Update on the latest sports
A year after Finals, Lakers and Heat set to play before fans
UNDATED (AP) — On their respective ways to the NBA Finals last season, there was one important element missing for both the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. No fans were there.
That changes for last year’s finalists on Thursday night, when the Lakers play host to Phoenix and the Heat return home to face Milwaukee in a pair of Round 1, Game 3 matchups. Those are two of the three games on Thursday’s slate, the other being Denver heading to Portland for a Game 3 contest.
Portland and the Lakers are going home having taken away home-court advantage from higher-seeded opponents in their respective series by getting splits of the first two games, at third-seeded Denver and second-seeded Phoenix. Miami is limping home, the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, down 2-0 against the third-seeded Bucks and after getting simply blown out in Game 2.
The Lakers, who won last season’s NBA championship in the restart bubble at Walt Disney World, haven’t won a playoff game in their home arena since May 18, 2012.
Nashville, Montreal try to avoid elimination in first round
UNDATED (AP) — The Nashville Predators need to win Thursday night in Game 6 of their first-round series against Carolina to avoid elimination. The Montreal Canadiens need to win at Toronto to force a Game 6 or go home for the season.
Nashville has increased capacity to just over 14,000 fans, 2,000 more than the crowd for Games 3 and 4 that already sounded like a full-barn sellout. A positive trend for the Predators is that the home team is undefeated this series.
Carolina already has approval to allow more than 15,000 fans for a potential Game 7 in Raleigh.
If the Canadiens beat Toronto Thursday night they’ll return home to play in front of 2,500 Saturday night in what would be the first sporting event with fans in Canada since the pandemic began.
Two doubleheaders on tap in NY
NEW YORK (AP) — Both the Yankees and Mets are set to host doubleheaders in New York Thursday after their games were postponed by weather Wednesday night.
The Yankees will play Toronto twice in the Bronx, and they’ll do it without 2020 big league home run leader Luke Voit, who is headed for the injured list with a right oblique strain. They Yankees are also without right-hander Corey Kluber (KLOO’-bur), who is expected to miss at least two months after hurting his pitching shoulder Tuesday.
The Mets will play two games against the Rockies with a major league-high 17 players on the injured list.
Elsewhere in the majors Thursday:
— The Cincinnati Reds will finish their game at Washington that was suspended in the middle of the fourth inning Wednesday night following a weather delay of more than three hours. Play will resume Thursday afternoon with Washington leading 3-0. Thursday night’s regularly scheduled series finale will now be seven innings. Right-handers Sonny Gray and Stephen Strasburg are set to square off in that one. Strasburg will make his second start since returning from right shoulder inflammation. He pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in Washington’s 4-2 victory over Baltimore on Friday.
— Alex Wood pitches for the San Francisco Giants against his former team in the opener of a four-game series at Dodger Stadium. Wood spent three-plus seasons with the Dodgers from 2015-18, earning an All-Star nod, and returned last year as Los Angeles won the World Series. He faced his old teammates last Friday and lost 2-1 to Trevor Bauer as the Dodgers got started on a three-game weekend sweep in San Francisco. Both teams are near the top of the NL West standings. Los Angeles’ eight-game winning streak ended Wednesday night with a 5-2 loss in Houston.
— Shohei Ohtani (SHOH’-hay oh-TAH’-nee) makes his seventh pitching start of the season for the Los Angeles Angels in the opener of a four-game series at Oakland. At the plate, the two-way star is batting .270 with 15 homers, 38 RBIs and six stolen bases. Chris Bassitt takes the ball for the Athletics. He beat the Angels on Saturday in Anaheim, allowing just two runs in 7 2/3 innings.