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Hi everybody! This is Gabe Fernandez bringing you some good ol' sports news to start your day. Get it while it's hot!

What stood out most to me about the Sixers' playoff choke against the Hawks was that it happened in front of franchise legend Allen Iverson. Imagine bringing arguably the most beloved player in franchise history as an honored guest to a game, and the home team honoring him by putting together the performance that Philly did. It's both deeply embarrassing and kind of rude. Have you ever asked someone to appear somewhere you've embarrassed yourself? Let me know on Twitter.

Anyways, in addition to the choke, we've got LeBron telling the NBA "I told you so," people gambling on Phil Mickelson and more offseason NFL grades. Let's get started!


📰 What you need to know

1. LeBron James says he saw the high number of NBA injuries coming 🏀

In response to a wave of notable superstars having their injuries announced over the last day or so, LeBron James had a big message to those in charge of the league on Twitter: I told you so. The Lakers star posted a thread in which he said that he saw this run of injuries coming as a result of the NBA being quick to return to the regular season.

As things currently stand, all seven of the remaining teams in the playoffs have at least one significant absence that has come as a result of injuries or COVID-19 protocols. Here are the big names:

The list goes on and on. Even with teams that are no longer in the postseason, there were notable stars missing -- Anthony Davis, Jaylen Brown and Jamal Murray are three prominent examples.

Thanks to Sam Quinn, we have LeBron's Twitter thread in full.

  • "They all didn't wanna listen to me about the start of the season. I knew exactly what would happen. I only wanted to protect the well being of the players which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries isn't just "PART OF THE GAME". It's the lack of PURE RIM REST rest before starting back up. 8, possibly 9 ALL-STARS has missed Playoff games(most in league history). This is the best time of the year for our league and fans but missing a ton of our fav players. It's insane. If there's one person that know about the body and how it works all year round it's ME! I speak for the health of all our players and I hate to see this many injuries this time of the year. Sorry fans wish you guys were seeing all your fav guys right now."

This sort of discussion has been popping up all season, and I even wrote about how the whole thing was kind of deja vu from the 2012 lockout following the announcement of Murray's injury. One has to wonder if LeBron would be taking such a full-throated defense of player safety were his team on an absolute roll towards another title, but the fact that someone with the voice he has is doing advocacy in favor of player safety is objectively good. 

In other NBA news, the Dallas Mavericks fired their general manager after a bombshell story from The Athletic revealed that a trusted confident of Mark Cuban was actually running the team, and his only real experience was being a good gambler. Additionally, LaMelo Ball won Rookie of the Year.

It was a crazy NBA day, and we haven't even talked about the insanity that occurred last night during the playoff games.

2. Hawks pull off improbable, historic comeback to beat 76ers 🏀

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If you had told me that an epic playoff collapse happened in a game featuring an Atlanta sports team, I would have automatically assumed that it was the Atlanta squad on the wrong end of it. Well, that wasn't the case on Wednesday when the Philadelphia 76ers gave up an unconscionable 26-point lead to the Hawks so that Trae Young's side could take a 3-2 lead in the series.

It's difficult to describe just how mind-blowing the whole breakdown was, especially in the fourth quarter. Anyone who wasn't named Joel Embiid or Seth Curry was simply incapable of getting points in the second half, and the benchwarmers who have been struggling all season saw extended stretches on the floor while stars rested. On top of that, the Hawks were able to pull a hack-a-Simmons to force the bad free throw shooter to the line and get points back that way.

Here's our NBA expert Jack Maloney with how a quiet takeaway from this game was the emergence of Lou Williams stepping up in the clutch.

  • Maloney: "Williams did what he's been doing his whole career, and got hot in a hurry. He racked up 13 points in just over four minutes, and at one point scored 11 straight points for the Hawks. He finished the night with 15 points on 7-of-11 from the field, and the team was a whopping plus-31 when he was on the court. Williams isn't going to get many headlines after this one, but there's no way the Hawks win this game without him. This was a big time performance from the veteran."

