Preview: Dodgers at Red Sox

David Price recorded his first career playoff victory as a starting pitcher in his 12th attempt and now looks to make it two in a row when the Boston Red Sox host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday for Game 2 of the World Series. The left-hander set aside his longstanding postseason struggles with six scoreless innings in the American League Championship Series-clinching win over Houston.

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Price, who will be trying to help Boston take a 2-0 series lead, was bombarded with questions and routinely ridiculed for his October issues and admitted Tuesday that he feels a lot less pressure now that he is 1-9 as a starter. “It’s definitely a weight lifted off of me, for sure,” Price said during his press conference. “Not like food tastes better or anything like that. But it was time. And I’m definitely glad that the time came and we moved past it. And I look forward to doing the same thing (Wednesday).” The Red Sox recorded an 8-4 win in Game 1 as Andrew Benintendi had four hits and Eduardo Nunez belted a pinch-hit, three-run homer, while Manny Machado drove in three runs for the Dodgers. “Our guys, like you’ve seen all year, are going to fight,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said in his postgame press conference. “And we don’t expect (the Red Sox) to give us anything. So we expect it to be a hard-fought series.”

TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX

PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-1, 4.40 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH David Price (1-1, 5.11)

Ryu never has pitched in Fenway Park and took some time to study the playing field dimensions on Monday. “When I was in Korea, I only saw Fenway Park through TV, and same like here in the States,” the South Korean said through a translator during his press conference. “It took me this long to actually get here to the Fenway Park. And my initial reaction to the Green Monster is, it’s very tall. I don’t think there is going to be much difference between a left-handed pitcher and a right-handed pitcher because the dimension is still going to stay the same regardless.” The 31-year-old Ryu is 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA in six career postseason starts.

While Price is happy to have a winning start on his postseason resume, Red Sox manager Alex Cora insists the 33-year-old is going about his business in his typical fashion. “Nothing has changed,” Cora said during a press conference. “He talked about it, obviously, after the clincher, that he doesn’t have to answer questions, but he knows that his next start is a big start. (Wednesday) is going to be a big one. So we count on him.” Price is 3-9 with a 5.04 ERA in 20 career postseason appearances (12 starts), with the first two wins coming as a reliever.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox are 8-0 this postseason when scoring first.

2. Benintendi joined Wally Moses (Game 4, 1946) and Jacoby Ellsbury (Game 3, 2007) as the only Boston players with four hits in a World Series game.

3. Los Angeles DH Matt Kemp became the 36th player to homer in his first World Series at-bat.

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Posted in MLB, Top Fantasy Picks

Cavaliers at Warriors Game 2

The Cleveland Cavaliers got two days off to digest the mistakes made down the stretch that allowed the Golden State Warriors to escape with a win in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals and put it behind them. The Cavaliers will get another chance to steal homecourt advantage when they visit the Warriors for Game 2 on Sunday.

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Cleveland had a chance to take the lead at the end of regulation, but JR Smith dribbled out the clock instead of putting up a shot after securing an offensive rebound and the Cavaliers went on to suffer a 124-114 defeat in overtime to heavily-favored Golden State. “We lost a tough game. It’s over. It’s behind us,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue told reporters. “We did a lot of great things in that game, so we’ve got to carry it over. We’ve got to play better on Sunday. We’ve got to expect that they’re going to play better, so we have to play better on Sunday. I know we’re capable of doing that.” The Warriors were never publicly among those that thought the series would be a runaway victory and keeping their collective feet on the gas in Game 2 is a priority. “I know their goal is to come to Oracle and just get one (game),” Golden State guard Klay Thompson told reporters. “So, we have to have it in the back of our minds that we want to protect home court. And if we don’t take care of business Sunday, we obviously lose that advantage. Game 1 is over with. I do not expect them to still be deflated. I expect them to play with great energy out of the gate on Sunday.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: Cleveland superstar LeBron James turned in one of the great performances in NBA Finals history in Game 1 with 51 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, but he might have to play even better going forward. “I hope so,” Lue joked when asked if James could play any better. “I know that’s asking a lot. But we need him to lead by example, being aggressive, attacking the basket. We know they’re going to come and help. They’re a help team, and guys are going to get shots. If you don’t have a shot, you’ve got to put it on the floor and make another play. He did that last night, and he has to keep it up.” James could use more help on the offensive end after being joined in double figures by just Kevin Love (21 points) and Smith (10) in Game 1.

ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Golden State shot 51.1 percent from the floor and 95 percent from the free-throw line while committing just eight turnovers in Game 1 but was still pushed to overtime, in part because Cleveland dominated on the boards with 19 offensive rebounds. “The glaring weakness on film was our lack of aggression on the boards,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters. “That’s something we’ve got to clean up.” Stephen Curry led the offense with 29 points and nine assists while Draymond Green turned in a strong all-around performance with 13 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, five steals and a pair of blocks.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Warriors SF Andre Iguodala (knee) is doubtful for Game 2.

2. Love will not be suspended by the league for coming off the bench and stepping onto the floor during a skirmish at the end of overtime in Game 1.

3. Golden State SF Kevin Durant went 1-of-7 from 3-point range in Game 1 and is shooting 31.7 percent from beyond the arc in the postseason.

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Posted in NBA

Warriors at Rockets Game 2 Preview

The Golden State Warriors flashed supreme form in the opener of the Western Conference finals and look to take a 2-0 lead when they visit the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. The Warriors outscored the Rockets by 13 points in the second half while recording a 119-106 win in Game 1.

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Forward Kevin Durant scored 37 points and shooting guard Klay Thompson added 28 as second-seeded Golden State was in top form while outclassing James Harden and the top-seeded Rockets. “I don’t know if we’re at our peak,” Durant told reporters. “I think we could be better. I mean, the stakes are high. We’re playing the Western Conference finals against the best team in the league, the No. 1 seed, an MVP on their team. So I think everybody just wants to enjoy this time.” Harden recorded 41 points and seven assists in the opener but didn’t receive enough help from the supporting cast. “We’re all in this together,” Harden told reporters. “It doesn’t matter who has a bad game or who is missing shots. … Keep shooting your shot and being aggressive. We got this far doing that and having that mindset, so we’re just going to continue it.”

TV: 9 p.m. ET, TNT

ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Durant was 14-of-27 shooting in Game 1 as Golden State repeatedly isolated him to take advantage of mismatches with Houston defenders. “We want to keep the ball moving, but obviously Kevin is the ultimate luxury because a play can break down and you just throw him the ball,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters. “He can get you a bucket as well as anybody on Earth. This is why anybody would want him on their team. You think about a couple years ago, and we’re in the Finals and we couldn’t quite get over the hump. Kevin is the guy that puts you over the hump.” Point guard Stephen Curry was solid all-around with 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds as his team’s third-leading scorer for the contest.

ABOUT THE ROCKETS: Harden reached 40 points for the third time this postseason and coach Mike D’Antoni joked after Game 1 that he might need to ask Harden to score 55 in Game 2. He broke out of a 3-point shooting funk by making 5-of-9 attempts after being just 6-of-32 over the final four contests of the second-round series against the Utah Jazz. Point guard Chris Paul had 23 points and 11 rebounds in the opener but only had three assists as the Rockets were unable to crisply moving the ball in the halfcourt offense.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Both teams made 13 3-pointers in Game 1 but the Warriors had an 18-3 edge in fast-break points.

2. Houston C Clint Capela had 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the opener.

3. Golden State PF Draymond Green scored just five points in Game 1 but also contributed nine rebounds and nine assists.

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Posted in NBA

Cavaliers at Celtics Game 2 Preview

Marcus Morris and his Boston teammates got the best of LeBron James in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals. The second-seeded Celtics look to stymie the Cleveland star for the second consecutive contest when they host the fourth-seeded Cavaliers on Tuesday in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.

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Morris helped hold James to 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting as Boston roared to a 26-point halftime advantage en route to a 108-83 torching of Cleveland in Sunday’s series opener. Morris moved into the starting lineup and had 21 points and 10 rebounds after boasting prior to the opener that he is one of the best in the NBA at defending James. “It’s a team effort, man, it’s not just me,” Morris told reporters after the easy victory. “Everybody played their part in guarding him. He’s obviously the best player in the game, and you need multiple guys and a team to guard him an entire game. I just think we did a great job of that.” Cavaliers veteran swingman Kyle Korver summed up the performance this way: “Bad game, bad first game. There’s lot of things we can do better in the next one.”

