Good morning, my beautiful friend! Not only is a blessed Friday upon us but we're also coming off an incredible, historic sports day. No, I'm not talking about me FINALLY shooting under par in "PGA Tour 2K21"... I'm talking about the absurd sports equinox that fell upon us on Thursday. For the first time in possibly...ever?...we had MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, WNBA, college football, tennis and golf all playing on the same damn day. GLORIOUS.
Remember when we met every morning and had no major sports action for, like, four months? How the tables have turned!
With all this action, we've got a lot to recap and even more to look forward to this weekend, so pull on your Friday pants and let's party.
📰 What you need to know
1. Chiefs pick up right where they left off 🏈
Just like that, the NFL season is officially upon us! The Chiefs and Texans kicked off the 2020 campaign last night in Kansas City and, welp, the defending champions wasted no time picking up where they left off. We've got a weird, unprecedented year ahead of us thanks to COVID-19 and all the complications of the pandemic, but there was a comfortable sense of familiarity watching the Chiefs dismantle an opponent in a meaningful game.
Here are some takeaways from our Tyler Sullivan and Jordan Dajani:
- Why the Chiefs won: After giving up a touchdown to start the game, KC went on a 31-0 run that was similar to their win over the Texans in the Divisional Round last year. Mahomes and his offense looked very good, but the big story might be rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rushed for over 100 yards in his debut. Just what the Chiefs need... another dangerous weapon
- Why the Texans lost: Houston committed too many penalties that directly led to points for Kansas City. Deshaun Watson threw for 253 passing yards with a touchdown and an INT, but it was clear that he missed his favorite explosive target in DeAndre Hopkins
It really doesn't seem fair that Kansas City just gets to add another electric piece to their attack with Edwards-Helaire but, man, it's pretty fun to watch that unit go to work and it was very enjoyable to see some crisp, well-executed football again. Honestly, the most trouble the Chiefs dealt with all night was Andy Reid battling his aggressive full-shield facemask on the sidelines.
Also, you know who else seemed to enjoy the game last night? Hopkins, who tweeted out a simple message of "grateful" shortly after his old team took the 34-20 loss. Hmm... maybe he's still taking the trade a little personally, or maybe he just ate some really good wings for dinner or something.
LeBron James and the Lakers are one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Los Angeles took control of their series against the Rockets last night, beating Houston 110-100 and putting on a thoroughly impressive performance as they pushed James Harden & Co. to the brink.
The Rockets have some outside stuff going on around them right now (more on that in just a second) but let's get some quick takeaways from Thursday game, courtesy of the great Jack Maloney:
- Lakers dominate defensively: LA put together one of their strongest defensive performances of the playoffs and held Houston to 43.1 percent shooting while forcing 16 turnovers. The Lakers held the Rockets to just 33 3-point attempts and were strong at the rim
- Too little too late from Houston: In a potential swing game, there wasn't enough urgency or desperation from the Rockets. They didn't have a single second-chance point or fast-break point in the first three quarters, which is absolutely insane. They didn't start fully pushing until the end of the game and, by then, it was too late to completely erase a 23-point deficit they'd fallen into
As such, this series could be coming to an end soon... and you know what that means. We've been waiting for it since last summer, but we're now oh so close to a Lakers-Clippers WCF. The Battle of Los Angeles with a spot in the NBA Finals on the line. LeBron vs. Kawhi. AD vs. PG.
That being said, the Rockets aren't dead yet, they're just kind of a mess. Which brings us to...
3. NBA investigating Danuel House Jr. 🏀
The Rockets currently have their hands full trying to hold off the Lakers down in the Disney bubble, but they're also shorthanded in trying to do so. That's because forward Danuel House Jr. missed his second straight game on Thursday as he's still currently being investigating by the league for a potential violation of bubble protocol.
- It's being alleged that House let a woman into his room late Monday night. That woman was inside the bubble to administer COVID-19 testing
- The woman passed multiple security checkpoints before being flagged for entry and exited in the early hours of Tuesday morning. She claimed to have contact with Tyson Chandler and another player, but did not name House
- House has "vehemently" denied the allegation but the investigation is ongoing
- The Rockets' entire team had to enter a quarantine period on Tuesday due to the potential exposure
- Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni says he doesn't know if or when House will be cleared to play again
House's absence isn't insignificant, as he's been blossoming into a key role player for the Rockets on both ends of the floor and Houston needs players like him to help space the floor. Our James Herbert says that "without him, the Rockets are less versatile, less deep and less dangerous... his absence could be critical. Series have swung on much less."
With Houston down 3-1 in the series after last night's loss, they're probably going to want this situation to get figured out as soon as possible... but it may already be too late. And if you're a Rockets player or fan, you've got to be pretty steamed that the selfishness and irresponsibility of your own have put you in this situation to begin with.
4. Weekend Gambling Corner 💰
We've got another Friday on our hands, which means it's time for us to come together and figure out what we're going to be betting on this weekend. We've got a a big couple days of action ahead of us, too, as we'll have more equinoxes over the next couple of days. What a time to be alive!
Football is the hot new thing on the streets these days, so let's get some prime advice from our friends at SportsLine:
- College football: We've got our first big weekend of college football coming up and there are some big-name teams in action -- including Notre Dame (-20) vs. Duke, Florida State (-12.5) vs. Georgia Tech, Clemson (-33) at Wake Forest and Texas (-43!) vs. UTEP. You can find SportsLine's top picks right here
- NFL: The legendary Hammerin' Hank has three best bets for Week 1 and Hammer closed last season on a 23-7 (77 percent) heater. He's playing Buffalo -6.5 over the Jets, saying "The Jets stink. They hate their coach. This number could close higher." (LOL) You can find his other two picks here
As always, may the odds be ever in your favor. Come back to me much richer on Monday!
📝 Odds & Ends
- Golfer John Daly revealed that he's been diagnosed with bladder cancer
- Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira broke her own world record for the largest wave surfed by a woman
- The Giants released Pablo Sandoval, bringing his second stint in SF to an end
📺 What to watch this weekend
🏀 Celtics vs.Raptors, 9:00 p.m. | TOR +2.5 | TV: TNT
🏒 Lightning vs. Islanders, 8 p.m. | NYI +140 | TV: USA
🏈 No. 1 Clemson vs. Wake Forest, 7:30 p.m. | WF +33 | TV: ABC
🏒 Golden Knights vs. Stars, 8 p.m. | DAL +140 | TV: NBC
🏀 Rockets vs. Lakers, 8 p.m. | LAL -6.5 | TV: ESPN
🏒 Lightning vs. Islanders, 3 p.m. | TV: NBC
🏈 Buccaneers vs. Saints, 4:25 p.m. | NO -3.5 | TV: FOX
📝 Top scores from last night
The Chiefs kicked off their title defense (and the NFL season) with a big win in KC. Patrick Mahomes had 211 passing yards and three touchdowns against zero interceptions.
💵 Winning wagers: KC -9.5, Over (53.5)
Alex Radulov scored 31 seconds into overtime to give Dallas a 2-1 series lead.
💵 Winning wagers: Stars +149, Under (5.5)
Anthony Davis had a game-high 29 points and 12 rebounds and played great defense down low as LA moved to 3-1 in the series.💵 Winning wagers: Lakers -5.5, Under (218.5)