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Warriors, Celtics finish strong, plus yes, Nikola Jokic deserves to win MVP

Happy Tuesday, all.

Let’s get right to it.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to …


The Warriors led for exactly 45.7 seconds last night. The good news for them: It was the final 45.7 seconds of the game. Golden State used a late surge to rally past Memphis 101-98 and take a 3-1 series lead.

After an offensive masterpiece in Game 3, the Warriors had to win ugly in Game 4. Even Curry looked kind of off, despite his final stat line, writes NBA reporter Brad Botkin.

  • Botkin: “Stephen Curry led the Warriors with a game-high 32 points, but it took him 25 shots to get there. He connected on just four of his 14 3-pointers, but finished the game with eight clutch free throws and 18 fourth-quarter points. Curry, who has been fantastic all postseason in the paint and at the rim, is off on his 3-point shooting and missing wide-open looks pretty regularly. “


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It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Last night, the Celtics finished as strong as any team you’ll ever see, outscoring Milwaukee 43-28 in the fourth quarter to beat the Bucks 116-108 and even the series at 2-2.

  • Al Horfordplaying in his 132nd playoff game, scored a playoff career — high 30 points. Jayson Tatum also had 30, as well as 13 rebounds and five assists.
  • Horford and Tatum are the first Celtics duo to both score 30+ in the same playoff game since Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in 2011.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 18 rebounds and five assists but shot under 50 percent (14-for-32) for the third time in four games this series.

Horford’s impact was vital throughout the game, but especially in the fourth quarter, when his dunk over Antetokounmpo spurred the Celtics’ final run, notes NBA expert Jack Maloney.

  • Maloney:When Horford put Giannis on a poster, it wasn’t just an incredible highlight; it was an emotional lift for a team that had struggled to get anything going for nearly two full games in Milwaukee. … While the Celtics had already fought back – once the free throws were settled, that play tied the game at 81-81 – they now had the energy to close the show. From that point on, the Celtics outscored the Bucks 35-27, and appeared to be the fresher team.

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mentions

  • The Giants couldn’t find a trade partner for cornerback James Bradberry and released him.
  • Atlanta United and USMNT standout defender Miles Robinson suffered a torn Achilles and will likely miss the World Cup.
  • Denis Shapovalov had a bit of a temper tantrum.

Jokic will win second straight MVP, per report; Williams named Coach of the Year 🏀

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Nikola Jokic is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player again, according to reports. The Nuggets‘superstar center beat out Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo to become the 15th player to win multiple NBA MVPs and the 13th to go back-to-back. While we won’t know the exact voting totals until the formal announcement in the coming days, it was a hotly debated race. Here’s why it went Jokic’s way:

  • Jokic led the league in win shares, Player Efficiency Rating (his 32.8 PER this year was the highest in NBA history), Box Plus / Minus and Value Over Replacement Player.
  • Not a fan of advanced metrics? How about this: Jokic was the first player ever with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season.
  • He also increased his points, rebounds, field goal percentage, steals and blocks from last seasonwhen he, you know, won MVP.
  • He led the league in triple-doubles (19) and double-doubles (66).
  • The Nuggets outscored opponents by 444 points when he was on the floor. They were outscored by 225 points when he wasn’t.

That about covers it.

Also getting an honor he thoroughly deserves is Monty Williamswho was named Coach of the Year after leading the Suns to an NBA-best and franchise-record 64-18 regular season mark. Williams won the award over Taylor Jenkins (Grizzlies) and Erik Spoelstra (Heat).

  • It’s Williams’ first time winning the award.
  • He’s the third Suns coach to win it, joining Mike D’Antoni (2005) and Cotton Fitzsimmons (1989).
  • During the regular season, Phoenix went 18-6 without Deandre Ayton11-6 without Chris Paul and 8-6 without Devin Booker.

NCAA issues NIL guidance to schools 💰

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The NCAA Division I Board of Directors has announced new guidelines regarding name, image and likeness. College football expert Shehan Jeyarajah explains:

  • Jeyarajah: The guidance clarifies existing rules that explicitly disallow boosters from recruiting through either interaction or providing direct aid to recruits. The new clarification takes specific aim at so-called ‘collectives’ created by booster factions to sign prospective student-athletes from either high school or the transfer portal to contracts. … Definarily, a booster is referred to as ‘any third-party entity that promotes an athletics program, assists with recruiting or assists with providing benefits to recruits, enrolled student-athletes or their family members.’

Examples of collectives include …

  • Miami publicly signing prospects to NIL deals, including a two-year, $ 800,000 deal with Life Wallet
  • Texas” charity ‘- Horns with Heart – which provides at least $ 50,000 to every scholarship offensive lineman

The NCAA may pursue previous “egregious” violations, but it will mainly focus on the future. Our college sports reporter Dennis Dodd spoke with some coaches and other college sports leaders about the NIL, and they had plenty to say.

MLB Power Rankings: Los Angeles, New York teams still thriving ⚾

We’re just over one month into the MLB season, and the big-market teams are thriving: The Los Angeles teams and the New York teams are a combined 42 games over .500, and all four lead their respective divisions. Those four squads also occupy the top four slots in Matt Snyder’s latest MLB Power Rankings:

  • 1. Dodgers (last week: 4) – “They’ve been the best team all along.”
  • 2. Yankees (last week: 3) – “Yes, I considered them for the top spot. There’s no wrong answer.”
  • 3. Mets (last week: 1) – “Loop the Mets in with the Yankees’ answer above … There are three upper-elite teams right now and then a separation.”
  • 4. Angels (last week: 4) – “As much as I hated Mike Trout’s strikeout in the ninth on Sunday, I loved the Shohei Ohtani game-tying double and Anthony Rendon walk-off single as a nice reminder for the masses that this can be a well-rounded team where Trout doesn ‘t have to do everything. “

Meanwhile, the Astros, owners of MLB’s longest active winning streak (seven straight) were the biggest jumpers, moving from 14th to sixth.

  • Snyder: “The most remarkable thing about their seven-game winning streak? Runs allowed per game: 0, 0, 2, 2, 2, 2, 0.”

Rest in peace, Adreian Payne

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Former Michigan State star star Adreian Payne died yesterday at 31 after being shot. The Orange County Sheriff’s department arrested Lawrence Dority on a warrant for first degree murder in connection to the fatal shooting of Payne.

Payne was a two-time All-Big Ten selection with the Spartans, and he made national headlines after befriending Lacey Holsworth, a young Michigan State fan who had terminal cancer and died in April 2014. After his time in East Lansing, Payne was selected 15th overall by the Hawks in the 2014 NBA Draft. He also played for Minnesota and Orlando.

The Magic waived Payne in 2018 after a story revealed he and teammate Keith Appling were investigated for sexual assault during their time at Michigan State. Neither faced charges in the case, though Payne apologized to his accuser. Appling publicly stated the relationship was consensual.

What we’re watching Tuesday 📺

And also …

🏀 Aces at Mystics7 pm on Facebook
Red Sox at Braves7:20 pm on TBS

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