BC-AP Sports Preview Digest
Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Friday. A full Sports Digest will be sent about 3 p.m. All times EDT:
– Have trouble envisioning an upset in the NBA playoffs in the Eastern Conference? That’s understandable, given that three teams weren’t even above .500 this season.
– There is no easy road in the NBA’s Western Conference playoffs. Just about every team is talented enough to advance to the NBA Finals.
– NEW YORK – Commissioner Adam Silver will likely discuss whether the NBA is considering changes to the playoff or draft formats, as well as plans to begin HGH testing next season.
– Four NHL playoff games: Ottawa at Montreal (7 p.m.); N.Y. Islanders at Washington (7 p.m.); Chicago at Nashville (9:30 p.m.); and Calgary at Vancouver (10 p.m.).
– PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers fire coach Craig Berube after Philadelphia failed to make the playoffs. He had a year left on his contract.
– MESA, Ariz. – Michael Phelps swims the 400-meter freestyle and 100 backstroke – both against rival Ryan Lochte – in his return from a six-month suspension. Finals start 9 p.m.
– CLEVELAND – Johnny Manziel apologizes to the Browns and fans and asks for privacy during his recovery from a substance problem. The quarterback says he takes ”full responsibility” for his actions.
– Cubs’ prized prospect Kris Bryant to play Friday; Tigers’ David Price, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in 14 1-3 innings, starts against White Sox; Marlins bench slumping catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
– HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Masters champion Jordan Spieth is eight shots behind leaders Graeme McDowell and Matt Every entering the second round at the RBC Heritage.
– LAS VEGAS – Two weeks before the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight, tickets have yet to go on sale to the public.
– MONACO – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, Gael Monfils reach the semifinals at the Monte Carlo Masters.
– BRINDISI, Italy – Serena Williams begins her clay-court season this weekend when the U.S. plays Italy in the Fed Cup. She is 18-0 this year and preparing for the French Open.
– KIEV, Ukraine – Olympic champion boxer Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine is now aiming for pro titles. He takes on a Russian heavyweight Saturday in a politically charged match.
– Star striker Mario Balotelli of Liverpool has received more than 8,000 discriminatory messages on social media this season.