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USATSI

Wake up... it's Thursday! You know what that means, my friend: We've got football on TV tonight! 

OK... it's a Dolphins-Jaguars game and, yeah, that might possibly be one of the worst NFL showdowns you could hype up for a primetime matchup. But guess what? It's football and we're all probably going to watch it and be enthralled by it, for better or for worse. You can make fun of it, you can run from it, but it's inevitable. 

I you can't get enough football (or football coverage) then you may be interested to hear that we just launched a new podcast here at CBS Sports called "All Things Covered with Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden." (Get it? They're two cornerbacks and the podcast is called "All Things Covered?" C'mon, you know that's clever.) Pat and BMac will react to news from around the league, check in on the Cardinals season and discuss anything else that piques their interest each week. They're releasing episodes every Tuesday and each will have a big-time guest...this week's was Tyrann Mathieu of the Chiefs. It's a good time...give it a listen and let me know what you think. 

And speaking of things being covered, you know I've always got you covered with your need-to-know sports stuff every morning and today is no different. Man coverage? Zone coverage? Don't matter. I'm all over you and you just can't shake me. You know you love it.


📰 What you need to know

1. Tyler Herro leads Heat over Celtics 🏀

Not many expected the Heat to make the NBA Finals this year but, hey, we're now one Miami win away from that reality. They took care of business last night against the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, winning 112-109 and improving their series lead to 3-1 in the process. 

The story of last night's game was Tyler Herro, who absolutely exploded offensively to push the Heat past Boston. Herro had 37 points -- the most ever by a rookie in the conference finals -- and was ruthlessly efficient, coming off the bench (!) and shooting 14-for-21 (including 5-for-10 from deep). As such, it's very safe to call Game 4 the "Tyler Herro Game." 

Here are some more takeaways from our James Herbert:

  • Miami always has answers: The Celtics did make a late push in the fourth quarter and even took a one-point lead during the final frame. However, Erik Spoelstra's Heat have proven capable of responding well and never taking themselves out of a game. They have the composure to adapt to what's being thrown at them
  • Boston's lament: The Celtics were brutal in the first half of this game (especially Jayson Tatum) and it's not much of a silver lining that they were able to turn things around a bit in the second half. Yeah, they had more flow and some guys caught fire after halftime (Tatum included) but they got sloppy again in the fourth quarter and gave too many points away
  • The Heat didn't even shoot well: Heat players not named Herro went 5-for-27 from 3-point range, and Boston matched Miami's 38 points in the paint. The difference? Miami hit 24 free throws to Boston's 17 and they took much better care of the basketball

After the Celtics lost the first two games of the series, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown reportedly went at it in the locker room and that seemed to spark more life for Boston in Game 3. It may be time for those guys to schedule a rematch now that the Celtics have their backs up against the wall.

So, are we ready to pronounce the Celtics dead yet? Well, on one hand, the Celts have looked dominant at points in the series so far, so it's not impossible to think they could make a run. But, on the other hand, even when they have dominant stretches they often let Miami climb back in the game. Considering Boston is making pretty much everything an adventure in this series, three straight victories seems unlikely.


2. Chargers' team doctor accidentally punctured Tyrod Taylor's lung 🏈

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The Los Angeles Chargers' QB situation is weird and it's only getting weirder with each passing day. The Chargers and head coach Anthony Lynn were pretty adamant that Tyrod Taylor would be their quarterback this season, even after drafting Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick.

It seemed like only a matter of time before Herbert took over for Taylor, but in Week 2? I mean, nobody saw that coming. Just before Sunday's game Taylor was taken to the hospital and the circumstances around his last-second ailment were a little murky, at least until yesterday. Buckle up because this story is a wild one.

  • Prior to the game, the Chargers' team doctor reportedly punctured Taylor's lung while trying to administer a pain-killing injection 
  • Taylor has been advised to sit indefinitely while he completely heals from the puncture, which means he'll likely be out for several weeks
  • Herbert will get the start again in Week 3 but Lynn insists Taylor is still QB1 when he's ready to return

It's easy to make jokes about the Chargers' doctor screwing up that badly, but it's hard not to feel bad for Taylor here. Not only is that a painful injury to deal with, but it also may have cost him a real shot at quarterbacking this team and jumpstarting his career. Sure, Lynn can say the job is still his, but if Herbert keeps playing like he did in Week 2, it's going to be hard to just hand the starting gig back to Taylor when he returns. And it's worth pointing out that Taylor is in the final year of his current contract this year.

