• After nearly six full months and 82 games for each of the NBA's 30 teams, the regular season now gives way to the postseason. With no clear favorite, a massively competitive Western Conference, and two big rivals atop the Eastern Conference, this year's playoffs figure to be worth the wait.

    Without further ado, let's take a quick look at the first-round matchups, along with full schedules (all times Eastern and some quick analysis. (We'll publish in-depth previews for every series later this week.)


    No. 1 San Antonio Spurs (62-20) vs. No. 8 Dallas Mavericks (49-33)

    Game 1: Sunday, April 20, at San Antonio, 1:00PM on TNT

    Game 2: Wednesday, April 23, at San Antonio, 8:00PM on NBA TV

    Game 3: Saturday, April 26, at Dallas, 4:30PM on TNT

    Game 4: Monday, April 28, at Dallas, 9:30PM on TNT

    Game 5*: Wednesday, April 30, at San Antonio, TBD

    Game 6*: Friday, May 2, at Dallas, TBD

    Game 7*: Sunday, May 4, at San Antonio, TBD

    The eternally effective Spurs bounced back from last

    Read More »from Check out the first-round matchups for the 2014 NBA Playoffs
  • Tim Kennedy got the last word in his feud with Michael Bisping with a unanimous decision win in the TUF: Nations Finale Wednesday night. Scores were 49-46 (twice) and 50-45 in favor of Kennedy, who moved into the top five of the middleweight division with this, his third UFC win.

    Kennedy used a persistent grappling attack to best Bisping over five rounds. The former Army Ranger sniper controlled the fight with multiple take downs and dominant positions repeatedly achieved on the ground.

    Per usual, Bisping proved resiliant and used his excellent conditioning to fight until the end. Bisping's toughness and sharp striking on the feet, however, were not enough to keep Kennedy off of him and prevent him from controlling him in the clinch and on the ground.

    The win is Kennedy's fourth straight. Bisping, who was returning after nearly a year lay-off because of serious eye injuries, has now lost two out of his last three fights and three out of his last five.

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    Read More »from Tim Kennedy wins decision over Michael Bisping
  • Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of two pressure-cooker bombs exploding near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, an attack that killed three people and injured 264 others. It was an unspeakable tragedy that shook Boston — and the country — to its core, and touched countless lives. But the city's response to in the aftermath of the attack — the tireless work of Boston police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel, the selfless heroism of civilians like Carlos Arredondo, etc. — also showcased the very best of the character and fortitude that Boston could offer.

    As Boston and its residents began the long and difficult journey of returning to normalcy, the city's sports teams — the Boston Celtics, the Boston Bruins and perhaps most of all the eventual World Series champion Boston Red Sox, led by the famously quotable David Ortiz — played a significant role in giving Bostonians something to band together and rally behind, common colors and causes to celebrate. After

    Read More »from Rajon Rondo honors Boston Marathon bombing victims with 'Boston Strong' sneakers for finale
  • This Los Angeles Lakers season was always going to be a trying one full of challenges, but the reality has been something akin to a worst-case scenario. L.A.'s most popular squad enters Wednesday night's season finale at the San Antonio Spurs with a 26-55 record, second-worst in the Western Conference and sixth-worst in the entire NBA. The franchise will have to consider many options this summer as they attempt to reload and return to relevance.

    The most bizarre aspect of this terrible season, though, has been the relative absence of Lakers icon Kobe Bryant. In his 18th season, Kobe managed to participate in only six games as he struggled to recover from a torn Achilles tendon and subsequent injuries. He has been a presence around the Lakers, but he hasn't been the sort of ever-present force that has made him the NBA's most popular active player around the world.

    It now appears that Bryant has ended his 2013-14 responsibilities with the Lakers a little earlier than originally intended.

    Read More »from Kobe Bryant went to France before the Lakers finale, refers to season as 's---'
  • Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has officially been awarded an MLS team that will begin play in 2017. This will push the size of the league to 22 teams, with four scheduled enter the league over the next few years — New York City FC and Orlando City in 2015, Atlanta in 2017 and David Beckham's Miami team yet to be determined.

    Though this burst of expansion is an exciting show of the league's growth, the stadium situations for each new club are less than ideal. After making an odd attempt at a grand entrance by landing in a helicopter, MLS commissioner Don Garber announced that the Atlanta team will share the Falcons' new stadium, using a new "downsizing technology" to shrink the 70,000-seat, $1.2 billion stadium to a more intimate 29,000 seats for soccer once it is completed. It will have artificial turf, but Blank vowed that the American football lines would not be visible on the field, which drew the biggest cheer of the announcement.

