The thing that I love most about Thursdays during football season is that it feels like we hit the weekend a day earlier than usual. Maybe it's just me, but knowing that we've got NFL football tonight gives me big weekend energy and that helps me power through the day... even when the matchup isn't particularly exciting.
And what better way to kick off October (spooky season!) than with the scariest, most frightening Thursday Night Football game the NFL can offer? Broncos-Jets, you're up! (I hate that I already know I'm going to watch every second of that game.)
FYI, it's also easier to power through the week when you've got all the playoff baseball you can handle -- including a historic game that lasted nearly five hours -- and the start of the NBA Finals.
Let's get to what was & what will be, shall we?
📰 What you need to know
The NBA Finals are here and, oh boy, things are off to a reeeeeal rough start for the Miami Heat. It was about as disastrous a Game 1 as the Heat could have imagined last night. Not only did they get pounded by the Lakers, 116-98, but they also saw multiple key players suffer injuries in the process.
Is it too early to declare this series over already? Probably, but I'll do it anyway: Lakers in 1. You're probably interested in hearing takeaways from someone a little more intelligent and reasonable, so let's bring in Colin Ward-Henninger to do the job:
- Welcome to the Finals, A.D.: Anthony Davis made his NBA Finals debut last night and he seemed quite ready to rise to the occasion. Davis dropped 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds while dishing five assists
- Heat injuries: What's worse than losing Game 1 of the NBA Finals by 18 points? Okay, yes, losing by 19+ points, but think a little deeper. How about losing by 18 points and watching three of your best players get hurt? Bam Adebayo injured his shoulder in the third quarter and didn't return. (Luckily, X-rays were negative.) Goran Dragic suffered a plantar tear in his left foot and may miss the rest of the series. Jimmy Butler suffered an apparent ankle injury in the first half but played through it the rest of the way
- LeBron goes hunting: LeBron James seemed to make a conscious effort to really target Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson in this game. He exploited switches whenever he got the opportunity and the young Heat guys had a whole lot of trouble trying to handle James as he challenged them via iso
If you're a Heat fan looking for good news, here's about all I can give you: it doesn't seem like Adebayo's shoulder strain is going to keep him out of Game 2. Bam's banged up right now -- he also suffered a wrist injury in the series against the Celtics -- but he plans to gut it out. Miami has to hope he can still be effective or else they're screwed. He's arguably their most important player in this series.
In any case, good luck to the Heat. They're gonna need it.
2. A wild and historic day in baseball ⚾
You know how I said Tuesday's slate of playoff baseball was kind of underwhelming from an entertainment standpoint? Welp, Wednesday brought much better. We had EIGHT games of Wild Card Series action on the schedule and we've got plenty to recap so let's just get into some of the bigger stories.
- ALDS matchups are almost set: The best-of-three Wild Card format means that teams have an opportunity to make extremely quick work of an opponent. The Yankees, Rays and Astros all advanced to the ALDS just two days into the postseason by sweeping their respective opponents. The Yankees will face the Rays in the ALDS while the Astros will get the winner of White Sox-A's
- Yankees outlast Indians in messy marathon: New York and Cleveland played the best game we've seen so far last night. It featured multiple lead changes, including one in the eighth inning and one in the ninth, as well as 19 total runs. (The Yankees won, 10-9.) It was also a damn marathon, as it lasted four hours and 50 minutes, making it the longest nine-inning game in baseball history. And that doesn't even include the 76 minutes of rain delays they had in Cleveland!
- Twins' horrendous streak continues: The Minnesota Twins were swept out the playoffs yet again and now they've lost 18 straight postseason games. At the risk of sounding mean here: That is completely pathetic and they should feel bad
- Braves walk it off in 13 innings: The Braves only needed one run to secure a win in their series opener against the Reds, but it took them 13 innings to get that run. Atlanta came away with a 1-0 win after Freddie Freeman had an RBI walk-off single in the 13th inning
There's plenty more takeaways to be had, so feel free to check out the day's full recap. We've got another big day ahead of us today, but I can't help but grow increasingly concerned that we're headed for a Yankees-Astros ALCS and, in which case, I'd have to just root for the world to end rather than pick a side. Luckily, we seem to be making pretty good progress in that "world ending" department anyway.
