Hawks steal Game 1 from Knicks on Trae Young stunner

The game started with a “F*ck Trae Young” chant. It ended with a Young game-winner.

Young’s floater with less than a second left silenced a stunned 15,000 Madison Square Garden crowd as the Hawks stole Game 1 from the New York Knicks, 107-105, on Sunday night.

Julius Randle missed a tough fadeaway jumper at the buzzer that dimmed the spotlight on Knicks’ return to the NBA playoffs for the first time in eight years.

Game 2 of the series, shaping up to be one for the ages, is set on Wednesday at The Garden.

If Randle’s playoffs debut was a dud — 15 points on 6-of-23 shooting — Young was the exact opposite.

The Hawks’ rising star was spectacular. He toyed around the Knicks defense, delivering a virtuoso performance in his first playoff game. Young scored six clutch points in the final two minutes to bring Atlanta home. He led the Hawks with game-highs of 32 points and 10 assists. He added seven rebounds and committed only two turnovers in 35 minutes.

“I’m looking at it as I’m doing something right if I’m affecting them with my play that much that they hate me that much,” Young said, reacting on the Knicks fans’ heckling. “I just let my game do the talking.”

RJ Barrett and Alec Burks carried the Knicks on the night Randle struggled. For a while, it looked like the Knicks could survive. But Young had enough of the Knicks fans’ heckling and delivered a heck of an ending.

The Knicks bench scored 64 points, with their starters only good for 41. Reggie Bullock joined Randle with a poor outing, misfiring all of his five three-point attempts. He wound up with six points on 3-of-9 overall shooting.

With the ineffective starting point guard Elfrid Payton reduced to just eight minutes and zero points, Rose gave the Knicks a huge lift off the bench. The 32-year old former MVP turned Sixth Man of the Year finalist had 17 points, five rebounds, and five assists in 38 minutes. But he also committed a game-worst five turnovers.

A 2-for-12 jittery start had the Knicks falling behind in the opening quarter. Behind Young’s backcourt wizardry, the Hawks led the Knicks, 24-16.

New York’s bench — starring rookies Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin — energized the Knicks’ sluggish offense.

Then Barrett pumped in nine points in the third quarter, where the Knicks started to wrest control of the game. His highlight dunk over Bogdan Bogdanovic midway the quarter capped a 7-2 Knicks’ mini-run that tied the game at 63 apiece.

Barrett, the youngest Knicks at 20 to play in the playoffs, wound up with a double-double (14 points and 11 rebounds).

Burks picked up from where Barrett left off. The veteran guard scored a playoff career-high 27 points, 18 in the fourth quarter. But it wasn’t enough.

The Knicks squandered a 92-87 lead in the final 4:46 as the Hawks went on a 10-1 run in the next minute to grab a 97-93 lead.

But the Knicks responded with five straight points courtesy of Barrett and a Randle three-pointer that swung the lead back to New York, 98-97, with 2:04 remaining.

It was back-and-forth from there. A Rose floater forced a 105-deadlock with 10.2 seconds left, but it was enough time for Young’s endgame heroics.

It was an anti-climactic ending for the Knicks crowd that began the night pouring out their bottled-up emotions and energy since the pandemic and the last seven fruitless seasons.

Their “F*ck Trae Young” chants proved to be their undoing as it fueled the Hawks gunner to silence them.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

NASCAR: Chase Elliott wins chaotic, shortened maiden voyage at COTA

Chase Elliott braved the elements and some early chaos to reclaim his crown as NASCAR’s road course king en route to his first win of 2021.

Chase Elliott’s rain-shortened victory at the Echo Park Texas Grand Prix was historic in several ways. Not only did the defending Cup Series champion win NASCAR’s first visit to the Circuit of the Americas road course in Austin, TX, but he also captured the 268th Cup Series win for Hendrick Motorsports.