    This follows the New York Times report that

    Read More »from Atlanta awarded MLS's 22nd team, will share new stadium with NFL's Falcons
  • With Cristiano Ronaldo unable to play in the Copa del Rey final due to injury, Gareth Bale, one of the most expensive footballers in the world, stepped up and scored a later winner for Real Madrid with a tremendous burst of speed. And he did it against Barcelona, no less.

    Angel Di Maria opened the scoring in the 11th minute for Real Madrid and the lead held into the second half. Marc Bartra did come up with an equalizer for Barca in the 68th minute, but his night would soon get much, much worse.

    In the 88th minute, Bale knocked the ball out in front of himself as he battled with Bartra near the touchline. The Barca defender forced Bale off the pitch, but this prompted the Welshman to turn on his exceptional speed, making Bartra look like he was running in sand as Bale beat him to the ball and scored the winner. Cristiano Ronaldo partied in the stands like every other Madridista watching and the Barcelona fans made their feelings known by giving Bale the finger as he celebrated with

    Read More »from Gareth Bale speeds past Marc Bartra to score Copa del Rey winner, Ronaldo goes nuts in the stands
  • A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.

    C: Sports Illustrated. Patrick Beverley tells Lee Jenkins what he wants his opponents to experience when he defends them — "It's going to be something you don't like. It's going to be hell." — in a predictably fantastic piece on what makes the hard-nosed point guard such an integral piece of the Houston Rockets' championship hopes.

    PF: SB Nation, Hardwood Paroxysm, GQ and The Triangle. James Herbert, Andrew Lynch, Bethlehem Shoals, Andrew Sharp and Danny Chau sing songs of praise for the dearly departed 2013-14 Phoenix Suns, who gave us more than we had any right to expect, never let us forget that we didn't expect anything, and head into the summer of 2014 with a remarkably bright future.

    SF: Bleacher Report. A great read from Howard Beck on how the Chicago Bulls "have become,

    Read More »from The 10-man rotation, starring Patrick Beverley on his defense: 'I'd probably want to fight me too'
  • Gregg Popovich is pretty impressed with what you're doing out there, man. (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)

    If the San Antonio Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers in their regular-season finale on Wednesday, they will finish the year at 63-19, tying a franchise record for wins. Even if they don't, they will enter the postseason this weekend as the No. 1 overall seed in the 2014 NBA playoffs, having earned home-court advantage in every series by virtue of posting the league's best record.

    They've been sensational all year, weathering a wide variety of storms by simply going about their business, calmly and completely crushing opponents en route to a fourth straight Southwest Division title, a 15th straight 50-win season, a 17th consecutive postseason berth and a franchise-record 19-game winning streak that spanned five weeks from late February through early April. In yet another season replete with impressive individual and team statistical accomplishments, though, the Spurs' legendary head coach has found himself most impressed by an achievement that can't be measured or quantified: his

    Read More »from Gregg Popovich 'really impressed' with Spurs putting aside Finals flameout, soaring to No. 1 seed
  • Though he's fought professionally since 2001, middleweight Tim Kennedy is a relative newcomer to the UFC. On the other hand, his TUF: Nations Finale main event opponent tonight, Michael Bisping, is a seasoned veteran of the world's top MMA promotion.

    The outspoken British star is not only confident in his own ability to get the win against Kennedy, he also believes that his opponent lacks professionalism, all-around. "Fighters should behave accordingly, because we're not court jesters. We're not kids working on a school project. We're professional athletes, and this guy is kind of cheapening the whole thing," Bisping said of the wise-cracking and often silly Kennedy in a recent interview with Steph Daniels.

    "He's making these stupid videos. This isn't Comedy Central. We're not here to be judged on the best skit. It's about going out there and fighting to your best ability. I don't think he's representing the sport as he should. He's certainly representing himself well, but not the

    Read More »from Michael Bisping on Tim Kennedy - 'He's an idiot.'
  • Last-place Sunderland were minutes away from a shocking 2-1 win over the best-paid team in the world, Man City. The win would've given Sunderland hope that they could somehow avoid relegation, but instead the scene was set for goalkeeper Vito Mannone to endure the longest moment of his life.

    A low shot from Samir Nasri in the 88th minute seemed easy enough for Mannone to deal with, but after it hit him square in the hands, the ball squirted away from the former Arsenal keeper and started trickling towards the goal. In his desperation to stop it, Mannone attempted to will his uncooperative body after it, moving like a snake pumped full of tranquilizers. Despite this torturous eternity, the ball ended up in the net and City got their late equalizer.

     Mannone's pain was all of the pain ever felt by mankind.

    (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

    (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

    The match ended in a 2-2 draw, though Nasri had a chance to score a winner for City moments after his

    Read More »from Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone lives out his worst nightmare


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