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Happy Thursday, folks.

Let's get right to it.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to...


The NBA Finals start tonight, and it should be absolutely fantastic. You have the Warriors trying to add to what's already an incredible legacy and the Celtics looking to start their own. So, who is going to win it all?

Our NBA experts have made their picks, and the staff is quite divided. Here's why columnist Bill Reiter is going with Golden State:

  • Reiter: "Warriors in 6. ... Yes, the Celtics have a world-class defense... But the Warriors have the answers in Steph, Klay, Poole, and Wiggins -- players who will fire an offense that will find its way through, and over, Boston."

NBA guru Brad Botkin, meanwhile, likes Boston:

  • Botkin: "Celtics in 7. The Celtics are perfectly equipped to defend Golden State's off-ball movement, and they can beat the Warriors on the offensive glass, especially when Golden State isn't playing Kevon Looney, which adds up over the course of a series. Golden State is prone to turnovers, and Boston could cause a bunch."

One thing everyone agrees on: This should be a great series. All eight of our experts have it going at least six games. I also enjoyed NBA reporter Sam Quinn's ranking all 30 players in the NBA Finals. It was a close call between Stephen Curry and Jayson Tatum at No. 1 -- you'll have to read the article to see who Sam picked.

Here's what else you should check out:


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Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had been unstoppable all playoffs. Unfortunately for him, the light came on far too many times last night as the Rangers offense fired on all cylinders en route to a 6-2 Game 1 win in the Eastern Conference Final.

  • In the first period, Chris Kreider opened the scoring before Steven Stamkos tied it up.
  • Frank Vatrano gave New York the lead again, but Ondrej Palat responded. Then the Rangers began to pull away. Filip Chytil scored twice to give the hosts a 4-2 lead heading into the final frame.
  • Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad put the icing on the cake.
  • Igor Shesterkin had 37 saves for the Rangers.

The Rangers are now 7-1 at home this postseason, and they'll look to make it 8-1 in Game 2 tomorrow night.

Honorable mentions

  • The US men's national team beat Morocco 3-0 in a World Cup tune-up. Here's soccer expert Roger Gonzalez's stock watch.
  • Ukraine beat Scotland 3-1 and will face Wales on Sunday for a spot in the 2022 World Cup. The winner will join the United States, England and Iran in Group B.
  • The Pirates swept the Dodgers in Los Angeles for the first time since 2000.

And not such a good morning for...

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Mike Trout is an all-time great baseball player. He apparently is not an all-time great fantasy football commissioner.

The latest twist to the Tommy Pham-vs-Joc Pederson saga implicates the Angels superstar for his role -- or lack thereof -- as the commissioner of a high-stakes ($10,000) fantasy football league.

  • On Friday night, Pham slapped Pederson ahead of the game between Pham's Reds and Pederson's Giants. Pham got a three-game suspension. Pham accused Pederson of cheating in fantasy football by placing a player listed as "Out" on Injured Reserve, allowing him to add another player. 
  • Upon returning from his suspension Wednesday, Pham said, "Trout's the worst commissioner in fantasy sports. Because he allowed a lot of s--t to go on, and he could've solved it all."

Hey, who among us hasn't had a little dispute in a fantasy sports league?

Not so honorable mention

  • The U.S. House of Representatives' Oversight Committee has requested that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Commanders owner Daniel Snyder testify at a June 22 hearing.

Rodgers, Brady win The Match over Allen, Mahomes ⛳

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Add another clutch moment to Aaron Rodgers' resume ... this time on the golf course. The two-time reigning MVP nailed a birdie putt on the 12th and final hole of The Match to lead himself and Tom Brady to a 1-up win over Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes.

  • Rodgers and Brady won the first two holes easily, and it looked like it might be a blowout.
  • But Allen and Mahomes rallied, winning the third, fifth and eighth holes to take a lead.
  • Rodgers and Brady won the 10th hole, and Rodgers' clutch putt to win the 12th sealed it.

It's Rodgers' second triumph at The Match and Brady's first.

Why Dustin Johnson's move to LIV Golf makes sense 🏌

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After a long wait, LIV Golf finally unveiled the field for its first event in London next week, and the big surprise was that Dustin Johnson is in it. A 24-time PGA Tour winner (and two-time major champion), Johnson said in February that he was "fully committed" to the PGA Tour. Apparently not. And that could have consequences.

Still, given the current state of affairs, it makes sense for Johnson to try the new league, writes golf expert Kyle Porter.

  • Porter: "D.J. has accomplished almost everything you can accomplish on the PGA Tour. If the major championships are not going to follow the PGA Tour's lead and attempt to ban players... then taking this leap is a straightforward decision for him. ... At age 37, he's earned $74.3 million over the course of his PGA Tour career, but he has a chance to match or surpass that over the next few years with the massive $20 million purses LIV is offering. He may have already doubled it if reports of a guaranteed $125 million payday to move to LIV Golf are accurate."

Kyle's takeaways helped me make sense of Johnson's decision -- and much, much more -- as the landscape of professional golf shifts.

NBA Draft Deadline day: Gonzaga gets huge boost with Timme back 🏀


At long last, the NBA Draft deadline day has come and gone. The deadline to officially remain in the draft or withdraw was 11:59 p.m. last night, and plenty of big names waited until just minutes before.

The headliner is Drew Timme returning to Gonzaga. He isn't the only standout returning to Spokane, though. Julian Strawther also withdrew from the draft, as did Rasir Bolton. The Bulldogs will once again be among the best teams in America.

Here are some other key players who decided to return to school yesterday:

  • Jalen Wilson (Kansas)
  • Marcus Sasser (Houston)
  • Isaiah Wong (Miami)
  • Max Abmas (Oral Roberts)

And here are key players who decided to stay in the draft:

  • Trevor Keels (Duke)
  • Moussa Diabate and Caleb Houstan (Michigan)
  • Justin Lewis (Marquette)
  • David Roddy (Colorado State)
  • Jules Bernard (UCLA)

Marion Barber III, former Pro Bowl RB, found dead in apartment at 38


Former NFL running back Marion Barber III was found dead in his apartment in Texas yesterday. He was 38. The cause of death is not yet known.

  • Barber III starred at Minnesota before being selected by Dallas in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
  • He spent 2005-10 with the Cowboys, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2007. He finished his NFL career with 4,780 rushing yards and 53 rushing touchdowns.

Barber III had some legal troubles following his career. Police detained him in 2014, and he went to hospital for a mental health evaluation as a result. In 2019, he was arrested on two misdemeanor criminal mischief charges.

"We are heartbroken by the tragic death of Marion Barber III," the Cowboys said in a statement. "Marion was an old school, hard-nosed football player who ran with the will to win every down... Our hearts go out to Marion's family and friends during this difficult time."

What we're watching Thursday 📺

🏒 Western Conference Final Game 2: Oilers at Avalanche, 8 p.m. on TNT
🏀 NBA Finals Game 1: Celtics at Warriors, 9 p.m. on ABC
🏀 Sun at Aces, 10 p.m. on Facebook