HMS is now tied for the most team victories in Cup Series history, tying Richard Petty’s Petty Enterprises. It’s also the 800th victory for manufacturer Chevrolet. Elliott’s teammate Kyle Larson finished second, while Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top five.

Obviously that’s just a huge win on multiple fronts,” Elliott said after the race. “Win number 800 for Chevrolet. They’re a great partner to me personally. They’ve played a massive role in the success of Hendrick Motorsports past and present. They’re a great group to work with so I’m super proud of them.

“To tie (Petty Enterprises) obviously is (also) a big one. The boss has been on us heavy about that record. He wants that record. So super glad that we could help with that today.”

With Elliott’s win, each of team owner Rick Hendrick’s drivers has won a race in 2021. He joins Larson, William Byron, and Alex Bowman, the latter-most of whom won last weekend’s race at Dover. HMS vehicles swept the first four spots.

Hendrick has enjoyed his share of success in the Cup Series, as his 268 career victories have been accompanied by 13 championships, the most recent earned by Elliott last season. Jimmie Johnson won seven in the No. 48 now occupied by Bowman, while Jeff Gordon won four in the No. 24 piloted by Byron. Laron’s No. 5 hosted Terry Labonte’s championship in 1996.

But Hendrick has a strong appreciation for the current run, as there’s a possibility that his quartet could all be racing for a championship come November’s season finale in Phoenix.

“We usually had one or two (contenders). Jeff’s dominating, Jimmie’s dominating. Now the sport is so competitive,” he said. “But to have four that can show up and win any weekend, that’s a testament to the effort that all those people back in the shop are putting into this program.”

The win also allowed Elliott to reclaim his monopoly on road courses. He had previously won four in a row at such tracks, seeing that streak end in February at Daytona. Elliott has now won six road course races, tied for third-most all-time with Petty, Rusty Wallace, Ricky Rudd, and Bobby Allison. Only Gordon (9) and Tony Stewart (8) have won more. COTA is the second of a record seven road courses on the 2021 schedule, the next being scheduled for Sonoma Raceway on June 6.

It’s safe to say that this one at COTA, which often plays host to Formula 1 and Sports Car races, will definitely be among the most unique. Special rain tires were used as downpours struck the Austin area. Unfortunately, the tires did little to combat visibility issues that plagued the early portions of the race and eventually led to its cancelation with 14 to go in the 68-lap event. 

NASCAR has run full races on road courses in the rain before, including an Xfinity Series race at the Charlotte roval last fall. But several drivers were displeased after several violent wrecks plagued the first two stages. In a dangerous wreck that brought out a red flag on lap 25, Martin Truex Jr. slammed into the back of Michael McDowell’s Ford before his own No. 19 Toyota was plowed into by Cole Custer on the fast backstretch.

Six laps earlier, the days of Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, and Bubba Wallace all ended due to visibility issues. Harvick, who failed to finish a race for the first time since September 2019, minced no words about the situation. 

“It’s the most unsafe thing I’ve ever done in a race car by a lot.  You can’t see anything down the straightaways.  These cars were not built to run in the rain,” the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and 2014 Cup Series champion said. “We don’t have any business being out in the rain, period.  All I can say is this is the worst decision that we’ve ever made in our sport that I’ve been a part of, and I’ve never felt more unsafe in my whole racing career, period.”

Sunday’s race became considerably tamer as the rain let up. NASCAR also mandated single-file restarts for the rest of the event. Elliott took over the lead at lap 50, when several leaders (including Bowman, Chastain, and Kyle Busch) went to pit road. The No. 9 team projected that they would be unable to finish the race without making another stop of their own and advised Elliott to simply build a lead that would procure a strong finish.

The return of heavy rains led to visibility issues resurfacing and standing water in the backstretch, allowing Elliott to secure the 12th win of his career.

“I’m super proud just of our whole group,” Elliott said. “I feel like we really kind of persevered through multiple challenges today. I didn’t think we started the day off great, but we were able to kind of fight back, get to where we had a lot of pace there at the end. I’m really proud of that.”

