Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope you’re doing well.
Let’s get right to it.
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Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE MIAMI HEAT…
Jimmy Butler has been fantastic this postseason, but last night, he truly outdid himself. The Heat star dominated in every aspect — 41 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four blocks and three steals — as Miami topped Boston, 118-107, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Butler is the first player in NBA playoff history to register a stat line like that.
- Miami won the third quarter 39-14, and Butler himself outscored Boston that quarter with 17 points.
- Four other Heat players scored in double figures.
- Miami did this despite missing Kyle Lowry (hamstring) again.
- Boston got 29 points from Jayson Tatum and 24 points from Jaylen Brown, but the absences of Marcus Smart (foot) and Al Horford (health and safety protocols) took their toll.
Miami’s rest advantage (it last played Thursday compared to Sunday for Boston) and depth advantage were both on display last night. The rest and depth — assuming Smart and Horford return — will eventually even out. It may all be for naught for the Celtics, though, if they can’t slow down Butler.
The Magic and Kings did not win a basketball game last night — they haven’t even been to the conference finals since 2010 and 2002, respectively — but they were among the winners from last night’s NBA Draft Lottery. Orlando landed the No. 1 overall pick while Sacramento made the largest leap of any team, receiving the fourth pick despite having the seventh-best odds.
Believe it or not, things are looking up in Orlando writes NBA expert Jack Maloney.
- Maloney: “They had two lottery picks last season in Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner, the latter of which is almost certainly going to be on the All-Rookie Team. Add in the likes of Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter Jr., Jonathan Isaac (if he ever plays basketball again), Cole Anthony, Chuma Okeke and RJ Hampton, plus whoever they take at No. 1 this year, and that’s a lot of young talent. There’s never any guarantees in the NBA, but the Magic could be pretty fun in a few years.”
Here are the full results of the lottery:
- 1. Magic
- 2. Thunder
- 3. Rockets
- 4. Kings
- 5. Pistons
- 6. Pacers
- 7. Trail Blazers
- 8. Pelicans
- 9. Spurs
- 10. Wizards
- 11. Knicks
- 12. Thunder
- 13. Hornets
- 14. Cavaliers
Also be sure to check out:
- College basketball expert Gary Parrish’s updated mock draft
- Winners and losers from the lottery
- Full order of all of the picks
- Last night’s NHL winners: Lightning and Avalanche.
- Cubs rookie Christopher Morel homered in his first MLB at-bat.
And not such a good morning for…
THE PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS AND DETROIT PISTONS
The lottery giveth and the lottery taketh away. The Pistons, who got the top pick (and turned it into Cade Cunningham) last year, fell more than any other team. After entering last night tied with the Magic and Rockets for best odds to earn the No. 1 pick, Detroit ended up with the fifth selection.
At least none of the Pistons players had to try to mask their disappointment like Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. Portland sent the face of its franchise as its lottery representative, and all he could do was laugh when his team ended up with the seventh pick. It points to a murky future for the Trail Blazers, writes NBA guru Colin Ward-Henninger.
- Ward-Henninger: “All told, the pathway back to relevance is unclear for the Blazers, and Tuesday night’s lottery only made things murkier. The speculation about a Lillard trade demand will undoubtedly continue as the offseason draws near, but it’s also possible that he won’t have to take that step. If the Blazers see the writing on the wall, they could preemptively trade their superstar point guard and kick off a full-scale rebuild.”
Not so honorable mentions
- Tarik Cohen tore his Achilles.
- Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi gave up five home runs… in one inning.
- Orioles pitcher Matt Harvey has been suspended 60 games for distribution of a banned substance.
Tee times, ranking the top players at the PGA Championship 🏌
The PGA Championship is just a day away, and that means it’s time to rank the top contenders in the field, with our golf expert Kyle Porter doing the honors.
It should be no surprise who comes in at No. 1.
- Porter: “1. Scottie Scheffler (Best finish — T4 in 2020): Scheffler has quietly become a major championship threat, and that has less to do with his Masters win in April and more to do with how he’s played at the four biggest events since 2020. Scheffler, who comes into the week ranked No. 1 in the world, has seven consecutive top 20s, including five top 10s and that green jacket. Of all the players who are favorites to win this week, he’s the one who it would surprise me most if he finished outside the top 10.”
Here’s the rest of Porter’s top five:
- 2. Justin Thomas
- 3. Jon Rahm
- 4. Rory McIlroy
- 5. Jordan Spieth
Meanwhile, tee times for the tournament are out, and the group that has everyone buzzing is Tiger Woods, McIlroy and Spieth going off together at 9:11 a.m. tomorrow.
Lionel Messi to Inter Miami? Not so fast… ⚽
A report came out yesterday claiming that Lionel Messi is not only acquiring a 35 percent stake in Inter Miami FC, but also planning to join the team as a player in 2023, when his contract with PSG expires.
The only problem? That report is “completely false,” sources close to the star told Le Parisien. Messi has not decided what his future holds yet. However, it’s easy to see why Inter Miami — owned by former soccer superstar David Beckham — could be a potential landing spot, notes our soccer expert Roger Gonzalez.
- Gonzalez: “We already know that Messi has invested in real estate in Miami, he owns an entire floor in a luxury condo building there. He’s been there numerous times on vacation with his family, and he’s been linked with MLS often… The fact that Inter Miami are owned by Beckham, adds another wrinkle, as Beckham was previously the league’s highest profile transfer, moving to the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. In fact, as part of the contract that lured him to L.A. he was given the option to buy an MLS expansion team, that option eventually became Inter Miami…”
Here are some mid-major stars NOT transferring away 🏀
Chances are your favorite college basketball team has either lost or gained a player via the transfer portal. After all, nearly 1,700 Division I men’s basketball players have entered the portal this offseason.
But just because you enter the transfer portal doesn’t mean you have to leave your school, and as college basketball expert Matt Norlander writes, a trio of mid-major stars have entered the portal, only to stay put.
- Antoine Davis — he of 2,734 career points — turned down Maryland and Georgetown, among others, to stay at Detroit Mercy.
- Khalil Shabazz decided to stay at San Francisco, even though his head coach, Todd Golden, took the Florida job.
- Jamarion Sharp, who led Division I with 4.6 blocks per game last year, returned to Western Kentucky.
That’s a good thing, writes Norlander.
- Norlander: “Are Davis, Sharp and Shabazz the exceptions? Yes. Plenty of high-achieving mid-major players have gone into the portal, sought greener pastures and, well, sought the green. Cash. NIL deals and allegations of money to be made. There’s nothing overtly wrong with that (though some of it happening is inevitably illegal). But for all of the hypocritical haranguing from coaches about ‘sticking it out’ and ‘loyalty’ and ‘not running from adversity,’ here are three players serving up a fresh reminder that not every mid-major transfer ends up leaving.”
What we’re watching Wednesday 📺
- 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.
⚽ UEFA Europa League final: Eintracht Frankfurt vs Rangers, 3 p.m. on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+
⚽ Courage vs Pride, 7 p.m. on Paramount+
⚽ Racing Louisville vs Wave, 7 p.m. on Paramount+
🏀 Sky at Storm, 10 p.m. on Facebook
⚽ Thorns vs Spirit, 10 p.m. on Paramount+