This Weekend in Sports: Preakness Stakes, UCL Soccer and NBA Playoffs
Another leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, Europe’s biggest annual soccer event and the NBA and NHL playoffs highlight this weekend’s sports schedule:
Friday, May 18
Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals
Nationals Park, Washington, DC; 7:05 p.m. EDT; MASN
Despite the teams’ close geographic proximity to one another, an interleague rivalry has never developed between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. While each team is normally near the bottom of their respective divisions, the Orioles and Nationals should both be in first place as they open a three-game series in Washington. Jake Arrieta (2-4) takes the mound for Baltimore, while Edwin Jackson (1-1) gets the start for Washington.
Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA; 8 p.m. EDT; ESPN
Behind a dominant performance from veteran center Kevin Garnett, Boston beat Philadelphia, 107-91, in Game 3 of this NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series on Wednesday night. The Celtics now have a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 on Friday. The 76ers need guards Evan Turner and Jodie Meeks to score more often, if they are to tie this series up as it heads back to Boston next week.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA; 10:30 p.m. EDT; ESPN
After winning the first two games of this NBA Western Conference semifinal series, Oklahoma City heads west to play the Lakers in a very busy weekend for the Staples Center (the Clippers and the NHL’s Kings will also host playoff games at the arena this weekend). The Thunder have already demonstrated that they can win both close games and blowouts in this series. If someone other than Kobe Bryant doesn’t step up for Los Angeles, the Lakers may not survive the weekend thanks to the spectacular play of Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. Game 4 is set for Saturday at 10:30 p.m. in Los Angeles. TNT will broadcast that contest.
Saturday, May 19
New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ; 1 p.m. EDT; NBC
With a 3-2 win on the road at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, the New Jersey Devils have stolen home ice advantage from the New York Rangers in the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams will meet in Game 3 with the Devils hoping that veteran goalie Martin Brodeur continues to stonewall the Rangers. New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist has come up with an impressive performance each time his team has needed a lift in this postseason. He will be called on to do so again.
Chelsea at Bayern Munich
Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany; 2:45 p.m. EDT; FOX
Europe’s top soccer clubs will duel in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final, an event which attracts more global viewers than the Super Bowl. Known by its royal blue color, Chelsea has won three Premier League titles, two League Cup titles and four FA Cup titles since demanding owner Roman Abramovich took over the franchise in 2003. However, Chelsea has never won the UEFA Champions League crown in its 107-year history. Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo will have to overcome the absence of captain John Terry, defender Branislav Ivanovic and midfielder Raul Meireles. Bayern Munich, Germany’s most successful club, has won 22 national titles. They’ll be the underdog on the pitch Saturday, but they could surprise given Chelsea’s injuries.
The Preakness Stakes
Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, MD; 6:18 p.m.; NBC
Trainer Doug O’Neill will have Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another ready to run the 137th Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico outside Baltimore, but it’s Derby runner-up Bodemeister that is the early favorite at 8-5 odds. Eleven horses will compete in the storied race. If I’ll Have Another can come away with another win, the horse will race for the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes on June 9. The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978.
Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 7:15 p.m. EDT; FOX
Though both teams entered 2012 with World Series hopes and loads of baseball talent, injuries and poor play have left both the Phillies and the Red Sox in last place in their respective divisions. They’ll try to get things turned around on Fox’s national game of the week. Boston will send Jon Lester (2-3) to the mound to shut down a Phillies lineup that has had difficulty working deep into counts and scoring runs. Philadelphia counters with Joe Blanton (2-3), who will attempt to keep Boston’s bats quiet.
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, NC; 7 p.m. EDT; Speed
NASCAR’s version of an all-star game, the Sprint All-Star Race invites winning drivers from 2011 and 2012, plus the past 10 event winners and Cup Series champs, to square off for 90 laps in pursuit of $1 million, but no points are awarded toward a Sprint Cup title. The 28th (XXVIII) edition of the race will have five segments: four 20-lap runs and a 10-lap sprint. The leaders of each individual segment will be allowed to pit prior to the 10-lap final, giving those drivers an edge in lining up best for the last 10 laps and the million-dollar purse. Greg Biffle, the circuit’s hottest racer, is the favorite to win.
Sunday, May 20
Phoenix Coyotes at Los Angeles Kings
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA; 3 p.m.; NBC
Already up 2-0 in the NHL’s Western Conference finals heading into Thursday’s Game 3, the Kings could be going for the sweep come Sunday. Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick has been nothing short of dominant, as the Kings have a 10-1 record this postseason. Phoenix may lose center Martin Hanzal to a suspension for his boarding penalty on Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown late in Game 2. Phoenix could be at an extreme disadvantage against Quick if Hanzal, who is the Coyotes’ first-line center, can’t play on Sunday.
Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN; 3:30 p.m. EDT; ABC
This NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series is tied at a game apiece heading into Thursday night’s game in Indianapolis. If the Pacers can defeat Miami, which is without injured center Chris Bosh, they may get Heat superstars LeBron James and Dwayne Wade into panic mode on Sunday. Indiana plays solid interior defense and uses a balanced scoring attack. Forward David West has led the Pacers in scoring in both games of the series thus far.
St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA; 8:05 p.m. EDT; ESPN
In what should be a battle of two National League division leaders, the defending world champion Cardinals conclude a three-game series in Los Angeles. Kyle Lohse (5-1) gets the start for St. Louis. He’ll try to shut down a Dodgers’ lineup that is without Matt Kemp, Juan Uribe and Juan Rivera. Los Angeles starter Chad Billingsley (2-3) must be careful when pitching to hot-hitting St. Louis outfielder Carlos Beltran. He leads the National League in home runs with 13.
San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA; 10:30 p.m. EDT; TNT
The Clippers dropped Game 1 of this NBA Western Conference semi-final series on Tuesday. With Game 2 set for Thursday and Game 3 on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m. EDT; ABC-TV), Los Angeles could easily be down 3-0 by Sunday night. San Antonio has won 15 games in a row and looks nearly unstoppable behind point guard Tony Parker and veteran big man Tim Duncan. Los Angeles needs superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to rise to the occasion, or this could be their last game of 2012.