Prior to Elliott’s statements, NASCAR announced that Hendrick and Petty would sign and auction off part of Elliott’s No. 9 car from the race with proceeds benefitting the Victory Junction Gang, a charity that aids terminally ill children. The charity was formed by Petty and his son Kyle in honor of fourth-generation racer Adam Petty, who tragically perished at the age of 19 in a crash during a 2000 practice run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns next Sunday for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET, Fox). This Memorial Day Weekend tradition is the longest event on the NASCAR circuit at 600 miles (400 laps around the 1.5-mile oval).

Race Notes

  • Alas for HMS, the early stoppage caused one streak to come to an end. Coming home 11th, Byron saw his streak of consecutive top ten finishes severed at 11.

 

  • Allmendinger’s fifth-place finish was the best in five races for Kaluig Racing. He is currently competing for an Xfinity Series title for Kaulig, sitting third in the standings. Allmendinger’s lone Cup Series win came with JTG Daugherty Racing’s No. 47 in 2014 at Watkins Glen.

 

  • Rookie Chase Briscoe posted his best career finish in sixth.

 

  • Sunday’s starting lineup was set by traditional qualifying, which has mostly been cast aside to compact race weekends into a single day during the ongoing health crisis. Tyler Reddick earned his first career pole with a time of 2:12.911.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants revamped their offense with sure-handed receivers in 2021

New York Giants, Kenny Golladay

The New York Giants had one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2020. The Giants averaged a putrid 17.5 points per game this past season. New York lacked playmakers on offense once superstar running back Saquon Barkley went down for the season in Week 2.

In the passing game, the Giants severely lacked dependable weapons to haul in passes from Daniel Jones. In a pivotal sophomore season, Daniel Jones had 23 of his passes dropped in 2020. The Giants’ wide receivers were inconsistent and undependable. New York made it a point of emphasis to fix that in the 2021 offseason.

The Giants’ new dependable wide receiver corps

According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants had the second-highest rate of dropped passes last season. Tight end Evan Engram receives a lot of criticism for dropping 11 passes in 2020. However, he was not the only receiver that struggled to hold onto the football last season. Darius Slayton also dropped 6 passes. The Giants’ receivers also struggled to separate last season.

Golden Tate averaged only 2.1 yards of separation in 2020 (tied-fourth worst in the league). Darius Slayton’s separation at a 2.9-yard average was not much better. The Giants recognized a clear need to upgrade Daniel Jones’s offensive weapons and seized the opportunity to do so in the 2021 offseason.

The New York Giants made a splash in free agency this offseason when they landed the market’s top wide receiver, Kenny Golladay. The Giants landed a receiver that is as dependable as they come. Kenny Golladay has the second-highest contested catch rate in the NFL since 2018 (PFF). Daniel Jones now has his big-body “go up and get it” outside receiver with Kenny G.

With their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Giants got another sure-handed receiver. Kadarius Toney had only 3 career drops on 123 catchable passes during his time at the University of Florida (PFF). Toney fills a huge YAC need for the Giants, but also brings some dependability to the offense, too.

The Giants’ third big receiving acquisition this offseason was tight end Kyle Rudolph. Evan Engram struggled to hold onto the ball as New York’s starting tight end in 2020, so the Giants went out and got the most sure-handed and dependable tight end in football to help him out. Kyle Rudolph has recorded zero drops on 90 targets the past two seasons (PFF).

The New York Giants now have consistency and dependability on offense. Daniel Jones will enjoy throwing to sure-handed receivers as he attempts to establish himself as a franchise quarterback in his third season.

Yankees: Good news and bad news in series sweep over Chicago

nyy, yankees, clint frazier

The New York Yankees completed a series sweep over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday afternoon, increasing their winning streak to six straight games. Altogether, it was a competitive contest that leaked into the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Yankees had a tremendous opportunity to seal the win. Ultimately, they did just that, as Aaron Judge stepped up to the plate with one out and the bases loaded but remained patient. Chicago closer Liam Hendricks walked Judge and drove in the winning run. That’s one way to WALK off a game!

