Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Donovan Mitchell rallies Cavs to Game 7 win; Kyle Larson sets NASCAR record with photo finish at Kansas

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🏀 Good morning to everyone but especially to…

DONOVAN MITCHELL AND THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Falling behind by 18 points in the first half probably isn’t the best Game 7 strategy, but it worked for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. Donovan Mitchell caught fire and helped the Cavs storm back for a 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic.

With 4:17 remaining in the second quarter, Paolo Banchero hit a pair of free throws to give the Magic a 49-31 lead. At that point, it looked like Orlando might waltz to the second round, but the Cavaliers flipped a switch and completely reversed the momentum with Mitchell leading the way.

Mitchell finished the game with 39 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. In the third quarter, the Magic had no tricks up their sleeve to slow down Mitchell, who went off for 17 points as the Cavs went from down by 10 to leading by eight.

  • The Cavs’ 18-point comeback was the largest of the NBA’s play-by-play era (since 1996-97).
  • Mitchell’s 89 points in Games 6 and 7 are a new franchise record for a two-game playoff stretch.
  • This was the first series the Cavaliers have won without LeBron James since they beat the Nets in 1993.

Our own Sam Quinn wrote about how important it was for the Cavaliers to get over the hump in the post-LeBron era.

  • Quinn: “They took their first major step in doing so on Sunday, and it is a bigger step than any James-less Cavaliers team has taken in three decades. They have a long way to go before they can live up to LeBron, but with their Game 7 victory, Garland, Mitchell, Evan Mobley, Max Strus and Isaac Okoro can at least go down in the history books with Daugherty, Nance, Price, Ehlo and Sanders as Cavaliers starters to get the team to the second round.”

The Cavaliers will now take on the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics, a team that has been resting since eliminating the Miami Heat in five games. That series starts on Tuesday night in Boston.

👍 Honorable mentions

🏒 And not such a good morning for…

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THE VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and the Vegas Golden Knights lost their title as kings of the NHL on Sunday night. The Dallas Stars eliminated the reigning Stanley Cup champs, 2-1, in a Game 7.

This series loss will sting the Golden Knights for multiple reasons, but perhaps the worst pain comes from the fact that they were up 2-0 in the series after winning the first two games in Dallas. Historically, teams that won the first two games on the road were 89-21 all-time, but that record is a little worse now.

Instead, Vegas dropped the next three games and needed a Game 6 victory just to force Game 7. After jumping out to that 2-0 lead, the Golden Knights’ luck ran out on offense.

  • The Golden Knights scored just seven goals in the final five games of the series.
  • Tomas Hertl registered just one goal in the series after being acquired at the trade deadline.
  • After putting up 11 goals in last year’s Stanley Cup run, Ivan Barbashev ended this series with zero goals.

Ultimately, Vegas made life tough on itself when it slipped to the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, but there is no shame in losing to the Stars. This was a clash of titans, and as I pointed out in my Game 7 recap, one of them had to go home early.

  • Nivison: “This series was highly anticipated and it did not disappoint. Despite the distance between these two teams in the standings, it was a clash of two true Stanley Cup contenders and one had to lose. The Stars deserved to pull out the win, but the defending champs brought plenty of fight in what was a true heavyweight bout.”

After going all-in at the trade deadline again in 2024, the Golden Knights will have to watch the rest of the postseason from home.

👎 Not so honorable mentions

🏁 Larson wins via photo finish at Kansas Speedway

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On Saturday, the Kentucky Derby ended with a photo finish when Mystik Dan edged out Sierra Leone and Forever Young by a nose. Not to be outdone, NASCAR produced a photo finish of its own with Kyle Larson winning the closest race in Cup Series history.

The AdventHealth 400 went into overtime on Sunday evening, and the ending was well worth the wait. Larson worked his way around the outside of Chris Buescher in Turns 3 and 4, and those two crossed the finish line almost simultaneously.

Unfortunately for Buescher, the word “almost” is key there. After a review, NASCAR officials determined that Larson beat Buescher to the finish line by 0.001 seconds, becoming the closest finish the Cup Series has ever seen.

Larson needed every single inch of racetrack to charge from behind to beat Buescher, and as you might expect, he is excited to be racing on more 1.5-mile tracks.

  • Larson: “Just incredible. … I wish we had more mile and a halves. We all bitch about the [aero] package and all that, but these cars just race so amazing.”

Larson and Buescher were the top two cars in Kansas, with the former leading 64 laps and the latter running in front for 53 laps. In the end, Larson got the last laugh and six more points than Buescher in the Cup Series standings.

🏀 Picks are in for the second-round NBA playoff matchups

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With the Cavaliers’ Game 7 win over the Magic, the first round of the NBA playoffs is now in the books. With the second round upon us, the experts at CBS Sports have shared their picks for each matchup.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets already started their second-round series, and the T-Wolves sprung the upset with a 106-99 win on Saturday night. The rest of the series will start this week, and the CBS Sports NBA experts have called their shots.

One of the more highly anticipated matchups is the Eastern Conference showdown between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers. Even though the Pacers just ousted the Milwaukee Bucks in six games, our experts don’t think they have quite enough to get past Jalen Brunson and the battle-tested Knicks.

James Herbert picked the Knicks in five because of his lack of faith in the Pacers’ defense.

  • Herbert: “I think the Sixers series prepared New York well defensively, and I’m worried about the Pacers on the glass. It’s possible that Tyrese Haliburton goes into his early season supernova mode and makes this prediction look silly, but I am not convinced that Indiana is sturdy enough on defense to expose the Knicks’ over-reliance on Jalen Brunson.”

There were some other interesting nuggets from the experts’ second-round picks:

  • Jasmyn Wimbish went out on a limb as the only one to take the Timberwolves over the defending champs.
  • Even with a Kristaps Porzingis injury, everyone sees a short series between the Celtics and Cavs.
  • Five of the six experts expect a Game 7 between the Thunder and Mavericks.

📺 What we’re watching Monday

Tigers at Guardians, 6:10 p.m. on FS1
🏀Game 1: Pacers at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏒Game 1: Bruins at Panthers, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏀Game 2: Timberwolves at Nuggets, 10 p.m. on TNT

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