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Good morning to everyone but especially to...
JAYSON TATUM AND THE BOSTON CELTICS
They're not dead yet. The Boston Celtics took some inspiration from the Bee Gees and won Game 3 over the Miami Heat, 116-99, to stay alive in the Eastern Conference Finals. If Boston is going to pull off a historic comeback, it had to start with a Game 4 win.
Trailing 56-50 at halftime, the Celtics were in jeopardy of watching their season melt away in Miami. That's when Jayson Tatum flipped a switch and took over the game for the Celtics.
- Tatum scored 14 points in the third quarter, and the Celtics went on an 18-0 run.
- Tatum finished as the game's leading scorer (33) and rebounder (11).
- Grant Williams provided some unexpected offense off the bench, going 4-of-7 from three-point range for 14 points.
Perhaps more important: Boston's defense held Miami to 25% shooting from three-point range and forced 15 turnovers. Jimmy Butler was able to get his 29 points, but the Celtics neutralized the rest of the Heat's roster.
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Down 3-1 in the series, the Celtics still have plenty of work to do if they want to reach the NBA Finals. That work will continue on Thursday night as the two teams head back to Boston for Game 5 at TD Garden.
- The San Diego Padres lead the list of MLB contenders poised to bounce back after slow starts.
- Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett is poised for a breakout season in 2023.
And not such a good morning for...
THE DALLAS STARS
Just 7:20 into Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, the Dallas Stars had fallen behind 3-0 against the Vegas Golden Knights, lost captain Jamie Benn to a game misconduct and pulled starting goaltender Jake Oettinger.
The Golden Knights then took a 4-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the second period, and that score held until the final buzzer. The frustration in Dallas could be seen on the ice and in the stands.
- Late in the second frame, Max Domi let his emotions get the best of him, and he took a total of 14 minutes in penalties.
- As if following their team's lead, the fans reacted by throwing exorbitantly priced beverages and snacks onto the ice.
- To make matters even worse for Dallas, Evgenii Dadonov left the game with an injury and did not return. His status for Game 4 is unknown, and that's also the case for Benn, who may have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety for attempting to rearrange Stone's teeth.
As embarrassing a night as it was for the Stars, the Golden Knights have to be riding high. They now have a 3-0 lead in the series, and a win in Game 4 will send them to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in the franchise's fledgling history.
Not so honorable mentions
- Aaron Rodgers tweaked his calf during the New York Jets' OTAs, but it doesn't appear to be serious.
- By his own admission, Trea Turner has "sucked" in his first 46 games with the Philadelphia Phillies.
What the Lakers would look like without LeBron James 🏀
LeBron James did not look like a player on the verge of retirement in the Los Angeles Lakers' Game 4 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday night. That might actually be on the table, though.
James led all scorers with 40 points, but after the Lakers got swept out of the playoffs, he hinted at the possibility of retirement. Although James still has plenty of speed, outrunning Father Time is impossible, even for the best athletes.
If James were to retire, it would leave the Lakers in an interesting position. They would obviously take a step back in the 2023-24 NBA standings, but it would also offer the team a good bit of flexibility as it builds toward the future. Our Sam Quinn wrote about what James' retirement would mean for the Lakers:
- Quinn: "The Lakers would almost have to view any retirement from James as permanent, but if they do clear his salary, their books suddenly look quite clean. That would leave Davis and Christie as the only guaranteed contracts left on their ledger. Reaves has a tiny cap hold as a restricted free agency and Vanderbilt is woefully underpaid on a non-guaranteed deal, but beyond that foursome, the Lakers could credibly create practically limitless cap space to either re-sign their own free agents or chase external upgrades."
If Game 4 taught us anything, it's that James still has elite basketball left in the tank. The Lakers need that if they want to contend for a championship in the next couple of seasons, but if James does decide to walk away, they would be working with a clean slate.
College football countdown clock is ticking 🏈
There are now less than 100 days until college football kicks off, and the team at CBS Sports has come up with the 100 biggest storylines and names to know as Week 1 approaches.
College football always provides some drama, and this year will be no different.
Georgia will be looking for the three-peat, Deion Sanders enters Year 1 at Colorado, and the Big 12 will look quite a bit different. Our Chip Patterson highlighted some second-year coaches who are already facing some pressure after disappointing 2022 campaigns.
- Patterson: "But there was also Mario Cristobal and Miami missing a bowl game as well as both Billy Napier at Florida and Brent Venables at Oklahoma going 6-6 in the regular season. Year 2 has proven over the years to be a moment where a power conference coaching tenure can pivot to either an upward trajectory or an early hot seat."
Start doing your preseason homework now because Saturdays will soon be filled with college football from noon to midnight.
NFL teams expected to hit turbulence in 2023 🏈
With a few months still left before the start of the NFL season, it's easy for every fan base to be optimistic. But not all of that optimism is warranted.
Our Will Brinson put together his list of five teams who might be in for some trouble this season. The Arizona Cardinals made the cut, and for good reason. They have experienced a rocky start under new management, but at least there... Maye... be some light at the end of the tunnel.
- Brinson: "Quarterback could be a mitigating factor here but Kyler Murray is recovering from a torn ACL suffered late in the season. It would be a pretty massive surprise if he was ready to roll by Week 1. And there's the added question of whether the Cardinals want him to be ready. Arizona has its own first-round pick and Houston's in 2024 -- factor in a new regime and Caleb Williams/Drake Maye are absolutely in play for the desert birds."
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, and Las Vegas Raiders round out the list of teams who could hit a rough patch this year.
What we're watching Thursday 📺
🏒 Hurricanes at Panthers, 8:00 p.m. on TNT