Update on the latest sports
East finalists Bucks and Hawks seek to end long droughts
MILWAUKEE (AP) — There’s more than a berth in the NBA Finals for the winner of the improbable matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks-Atlanta Hawks. The winner of the Eastern Conference finals that start tonight will end decades of frustration.
Milwaukee won its lone NBA title in 1971 and last reached the Finals in 1974. The Hawks won their only championship in 1958 and lost in the Finals in 1957, 1960 and 1961 — and that’s when they were still playing in St. Louis.
The Bucks got to the conference finals by sweeping the Miami Heat and surviving a seven-game series with the second-seeded Brooklyn Nets. Atlanta beat the New York Knicks in five games and knocked off the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in seven.
Both the Bucks and Hawks ended their second-round series by earning their first Game 7 road victories ever.
Islanders look to bounce back from Game 5 blowout
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Islanders don’t plan to spend too much time thinking about their blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning that’s put them on the verge of being ousted from the Stanley Cup semifinals.
The 8-0 loss on Monday night has the Islanders in a 3-2 series hole heading into Game 6 at home Wednesday night, facing elimination for the first time this postseason.
The Islanders have managed to bounce back several times this postseason as they’ve trailed after three games in each of their three series. Now, they return to Nassau Coliseum, where they were 21-4-3 during the regular season and are 5-3 so far in the playoffs.
Blues defenseman Gunnarsson retires after 12 NHL seasons
UNDATED (AP) — St. Louis Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson has announced his retirement after 12 NHL seasons.
Gunnarsson scored the overtime goal in Game 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final for St. Louis that tied the series on the way to the franchise’s first championship. It was the only playoff goal he scored in his career.
The 34-year-old Swede had his 12th season in North America cut short by a knee injury in February.
Gunnarsson played 629 regular-season games for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Blues since making his NHL debut in 2009. A steady, defense-first presence on the blue line, he recorded 138 points and averaged over 18 minutes a game on the ice.
In other NHL news:
— The final report on the death of former St. Louis Blues defenseman Bob Plager (PLAY’-gur) has confirmed that he died of a “cardiac event” before crashing his SUV in March. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that St. Louis Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Graham revealed the final report yesterday, confirming his preliminary findings from shortly after Plager’s death. The 78-year-old was alone in his SUV when the crash happened on Interstate 64 near downtown St. Louis. Plager went from the New York Rangers to the Blues when the NHL expanded in 1967-68. The Ontario native played 11 seasons for St. Louis and later worked for the organization in various roles.
— Rene Robert (roh-BEHR’), a member of the Buffalo Sabres’ famed “French Connection Line,” has died at a Florida hospital less than a week after suffering a heart attack. He was 72. The Sabres confirmed Robert’s death Tuesday in a statement released by the team. Robert was acquired by the Sabres in a trade in 1972, and went on to round out one of the most productive lines in NHL history. He played right wing, alongside Rick Martin and Hockey Hall of Fame center Gilbert Perreault (zhihl-BEHR’ peh-ROH’). The line earned its nickname because all three were from Quebec.
— Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders has won the Jim Gregory general manager of the year award for the second straight year. The NHL announced Tuesday night that Lamoriello finished ahead of fellow finalists Marc Bergevin (BERZH’-eh-vihn) of the Montreal Canadiens and Bill Zito of the Florida Panthers. Colorado’s Joe Sakic was fourth and Vegas’ Kelly McCrimmon fifth in voting by GMs, league executives and media members after the second round of the playoffs. Lamoriello’s Islanders are in the semifinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight year. New York has made the playoffs each year under Lamoriello and coach Barry Trotz, and won at least one series each time after totaling one series win in the previous 25 years.
Ohtani back on mound
UNDATED (AP) — Two-way star Shohei Ohtani (SHOH’-hay oh-TAH’-nee) will be back on the mound Wednesday, taking on Kevin Gausman and the Giants at Angel Stadium.
Because the game is being played in an American League park, it has the potential to be the first where an NL team uses a designated hitter and the AL team does not. Ohtani has hit for himself in seven of his starts this season and went into Tuesday tied for the major league lead with 23 home runs.
Ohtani will make his 11th start, his most in any season since 2016, when he started 20 times in Japan. Gausman is tied for fourth in the majors in wins at 8-1 and is second with a 1.51 ERA.
In other highlights of Wednesday’s schedule:
— The New York Mets finally expect to get Michael Conforto back from a strained hamstring when they host Atlanta in the finale of a four-game series. However, the NL East leaders are hoping pitcher Marcus Stroman is not seriously hurt. Stroman, the team’s most durable starter this season, exited Tuesday night’s outing in the second inning because of a sore left hip. Conforto is ready to come off the injured list, but the right fielder wasn’t activated Tuesday after Triple-A Syracuse’s scheduled game was postponed to allow for more COVID-19 testing and contact tracing within the organization. Conforto spent last weekend on a rehab assignment with Syracuse. The club said Conforto tested negative Tuesday night and it plans to activate him before Wednesday’s game. He has been sidelined since straining his right hamstring on May 16.
— Wander Franco homered and doubled in his major league debut for Tampa Bay, showing why the 20-year-old infielder was considered the best prospect in the minor leagues. Called up from Triple-A earlier in the day, Franco connected for a three-run homer against Boston at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.
— Marlins lefty Trevor Rogers (7-3, 1.87), who leads all MLB rookies in wins, ERA and strikeouts, is scheduled to start at home against Toronto. Blue Jays outfielder George Springer went 0 for 4 on Tuesday night in a 2-1 win over Miami. He was activated after missing 66 of the first 70 games because of a strained right quadriceps.