Happy Wednesday, folks. Hope you’re well.
Let’s get right to it.
Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE DALLAS MAVERICKS
It rained all day in Dallas, and then Dallas rained 3-pointers all night on Golden State… and couldn’t even be stopped by a leaky roof. The Mavericks drained 20 threes and held off a late Warriors charge in a 119-109 win to stave off elimination.
- Luka Doncic had a near triple-double with 30 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.
- The supporting cast that stepped up most: Dorian Finney-Smith had 23 points, Reggie Bullock had 18 (after shooting 0-for-10 in Game 3) and Jalen Brunson had 15.
- Off the bench, Maxi Kleber broke out of his shooting slump to score 13 points, and Spencer Dinwiddie had 10.
- The Mavericks are now 3-0 in elimination games this postseason.
Save for a strange fourth quarter where Golden State’s reserves narrowed a 29-point deficit down to as little as eight, this was exactly the performance Dallas needed. The Mavericks lit it up from deep, won the rebounding battle and weren’t destroyed by points in the paint. All postseason long, the three ball has masked Dallas’ deficiencies enough, and that was the case again last night. Dallas is 7-3 this postseason when it hits more than 15 threes and 2-5 when it doesn’t.
- Last night’s NHL winners: the Rangers and Oilers
- Here are the All-NBA teams.
- The Red Sox keep rolling.
- Tyreek Hill is sticking up for his quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.
- The NFL is looking for ways to improve the Pro Bowl, which would be a good thing for everyone involved.
And not such a good morning for…
THE CAROLINA HURRICANES
There’s no place like home, and, for the Hurricanes, there really is no happiness on the road. Carolina fell 4-1 to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden and are now 0-5 on the road this postseason. The series is tied 2-2.
- This one was never close. Frank Vatrano opened the scoring in the first period, and Adam Fox doubled the lead shortly thereafter.
- In the second period, Mika Zibanejad made it 3-0.
- Teuvo Teravainen got the Hurricanes on the board in the third period, but Andrew Copp answered to cap the scoring.
The Hurricanes, of course, have gotten this far because they’re 6-0 at home, winning all four home contests in the first round against the Bruins and the first two games of this series. Technically, the Hurricanes won’t have to win a road game to reach the Stanley Cup Final — they have home-ice advantage in this series and, if they advance, in the next one against the Lightning
I wouldn’t exactly recommend that route, but, hey, it is an option.
Not so honorable mentions
- Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is headed to the IL.
- West Ham defender Kurt Zouma pleaded guilty to kicking and slapping his cat.
MLB first-quarter grades: Who’s at the top of the class? ⚾
We’re through roughly a quarter of the MLB season, and that means it’s time to hand out some grades. All 30 teams received an assessment from MLB reporter R.J. Anderson, and 10 received an “A.” Among those 10?
The two teams from the Big Apple.
- Anderson: “There was fair reason to think that the Yankees were being underrated in the preseason — most projection systems had them as the best team in the American League East — but no one could have reasonably expected them to get off to this kind of start. … You have to give the Mets an A. They’ve weathered a number of injuries to their rotation, including the season-long absence of Jacob deGrom, and have not only maintained their spot at the top of the National League East, but have one of the best records in the NL overall.”
The other teams earning an “A” were the Astros, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers, Twins, Padres, Giants and Rays. You can see all the grades here.
Ranking the 16 new head coach-quarterback duos this season 🏈
There are many ways to describe just how wild this NFL offseason was, but perhaps one of the best is this: In 2022, there will be 16 new head coach-quarterback tandems across the league. The coaching carousel and the quarterback carousel both spun in ways we could have never predicted.
Remember when Tom Brady retired… then unretired… and then his coach retired? Yeah, that happened. Anyway, Brady and his new coach, Todd Bowles, come in atop our NFL expert Cody Benjamin’s rankings of the new head coach-quarterback tandems.
- Benjamin: “TB12 seals it. Bowles is not the proven winner as a head man that Bruce Arians was, but the defense is his game, which basically just means Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich are running the other side. And you can’t do much better than Brady, even as he approaches 45. His aura alone is championship-caliber.”
It’s hard to argue with that one. Here’s the entire top five:
- 1. Todd Bowles-Tom Brady (Buccaneers)
- 2. Nathaniel Hackett-Russell Wilson (Broncos)
- 3. Kevin Stefanski-Deshaun Watson (Browns)
- 4. Frank Reich-Matt Ryan (Colts)
- 5. Kevin O’Connell-Kirk Cousins (Vikings)
I’d keep my eye on the O’Connell-Cousins pairing. O’Connell comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree, and that tree has produced some fantastic results:
- Packers head coach Matt LaFleur (and two-time reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers)
- Bengals head coach Zac Taylor (fresh off a Super Bowl appearance with Joe Burrow)
- Chargers head coach Brandon Staley (with rising star Justin Herbert)
Cousins doesn’t have the high-end skillset of those three, but with Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and healthy returns of Adam Thielen and Irv Smith Jr., he could have a strong 2022.
Louisville pulls a John Calipari on John Calipari 🏀
Louisville men’s basketball has a new director of player development and alumni relations. Now, normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But this is no normal situation.
Milt Wagner is the newest addition to first-year head coach Kenny Payne‘s staff, and he is the grandfather of DJ Wagner, the No. 1 basketball recruit in the 2023 class. Payne and Milt Wagner played together on Louisville’s 1986 national title team. And now DJ Wagner, who has long been linked to John Calipari and Kentucky, is being heavily linked to the Cardinals following his grandfather’s hiring.
As college basketball expert Gary Parrish notes, Payne and Louisville are giving Calipari a taste of his own medicine. Just look at the recruitment of DJ Wagner’s father, Dajuan Wagner.
- Calipari: “[In] March 2000, Calipari was hired at Memphis. He then added Dajuan Wagner’s father, Milt Wagner, to his staff and offered a scholarship to, and eventually enrolled, Dajuan Wagner’s best friend, Arthur Barclay. Three months later, surprise surprise, Dajuan Wagner committed to Memphis, where he played one season before being selected by the Cavaliers with the No. 6 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.”
Parrish reminds us this isn’t the first time this type of situation has played out.
- James Wiseman, the No. 1 recruit in 2019, was expected to pick Kentucky before Memphis hired Wiseman’s grassroots coach, Penny Hardaway. Wiseman chose Memphis.
- Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 recruit in 2020, was expected to pick Kentucky before Oklahoma State hired Cunningham’s older brother, Cannen Cunningham. Cade Cunningham chose Oklahoma State.
DJ Wagner to Louisville isn’t a done deal, of course. But his recruitment just got a lot more interesting — and not in a good way for Wildcats fans.
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.
⚽ OL Reign vs Current, 10 p.m. on Paramount+