The highlight of the week in sports for April 8-14 comes early, with tonight’s NCAA Final between Michigan and Louisville (9:23 PM ET, CBS). You can read the special preview for that game here, along with thoughts on Saturday’s semifinals. But there’s still a lot more going on in the world of sports. It’s the last full regular season week for the NBA, the NHL is down to three weeks to go and we move into Week 2 for baseball. Here’s the menu for the week in daily sports…
MONDAY: You can warm up for the national championship game with either baseball or hockey, as its Mets-Phillies at 7 PM ET on ESPN, or go to the NHL Network for Carolina-Boston. There’s also matinee baseball on tap, as a lot of teams still have their home openers. The Reds-Cardinals grudge match is shown to regional audiences by the MLB Network at 4:15 PM ET.
TUESDAY: The Western Conference playoff push comes to NBA-TV, with a late game between New Orleans and the Los Angeles Lakers at 10:30 PM ET. The Lakers are tied with Utah in the loss column for the final playoff berth, but trail by a game in the win column. The Jazz host Oklahoma City in a non-national TV game.
The Hornets-Lakers game is preceded on NBA-TV by Phoenix-Houston at 8 PM ET, although a more consequential game in that time slot will be in hockey when Chicago visits Minnesota (8 PM ET, NBC Sports Network). The Blackhawks are still fighting for pole position in the West and overall, and the Wild slipped out of first place in their division after being featured in TheSportsNotebook last week (no team can survive the infamous jinx of TheSportsNotebook). The MLB Network has a doubleheader that starts at 7 PM ET with White Sox-Nationals, then splits its 10 PM ET coverage between AL West games, A’s-Angels and Astros-Mariners. I can only hope you’re in an area that gets Oakland-LAA.
WEDNESDAY: The city of Boston hits the airwaves tonight, although the Red Sox won’t be involved. But ESPN’s got the Celtics’ home game with Brooklyn (8 PM, ET). Boston is two games up on Milwaukee for the 7-seed in the East and the right to avoid Miami in the first round, but this game is one of a few tough challenges the C’s have ahead of them. And NBC Sports Network shows the Bruins’ visit to New Jersey at 7:30 PM ET. If you want to avoid Boston, you can watch baseball on ESPN, but you’ll only be partially successful. The 7 PM ET game is Yankees-Indians, and we’re sure to get plenty of dugout shots of Terry Francona and recollections of his battles with the Pinstripes while he managed in Boston.
THURSDAY: It’s our last Thursday night NBA doubleheader on TNT, although Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley & Co, will be on hand through the playoffs. Tonight’s fare is Knicks-Bulls and Thunder-Warriors, starting at 8 PM ET. New York has gotten a grip on the 2-seed in the East, but still has to nail it down. And Oklahoma City is just a game back of San Antonio for the top spot in the West.
The NBC Sports Network seems to have caught a bad break with its hockey game of Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay at 7:30 PM ET. An anticipated showdown of scorers between Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos has gone by the wayside, as Crosby’s out indefinitely with his jaw injury. The team has no reason to rush him back before the playoffs and now the Penguins-Lightning just sits as a bad game. If you want baseball, there’s more Yankee action, as their finale in Cleveland is telecast by MLB Network at 7 PM ET.
FRIDAY: It’s a full night of NBA action, a dream setting if you’re a League Pass subscriber. NBA-TV has a doubleheader of Boston-Miami and Oklahoma City-Portland that starts at 7:30 PM ET. Other notable games are Brooklyn-Indiana, Milwaukee-Atlanta, Minnesota-Utah, Golden State-LA Lakers and Memphis-Houston. It’s got a real playoff feel to it on a night when the real postseason will be just eight days out. It overshadows the hockey coverage of Detroit-Chicago (8:30 PM ET, NHL), where the Red Wings are still struggling to secure their playoff position. MLB Network gives you NL East rivals Atlanta & Washington at 7 PM ET.
SATURDAY: It’s strange to get to this spot and not have a raft of college basketball games to talk about. But now the NHL Network’s customary Saturday tripleheader gets the spotlight. Starting at 3 PM ET, its Vancouver-Colorado, Montreal-Toronto and Anaheim-LA Kings, with a game starting every fourth hour. If hockey’s not your thing, Fox will have baseball and NASCAR coverage starting in the late afternoon. The 4 PM ET baseball slot is highlighted by Oakland-Detroit and Baltimore-NY Yanks, rematches of last year’s American League Division Series. Although if you live in the wrong area you might get stuck with Milwaukee-St. Louis or NY Mets-Minnesota. Then it’s a rare Saturday night NASCAR race from Texas Motor Speedway at 7:30 PM ET.
SUNDAY: The American League East bookends the day in baseball, with Rays-Red Sox from Fenway at 1:35 PM ET on TBS and Orioles-Yanks from the Bronx being the ESPN showcase at 8 PM ET. ABC’s NBA coverage is Chicago-Miami at 1 PM ET, with NBA-TV carrying a night doubleheader of Dallas-New Orleans and San Antonio-LA Lakers that starts at 6 PM ET. The Spurs could have a chance to knock the Lakers out of the playoffs, and away from national TV is a good Pacers-Knicks game, with this perhaps being Indiana’s final chance to make a push for the East’s #2 spot. NBC gives us more of the Chicago Blackhawks, in their visit to St. Louis at 12:30 PM ET, while NBC Sports Network keeps the Midwest theme going at night with Detroit-Nashville at 7:30 PM ET.