The Yankees played solid baseball, as their pitching once again performed well until the relief began to let the game slip away.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees:

There were plenty of positives in the victory on Sunday, including Jameson Taillon putting together his best outing of the year. Over 5.0 innings, he allowed two hits and two walks, striking out four batters over 80 pitches. The Yankees have now extended their streak to 35 straight innings where starting pitchers haven’t allowed an earned run.

Jameson brought his ERA down to 5.06, as he entered the day with an ERA of 5.73. The bullpen struggled to help close out the game early on, as Wandy Peralta allowed two runs and one hit, recording just one out before being replaced by Chad Green. Thankfully, Jonathan Loaisiga helped the Yankees reach the ninth-inning, where are Aroldis Chapman gave up his first run of the year, forcing the Yankees to win this game in the final moments.

It was odd to see the bullpen struggle on Sunday, as they’ve been phenomenal this season along with the starting pitching as of late. However, somewhat ironically, the Yankees’ offense stepped up to the plate and willed the team to victory over a quality Chicago team who is seven games above .500 after the loss.

Offensively, a few of their hitters had quality outings, including Gleyber Torres, who had three hits for the second consecutive game, and Clint Frazier, who also had his first three-hit game of the 2021 season. Without their efficiency and production, the Yankees would’ve lost this contest.

Frazier bounced back from a stiff neck which kept him out for the past few days, showing up at the right time and shaking off the injury with ease. Hopefully, he can continue the string of production, as he desperately needs to offer more value at the bottom of the order.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees get their sweep with a walk-off walk by Aaron Judge

New York Yankees, NYY, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton

The New York Yankees faced the Chicago White Sox in a finale matinee at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx this afternoon, on a hot and steamy day. A great day for baseball in New York. Jameson Taillon was on the mound for the Yankees, and Dallas Keuchel of the White Sox. The Yankees had already won the series but today went for the sweep of one of the best teams in baseball. The sweep was a reality when Aaron Judge had a walk-off walk for the final 5-4 score.

Taillon first faced Tim Anderson, who started the game with a single to left field. Jake Lamb popped out to catcher Sanchez, Yoan Moncada walked. Jose Abreu flew out to Andujar, who made an amazing diving catch. Yermin Mercedes struck out to end the half. At the top of the Yankees lineup today was DJ LeMahieu, he against Keuchel he hit back to him for the quick out. Luke Voit singled on a kicked ball by Keuchel. Aaron Judge hit a single to left. Gio Urshela ground out in the infield. Gleyber Torres hit a two-run double driving in LeMahieu and Judge. Gary Sanchez went down on strikes, but the Yankees took the 2 run lead.

At the top of the second inning, Adam Eaton hit to the wall as Brett Gardner climbed to the wall to make the out. Yasmani Grandal went down on strikes. Billy Hamilton flew out to left for a 1-2-3 inning for Taillon. At the bottom, Miguel Andujar lined back to Keuchel. Clint Frazier hit up the middle for a single. Frazier stole second. Brett Gardner struck out. LeMahieu ground to third to end the inning. New York Yankees 2 White Sox 0.

Nick Madrigal led off the third by grounding out to Torres at short. Anderson struck out. Lamb popped out to catcher Gary Sanchez the made an over-the-shoulder catch for the out. At the bottom of the inning, Voit ground out. Aaron Judge ground out to third. Gio Urshela got a very long single that almost went into the stands. Gleyber Torres singled to right for two on and two outs. Gary Sanchez ground out to third. Yankees 2 White Sox 0.

Moncada led off the fourth by singling to left. Abreu ground out into a double play. Mercedes got hit on the helmet; after being checked out, he advanced to first base. Eaton flew out to Andujar in left. Miguel Andujar led off the bottom by striking out looking. Clint Frazier hit out directly to Madrigal at second. Gardner went down on strikes as Keuchel got his first 1-2-3 inning. Yankees 2 White Sox 0.

