The Clippers were built for the playoffs. The Nuggets appeared to be more of a regular-season team.
And the Clippers were still better than the Nuggets in the regular season.
This second-round series was a mismatch on paper. L.A. (-1000) opened as huge favorite over Denver (+550). Odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.
But the Nuggets enter Game 7 tonight with a chance to pull an extraordinary upset.
Based on averaging the money line for both teams, Denver’s implied odds of winning the series were just 12%.
That’d be the fifth-longest odds overcome in the Sports Odds History database, which has all series since 2001 and some series since 1969.
Here are the biggest upsets on record by this method:
Most of series above Nuggets-Clippers were classics – Denver becoming the first No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 seed (SuperSonics) in 1994, the “We Believe” Warriors toppling the Mavericks in 2007 and Golden State shockingly sweeping the Jazz in 1989. The 76ers also beat the Bulls in 2012 after Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah got hurt.
Merely getting this far is impressive for the Nuggets. They entered the series as huge underdogs, fell behind 3-1, trailed by 15 in the second half of Game 5 and trailed by by 19 in the second half of Game 6.
Only eight teams entered a series with longer odds and won even three games.
Teams that won the series are blue. Teams that lost the series are gold. This series is red:
Of course, the Nuggets don’t want to settle for pushing the Clippers hard then faltering. Denver wants to win the series. Then the next one. Then the next one. The Nuggets just aren’t viewed as that type of threat.
That puts far more pressure on the Clippers, who have Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, a deep supporting cast and legitimate championship expectations,
The Clippers will probably win Game 7. They’re 7.5-point favorites. If they win, this series will become a footnote. The overwhelming favorite winning, even if it’s more difficult than expected, isn’t a major event. Celtics-Hawks in 2008 just doesn’t resonate.
But if Denver wins? This will go down as an upset for the ages.
Nuggets have chance at historic upset in Game 7 vs. Clippers originally appeared on NBCSports.com
How delayed French Open is forcing millionaire tennis players to suffer like us amateur enthusiasts
Sunday’s scenes from Roland Garros – which saw millionaire athletes remonstrating with officials over the wet and wintry conditions in Paris – have struck a nerve with recreational players across Britain. And not in a good way.
The majority of amateur enthusiasts in this country have no access to indoor facilities. Were they to draw the line at playing in eight-degree temperatures, swirling winds and light drizzle, they would barely touch a racket between October and April.
The prime offender was Victoria Azarenka, the former world No1 and recent US Open finalist, who reacted angrily when the umpire asked her to sit down for a couple of minutes while a heavier shower blew over.
“I’m not sitting here because I’m going to get frozen,” said Azarenka. “It’s eight degrees. I live in Florida, I’m used to hot weather.” Moments later, she stormed off the court.
Azarenka’s behaviour was later savaged by the Eurosport pundit and seven-time grand-slam champion Mats Wilander, who was in particularly punchy form. (Later in the afternoon, he would tell Andy Murray to get on and retire, instead of soaking up wild cards that could go to promising teenagers instead.)
“You have some players that just love tennis,” Wilander said. “But then you have other players, like Victoria Azarenka, who loves the crowd and wants it to be perfect. I get it, but there is no excuse for comments like the ones she made today. You go, you try hard, or you don’t go. You don’t have to play majors.”
To be fair to the player field, Azarenka was an outlier. More typical was the approach taken by Shelby Rogers, the first player out of the tournament at around 12.10pm on Monday afternoon.
Rogers, who hails from South Carolina, clearly didn’t relish the claggy clay or the chill factor – which found her desperately switching between outfits in search of a combination that would preserve some warmth without restricting her movement.
Rogers felt that play should have been stopped a couple of times early in the day, and was quick to point out that the umpire – who makes this decision – gets to sit in a covered chair. Meanwhile, the players were taking raindrops in the eye every time they threw the ball up.
Ultimately, though, Rogers took responsibility for her own underwhelming performance against an 18-year-old qualifier from Russia. “Champions adapt,” she acknowledged, “and I didn’t do that very well today”.
There is surely a division here between the rank and file of the tennis tour and the grandees at the top. The foot soldiers might not be used to cold weather, because even the scummiest of tournaments are normally staged in high summer. But they know all about adversity. Conditions at the second tier of events – often played in offbeat destinations such as Egypt, Bulgaria or Nigeria – are extremely rough.
Andrew Bettles – the Briton who now coaches world No5 Elina Svitolina – told me last week that he finds his new life far less stressful than his old one as a Futures-level wannabe. He no longer frets about whether he can afford to get his rackets restrung. Neither must he keep an eye on his overnight bag, lying at the side of the court, to make sure there is no opportunist thief rifling through its contents.
Players like Azarenka, who was winning junior slams at 15, can largely bypass these remote testing grounds – which were once described by tennis-playing novelist David Foster Wallace as the slaughterhouse of the game, spitting out the “well-presented sirloin” of the slams.
It was the same with Roger Federer, who chose to have a second knee operation in the summer, but clearly had little interest in playing Covid-style events without fans.
