2023 NBA Finals - Denver Nuggets v Miami Heat
Getty Images

This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

Good morning to everyone but especially to...


Mike Malone ripped his team's effort after Game 2. His stars responded with an unprecedented effort in Game 3.

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray became the first teammates to have triple-doubles in the same Finals game and the first teammates to have 30-point triple-doubles in the same game -- regular season or postseason -- ever as the Nuggets took a 2-1 series lead over the Heat with a 109-94 win.

  • Jokic had 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists to become the first player in Finals history with a 30/20/10 game. He has more 30/20/10 playoff games (three) than the rest of the NBA combined all time (two).
  • After a relatively quiet 18 points in Game 2, Murray had 20 by halftime and finished with 34.
  • Christian Braun provided the boost off the bench Denver desperately needed with 15 points on 7-8 shooting. It was his first double-digit game in the playoffs.

Here's our Bill Reiter on Denver's star duo.

  • Reiter: "It is hard to overstate just how incredible Jokic and Murray were in Game 3. Jokic's every move seemed fine-tuned for excellence, and his team fed off of everything he did. The scoring. The facilitation and how it drove the offense and filled his guys with confidence... Murray, too, was so special. Hitting brutally difficult shots. Quelling Heat runs with his own offensive genius... after Wednesday night, it's clear the Heat aren't just facing the best team in the Western Conference. They're facing two of the best players in the game, period."

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mentions

Lionel Messi is headed to Inter Miami ⚽

Getty Images

Prepare for Messi mania, Miami! After a rollercoaster last few months, which included rumors that a reunion with Barcelona or a massive contract to play in Saudi Arabia was his next step, Lionel Messi decided to join Inter Miami.

He'll officially join the team in July.

  • Messi needs no introduction, but here's one anyway: The 35-year-old star has won pretty much every individual and team award imaginable (including FIFA Men's Player of the Year three times and the Ballon d'Or seven times). In 2022 he finally won the World Cup.
  • Messi debuted for Barcelona's senior team in 2004 and stayed with the Catalonians through 2021. His 672 goals with Barcelona are most ever with one club and 440 more than anyone else in Barcelona history.
  • In 2021, Messi joined French giants PSG, and while the club won Serie 1 twice, it never reached peak potential with the star Argentine.
  • For a while, it looked like a billion-Euro offer from Saudi Arabian side Al Hillal was going to win Messi over. Our James Benge has details on how Messi turned down the Saudi Pro League.

Messi is following in the footsteps of David Beckham (the Inter Miami co-owner/president), Zlatan Imbrahimović and plenty of other stars who took their games stateside, and the hype is already overwhelming. Despite being outside the playoff race right now, Inter Miami's odds to win the title have shortened dramatically while ticket prices have soared.

But how good can they be immediately? Here's what our Chuck Booth says.

  • Booth: "With the team getting heavier in attack and then needing to shed players to make funds work, they'll need to be careful not to neglect the defensive side of the ball. But while they'll be shedding players, others like Sergio Busquets and Luis Suarez are targets that the team can add during the summer. ... While Messi is now 35, playmaking isn't something that dwindles quickly, as his vision is second to none in the world, let alone in MLS, and Leonardo Campana and Josef Martínez can do the running in front of him."

Suns exploring options to move on from Chris Paul 🏀

Getty Images

The fallout from the Suns' disappointing playoff exit started with Monty Williams's firing and continued to another longtime, well-respected leader: Phoenix is exploring options regarding Chris Paul's future, including trading or waiving the future Hall of Famer.

  • Paul, 38, will be entering the third year of a four-year, $120-million deal. He has $15.8 million in guaranteed money for 2023-24 but no guaranteed money for 2024-25. His money for 2023-24 becomes guaranteed June 28, so things could move quickly.
  • A trade seems unlikely given Paul's $30-million-per-year salary, so waiving him is more likely.
  • If Paul is indeed waived, the Suns have two options: Spread the $15.8 million over five seasons -- a move that would prevent them from re-signing Paul -- or take the $15.8-million salary cap hit in 2023-24 alone and potentially sign Paul at a lower salary.
  • Here's what Phoenix could do if they indeed move on from Paul.

Paul missed the Suns' final four games of their second-round loss to the Nuggets due to a groin injury, and health has been an issue for him at inopportune times throughout his career. Still, he'll have plenty of suitors if he opens the market.

Poor air quality leads to MLB, WNBA, NWSL postponements ☁️

Getty Images

Smoke from Canadian wildfires caused several sports postponements Wednesday, as poor air quality stretched up and down the northeast part of the country.

Under skies that appeared downright apocalyptic, White Sox-Yankees and Tigers-Phillies were both postponed to today. The Diamondbacks and Nationals did play Wednesday (Arizona won, 6-2), despite less-than-ideal air quality that I can tell you from first-hand experience living nearby was none too pleasant.

Those weren't the only postponements.

  • The Lynx-Liberty game at the Barclays Center was postponed, with no make-up date announced yet.
  • The Gotham FC-Pride NWSL game in New Jersey was postponed.
  • Several minor-league baseball teams have postponed games this week as well.

Elsewhere, the Giants and Jets both practiced inside Wednesday. As of right now, the Belmont Stakes will go on as planned this weekend.

According to CBS News, only Delhi, India had worse air quality than New York City did Wednesday morning.

PGA-Saudi PIF merger fallout: Rory McIlroy frustrated, plus Jay Monahan's explanation ⛳

PGA: RBC Canadian Open - Player Press Conferences

While the golf world adjusts to the merger between the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which runs LIV Golf, some of its most influential people have made their voices heard.

No player has been more outspoken against LIV Golf in the past two years than Rory McIlroy, and the Northern Ireland star maintained that stance, saying, "I still hate LIV." Kyle Porter took a deep dive into how McIlroy remained genuine through the process, showing grace and humility in the face of the merger. Rory seemed at peace with the agreement and made an important distinction.

  • McIlroy: "LIV's got nothing to do with this... It's the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund are basically partnering to create a new company. ... Jay's the CEO of that. So technically, anyone that is involved with LIV now would answer to Jay. So the PGA Tour has control of everything. And one thing as well is, whether you like it or not, the PIF were going to keep spending the money in golf. At least the PGA Tour now controls how that money is spent."

Speaking of "Jay," PGA commissioner Jay Monahan explained why PGA Tour golfers were kept in the dark regarding the merger. LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, meanwhile, reassured staffers that LIV will continue as "a standalone enterprise."

But is Norman actually correct in that assertion? And what about the PGA Tour guys who turned down LIV? Those are two of several big questions that need to be answered, and our Kyle Porter has others, including...

  • Porter: "Is this merger guaranteed to happen? According to many who know how this could play out within the legal process, it comes across as far from a done deal. One entity (LIV Golf) was suing another (PGA Tour) for being a monopoly, and now, the entity (PIF) providing the funding for the plaintiff is merging with the defendant. If that sounds confusing, that's because it is confusing. Nobody knows how this is going to resolve itself legally, but saying this union is guaranteed to go through is a disservice to reality, which is that it could happen but also might not."

The next few months will be very interesting in the golf world, to say the least.

What we're watching Thursday 📺

🏒 Golden Knights at Panthers, 8 p.m. on TNT