The fifth inning had Grandal walking to start the inning. Hamilton popped out to third. Madrigal hit into a force out. Anderson struck out for a quick inning for Taillon. LeMahieu at the bottom singled to far right. Voit walked. With two on and no outs, Aaron Judge walked on four pitches to load the bases with Yankees and no outs. Evan Marshall replaced Keuchel. Gio Urshela ground into a double play, but DJ scored to tack on another run. Gleyber Torres went down looking. New York Yankees 3 White Sox 0.

Wandy Peralta replaced Taillon at the top of the sixth. Lamb ground out. Moncada worked at a walk. Abreu hit a long home run over the bullpen in left. Mercedes faced the new pitcher, Chad Green, and popped out to LeMahieu. Eaton struck out. At the bottom, the new Sox pitcher was Jose Ruiz facing Gary Sanchez, who walked. Miguel Andujar lined out to right. Clint Frazier singled, moving Sanchez to second with one out. Brett Gardner popped back to the pitcher but trying to make the double play; the second baseman threw past the first baseman as Sanchez scored, and the ball went into the dugout as Gardner went to second. LeMahieu flew out to center, but the Yankees tacked on a run. Yankees 4 White Sox 2.

Grandal led off the second inning by homering to center just out of the reach of Frazier. Leury Garcia pinch hit for Hamilton and popped out to Torres. Madrigal ground out to Green for two outs. Anderson lined out to short. After the stretch, Luke Voit faced the new Sox pitcher Codi Heuer and flew out to right. Aaron  Judge struck out looking. Gio Urshela struck out swinging. Yankees 4 White Sox 3.

Jonathan Loaisiga came on to pitch the eighth to face Lamb, who singled off LaMahieu’s glove. Moncada struck out swinging. Abreu hit into the Yankees’ second double play of the game. At the bottom, Gleyber Torres led off by singling to right on a hard-hit ball. Gary Sanchez ground out. Torres tried to steal third and was called out on a reviewed play. Miguel Andujar went down swinging. New York Yankees 4 White Sox 3.

At the top of the ninth, the Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman was on the mound facing Yermin Mercedes, who flew out to Tyler Wade in left. Andy Vaughn homered to center as Chapman blew his first save of the season. Grandal walked. A wild pitch allowed Grandal to go to second. Garcia ground out to Urshela. Madrigal struck out, but the White Sox tied it up. At the bottom, looking for the walk-off, Clint Frazier singled to center. Brett Gardner struck out, but Frazier stole second base. They walked LeMahieu and choose to pitch to Tyler Wade; he ran out a slow roller to load the bases with one out. The Sox brought in Liam Hendriks to face Aaron Judge, who with the bases loaded had a walk-off walk to win the game for the Yankees.

The final score was the New York Yankees 5 and the White Sox 4. The winning pitcher was Aroldis Chapman, who blew the save, and the loser was Aaron Bummer. The Yankees got their second sweep out of seven attempts.

 

New York Liberty: 3 stars from Sunday’s win at Chicago

sabrina ionescu, New York Liberty

The New York Liberty got back on the right track with a thrilling, sharp-shooting victory over the Chicago Sky.

Six metropolitan reached double figures, paced by 20 from Betnijah Laney, as the New York Liberty (4-1) recovered from their first loss of the season through a 93-85 victory over the Chicago Sky on Sunday afternoon at Wintrust Arena.

Sabrina Ionescu earned another double-double while Natasha Howard earned 12 points and seven rebounds in her New York debut. Courtney Vandersloot had 15 assists for the Sky (2-1) in defeat.

ESM has the game ball from Sunday’s victory…

3rd Star: Rebecca Allen

13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals

Allen was a latecomer to the Liberty’s proceedings after finishing up her international duties in Spain. She has worked herself into a strong rhythm and contributed a little bit of everything on Sunday, finding a late shooting stroke and stifling Chicago’s comeback effort with strong defense.

