they do it?: Heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals last night, the Heat had a 3-2 lead over the Boston Celtics. Despite a close game, the Heat were unstoppable in a wild fourth quarter, putting up 37 points to win 125–113 and snag the series and the Finals berth.

What about the West?: The LA Lakers won the Western Conference title on Saturday night after knocking out the Denver Nuggets with a 117–107 Game 5 win.

  • With his 10th ticket to the Finals, superstar LeBron James becomes the fourth NBA player in history to reach double digit Finals appearances, playing in 13.5% of all NBA Finals ever (or 27.8% of the NBA Finals since he’s been alive). Talk about an overachiever!

What’s next?: Now LeBron gets to face his former team, with whom he won two NBA Championships in 2012 and 2013. Oh, the drama! The Finals begin on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.

And the WNBA?: The Seattle Storm easily locked up their spot in the finals yesterday after sweeping their semifinal best-of-five series against the Minnesota Lynx. Storm legend Sue Bird put up 16 points while Storm legend-in-the-making Breanna Stewart led with 31 points in the 92–71 win. Holy.

  • If you’re looking for more drama, the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun are bringing it to a deciding Game 5. The Aces tied up the series with an 84–75 win yesterday, so it all comes down to tomorrow night’s do-or-die at 7:30 p.m. ET.
🏒🏀

Stamkos Returns; MLB Playoffs Near; WNBA, NBA Postseason Coming to a Close

September 24, 2020
SOURCE: BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos knows how to make an entrance. After battling an injury since February, he finally made it back to the ice...and during the Stanley Cup Final, no less.

Tell me everything: Stamkos made his first appearance in nearly seven months in last night’s Game 3 against the Dallas Stars, and he made his presence known right away, scoring on his first shot of the game.

  • The goal gave the Lightning the push to pull off a 5–2 win. Unfortunately, Stamkos wasn’t in it for the long haul and didn’t return to the game in the second period, but here’s hoping he can make it back for Game 4, slated for tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET.

What about basketball?: The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat faced off in a spicy Game 4 last night in the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals. With a 112–109 win, the Heat are now up 3-1 in the series and will nab a spot in the NBA Finals with a Game 5 win tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. ET.

  • In the Western Conference finals, the Denver Nuggets showed signs of life in a 114–106 win over the LA Lakers on Tuesday. They’re only a game behind in the best-of-seven series, and Game 4 is set for tonight at 9 p.m. ET.
  • And for those wondering when the new season will begin (even though this one is still raging), NBA commissioner Adam Silver said yesterday that a January start at the earliest is his “best guess.” No Christmas Day games? Bah humbug.

And the WNBA?: After a few inconclusive COVID-19 tests (don’t worry, everyone’s fine!) pushed the series from its original Sunday start, Tuesday’s Game 1 ended up being a thriller. With the Storm leading most of the game, things got shaky when the Lynx mounted a fourth-quarter comeback.

  • Tied with seconds left, it all came down to a buzzer-beating rebound from Storm star Alysha Clark, who won it for her team 88–86. Unreal. Game 2 is set for tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET.
  • The other semifinal matchup wasn’t as close but was still fun to watch. The Las Vegas Aces took Game 2 83–75 over the Connecticut Sun, tying up the best-of-five series. Their Game 3 is also tonight with tip-off at 9:30 p.m. ET, and then both series continue on Sunday. Follow the full schedule here.

Any other playoff news?: But of course! There are four more game days left in the MLB regular season, and like a high-stakes game of musical chairs, there are 12 teams fighting for six remaining playoff spots. Check out the full standings and playoff bracket here.

🏀🏒🏈🎾

Podcast Episode 36: The GIST, but rapid fire

September 23, 2020
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP

 Listen to this episode of The GIST of IT here.


 

Ellen: What is up GISTers? Welcome to The GIST of It, I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz.

Ellen: And we're just two old pals and we're two gals and we're here to give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. Let's get right to it. Steph, it is so great to see you and your new pink hair again this week. How's your week going and how's the day going and how are you feeling?

Steph: I felt like I should be on @LeagueFits yesterday, walking to the grocery store, I had my WNBA sweater with my GIST cap and a Nebraska Cornhuskers jacket on. I was feeling sporty, feeling spicy.

