Happy Thursday, everyone. Hope you got at least a few hours of sleep after a truly wild night of sports.
Let’s get right to it.
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Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE MILWAUKEE BUCKS…
- The Bucks trailed by 14 — 93-79 — with 10 minutes to go but outscored the Celtics 31-14 from there on out.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo had 40 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way.
- After a Bobby Portis putback gave Milwaukee a 108-107 lead with 11 seconds left, Jrue Holiday came up with two game-saving defensive plays: first, an incredible block on a Marcus Smart layup attempt. Then, after two Pat Connaughton free throws, Holiday stole the ball from Smart to seal the game.
This was probably the best game of the playoffs so far. You had high-quality shot making on both ends of the court from the game’s biggest stars, Al Horford with another age-defying dunk, Antetokounmpo momentarily playing with blood running down his face after taking an elbow, and, ultimately, a stunning comeback from the defending champs that showed they’re not quite ready to give up their crown just yet.
This Bucks’ comeback included a little bit of everything, writes NBA reporter Jack Maloney.
- Maloney: “They turned around a 14-point deficit thanks to some big-time shot making, a dominant performance on the offensive glass and a little bit of luck. … All told, the Bucks went a perfect 6-for-6 from downtown in the fourth quarter. … Eight of the Bucks’ whopping 17 offensive rebounds came in the fourth quarter, and nine of their 20 second-chance points came in the frame.”
More on that luck in just a second… but one more thing: they Bucks are a perfect 8-0 in potential closeout games under Mike Budenholzer. They can move to 9-0 on Friday.
… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
Many people left the Memphis Grizzlies for dead after Ja Morant‘s injury in a blowout Game 3 loss and subsequent Game 4 loss without him available. But that “many people” doesn’t include the only people that matter: The Grizzlies themselves. Memphis dominated Golden State so thoroughly last night that the final score looks like a misprint: Grizzlies 134, Warriors 95.
- The 39-point victory is the largest in team playoff history.
- Seven Grizzlies scored in double figures, led by Jaren Jackson Jr., Tyus Jones and Desmond Bane all with 21 points.
- Including playoffs, Memphis is 21-6 without Morant this season.
The Grizzlies’ season could still come to an end Friday, but that doesn’t make last night’s absolute domination any less impressive.
- Last night’s NHL winners: Panthers, Rangers and Flames
- Christian Yelich hit for the cycle against the Reds for the third time in his career, tying an MLB record.
- Nikola Jokic accepted his MVP award in a horse stable in Serbia. Because of course he did.
And not such a good morning for…
THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS…
This is just about as bad as it gets from the Warriors. The score (again… 134-95!) speaks for itself, and it even somehow makes it look closer than it was. Golden State trailed by 27 at halftime and by as much as 55 overall. In terms of worst playoff efforts ever, this one is certainly up there.
- It’s the fifth-largest postseason loss in franchise history.
- The Warriors never led.
- Klay Thompson led the team with 19 points. He also, somehow, registered an absurd minus-45 plus/minus, the worst number of his career.
While the score is truly shocking, it’s also concerning that this now makes it two games in a row where the Warriors haven’t looked great. The Warriors barely snuck by the Morant-less Grizzlies in Game 4 in San Francisco, then they turned in this effort with a chance to close things out. It’s a pretty bad look for a team that one would think has legitimate championship aspirations, writes NBA expert Sam Quinn.
- Quinn: “Let’s focus on the competitive portion of the game, which was the first three quarters. At that point, the Grizzlies led by so many points that even if you took away all 17 of their 3-pointers after three quarters, they’d still hold a one-point 68-67 lead. They won the third quarter by a preposterous 25 points. It took them little more than a half to outscore their 98-point total from Game 4. This may not be the worst playoff loss in NBA history, but it’s not far off, either.”
…AND ALSO NOT SUCH A GOOD MORNING FOR THE BOSTON CELTICS
If you’re a Celtics fan, first off, I’m sorry about last night, and second, imagine the following scenario:
- Your two biggest stars — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — combine for 60 points.
- Your three bench players — Daniel Theis, Derrick White and Payton Pritchard — combine for 24 points on absurd 11-for-13 shooting.
- You force Antetokounmpo into seven turnovers.
- You win the turnover battle, the points in the paint battle and the fast break points battle, and you shoot nearly eight percent better than your opponent.
- You lead by 14 at home with 10 minutes to go.
Most of the time, that would be a win, right? Not last night, when the Celtics needed it to be. There are plenty of things they will regret about last night. Perhaps the biggest will be giving up 17 offensive rebounds, the worst of which came when Smart and Brown bumped into each other trying to rebound a missed free throw, allowing for Portis’ game-winning shot. You can argue that the Bucks got lucky on this play, and others.
But you make your own luck in the playoffs, and the Celtics simply didn’t do enough down the stretch.
Not so honorable mentions
- MLB experienced its first COVID-related postponement of the season: Guardians-White Sox was postponed after the Guardians had an outbreak.
- Penguins star Sidney Crosby left last night’s loss to the Rangers after getting hit in the head.
- Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse is suspended for tonight’s Game 6 against the Kings after he head-butted Phillip Danault.
NFL will release schedule tonight. Here’s what we already know 🏈
Happy NFL Schedule Release day, everyone! We already know the opponents for every team (you can check out your favorite team’s opponents and analysis here), and we’ve been getting little snippets of the schedule over the past few weeks, but we finally find out all 272 games tonight.
You can check out all the games we already know right here, but here are a few I’m looking forward to:
- Week 2: Chargers at Chiefs (Thursday) — Justin Herbert vs. Patrick Mahomes on Thursday night? Sign me up.
- Week 2: Titans at Bills (Monday) — The defending AFC South champs meet the defending AFC East champs.
- Week 10: Cowboys at Packers (Sunday) — Aaron Rodgers seems to do something magical every time these teams meet.
- Week 11: 49ers at Cardinals in Mexico City (Monday) — It’s probably the best of the five international games.
- Week 16: Broncos at Rams (Sunday – Christmas) — Russell Wilson vs. Matthew Stafford will be fun.
I also enjoyed our NFL insider Jason La Canfora’s proposal to make the NFL schedule release even more fun. It could be coming sooner rather than later, given how the schedule reveal has evolved.
Coppa Italia final: Inter Milan beats Juventus in extra-time thriller ⚽
There’s been plenty of high-drama tournament soccer over the past few weeks, and Juventus vs Inter Milan in yesterday’s Coppa Italia final was no exception. After tying things up late, Inter scored twice in extra time to win 4-2.
- Nicolò Barella scored in the sixth minute to give Inter an early lead.
- But Alex Sandro (50′) and Dusan Vlahovic (52′) struck back early in the second half to give Juventus the lead.
- Hakan Calhanoglu converted a penalty kick in the 80th minute to tie things up and force extra time.
- In extra time, Ivan Perisic scored a penalty kick in the 99th minute and then a stunning left-footed strike in the 102nd.
It’s Inter’s first Coppa Italia title since 2011. Conversely, this will mark the first year Juventus finishes trophy-less across all competitions since that same 2010-11 season.
With the win, Inter keeps their hopes for the domestic treble alive, having now captured the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana and sitting two points behind A.C. Milan for the lead in Serie A with two matches remaining.
What we’re watching Thursday 📺
- We’re watching the NBA playoffs. Here’s how you can, too.
- We’re also watching the NHL playoffs. Here’s how you can, too.
🏈 2022 NFL schedule release — Here’s how to watch.