The Liberty nearly endured disaster when Allen appeared to be shaken up after a late possession under the basket. Encouraged by teammate Betnijah Laney, Allen remained on the floor and recovered a missed free throw to pick one final and-one basket, delivering the dagger and the final points of the victory.

2nd Star: Betnijah Laney

20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists

The Most Improved Player is turning the Liberty into a most improved team, as Laney once again reached 20 points, no having done so in each of her first five games in seafoam. She was pleased with the Liberty’s physicality in their Sunday victory as well as their resilience in overcoming Friday’s brutal loss in Washington.

“For us to know that we can play their style of basketball and be successful, I think it really is really good for us and it shows our strength,” Laney said. “We knew what we had to do and we just came out with the same energy (over the first three contests), approaching the games, the same way that we do every time.”

1st Star: Sabrina Ionescu

19 points, 12 assists 

Sunday was a familiar battle for Ionescu, as she went up against former Oregon teammate Ruthy Hebard and their fellow Kelly Graves disciple Vandersloot (who worked with the current Ducks coach at Gonzaga). Ionescu responded with another double-double and got herself involved in several scrums under the basket. She was pleased that the team was able to win a physical battle, especially while embroiled in a three games-in-four days swing that ends tomorrow in Brooklyn against the Dallas Wings (7 p.m. ET, YES).

“It was a dogfight. But we came up and we were ready to play,” Ionescu said. “They’re tough, they’re a physical team, that’s kind of their MO. We knew that going in, and we definitely punched first and continued to punch. You know they were going through some runs, but I think defense is what really stepped up for us in this game and ultimately helped us.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

UFC books Kevin Lee – Sean Brady

The UFC has finalized a fun matchup in the welterweight division for their July PPV. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto broke the story last night that the promotion had finalized a matchup between former lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee (18-6) and the undefeated Sean Brady (14-0).

The matchup will take place at UFC 264 on July 10th. Lee will be moving up to the welterweight division and provides a big test for Sean Brady. Brady made his UFC debut back in 2019 and he’s looked great inside the octagon.

So far, he’s gone a perfect 4-0 in the UFC. His last two victories were submission victories over Christian Aguilara and Jake Mathews. He also has a victory over former Ultimate Fighter winner Court McGee. As it stands, Brady is ranked 13th in the UFC‘s welterweight division.

While Kevin Lee has spent the majority of his career at lightweight, this will still be a big test for the young Sean Brady. If Brady can defeat Lee at UFC 264, it will say a lot about how good he really is.

Back to the UFC’s welterweight division

Kevin Lee is currently ranked 12th in the UFC’s lightweight division. However, it’s been more than a year since we’ve seen him inside the octagon. While he’s been gearing up for his return, the promotion hadn’t finalized a matchup for him.

Last week, Lee announced that he would be moving to the welterweight division for the foreseeable future. The Motown Phenom has always struggled with making the 155 pound weight limit at lightweight. With that, Lee decided to move back to the welterweight division.

In 2019, Lee last competed at welterweight when he moved up to take on Raphael Dos Anjos. Like Lee, RDA spent the majority of his UFC career at lightweight before moving up. Lee was submitted in the fourth round which prompted his move back to lightweight.

Now, Lee has decided to give welterweight another shot. If he can defeat a top undefeated prospect like Sean Brady in July, it will say a lot about where he stands in the UFC’s welterweight division.

New York Yankees Analysis: Where has all the hitting gone, long time missing

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

After a truncated, failed 2020 baseball season, the New York Yankees seem to be on a path to success as they approach first place in the AL East after a slow start to this season. The pitching has been great, and the fieldwork has improved greatly, but the missing piece of the puzzle is the Yankee hitting. It isn’t there for the most part, and when it is, it isn’t consistent.