Some other fun facts about the game include:

  • This was the biggest playoff comeback in Hawks franchise history
  • The fourth-biggest playoff comeback in league history
  • Just the fourth time a team up 18 points or more heading into the fourth quarter has lost

As for the Western Conference Game 5 that happened last night, the Clippers were somehow able to overcome the injury to Leonard and defeat the Jazz, 119-111, in front of a hostile Utah crowd.

3. People are throwing their money on Phil Mickelson to win the U.S. Open ⛳

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Getty Images

Fans of Lefty are putting their money where their mouths are and continuously throwing dollars and cents behind the 51-year-old golfer to win the U.S. Open, which begins today. Even after odds-makers lowered his numbers from 85-1 to 40-1, the money still kept coming in.

To put that in perspective, just 13 of the 147 competing golfers have lower odds than Mickelson does.

This all comes one month after Mickelson surprised the golf world by winning the PGA Championship. Bettors are riding high on that major victory, and are hoping it carries him towards the career grand slam that has continued to elude him. As a result, bookies are starting to sweat a little bit.

  • William Hill Director of Trading Nick Bogdanovich: "The liability is at seven figures and counting. You'd think the lower number on Mickelson would slow them down, but that hasn't been the case at all. I think this will end up going past the Tiger [Woods] number at the [2019] Masters." 

For context, that Tiger win was, per Bogdanovich, the biggest loss in the history for William Will in the realm of golf. As of this posting, one of the larger bets on Mickelson is for $2,100, which would payout $180,600. An $85,000 bet was placed on Tiger back in 2019, which eventually paid out $1.19 million, so the fact that many smaller bets are hitting numbers like that is incredible 

4. Ranking the best NFL offseason trades 🏈

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USATSI

We're approaching that time of year where NFL fan bases begin to convince themselves their best players will make a "huge leap" in the upcoming season based off of a couple of clips from practices that get posted online. For some, those players have been developed in the organization for years. For others, they're players who were acquired this past offseason.

Our NFL scribe Jared Dubin focused on the latter group, and broke down some of the most impactful trades of the offseason, ranking them from worst to best. Here, we'll focus on the top five, as he has determined, and it should come as no surprise that four of them are focused on quarterbacks.

  • Rams: Matthew Stafford; Lions: Jared Goff, 2021 3rd (Ifeatu Melifonwu), 2022 1st round pick, 2023 1st
  • Colts: Carson Wentz; Eagles: 2021 3rd (traded), 2022 2nd (conditional 1st)
  • Titans: Julio Jones, 2023 6th; Falcons: 2022 2nd, 2023 4th
  • Panthers: Sam Darnold; Jets: 2021 6th (traded), 2022 2nd, 2022 4th
  • Broncos: Teddy Bridgewater; Panthers: 2021 6th (traded)

Personally, I think when things are all said and done, the Titans will end up being the most successful of that group next season as Julio Jones builds on an already-good team, whereas it's not entirely clear whether the quarterbacks, like Wentz, will make their respective teams better.

This isn't to say teams won't improve, as Teddy Bridgewater I think is a better quarterback than Drew Locke, and Stafford, even with all his career injuries, is better at that role than Goff.


📝 Odds & Ends

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📺 What to watch tonight

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EURO 2020: Denmark vs. Belgium, 12 p.m. | TV: ESPN/Univision

🏒 Islanders vs. Lightning, 8:00 p.m. | NYI +120 | TV: USA

🏀 Bucks vs. Nets, 8:30 p.m. | MIL -220 | TV: ESPN  


🥇 Best thing I saw on the internet

One of the focuses of the Sixers' choke job yesterday was how supposed star Ben Simmons simply could not be on the floor during clutch time. But not everyone was discouraging, like this Philly fan giving his star point guard pointers while he was at the free throw line.