Ellen: You are a sporty and a spicy gal. You can always count on Steph to be dressing for the occasion. Honestly, Steph since grade four. From the moment I met you in grade four, you have always been spicy. Back then, the spice was Emily Strange and now it's moved into the sporty realm as opposed to the Gothic kind of emo Emily Strange vibe that you were in maybe in grade four to grade six.

Steph: How are you, dearest Ellen?

Ellen: I'm doing well. Today is kind of a crazy day up here because we have the remnants of hurricane Teddy coming in. So it's been raining all day, kind of gross out. And in those days, I started the day off really strong, lighting some candles, making it cozy. But then halfway through the day, I just ate so much cheese. I just all of a sudden I was like, oh, my God, I just need to put some cheese literally to my dome right now. And that's all I've been doing all day, is just eating cheese. Finally managed to have a workout, had to put on Beyonce's lemonade to just at least get me inspired to move at all. But it's just one of those days where it's so gross and it's raining outside and so many things are going on. But I'm glad that we are here and chatting now about everything that's happening in sports.

Steph: There's always a lot going on in our lives somehow, even though it's a pandemic. And of course, there's still so much going on in the world of sports that we love so dearly. So today, mostly because we couldn't decide on one topic to talk about. We're going to try something new here and we're going to give our hot take on seven different sport topics. Going to keep it short, going to keep it sweet. Stay with us this episode. Let's start with the NHL as they're further along in their playoff journey, the Stanley Cup finals started over the weekend with the Dallas stars taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Edmonton. The best of seven game series is tied at one game apiece. And honestly, the part of the Stanley Cup finals so far that was the most fun was when Jimmy Kimmel chirped US Canadians at the virtual Emmys on Sunday night after Canadian TV show Schitt's Creek won nine Emmys. And he noted that a Canadian team hasn't won the Stanley Cup in our lifetime in 27 years.

Jimmy Kimmel:  Schitt's Creek won seven. Oh, they fell just short. This is a killer. If they'd won one more Emmy, they would have been able to trade them in for this. A Stanley Cup. But they didn't. So we're going to keep it here for another 27 years. Sorry, Canada.

Ellen: Jimmy Kimmel is such a troll. Honestly, kudos to him. I freakin love it. He knew how to just get at Canadians guts and hearts and be like, I don't care about your nine Emmys. You still haven't won a Stanley Cup in twenty seven years, which Steph, as you mention, is basically our lifetime being born in 92. We saw the Habs in 93. And like to be honest, I don't care if the Habs win a frickin Stanley Cup. So it's been a long time since there was someone in Canada who I cared about actually won a Stanley Cup. I have to say, Steph I'm upset at myself because I'm not that engaged in the Stanley Cup final as much as I thought that I would be. But the key thing that I am looking out for is whether or not Tampa Bay Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos is going to come back for game three or four. He's been out since the end of February with a core muscle injury. And he actually had surgery at the beginning of March. And as I was reading this, prepping for the podcast, I thought to myself, how amazing would it be to actually have core muscles to tear? I actually could not imagine having a core muscle that I could tear. Must be nice having an eight pack of abs or something like that.

Steph: Ok, moving along to basketball, the NBA is in their conference finals. In the east, the Miami Heat are up two games to one over the Boston Celtics. Game four is tonight, Wednesday night. Meanwhile, as of this recording, the L.A. Lakers are up two games to none over the Denver Nuggets. Have a quick Google to see where those series are at.

Ellen: Gotta love Google. What would we do without Google? I truly don't know. But in comparison to the Stanley Cup finals, which I said I haven't been that engaged in, and they've kind of been a little bit snoozy. The NBA has been the complete opposite. After losing the first two games of the series to Miami, the Boston Celtics had serious locker room drama and kind of this family type of blow up between each other. And then at the same time, the L.A. Lakers are shooting buzzer beaters and draining buzzer beaters while they're mouthing Kobe at the same time. It's just so different from the NHL. It is just so dramatic. And I'm having a lot of fun watching it. And I'm really, really hoping that the Denver Nuggets just do what the Denver Nuggets do and come back and force a Game seven, because it would just be so fun to see that series go to seven, especially with Canadian Jamal Murray playing so well.

