Saturday, May 25, 2024
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NBA, NHL playoffs to open with weekend marathon; NFL mock draft: Patriots must get offensive

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🏀 🏒 🏈 Good morning to everyone but especially to …

YOU! — SPORTS FANS EVERYWHERE

No one, and I mean no one, is having a better morning than diehard sports fans. Arguably the one of the best part of the sports calendar begins tonight, and the next two months will feature playoff action in the NBA and NHL virtually every single night.

On Friday, the NBA playoff first-round matchups will be solidified with the final two Play-In Tournament games. The Heat and Bulls will battle in Miami for the East’s No. 8 seed, while the Pelicans will host the Kings to see who captures the final playoff spot in the West.

After that the first round begins in earnest on Saturday afternoon, and it’ll roll through Sunday night.

Saturday

  • Game 1: Magic at Cavaliers, 1 p.m. on ESPN
  • Game 1: Suns at Timberwolves, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
  • Game 1: 76ers at Knicks, 6 p.m. on ESPN
  • Game 1: Lakers at Nuggets, 8:30 p.m. on ABC

Sunday

  • Game 1: Heat or Bulls at Celtics, 1 p.m. on ABC
  • Game 1: Mavericks at Clippers, 3:30 p.m. on ABC
  • Game 1: Pacers at Bucks, 7 p.m. on TNT
  • Game 1: Pelicans or Kings at Thunder, 9:30 p.m. on TNT

Before the first round tips off, be sure to get caught up on our expert picks at CBS Sports. Our NBA analysts reveal their brackets and make their Finals predictions.

The NBA isn’t the only league that begins its postseason this weekend. The NHL playoffs will also fire up its 16 teams chasing down the Stanley Cup, with 12 of them taking the ice this weekend. (StarsGolden Knights and KingsOilers will open their series on Monday night.)

Saturday

  • Game 1: Islanders at Hurricanes, 5 p.m. on TBS
  • Game 1: Maple Leafs at Bruins, 8 p.m. on TBS

Sunday

  • Game 1: Lightning at Panthers, 12:30 p.m. on ESPN
  • Game 1: Capitals vs. Rangers, 3 p.m. on ESPN
  • Game 1: Avalanche at Jets, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
  • Game 1: Predators at Canucks, 10 p.m. on ESPN

Those schedules are a beautiful sight, but — wait — there’s still more.

In addition to the frenzy of 14 NBA and NHL playoff series starting in a 36-hour span, the 2024 NFL Draft is less than a week away. As the first round draws ever closer, keep it locked on CBS Sports’ coverage, which includes a slew of mock drafts and the latest information on what teams will do when the clock starts ticking.

👍 Honorable mentions

😩 And not such a good morning for…

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THE MIAMI HEAT

The Heat will host the Bulls tonight with the East’s No. 8 seed on the line. If the Heat are going to earn a shot at the NBA’s best, the top-seeded Celtics, they will have to do so without Jimmy Butler.

On Tuesday, Butler exited during the first quarter of Miami’s loss to the 76ers with a knee injury, but he was able to return. Unfortunately for the Heat, Butler suffered a sprained MCL that will keep him out of Friday’s do-or-die game, the team announced on Thursday. Heat Culture aside, expect Miami to have an uphill battle all night as the offense certainly doesn’t get better with Butler on the bench, as our own Colin Ward-Henninger points out.

  • Ward-Henninger: “What Butler brings on both ends of the court — not to mention his leadership — simply cannot be replaced by anyone on the Heat roster. Miami’s offense landed in the bottom-10 during the regular season and dropped significantly with Butler off the floor. In his minutes, the Heat averaged 116 points per 100 possessions, compared to 109 when he was on the bench.”

In Butler’s 60 regular season games, he averaged 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. And the loss of that production puts Miami’s run of four straight playoff appearances in jeopardy. On the other side, all eyes will be on Chicago’s Coby White, who exploded for 42 points in Wednesday’s win over the Hawks.

👎 Not so honorable mentions

😲 76ers’ Reed delivers bulletin board material to the Knicks

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This time of year, NBA teams are scouring news clippings in hopes of finding bulletin board material for the playoffs. Luckily for the Knicks, 76ers center Paul Reed delivered some to their front door, free of charge.

After the Sixers edged the Heat to secure the No. 7 seed and a first-round series with the Knicks, Reed said the quiet part out loud when asked about that matchup on “Run It Back.”