This is something that not only affects the Yankees but seems to be baseball-wide. Whether it be a deadened ball or outstanding pitching, something is going on that’s different this season. The modern-era record (since 1900) for no-hitters is seven in a season. This year we have six already, and it not even June yet. One was by the New York Yankees starter Corey Kluber. If this pace continues, we could have as many as 18, well more than twice the normal amount.

Don’t get too excited

It’s easy to get really excited with how the New York Yankees have been playing the last few weeks. After all, they have now won nine series in a row: Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, and now the White Sox. But look closely at why this is happening. It’s for three reasons: We have had excellent starting pitching, a stellar bullpen, and hitting is down throughout baseball.

It’s easy for Yankee fans, particularly newer ones to get overly down on the team when they aren’t playing well and over-excited when they play well. One just remember to keep your eye on the ball, the big picture, it’s a long season.

So you ask, with all this winning going on, why should there be any reason for concern. It’s simply the New York Yankees hitting overall stinks. If our pitching falters, our hitting will not win games, and that should be a concern. Take a look at how we have been hitting at Yankee Stadium and on the road:

The New York Yankees have only played on the road at Baltimore, Toronto south, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Arlington, Texas.

Baltimore: .273 BA, .808 OPS (7 games)

Toronto: .198 BA, .651 OPS (3 games)

Cleveland: .209 BA, .758 OPS (4 games)

Tampa Bay: .204 BA, .620 OPS (6 games)

Texas: .253 BA, .680 OPS  (4 games)

Yankee Stadium: .220 BA, .684 OPS (22 games)

We are only playing well against the Baltimore Orioles and okay against the Texas Rangers; other than those teams; we are subpar. Even at Yankee Stadium, we aren’t that good. We are 13-9 At the Stadium; that’s the same record we have experienced on the road, 4 games above .500. Usually, the Yankees play much better at home than on the road.

Our good luck may not hold up season-wise if our hitting doesn’t improve. Like I say, we have been lucky; we have scored 3 or fewer runs in 23 games this season. On average, you have to score more than 3 runs a game to win games consistently. As of today, we have 9 hitters of the 14 regular players that are hitting under .200, which is just plain horrible.

To continue to win games, we must continue the excellent pitching; the aforementioned 9 have got to bring their averages up, and our star players need to be great. The Yankees are looking forward to getting Giancarlo Stanton back and Luis Severino to strengthen the starting rotation, and Zack Britton to shore up the bullpen.

The bottom line is that this is a quality team that can make a run for a World Series berth, but better hitting will get them closer to that goal. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gio Urshela are hitting, Gleyber Torres is looking encouraging. Although DJ LeMahieu is hitting, he is not the dependable hitter he was last year. His batting average is 100 points lower than last year, and he only has 14 RBI’s. Luke Voit, just returning is too early to evaluate. The rest of the team needs to pick it up.

Yankees: Could Miguel Andujar eat into Clint Frazier’s playing time?

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees outfield has been a medley of shifts, and changes since a few injuries have piled up. With Aaron Hicks expected to potentially miss the remainder of the 2021 season, Giancarlo Stanton recovering from a quad injury, Clint Frazier dealing with a neck issue, and Ryan LaMarre pulling his hamstring, the Yankees are thin at the position.

Currently, they have Brett Gardner in centerfield, Miguel Andujar in left field, and Aaron Judge in right field. Behind them, they have minimal depth, but the Yankees have still managed to extract victories over the past few days, allowing just one run over the last four games.

However, one person’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that is how Andujar is approaching this opportunity. With Frazier hurting his neck, Andujar has been spending time in left field as a starter, recording an RBI and hit in the 7-0 victory over Chicago on Saturday afternoon.

While Andujar starting to build a bit of confidence and momentum, his defensive efficiency still hovers in the below-average category. He was hit with an error on Friday, cutting in front of Gardner as he attempted to make a catch in centerfield. However, Aaron Boone believes he’s making progress with his bat, and that is his primary purpose currently.