Steph: Oh, I'm so with you there, Ellen with that hot take. It has been so much fun. It's also been super fun to see how NBA analysts and true icon Doris Burke has been absolutely thriving. These NBA playoffs becoming the first woman to call a conference in NBA finals. So freaking cool.

Ellen: She is absolutely the best person. And I do think that this is an important time for us to highlight some more things that have been going on in terms of men in the sports media industry calling out women, saying that they weren't doing the proper things on their NBA ballots, are voting for certain things and saying that women only got jobs because of their looks. I would like those men to step back for a moment. These women got their jobs because they're so talented at what they do. They're incredibly smart. They deserve every single thing. And for those men to be taking away things from sports journalists like Maria Taylor and Katie Nolan is just absolutely ridiculous. So we're going to link what's happened with Katie Nolan as well as Maria Taylor to the show notes so that anyone who's listening can understand a little bit more. But I'd just like to say, support women in the industry they're in the industry because they fucking deserve it and because they've worked hard.

Steph: Oh, my God, it's so hard to be a woman in the industry. Of course, they've worked hard too. That goes so unnoticed.

Ellen: Sticking on the basketball theme, the WNBA is in its semifinals, so we have the Connecticut Sun and the Las Vegas Aces through two games, whereas the Seattle Storm and Minnesota Lynx just started their series on Tuesday night after their game on Sunday was postponed due to inconclusive COVID-19 tests.

Steph: Yeah, kind of a weird situation. The inconclusive test results came from three Seattle players we learned today on Twitter those "players in question went through additional testing and did come back with negative test results." But going off of the most recent WNBA press release that came out on Tuesday, the day that we recorded this one player is still waiting to be cleared to play. So one of those three players is still not cleared. But, you know, shout out to the WNBA and shout out to the WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbart for taking on the executive decision to postpone that original game.

Ellen: Yeah, shoutout to Kathy, I think that she's done a great job so far in her role as commissioner. And speaking of the WNBA, I'm so surprised at how far the Connecticut Sun have gone. I didn't think that they'd make it this far. So I'm wondering, Steph, who makes it out of these final four? Who makes it to the finals for you?

Steph: Oh, my gosh. Last week I bet against the Connecticut Sun. And I'm not about to do that again because they are on fire. And I would love to see them take their next series against the Las Vegas Aces, which are the first seed. And they've got the league MVP on their team. But I'm still going for the Connecticut Sun in that matchup. How about you, Ellen?

Ellen: Yeah, I don't know. That matchup scares me. I think too with Connecticut. I just always trip up on how to spell Connecticut. So I never actually end up voting for them because I'm like, how do you spell this name? But no, I'm still sticking with the Seattle Storm. I just got a ride with them. They're my ride or die. Oh, they're going right through. I think they're going to win the finals. OK, now moving on to the MLB, the MLB aren't in the playoffs yet, but they will be soon. Their regular season ends on Sunday, which means that playoffs are going to be starting next week. And I must say that I am totally amped. There is truly nothing like postseason baseball, especially when October baseball comes around. There's just something so magical about it. And literally when I think about it, I actually get shivers. There's something that's just so cool about playoff baseball, where even if I didn't have time to watch a full game within the last couple of weeks, all of a sudden I'll sit down and literally watch every single game because I'm just obsessed with playoff baseball. It's so fun.

Steph: What I'm a little bit more excited about and honestly, just so happy after that Rocky COVID-19 regular season is that the MLB is going to be moving to that bubble format for the postseason. Now, they're not calling it a bubble. These are going to be called, "neutral sites." But the American League is playing in California while the National League will be playing in Texas. And there will actually be some fans at the World Series. And then the World Series, as a reminder, is the finals where the champion from American League plays the champion from the National League.

Ellen: How do you feel about those fans, Steph, you were a little bit hesitant there?

Steph: Oh, well, it's just not a priority. Like, we should just be thankful that baseball is even happening at all. Why are we putting people in the stadiums? But what do I know?