With that in mind, you have to wonder if Taylor will have some sort of legal case against the doctor/team moving forward. It could be an ugly long-term issue. 


3. LeBron James is finally showing his age in the playoffs 🏀

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The Denver Nuggets have become the Cinderella story of the NBA Playoffs thanks to the ascension of their two young superstars, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Denver's youthful energy can be intoxicating to watch but, on the other side of their Western Conference Finals matchup, it's possible that LeBron James has never looked older.

That's not to say LeBron, 35, has been bad -- he certainly hasn't been -- but he just doesn't seem to have the superhuman endurance that he's showcased over the past few decades and that's costing the Lakers. Our Sam Quinn wrote about it this week:

  • Quinn: "James played only 37 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. The Lakers won those 37 minutes by two points... but lost the game by eight. LeBron sitting for 11 minutes was enough for a 10-point Denver swing, and that's nothing new. He sat for a total of 28 minutes across five 2017 NBA Finals games. The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers by 27 points in that span. LeBron's teams have always struggled when he's gone to the bench. They've just been fortunate that he almost never needed to."

LeBron has only played 40 minutes or more once in the 2020 playoffs and it came in the very first game of the Lakers' run. That game ranks 155th in terms of LeBron's most minutes played in a playoff game over the course of his career. He's clearly not shouldering the same massive workload as he has in the past.

You might be thinking "well, if they need LeBron to play more minutes, then why don't they play him more minutes?" It's not quite that simple. Again, he's 35 and it seems like he kinda needs the rest. The numbers show that LeBron's performance has dipped and he's been worn down as games have progressed.

Sure, he is still one of the most dominant players in basketball and the Lakers still hold a 2-1 series lead as the odds-on favorites to win the title, but L.A. isn't exactly equipped to thrive (or perhaps even survive) without LeBron on the floor. And making matter worse for LA is that Murray/Jokic don't seem like they're going to run out of gas anytime soon.

4. RIP Gale Sayers 🏈

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Getty Images

My Chicago-based bud Tom Fornelli wrote a bit about Gale Sayers in yesterday's PM edition, but Sayers was such a football titan that it's worth dedicating some time for him this morning as well. Sayers died at the age of 77 on Wednesday, leaving behind an incredible legacy as one of the greatest football players to ever strap on the pads.

He only played 68 NFL games thanks to injuries cutting his career short, but Sayers was a first-ballot Hall of Famer and highly regarded as one of the most upstanding characters in the sport. Here are some things you may not know about Sayers, as highlighted by our Bryan DeArdo:

  • His six-touchdown performance is still an NFL record: In 1965, Sayers had four touchdown runs, a TD catch and an 85-yard punt return TD. HIs six total TDs is still the single-game record
  • He still holds the rookie record for touchdowns: It's been 55 years since his rookie season but Sayers' 22 touchdowns in 1965 is still the most touchdowns ever scored by a rookie in a single season
  • He's the youngest player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Sayers was just 34 years old when he was voted into Canton and he remains the youngest player to receive induction

Rest in peace to a legend.


📝 Odds & Ends

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  Getty Images

📺 What to watch tonight

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White Sox vs. Indians, 6:10 p.m. | CLE -121 | TV: MLB.TV

🏈 Dolphins vs. Jaguars, 8:20 p.m. | JAC -3 | TV: NFLN

🏀 Lakers vs. Nuggets,  9 p.m. | DEN +6 | TV: TNT


📝 Top scores from last night

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🏀 Heat 112, Celtics 109

Tyler Herro had 37 points while Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo also all scored 20-plus.
💵 Winning wagers: MIA +139, Over (212)

🏒 Lightning 5, Stars 2

Steven Stamkos returned to the lineup and scored on his first shot since February but didn't play in the game's final two periods.
💵 Winning wagers: TBL -160, Over (5)

Reds 6, Brewers 1

NL Cy Young favorite Trevor Bauer dominated on short rest as the Reds beat the Brewers, 6-1. The win puts the Reds in firm position to make the postseason for the first time since 2013. Bauer struck out 12 in eight innings and now has an NL-best 1.73 ERA.
💵 Winning wagers: CIN -173, Under (8.5)