“Feel like he’s having some quality at-bats for us,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Hopefully, just with some regular opportunities here, he’s starting to find some traction a little bit. We know what he’s capable of with the bat.”

The Yankees need Andujar to step up defensively, but he’s doing his best:

Defensively, Miguel is fighting to take a step forward, and while Boone justified his struggles, he’s doing the best he can at a position he’s still extremely new at. The question is, can Andujar compete for more playing time even when Frazier returns?

Clint is currently hitting .150 on the season but represents a better defensive player than the 26-year-old Dominican Republic native. It really depends on what Boone wants to do in terms of strategy, rolling with a more offensively proficient option or securing the outfield defensively. Considering how well the starting pitching has performed as of late, I think rolling with Andujar might be a more efficient move in the short term while Clint returns to health.

Long term, I believe Frazier will be inserted into the starting lineup, but he desperately needs to turn his season around at the plate, striking out 27.8% of the time but is earning walks on 14.3% of his at-bats, which is a solid number to start the year. He’s simply been inconsistent in most categories but has the talent to be a + hitter.

Knicks Vs Hawks: Game 1 score prediction, keys to victory for New York

immanuel quickley, rj barrett, new york knicks

The New York Knicks have their opening contest against Atlanta Hawks at 7 PM on Sunday evening. After the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Boston Celtics on Saturday, the Knicks will have their opportunity to post a victory in game one at home.

After clinching the 4th seed, taking the spot from Atlanta, awarded them the first two games at home, but the Hawks will not be an easy opponent, as they have Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Clint Capela on the roster. I would be remiss not to mention John Collins or DeAndre Hunter.

Luckily, New York has one of the best defenses in the NBA, averaging 104.7 points per game allowed during the regular season, which ranks first place by more than 2.0 points.

Tom Thibodeau will have to be on his A-game, and consistency remains a priority for a Knicks team that has experienced a week off, which could theoretically disrupt their momentum. However, I believe the rest and time to rehabilitate before the postseason presents a major benefit.

Knicks Vs. Hawks score prediction:

Considering how the Knicks closed the season and their success against Atlanta this year, I believe they will emerge victorious in game one at home in front of 15,000 fans at MSG.

It will be a tight game throughout, but the Knicks will pull away by 8-10 points in the remaining moments, successfully closing out the win with fantastic defense and reliance on Derrick Rose at point guard. Rose is one of the only current Knicks to have playoff experience, having played over 40 games during elimination rounds.

I believe the final score will be 111-105, providing the Knicks with a huge game one victory and some essential momentum heading into game two.

Keys to victory for the Knicks:

1.) Elite defense

As aforementioned, the Knicks must play to their strengths, which remains an elite defense that focuses on being aggressive in the paint and closing out perimeter shooters. Of course, limiting Young will be the priority, considering he is averaging 25.3 points and 9.4 assists per game.

Personally, I wouldn’t hate to see Frank Ntilikina on him frequently instead of Elfrid Payton. Thibodeau did mention that Ntilikina will earn more playing time against Atlanta. I imagine for this reason exactly.

2.) Solid 3-PT shooting

The Knicks have really picked up their three-point shooting over the second half of the year, and it was a necessity if they wanted to become a playoff-caliber team. They ended up shooting 39.2%, attempting 29.9 per game. After starting the year poorly, they catapulted themselves into the top three in the league, just behind the Brooklyn Nets and LA Clippers.

They must continue this impressive streak of shooting if they want to beat Atlanta. Ultimately the long ball is an essential factor in today’s NBA.

3.) Consistency

Of course, one of the more important factors remains consistency, especially on defense. The Knicks occasionally give up small spurts of scoring, and they must limit those shifts in momentum if they want to take down Atlanta. With a team containing multiple elite scores, stopping them from stringing together positive drives is a catalyst.

Offensively, I imagine the Knicks might start off slow based on the atmosphere and jitters involved, but they will ease their way into the game and begin to feed off the crowd.