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: James also committed seven turnovers during his porous performance but he said he wasn’t worried about his team trailing in the series. “I have zero level of concern at this stage,” James told reporters. “I didn’t go to college, so it’s not March Madness. You know, you get better throughout the series. You see ways you can get better throughout the series. But I’ve been down 0-1, I’ve been down 0-2, I’ve been down before in the postseason. But for me, there’s never no level of concern, no matter how bad I played tonight with seven turnovers, how inefficient I was shooting the ball.” James had plenty of company in the subpar shooting category as Cleveland shot 36 percent from the field, including a woeful 4-of-26 from 3-point range.

ABOUT THE CELTICS: Morris was one of three Boston players to reach the 20-point mark in the opener as shooting guard Jaylen Brown recorded 23 points and eight rebounds and center Al Horford had 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. But the decision to elevate Morris into the starting power forward spot was the big difference-maker as a player who was just 18-of-59 shooting in the five-game series against Philadelphia made 7-of-12 shots and effectively hounded James. “He was able to really force the issue in the offensive end and make LeBron exert so much energy because then he has to come down and really guard him,” backup point guard Marcus Smart told reporters. “Can’t take plays off against really good players.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Celtics SF Jayson Tatum scored 16 points in Game 1 to halt his franchise rookie record of seven straight games of 20 or more points.

2. Cleveland PF/C Kevin Love (17 points) was just 5-of-14 shooting in the opener after averaging 25 points on 26-of-48 shooting over the previous three playoff games.

3. Boston PG Terry Rozier had just eight points in Game 1 but also had eight assists against just one turnover.

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Posted in NBA

Jazz at Rockets Game 2 Preview

The Houston Rockets look to take a 2-0 lead when they host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal series. Star guard James Harden scored 41 points in Houston’s series-opening 110-96 victory to continue his season-long assault of the Jazz.

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Harden averaged 34.3 points in four meetings with the Utah in the regular season — including a 56-point outing — and the defensive-minded Jazz once again had no answers on slowing down the MVP candidate. “You can put a list of about 28 other teams that don’t have an answer, either,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters. “There’s no answer. He might play bad because he’s human, but there’s nothing that you can conceivably come up with to stop him.” Utah isn’t fretting over the Game 1 loss as it also lost the opener of its first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder before recovering to win in six games. “We were in the exact same situation,” Jazz small forward Joe Ingles told reporters. “Everyone had written us off after Game 1, probably the way they have now. We have a great group. We love being able to have the time to watch the film and make some adjustments.”

TV:
 8 p.m. ET, TNT

ABOUT THE JAZZ: Rookie guard Donovan Mitchell is picking up a large portion of the ball-handling with veteran point guard Ricky Rubio (hamstring) sidelined and he committed four turnovers to go with 9-of-22 shooting while scoring 21 points in the opener. The point total was Mitchell’s lowest in seven games this postseason and he was also hampered by a sore ankle, which he insists won’t be a problem in Game 2. “My head was never down, and I don’t think my teammates’ heads were down,” Mitchell told reporters. “It’s one game out of a long series.”

ABOUT THE ROCKETS:
 Harden had nothing to reveal for why he typically enjoys success against a team that ranked sixth in scoring defense at 102.4 during the regular season. “For the most part, I’m going to do what I do,” Harden told reporters. “Offensively I think this team, us, we’re different. We’ve seen so many different defenses throughout the year that have prepared us for this moment, whether it’s (Utah center Rudy) Gobert being back at the rim or teams switching or whatever. We’ve seen pretty much it all, all year.” Harden received complementary help from point guard Chris Paul (17 points), center Clint Capela (16 points, 12 rebounds) and forward PJ Tucker (15 points) in the opener.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. It remains unclear whether Rubio will return later in the series — the length of it would be one of the factors.

2. Utah reserve F Jae Crowder had 21 points and five 3-pointers in the series opener, his second-best totals in each category this postseason.

3. Houston reserve SG Eric Gordon missed all six of his shots in Game 1 and is shooting just 31.4 percent from the field in the postseason.

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Posted in NBA