Hi everybody! This is Gabe Fernandez covering newsletter duties today. Hope you survived your Wednesday and are preparing for a nice Friday Jr.
Even though I'm Peruvian-American, I've been having a tough time watching Peru compete in Copa America. Not for any broadcast-restricted reasons, but because whenever I watch my Blanquirroja, a knot forms in my stomach that brings me immense pain throughout the 90-plus minutes of action. The last time I sat through a game was in the 2018 World Cup, for reference. What about you? Is there a team in your life where you simply can't watch games of because of nerves? Let me know on Twitter.
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Let's get things started. Today, we're kicking off with NBA postseason updates, and finishing with some Euros news.
📰 What you need to know
1. Trae Young goes off as Hawks take Game 1 🏀
The Hawks are on their way to being renamed The Road Warriors as their reign of terror in opposing arenas continued on Wednesday. Atlanta defeated Milwaukee, 116-113, after an incredible performance from third-year point guard Trae Young.
Young and his 48 points (shooting 17-of-34 from the field), 11 assists and seven rebounds weren't the only standout stats from the Hawks. Clint Capela and John Collins each had double-doubles, going 12-19 and 23-15, respectively. Here are some other wild facts about the game.
- The Hawks are now the fourth team to win Game 1 on the road three times in the playoffs (excluding last year's bubble). That group includes the 1999 Knicks, the 1989 Bulls and the 1981 Rockets.
- Young scored or assisted on 72 points in Game 1, the most ever in a Conference or Division Finals game, per Elias Sports
- Young's 48 points tied LeBron James and Kobe Bryant for the most points scored in a postseason game in NBA history before turning 23 years old.
Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't include some of the many failures that the Bucks had throughout the game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo did the thing where he backed down a smaller player and went for a fade-away instead of a drive to the hoop. Khris Middleton was tasked with the game-tying basket at the end and bricked it hard. Mike Budenholzer is still coaching Milwaukee.
If those failures persist, we're looking at a finals appearance for the Hawks, which will not only be a wild in the context of this past season, but will also add a new layer to the "Hawks won the Trae-Luka trade" discourse which will only make things more annoying. Looking forward to it!
2. Anthony Beauvillier scores in OT as Islanders force Game 7 🏒
The Islanders are still alive! Anthony Beauvillier was the hero for New York, scoring just over a minute into overtime on a giveaway by the Lightning to defeat the defending Stanley Cup champions and force a Game 7 for a spot in the Finals.
The fans celebrated in quite interesting fashion with many in the fabled Nassau Coliseum throwing beer cans at their own team's players. It didn't look like anyone was injured, let alone hit, by any of the projectiles, so we can cautiously chalk this up to hockey fans being boorish. Of course, it's a right you earn when you can create the kind of atmosphere that Islanders fans have been able to make throughout this postseason. Besides the players aren't too bothered by it.
- Mat Barzal: "Never seen that. A little dangerous, but we'll go with it."
- Beauvillier: "Feels amazing, to be honest. Going into OT the building smelled like cigarettes, and now it smells like beers."
The final game of this series will take place on Friday in Tampa.
The question now becomes whether not only the Islanders' season will continue after that game, but also whether Nassau Coliseum will continue making an appearance in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs. If this was the last time the arena made an appearance this postseason, it was quite a way to go out.
3. NCAA will effectively allow name, image and likeness rights
The NCAA is in the process of creating a policy that will serve as a bridge between the period where the organization was ardently against athlete profiting off their NILs, to the period where state legislatures will sign those rights into law. This news was broken by CBS Sports' own Dennis Dodd, who obtained an internal NCAA document titled "Proposed Alternative Rules Amendment," which details the NCAA's strategy.
- An athlete will not be penalized for profiting from their name, image and likes in states that have NIL regulations.
- Schools shall post on their websites "written policy governing NIL" prohibiting payments from boosters "in exchange for athletic performance or attendance" at that school.
As Dodd notes in his story, the NCAA has started to come around to changing its approach towards "amateurism" to allow athletes with national, or at least hyper-local, recognition to make money off of that fame. Of course, it's worth noting that this has been accelerated thanks to numerous states signing laws that allow college athletes to profit off of NILs -- many of which go into effect in July -- and a recent Supreme Court decision which upheld a ruling allowing athletes to get unlimited benefits tied to education.
Even if it was with a forced hand, the fact that the NCAA continues heading towards a direction that allows previously unpaid workers to be compensated for work that can put them in physical risk is objectively a good thing. The question now becomes how much further will the organization go, especially after it's now in federal judicial record that "the NCAA and its member colleges are suppressing the pay of student athletes who collectively generate billions of dollars in revenues for colleges every year."
If your work is an important part of making the pie, it's only fair that you get a competitive share of it, rather than being told that the real reward was making it in the first place.
4. Euros round of 16 is set ⚽
The Euros are now moving to Wembley Stadium as the last 16 nations competing face off against one another in the first knockout round. The action will be plentiful as none of the top teams -- as in squads that were expected to actually compete for this championship -- were eliminated in the group stages.
Here are the final matches in full:
- Wales vs. Denmark
- Italy vs. Austria
- Netherlands vs. Czech Republic
- Belgium vs. Portugal
- Croatia vs. Spain
- France vs. Switzerland
- England vs. Germany
- Sweden vs. Ukraine
In my opinion, the biggest draws of those eight matches are Belgium-Portugal, England-Germany and France-Switzerland.
Belgium will take on the winners of the last Euro tournament with a golden generation that has yet to truly win any hardware in international play.
England takes on an old foe in Germany, and, while they should be helped by the fact that they're the hometown team, they've been known to choke away opportunities in big competitions before, especially to the Germans.
Finally, the French will always draw the most attention as they entered this tournament as the odds-on favorite to win it all, just three years removed from a World Cup victory.
📝 Odds & Ends
- The Boston Celtics are hiring Nets assistant Ime Udoka as their new head coach, per a report
- Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw defended fellow Cy Young winner Max Scherzer for losing his mind over his three foreign substance checks
- Sixers exec Daryl Morey was blunt about his postseason assessment: "We didn't have quite good enough players"
📺 What to watch tonight
🏒 Canadiens vs. Golden Knights, 8 p.m. | MON +130 | TV: USA
⚽ COPA AMERICA: Chile vs. Paraguay, 8 p.m. | TV: TUDN
🏀 Clippers vs. Suns, 9 p.m. | LAC +1 | TV: ESPN
🥇 Best thing I saw on the internet
Jay Williams, or at least his Twitter account, was trying to celebrate a monumental achievement that did not exist, congratulating Ime Udoka on being the first coach of color to be hired by the Celtics. After many, many people reminded him he's not the first, Williams went with the "I was hacked" defense. Incredible.