Nationals

Cavs guard Irving frustrated by latest injury

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Cavs guard Irving frustrated by latest injury

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) Kyrie Irving couldn't handle playing with just one hand. Now, it's the Cleveland Cavaliers turn.

Irving will be sidelined for the next month with a broken left index finger, the latest injury to the NBA's reigning rookie of the year and a devastating blow to the rebuilding Cavs, who have lost six straight and must face playing without their talented star point guard.

``It's frustrating,'' Irving said Wednesday. ``But we're just going to get through it and just gotta stay positive.''

Right now, that's about all the 20-year-old can do.

Irving suspected his finger was hurt badly on Saturday, when he inadvertently struck the foot of Dallas' Darren Collison while trying to swipe the ball from the Mavericks guard. Irving returned to the game after X-rays came back negative. He played the rest of the game with his finger heavily taped and again on Sunday night at Philadelphia.

But Irving wasn't the same, and he struggled handling the ball while scoring a season-low 9 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

``I couldn't hold onto the ball, especially at the end of the game when I'm at my best,'' he said. ``It was frustrating.''

An MRI taken Monday revealed a hairline fracture, an injury he could play through but at the risk of doing more damage and missing several months.

The Cavs aren't taking any chances.

``If he really gets this thing hit again, then it requires surgery and then instead of weeks, you're talking about months,'' Cavs coach Byron Scott said. ``I don't think we're being overly cautious by saying, `Let's shut it down and see how it looks in a couple weeks and go from there.'''

The broken finger is the latest medical setback for Irving, who dismissed the idea he was injury prone when the Cavs opened training camp in October. Back then, he was returning from a broken right hand he sustained when Irving slammed a padded wall in frustration during a summer league practice.

Last season, Irving missed 15 games with a shoulder sprain and concussion. His college career at Duke was limited to 11 games because of a serious foot injury that took nearly one year to completely heal.

``I'm just glad it's not injuries, knock on wood, such as something that could keep me out for six months,'' Irving said. ``I'm going to miss a few games, I'm aware of that but you just gotta stay positive. Things happen in the game of basketball and obviously I can play, but I'm just being cautious right now.''

As soon as he hurt his finger, Irving sensed it was serious.

``I just knew it wasn't a jammed finger,'' he said. ``I've jammed almost every finger on my hand, so I just knew when it started turning black and blue. I just thought it was a bad sprain, but it turned out to be broken.''

After sitting and watching practice, Irving, with his index and middle fingers taped together and braced by a splint, stayed on the floor and shot jumpers. Scott would prefer if Irving would stay off the court completely, but he knows better than to ask.

``He's hardheaded,'' Scott said.

Irving and Scott have formed a close bond that goes deeper than player and coach. Scott feels Irving's disappointment and he's doing all he can to keep his best player's spirits high.

``This morning just watching him and talking to him briefly he was a little frustrated,'' Scott said. ``But he'll get over it. He understands right now we have to do the best thing for Kyrie. That's getting this treatment, letting this thing heal and not putting him in harm's way.''

The Cavs are just 2-8 with Irving, who entered the season intent on improving his already superb game and hopefully bringing his team along for the ride. Cleveland will be without him for as many 20 games, and Scott has no idea if the Cavs can improve without Irving leading them.

``It's always one of those things where one of your best players goes down, it's an opportunity for other guys,'' Scott said. ``That's how our guys have to look at it. We haven't changed our outlook going into games. The main thing is to go in there, try and compete and win.''

``Now that he's out, we're still trying to focus on those little things we're trying to improve on.''

Scott has not decided if he'll start Donald Sloan or Jeremy Pargo in place of Irving, whose 22.9 points, 5.6 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game will be tough to replace. Rookie Dion Waiters, who starts at shooting guard, will continue to play some point.

As difficult as it might be, Scott knows there's no sense in dwelling on Irving's injury. With 72 games left, the Cavaliers must move on.

``We still have a lot of games to go and we have a long ways to go to where we want to get to on both ends of the floor,'' Scott said. ``The biggest thing is, we still know we can win. We've just got to play a little bit of a different style on the offensive end, but we still feel we've got enough guys in this room capable of winning.''

Just not the most important one.