These members of the tennis gentry experience every stop on the tour as a Downton Abbey-style banquet, served up to them by liveried footmen. Whereas, in the era of the pandemic, tennis just got significantly more chewy.
Rams not happy with pass interference call against Bills
The Los Angeles Rams were displeased with a defensive pass interference call on Sunday. The New Orleans Saints will do a double take when they hear that one.
The Rams were on the receiving end of what should be considered the worst officiating error in NFL history, a non-call on an obvious pass interference against the Saints in an NFC championship game. Without that mistake, the Rams don’t go to the Super Bowl a couple seasons ago. The call was so bad, the NFL instituted a new rule that teams could challenge pass interference, and ditched that rule after a year.
Let’s keep that in mind as the Rams air their grievances over a pass interference that was called on Sunday, and cost them what would have been one of the greatest comeback wins in NFL history.
The Rams came back from trailing 28-3 to the Buffalo Bills to take a lead in the fourth quarter. It would have been the biggest comeback in team history. The Rams thought they had the game won on a fourth-down incompletion with less than a minute to go.
Then the flag came out. The Rams weren’t happy.
Rams didn’t like a crucial PI call
Truthfully, the Rams have a legitimate gripe.
Rams defensive back Darious Williams was covering Bills receiver Gabriel Davis on fourth down and while there was some contact downfield, it didn’t seem to be a foul. But NFL officials too often look for reasons to call penalties, not the other way around.
This one cost the Rams the game. The Bills scored after that to win 35-32.
“It was the wrong call,” Rams safety John Johnson III said, via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN. “We can’t narrow it down to that one play, but I don’t think it was a PI.”
Rams receiver Robert Woods said the call was “obviously not” pass interference.
“Being out there, he’s playing defensive back, he’s playing hands-on, he’s checking him, and as he gets into his route, the receiver initiates the contact and the quarterback is literally just throwing the ball in the area, and it wasn’t even a catchable ball,” Woods said, via Thiry. “But, obviously, they made the call, it is what it is, you got to keep playing and finish the game.”
The Saints won’t feel bad for them.
Rams had a huge comeback
The Rams are still 2-1 and can take momentum from a great comeback against the Bills, even if it didn’t result in a win. The Rams played tremendously to get back in the game and take the lead against a good Buffalo team, after it looked like they were going to get blown out.
The Rams likely did get hosed, but it happens. Over the course of a game, calls go for and against each team, and over a 60-minute game there is always more than one play or one call to blame for a loss.
It’s just that the irony of the Rams complaining about a pass interference that was called is too rich to pass up.
More NFL from Sports Grind Entertainment:
Offer Tatum max extension; watch Hayward pick up option
Boston fans may be frustrated that their team didn’t advance to the NBA Finals — the Celtics beat the defending champion Raptors in the second round, while the top-seeded Bucks had been cleared out of the path — but this is still a team that made strides this season. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown evolved into franchise cornerstones, with Tatum now looking like a No. 1 option, plus Kemba Walker proved a better fit with this team than Kyrie Irving. Throw in role players like Daniel Theis stepping up, and there are reasons for optimism even as the East gets better.
Two things to expect from Boston and team president Danny Ainge this offseason: Paying Tatum the max and watching Gordon Hayward pick up his $34.2 million option.
There will need to be other moves to add depth — they have Memphis’ No. 14 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and two other first-rounders, as chips to use — but Tatum and Hayward are the most expensive decisions.
With Tatum, it seems a no-brainer now to offer him a max extension to his rookie contract. He has become the alpha for this team, averaging 23.4 points and seven rebounds a game this season, even if he learned some hard lessons this past week about the demands of that role deep in the playoffs. Tatum made Third Team All-NBA this season, meaning he is eligible for 28% of the salary cap, make the team again next season and that jumps to 30%, meaning a max extension worth more than $200 million over five years (depending on where the salary cap is in a year, something nobody is sure about).
“I ain’t even thought about that yet,” Tatum said of an extension after Miami eliminated Boston from the postseason. “I was just focused on this season. Like you guys know, that’s a process the front office and my agent have to talk about it…
“So stuff like that, when it happens, if it happens, that’s not really my concern right now. I’m not even thinking about that. Just trying to think about the great season we had and the great players, great guys I was around. This was a hell of a year and I enjoyed it and I’m appreciative of everybody. But at the end of the day, this was fun. I’m not really thinking about the other stuff right now.”
With Hayward, the buzz around the league is he will pick up his player option for $34.2 million.
This also is pretty obvious. While Hayward showed flashes of being the All-Star player he was before his devastating leg injury, and versatile wing players are in demand around the league, there is not anything near $34 million waiting for him on the open market. Especially not in a coronavirus-impacted world where NBA owners have taken a financial hit. Hayward is going to take his money then see what the demand for his services looks like in 2021 (which looks to be a very deep free-agent class).
Boston will make some roster tweaks, but will run back the core of a young team — Tatum is 22, Brown is 23 — that is improving. A core than made strides this season, but will find those final steps into contender status are the toughest ones.
Boston offseason: Offer Tatum max extension; watch Hayward pick up option originally appeared on NBCSports.com
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