Also, there was a big bit of news to surface yesterday as well: MLB will allow fans to attend the 2020 World Series and NLCS at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. About 11,500 fans will be allowed into the park for games and there will be four-person "pods" in the stands throughout the stadium. Those fans will have to wear masks and practice social distancing rules during the game.
For what it's worth, all pods will be located six feet apart from one another in the stands. [Mini Anakin Skywalker voice] Now this is pod spacing!
3. Prisco's Week 4 NFL Picks 🏈
Good news: It's Thursday, which means we've got an NFL football game on tonight. Bad news: That game is Broncos-Jets, which might actually be poison for your brain.
This matchup might be as alluring as a hot car full of bees, but it means that Week 4 of the NFL season is officially a go and that's something I can get behind. Something you should be able to get behind: Pete Prisco's weekly picks. For as much as I like to make fun of Prisco, he's done well picking winners so far this year so let's look at how he thinks Week 4 will play out:
- He likes the Chiefs (-7) to cover the spread against the Patriots, saying New England will have a tough time taking away all of Kansas City's weapons on offense -- Prediction: 37-24 KC
- The Bills will beat the Raiders (+3) to stay undefeated but do so by a slim margin and fail to cover the spread -- Prediction: 33-31 BUF
- The banged-up 49ers will still manage to beat the Eagles (+7), who have been terrible this year under Carson Wentz. However, Philly will still cover -- Prediction: 26-21 SF
Feel free to check out the rest of Prisco's picks, but if you're looking to make some money this weekend you also probably want to make some time to peruse R.J. White's teaser pick rankings for Week 4. He's undefeated with those teasers so far this season and he's got another strong set of picks for this weekend.
Godspeed to all of us as we endure Broncos-Jets tonight.
4. Where will Henrik Lundqvist end up? 🏒
As expected, Henrik Lundqvist's tenure with the New York Rangers came to an end yesterday as the team officially bought out the final year of his contract. Hank is an unrestricted free agent and free to choose which team he wants to play for next. (All indications are that he plans on playing beyond this season.)
So, where might he end up? The 38-year-old Lundqvist is probably gonna be a backup at this point in his career, and he would prefer to play for a contending team. With that in mind, I picked a half-dozen teams that would make sense as mutual fits. Here are a few:
- Capitals: The Capitals will likely lose Braden Holtby to free agency this offseason as they hand the starting reins to Ilya Samsonov, who is still largely unproven. Lundqvist would bring some veteran guidance and insurance
- Hurricanes: Lundqvist got a front-row seat to just how dangerous and fun the Canes can be in this year's playoffs. Goalies Petr Mrazek and James Reimer are both entering the final year of their current contracts. The Canes may elect to move one of them in favor of Lundqvist
- Oilers: Edmonton is desperate to stop wasting prime years of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Lundqvist is desperate to win before his career ends. The Oilers could still use help in net, as Mike Smith didn't really work out in his one year with the club. With his contract expiring, Edmonton could elect to try again with another aging vet in Lundqvist, who could split duties with Mikko Koskinen
You can check out the other possible landing spots right here. All we can hope for is that Lundqvist's eyes will have the same dreaminess and sparkle as they did when he put on that Rangers blue.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Carlos Correa is already talking some smack to Astros haters after sweeping the Twins
- Patrick Mahomes and his fiancee Brittany Matthews announced they're expecting their first child
- Two monstrous New York Giants-related bets led to $1 million in gambling losses in Week 3
📺 What to watch tonight
⚾ White Sox vs. Athletics, 3:10 p.m. | TV: ESPN
⚾ Cardinals vs. Padres, 7:08 p.m. | SDP -157 | TV: ESPN
🏈 Broncos vs. Jets, 8:20 p.m. | PK | TV: NFLN
📝 Top scores from last night
Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer off Kyle Hendricks in the seventh inning as the Marlins won Game 1.
💵 Winning Wagers: MIA +145, Under (8.5)
Oakland got a strong outing from Chris Bassitt (7 IP, 1 ER) as they bounced back from a Game 1 loss and managed to force a do-or-die Game 3.
💵 Winning Wagers: OAK -137, Over (7.5)
LeBron James had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in LA's Game 1 blowout win.
💵 Winning Wagers: LA -4.5, Under (217.5)