  • Reed: “We ain’t ducking no smoke, but, yeah, we wanted the Knicks matchup, of course. That’s the easier team I guess, but you know it’s going to be fun, we match up pretty well. They got a great guard, we got a great guard, we also got Joel, MVP, so like you said earlier, he’s one of the most unstoppable guys in the league right now. They’re gonna have to send triple teams, and he’s gonna get everybody else involved.”

That textbook example of oversharing may come back to bite Reed and the 76ers. The Knicks may not be the Celtics, but they won 50 games, got the 2 seed and beat Philly 3-1 head-to-head this season. Reed will get the chance to back up his words starting Saturday when the series tips off at Madison Square Garden.

🚚 Coyotes bid farewell to Arizona in advance of move to Utah

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Over the last week, the worst-kept secret in the NHL was the news that the Coyotes would be moving to Utah. On Thursday, the NHL Board of Governors officially approved the Coyotes’ relocation to Salt Lake City.

Ryan Smith, who also owns the NBA’s Jazz, purchased the Coyotes’ players and assets from former owner Alex Meruelo. The team will make the move this summer, and the NHL will make its Utah debut this fall.

This marks the first time the NHL has relocated a franchise since the Thrashers moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg and became the Jets in 2011, but the “Coyotes” aren’t necessarily dead. Meruelo will have the opportunity to reactivate the franchise in the next five years, as long as he meets certain requirements.

One of those requirements will probably be finding a permanent home for the team. The lack of an arena was one of the major reasons why the Coyotes are now packing up for the Beehive State. The team spent the last two seasons in Mullett Arena, a 5,000-seat venue it shared with Arizona State. A plan to build an arena and entertainment district in Tempe faced a lot of opposition and was rejected by voters.

The Coyotes also failed to put a respectable product on the ice. With one playoff berth in the last 12 seasons, the postseason was about as common as finding ice in the desert. Alas, the Coyotes did go out with a 5-2 win over the Oilers on Wednesday. Defenseman Sean Durzi scored the last goal, and fans were emotional as they bid farewell to the Yotes, at least, for now.

🏈 Patriots revamp offense in Josh Edwards’ mock draft

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The NFL Draft will give the Patriots the chance to rejuvenate what has become a stale offense. In his latest seven-round mock draft for CBS Sports, Josh Edwards laid out his plan for New England to do just that.

Watching the Patriots’ offense over the last two years has been akin to watching grass grow, only less fun. Last season, they were tied with the Panthers for dead last in scoring offense. With the No. 3 overall pick on Thursday night, New England can start to address that problem under new head coach Jerod Mayo.

In his new mock draft, Edwards has the Patriots selecting LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels. The Mac Jones experiment is over, and so the Pats must find a long-term solution under center in the post-Brady, post-Belichick era.

  • Edwards: “There’s simply no way in my mind the Patriots move out of this spot and/or don’t take a quarterback. The way the offseason has gone — and the way the last three years have gone — they have to.”

The Pats’ offensive-minded approach doesn’t end there in the mock draft. Edwards also has them adding three more offensive pieces throughout the weekend.

  • Round 2: Ladd McConkey | WR | Georgia
  • Round 3: Roger Rosengarten | OT | Washington
  • Round 5: Brenden Rice | WR | USC

📺 What we’re watching this weekend

Friday

🏀 Play-In: Bulls at Heat, 7 p.m. on ESPN
Rangers at Braves, 7:20 p.m. on Apple TV+
🏀 Play-In: Kings at Pelicans, 9:30 p.m. on TNT

Saturday

🏀 Game 1: Magic at Cavaliers, 1 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Game 1: Suns at Timberwolves, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
⚾ Mets at Dodgers, 4:05 p.m. on FS1
🏒 Game 1: Islanders at Hurricanes, 5 p.m. on TBS
🏀 Game 1: 76ers at Knicks, 6 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Game 1: Maple Leafs at Bruins, 8 p.m. on TBS
🏀 Game 1: Lakers at Nuggets, 8:30 p.m. on ABC

Sunday

🏒 Game 1: Lightning at Panthers, 12:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Game 1: Capitals at Rangers, 3 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Game 1: Mavericks at Clippers, 3:30 p.m. on ABC
🏀 Game 1: Pacers at Bucks, 7 p.m. on TNT
⚾ Rangers at Braves, 7:10 p.m. on ESPN

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