Ellen: There you go. Hot take. But, you know, Steph, I do think fans aside for the World Series, I do think that they made the right decision in pivoting and doing a Ross Geller pivot, they obviously made the wrong decision off the hop with all of the COVID cases that they had. And I'm glad that they're moving to these neutral sites because at least they've learned their lesson and they're acting on it. So we have to give kudos to MLB as well as the Players Association for doing that. Another thing, too, that I think is special with these playoffs is that it's formatted completely differently than what it normally is. So instead of the usual 10 teams that are in the mix, it's actually expanded to include six teams who will make the playoffs this year, which means knock on wood. The Toronto Blue Jays, against all odds, are going to make the playoffs this year, which is just so exciting. And I cannot wait. And I wish that there was baseball in Toronto. But what can you do? Anyway, that's the first thing. The second thing is that instead of the single elimination, sudden death wild card game that only occurs with the wild card teams, there's actually going to be a three game wildcard series that all teams are part of, which I think is really, really interesting, especially in a shortened season. You never know what's going to happen. And then it goes back to the regular: the division series is best of five and then the LCS, the League Championship Series and then the World Series are best of seven.

Steph: Ellen, when you're excited, I'm excited. And this weekend and this week, it's going to be very, very important for teams who are looking to clinch and for seeding. So be sure to tune into our newsletter at thegistsports.com for all of the MLB updates that you'll truly want this Monday.

Ellen: All right, so now that we've covered the playoffs in the big leagues, I really want to talk about the French Open. It's the second major tennis tournament of the year, and it was postponed from its regular May start date to now because of COVID-19, obviously, but similar to the other majors, this one is hitting a little bit different. So on the women's side, U.S. Open winner, this year's U.S. Open winner, Naomi Osaka, is out with a hamstring injury. So that's really too bad because she would have had a really great chance to go back to back and world number one Australian Ashleigh Barty and young gun, Canadian Bianca Andreescu are both out due to COVID-19 concerns, but also because they just feel like they aren't in match shape, given everything that's gone on with the pandemic. The good news, though, is that our girl, Serena Williams, is in it. She's still searching and hunting for that twenty fourth Grand Slam. And Simona Halep, who didn't want to travel over to North America to participate in the U.S. Open because of COVID-19 concerns. She is European, so she's saying, yep, I'm totally in the French Open and she just won the Italian Open. So it'll be so great to be able to see her at a major and hopefully Halep and Serena final, depending on what side of the bracket they're in.

Steph: We just really want Serena to win her 24th Grand Slam to tie Margaret Court so bad, especially because Court continues to be a vocal critic of LGBTQ plus rights so she can just go away. And so if Serena could tie her for that record, that would be fabulous. On the men's side, we're still without Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The French Open is a clay court tournament, which I swear I learned about with Mario Tennis back in the day. It's a very slippery surface. And we're going to miss Nadal, who has won 12 French Open titles, which is so wild. Unfortunately, my bet is going to be on Novak Djokovic to win this one. But I really hope I'm wrong.

Ellen: He is so slimy. He just rubs me the wrong way. I'm just so over the Joker. Ok, bringing things back to North America, Steph, let's talk the NFL, you know that I love talking NFL, so let's get to it. The first thing, though, that I have to say is that there are so many people in the media and I'm seeing so many articles being like, oh, my God, I'm so surprised what's happening in the first two weeks of the season. And I just kind of want to be like, chill, guys. It's been two weeks out of 16 regular season games. Of course, there's fucking surprises. They didn't have a preseason. Everyone is still sorting their shit out. People are figuring things out. And so to me, if someone is 2-0 or 0-2, it's a crapshoot and really doesn't make a difference. I feel like once we get into that fourth game, things are really going to start to settle down and to really show what the playoff picture is going to look like. So for anyone who's freaking out about their fantasy or their pick 'em pool with The GIST, don't worry, plenty of time to make that up. What I will say is that from week two, I'm very, very gutted about all of the injuries that we saw. So we saw New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, San Francisco 49ers defensive ends, Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas and Denver Bronco Courtland Sutton all go down with season ending ACL tears. And that is just such a tough injury to have. And it makes me so sad because you know how much all of these guys have worked so hard to get to the place where they're on top of their games. And it just makes me so sad.

Steph: That is really sad. I don't want anyone to get injured. And you know, what sucks is really sad, Ellen, having to tell a grown ass man to wear their masks on the sideline. The NFL fined three coaches, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan with 100K fines each. And then their teams also got slapped with a 250K fine. Wear your mask.

