The Boston Celtics' expectations went down big time with the loss of Kyrie Irving, and a back and forth affair in the first round with the Milwaukee Bucks have added to that worry for Celtics' faithful. The Bucks forced a decisive Game 7 on Thursday night with a 97-86 win on their home floor. Giannis Antetokounmpo stepped up with his team's season on the line, finishing with 31 points and 14 rebounds, helping the Bucks make half of their shots on the night. Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points apiece, including Brogdon hitting a big three-pointer in the fourth quarter to help the Bucks push the Celtics farther away. The Bucks will now enter their first Game 7 since falling to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, just one season after falling in the first round in six games to the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics were playing from behind just about the entire night, as their inability to jump ahead came from their 28 percent mark from three-point range. They were led by Jayson Tatum's 22 points, while Terry Rozier added 18 for the Celtics, who were outrebounded, 48-39, on the night. Antetokounmpo had a big say in that statistic, as the "Greek Freak" stepped up with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting in the second half. The Celtics will host the decisive Game 7 on Saturday night at the TD Garden, which will be the second Game 7 in that stadium this week. The Celtics will look to follow suit with the Boston Bruins, who beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in a Game 7 on Wednesday night.
Golden Knights, Penguins Earn Game 1 Wins in Second Round
The second round got underway in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday night, and the two teams who earned the early-series victories could end up meeting in the Finals. First, the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Washington Capitals in Game 1, 3-2. Patric Hornqvist, Sidney Crosby, and Jake Guentzel all scored in a 4:49 span in the third period to erase their 2-0 deficit. Crosby also added an assist in that comeback for the Penguins, who were playing without Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin due to injuries. Matt Murray made 32 saves on the night, allowing goals to Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, which gave the Capitals the lead on their home ice. Although, for a second straight series, the Capitals dropped the first game of the series at Capital One Arena, as they will host Game 2 on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Golden Knights continue to look unstoppable so far this postseason, as they blew out the San Jose Sharks to begin the second round, 7-0, late Thursday night. Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves in his third shutout of the postseason, while getting plenty of support around him, including a four-goal first period. Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, and Jonathan Marchessault all scored just 1:31 apart in the opening period, helping the steamrolling begin for the Knights, who swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. Alex Tuch, Shea Theodore, Colin Miller, and James Neal also scored for Vegas, who got three assists apiece from Reilly Smith and William Karlsson, and two apiece from Marchessault and David Perron. In five games this postseason, the Golden Knights are outscoring their opponents, 14-3. They will host Game 2 of the series on Saturday night.
Yankees Walk-Off to Sweep Twins
After a shaky start for both the team and their stars, the New York Yankees are playing the kind of baseball that many expected from them this season. Gary Sanchez hit a walk-off, three-run home run in the ninth inning on Thursday afternoon, giving the Yankees a sweep of the Minnesota Twins with a 4-3 victory. The Yankees not only sweep the four-game series at home with the victory, but also extend their win streak to six in a row before they head out west to battle the Angels in Anaheim. The Yankees were held hitless through five innings on Thursday, and trailed 3-0 before Aaron Hicks got his team on the board with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. The game-winning blast for Sanchez came off of Twins' closer, Fernando Rodney, who dropped to 1-2 with two blown saves early on in the season. The loss for the Twins is their seventh in a row, completing an 0-7 road trip, which is their first road trip of sorts since August 10-16th 2001. They have also now dropped eight in a row to the Yankees, including last season's American League Wild Card Game, and 13 of their past 14 contests at Yankee Stadium. Luckily for them, they will return home for a weekend series with the lowly Cincinnati Reds, which begins on Friday night. Meanwhile, the Yankees will start their series with the Angels on Friday.