Happy Tuesday, everyone!
Let’s get right to it.
Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE BOSTON CELTICS…
I’ve said plenty of times that it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. But a start like the Celtics had last night certainly helps a lot. Boston jumped out to an absurd 18-1 lead (not a typo) and never looked back, beating the Heat 102-82 to even the series at two games apiece.
- Jayson Tatum scored 31 points, outscoring the Miami starters combined (18 points)
- Four other Celtics — Payton Pritchard, Derrick, White Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams III — scored in double figures.
- Boston is 5-0 this postseason after a loss.
- The Celtics dominated despite Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart (ankle) not playing.
There’s not really a whole lot for me to add here. Miami never got anything going on offense. The Heat’s first field goal came with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. The 18 points by starters are fewest in a playoff game since starters began being tracked in the 1970-71 season.
Sure, Miami missed some looks it normally makes, but Boston’s defensive masterpiece was the story of the night. A pivotal Game 5 is tomorrow night back in Miami.
… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
There hasn’t been a three-peat in the NHL since the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-1983. The Lightning are eight wins away from changing that. Tampa Bay dispatched Florida 2-0 last night to finish off a dominant series sweep.
- Pat Maroon gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead in the second period, and Ondrej Palat‘s empty-netter sealed the deal.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy was an absolute star with 49 saves in the shutout. For the series, he allowed just three goals on 154 shots, an absurd 0.981 save percentage.
- The Lightning have won 10 straight playoff series.
Tampa Bay will face the winner of the Rangers and Hurricanes next. Carolina leads that series, 2-1.
- Last night’s other NHL winner: the Avalanche.
- Paul Goldschmidt cannot be stopped.
- Here are the standouts from the NBA Combine.
And not such a good morning for…
THE FLORIDA PANTHERS
The Panthers reached historic highs this regular season.
- The first Presidents’ Trophy (most regular-season points) in franchise history
- Most wins in franchise history (58)
- An NHL salary cap-era record 331 goals
And it’s all gone in the blink of an eye. After beating the Capitals in six not-so-convincing games in the first round, the Panthers simply could not get anything going against the Lightning. Yes, teams run into hot goalies in the playoffs, and Vasilevskiy is scorching. But to lose in four games to an in-state rival with your best players silenced is never a good feeling.
Here are a couple of stats that will blow your mind.
- The Panthers averaged 4.1 goals per game during the regular season. They scored three goals total in this four-game series.
- It’s tied for the fifth-fewest goals ever in a four-game playoff series.
This also keeps alive a startling streak: No Presidents’ Trophy winner has won the Stanley Cup since 2013. The Panthers created plenty of noise this regular season, but their season ended with barely a whimper.
Not so honorable mentions
- Brewers starter Freddy Peralta is out for a while.
- Josh Donaldson has been suspended and fined for his comment toward Tim Anderson.
- Terry McLaurin isn’t at Commanders OTAs as he seeks a new contract.
- Matthew Stafford likely won’t throw during Rams OTAs.
MLB Power Rankings: Yankees stay at No. 1 ⚾
Another new week means a new version of our baseball reporter Matt Snyder’s MLB Power Rankings. While there’s plenty of movement near the top, it’s the same squad at the top: the Yankees.
- Snyder: “In dropping the doubleheader to the White Sox on Sunday, that’s just the second Yankees series loss of the year and the first since they were 5-5. It happens.”
Here’s the entire top five:
- 1. Yankees (prev: 1)
- 2. Dodgers (prev: 5)
- 3. Padres (prev: 6)
- 4. Astros (prev: 2)
- 5. Mets (prev: 4)
If there’s anything to damper Yankees’ fans’ spirits, it’s that their arch rivals made the biggest jump in this week’s rankings: The Red Sox are up from 21st to 14th.
- Snyder: “Here they come? That’s five in a row, eight of 10 and they have regained their swagger.”
When it comes to regaining swagger, Trevor Story has regained his. Here are his numbers over the last 10 games:
- Six home runs
- 10 RBI
- 11 runs scored
Kylian Mbappé details decision to stay at PSG in exclusive interview ⚽
On Saturday, PSG superstar Kylian Mbappé shocked the soccer world, announcing he would be staying with the club instead of heading to Real Madrid.
Our soccer insider Fabrizio Romano got the fascinating inside scoop on how it all fell apart for Los Blancos.
- Romano: “In order to join a new club, you obviously need to put pen to paper. And that’s where, in retrospect, things never fully materialized for Real Madrid. Mbappé and his family never signed an official document or contract with Real Madrid. They only held negotiations for a contract discussed verbally. That’s because on Monday Mbappé was in Qatar and his new camp contacts with Paris Saint-Germain changed everything.”
Then, yesterday, Mbappé sat down with CBS Sports’ Jonathan Johnson for an exclusive interview regarding the decision. He answered a ton of difficult questions and said he ultimately stayed with PSG because it allows him to stay in his home country. There’s a ton of insightful stuff here.
Tim Connelly leaving Nuggets for Timberwolves 🏀
Tim Connelly, the Nuggets‘ president of basketball operations, is taking the same position with the Timberwolves. Connelly, who had been in Denver since 2013, received a five-year, $40-million deal from Minnesota and also ownership equity in the team.
Connelly’s list of accomplishments starts with his finds in the draft:
- Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic (41st overall in 2014)
- Jamal Murray (7th overall in 2016)
- Monte Morris (51st overall in 2017)
- Michael Porter Jr. (14th overall in 2018)
Those four are among the key core for a Nuggets team that’s expected to contend for titles with Murray and Porter Jr. back healthy. Still, it’s a big offseason with Jokic supermax extension-eligible and several players potentially hitting free agency. General manager Calvin Booth is expected to take over Connelly’s position in the Mile High City.
As for Minnesota, this is a huge move. The money being given to Connelly says as much. With a strong young core featuring Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards (and maybe D’Angelo Russell), the future should be bright in Minnesota. Connelly’s track record suggests he will capitalize on it.
Breakout players for the 2022 NFL season 🏈
We’re now nearly a month removed from the NFL Draft and even further removed from the height of free agency. With OTAs upon us, it’s time to identify some breakout candidates for the 2022 NFL season.
Lucky for us, our NFL insider Jason La Canfora has put together his list of six players poised for a breakout this coming season, and I love the lone quarterback on his list:
- La Canfora: “I love the track team assembled around Tua Tagovailoa. I buy that this young QB is in fact the same kid who set records at Alabama and had teams tanking for him. The madness of playing under dueling offensive coordinators — or mystery coordinators or whatever the hell Brian Flores was trying to do on the offensive staff — is behind him. It’s a fresh start under Mike McDaniel. The pass-catchers will get a ton of YAC. The offensive line is much improved. They will run the ball. Tua won’t have to be super flashy to be very effective. I like the fit.”
I’ll put it this way: Considering the additions of Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson, Terron Armstead, Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel, if Tagovailoa doesn’t make a leap forward in 2022, Miami could be looking for a new quarterback next season.
What we’re watching Tuesday 📺
- 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.
⚾ Brewers at Padres, 9:40 p.m. on TBS