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Can slumping Nationals, Gio Gonzalez end losing streak Monday vs. Padres?

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Can slumping Nationals, Gio Gonzalez end losing streak Monday vs. Padres?

When the Washington Nationals visited San Diego on May 7-9, they won the first two games of a three-game series to move within 1 1/2 games of the National League West lead.

At the time, the Nationals were on a bit of a run and the Padres were reeling with a 13-24 record.

Two weeks after that series, the Padres and Nationals meet again in Washington, D.C (7:05 p.m. ET, Monday). And the fortunes of the two teams have changed a bit.

Since winning that series finale at Petco Park to avoid being swept by the Nationals, the Padres have gone 7-4 and are riding a three-game winning streak.

The Nationals have gone 4-4 and just lost a third straight game to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday in Washington to slip four games off the lead in their division.

The Nationals are the home team this time for a three-game series that opens Monday night with a matchup of left-handers -- Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.36 ERA) going for Washington with Robbie Erlin (1-2, 3.46) making a spot start for San Diego.

On paper, the pairing clearly favors the hosts.

Erlin, 27, has met the Nationals twice in his career. Both games were at Nationals Park. Erlin is 0-2 in the matchups with a 16.39 ERA.

In Erlin's two previous outings in the nation's capital, Erlin has given up 17 runs, 19 hits and six walks with six strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings. The Nationals have hit .413 against Erlin, who has a 2.68 WHIP against Washington.

This will be only the second start of the season for Erlin, who returned this year after having Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery midway through 2016.

Thirteen of Erlin's 14 appearances this season have been out of the bullpen. His one previous start was April 16 against the Dodgers. He gave up six runs (five earned), seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts in three innings.

Erlin is filling the vacancy created when rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi went on the disabled list with a slightly strained glute. The Padres are hoping Lucchesi will miss only one start, although it looks like it could now be two or three.

Gonzalez is no stranger to the Padres. He started the May 9 game that the Nationals lost 2-1. Gonzalez allowed one run, five hits and three walks in six innings. Afterward, he said he struggled with his command.

Gonzalez was not involved in that decision. During his career, he has made seven starts against the Padres and has a 3-2 record with a 3.21 ERA, a 1.357 WHIP and a .253 opponents' batting average. Against the Padres, Gonzalez has given up 19 runs (15 earned), 41 hits and 16 walks with 41 strikeouts in 42 innings.

When the Nationals were in San Diego, first baseman-left fielder Matt Adams went 3-for-8 with a double, two homers, six RBIs and three runs scored -- although he got the third game off.

Since leaving San Diego, Adams has hit only .143. Washington's Bryce Harper is hitting .125 in the last eight games with a homer and three RBIs.

Another key player in the first Padres-Nationals series was Howie Kendrick, who was 5-for-12 with a double and two runs scored. But Kendrick has been lost with a ruptured Achilles tendon and on Saturday the Nationals promoted a 19-year-old prospect from Double-A.

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Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

When the Capitals take the ice in Game 6, they will be playing for their playoff lives. After losing Game 5 on Saturday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Caps must win on Monday or their season will be over.

In order to do that, the Caps will have to change some things. First, they have to figure out how to win at home, something they have yet to do in this series. Second, they will have to find a way to get to Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been dominant the past three games. Alex Ovechkin also needs to win the matchup against the fourth line since he has only two five-on-five points through five games. Finally, the defense will have to be better. Matt Niskanen took the blame for Game 5, but really it was a tough night all around.

Also, a few penalty calls against Tampa Bay would be nice too.

Where: Capital One Arena

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBCSN

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Lightning Game 6 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS GAME 6 OF THE CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING PLAYOFF SERIES?

Game 6 of the Capitals vs. Lightning 2018 NHL Playoff series takes place on Monday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Capital One Arnea.

WHAT CHANNEL IS GAME 6 OF CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is on NBCSN. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 on NBCSN
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM GAME 6 OF THE CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING SERIES?

Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is available to stream online on Monday, May 21 live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR GAME 6 OF CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING?

Capitals projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Devante Smith-Pelly -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Lightning projected lines:

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy starts with Louis Domingue as backup.

CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING GAME 6 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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