Ellen: Yeah, if that fine does not tell those NFL coaches, but also people everywhere, the importance of masks, I don't know what does. I also think that Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots coach, should have probably been fined. I don't know if you saw his mask, but it looked like he was wearing a bird beak for a Halloween mask. He totally put his mask only on top of his nose, nothing on top of his mouth. It was completely useless.  He honestly just looked like Big Bird. He's hilarious. He just does whatever the hell he wants, but he needs some covering over his mouth.

Steph: It's not Halloween yet, son. Put it over your mouth.

Ellen: Ok, and last but not least, because we said we're going to cover seven different things going on in sports, we wanted to mention college sports, particularly football and basketball, coming out of the PAC 12 conference, which is one of the power five conferences down in the U.S. They're supposed to be coming up with their decision this week as to whether or not their return to play isn't after the fall, but actually during the fall. So doing a complete 180 on what they initially said with the PAC 12, though, they've been a little bit slow at making these decisions. So I feel like what I'm doing right now is really just an announcement for an announcement that's going to come. So look out for an announcement.

Ellen: Ok, so as mentioned last week, to close out our podcast, we're going to feature a WTF moment / story submitted by you, our GISTers. We got a lot of submissions. It was super exciting, but one that we really wanted to feature was submitted by Alexis from Philly. And this one was the most recent one for us. And it's coming at you straight from one of our favorite leagues, the NHL.

Steph: I actually think I mouthed WTF when I saw the NHL latest ad for the Stanley Cup finals. "There is a price to pay." It's an ad that blabs on about a minute and ten seconds of how true winners in the sport are willing to sacrifice their bodies for a win. The video reads as some masculinity, propaganda, garbage and two time Stanley Cup champion Daniel Carcillo. And he's generally an advocate, too, for improving hockey culture, responded to the NHL on Twitter asking for his name to be removed from the Stanley Cup twice over. This comes on the heels, two of TSN airing a documentary exposé to on Tuesday night on TSN saying the problem of pain and going into how playing through an injury, sacrificing your body and the other complications of being an NHL player are a little bit problematic.

Ellen: I cannot believe that they put out that ad. And for any Americans that are listening, TSN is our ESPN equivalent, ESPN has a stake in TSN. So basically the same thing. We have all the same sound brand, all of that sort of stuff. But for Danny to say, take my name off of the Stanley Cup, that guy worked freaking hard for that. If he's going to be saying take my name off the Stanley Cup, he's serious about how bad that NHL ad is. It's just in complete poor taste. I don't know what they were thinking.

Steph: Oh, and the NHL trolls are coming for him as well. So good for you, Danny.

Ellen: Go, Danny. We love that. And also, thank you so much, Alexis, for submitting your WTF moment. We would love to hear more WTF moments or happy moments if you have them, especially WTF moments from you guys, our GISTers it could be from anywhere in the pro sports world, the amateur sports world or even just a moment you've had in your own life your intramural soccer, your beer league hockey. Or maybe you're better at sports than us and you're actually still playing really high level sports and you want to give us a what the fuck moment about it. We want to hear it. So over the next week or so, email us at pod@thegistsports.com or DM us @thegistnews.ca or @thegistnewsusa on Instagram or Twitter. Give us your WTF moment and you might just be featured on our podcast next week.

Steph: All right sports pals. That was The GIST of It from Ellen and I. Thanks so much for tuning in. If you like us, if you like what you heard, help us get a word out, leave a review and give us those five stars. And you can also tell your friends to subscribe to The GIST of It on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher.

Ellen: Yes. And after you're done giving us those five stars and telling all of your friends about your new favorite podcast, you have to check out thegistsports.com and sign up for our free twice weekly newsletter, where every Monday and Thursday morning we give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. Again, you could subscribe at thegistsports.com. Otherwise, as we already mentioned, we love to hear from you. You can get in touch with Steph and I at pod@thegistsports.com, over email. And again, you can DM us on Instagram @thegistnews.ca or @thegistnewsusa. Again, I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz.

Ellen: And this has been The GIST of It. Take care of yourselves and we'll talk to you next week.