Cleveland Cavaliers At Boston Celtics
A case can be made that the Eastern Conference champion could be decided on Wednesday in Boston as the Cavs and Celtics meet for the final time – well before they do again quite likely in the East Finals – as the winner is in great shape to secure the conference’s top seed. The Celtics have played significantly better offensively and defensively than the Cavaliers since the All-Star break to catch them atop the East. Cleveland leads the season series 2-1 so a win Wednesday gives the Cavs a potentially huge tiebreaker. However, the home team has won all three meetings this season. The Celtics have a defensive advantage in being able to use both Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, defensive stalwarts, on Cavs All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. Cleveland doesn’t have a defensive stopper to account for Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. Boston also has an advantage here of not playing since Sunday afternoon, while Cleveland hosted and beat Orlando on Tuesday night.
Atlanta Braves At New York Mets
The Braves are a very young team likely a couple years from contention. Many were puzzled around baseball when the club signed rotund free-agent pitcher Bartolo Colon, 43, this offseason. It didn’t appear to fit with the youth movement. But Braves GM John Coppolella added Colon and fellow 40-something R.A. Dickey to be role models to the team’s young pitchers. At worst, Colon and Dickey will eat innings in 2017. Atlanta’s bullpen logged 567.1 innings last year, a franchise record. Colon spent the previous three seasons pitching with the Mets and was 44-35 with a 3.91 ERA over 95 starts. He faces his former teammates for the first time Wednesday. Colon will be opposed by former NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, who had his 2016 season cut short due to injury like many Mets pitchers did. DeGrom looked completely healthy in dominating this spring. The Atlanta offense he faces is one of the NL’s weakest.
Deep Dive: Golf’s Super Bowl Arrives
The biggest golf sporting event annually is the first major championship of the year, and the Masters tees off Thursday at storied Augusta National. Brad Kannon joins the guys for a Deep Dive on the tournament. The weather, including rain and wind, could be a factor the first two days, but the weekend forecast looks good. Red-hot Dustin Johnson, the world No. 1, looks to become the second golfer since the 1950s – joining Tiger Woods, who is out injured – to win four consecutive PGA Tour events. He has Top 10s the past two years at the Masters. Justin Spieth hasn’t finished worse than second in his three Masters visits. He won in record fashion in 2015 and should have repeated last year but imploded on the back-nine with a five-shot lead. Rory McIlroy should have won the 2011 Masters but had his own meltdown. He looks for the career Grand Slam. Some longer shots that the guys like for the tournament are two-time champion Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen, Brooks Koepka and Jimmy Walker.