Sunday was a historic night in the landscape of professional sports in the state of Tennessee. It was the first time in history that three of the four major league sports franchises in the Volunteer State all played and won on the same day with two of those teams doing so in their respective playoff tournaments.
It must be understood that there have not been many chances for this feat to be completed as the capitol city’s Major League Soccer team has only been in existence for a short time. Nashville SC played their first MLS game on Leap Day last year against Atlanta United FC and then quickly saw their inaugural season come to a crashing end due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The team would not play again until August 12th when they picked up their first franchise win by beating FC Dallas.
The Nashville Predators kicked the trifecta off by defeating the Central Division number one seeded Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in double overtime. The Predators rebounded from losing the first two games of the series to take the next two at Bridgestone Arena behind the superb play of goaltender Juuse Saros. Saros, who has taken over for longtime fan favorite Pekka Rinne, stopped 110 of 116 shots on goal over the span of Games 3 and 4. The 110 stops are tied for the seventh most by a goaltender over two games in the history of the NHL including regular season and playoffs.
The Predators heart-attack-inducing win left many of the 12,000+ people in attendance dancing down Broadway on their way to Nissan Stadium to cheer on Nashville SC take on the latest addition to MLS, Austin FC. As SC was ready to walk out onto the pitch, there was a team from the western part of the state that was on the western part of the country ready to shock the basketball world.
The Memphis Grizzlies grit and grinded their way to an undefeated record in the first ever NBA Play-In Tournament. The NBA’s youngest roster to make the playoffs sent Pop and the Spurs packing for the offseason and then told Steph Curry and company in the Bay Area to hold their beer as they showed them the door to the offseason.
The two victories secured the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs for the Baby Grizz and a shot at the league’s team with the best record, the Utah Jazz. The scrappy Grizzlies relied on their stingy defense to hand the Jazz a shocking loss that was not as close as the final score indicates. Dillion Brooks put on a display by leading the team with 31 points while reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Ja Morant added 26 points. The Grizzlies big man Jonas Valanciunas matched Jazz center and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert toe to toe. Valanciunas causing havoc throughout the paint and the speed of the Grizzlies guards combined to help cause Gobert to foul out of the game. Memphis was up by as many as 17 points in the fourth period before the Jazz pulled within two with seconds remaining. Instead of panicking as a young team would be expected to do, Morant and Brooks instead kept their composure rallied the team around them and scored the teams remaining final six points to hold off Utah.
Back in Music City, Nashville SC was in a scoreless game with Austin FC before Randall Leal scored off a Jhonder Cadiz’ crossing pass in the 35th minute. Leal took the pass just outside of the penalty area and bounced it past the Austin FC goalkeeper. SC goalkeeper Joe Willis stopped one shot and recorded his fourth straight shutout for the boys in gold. Nashville SC has not allowed a goal in 407 minutes.
Once the dust had settled Sunday night, the Predators had fought back to tie their series at two games apiece, the Grizzlies took a surprising 1-0 lead to everyone outside of area code 901 and maybe the whole state of Tennessee, and Nashville SC remained one of two undefeated teams in MLS. Nashville goes for a 3-2 lead on Tuesday while Memphis looks to go up 2-0 on Wednesday. SC tries to continue their unbeaten play against Atlanta United FC on Saturday.
Steven McCash is the Music Columnist for SoBros Network, and host of the ‘Drinking With…’ podcast. He is the pioneer of New Music Friday, highlighting each week’s new releases in the world of music, in addition to the occasional live show review. Follow on Twitter: @MC_Cash75