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Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE MIAMI HEAT
Two things can be true: First, the Heat were a mediocre regular-season team with an underwhelming offense and downright bad perimeter shooting. It nearly caused them to miss the playoffs and had few believing in them once they got there.
Second, the Heat in the playoffs will out-coach, out-hustle, out-smart and, apparently, out-shoot you. Oh yeah, and they have Jimmy Butler... and a terrific, unsung supporting cast... and, thanks to a 123-116 win over the Celtics last night, a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Butler had 35 points, seven assists, six steals and five rebounds. It's only the fifth time that's been done in a playoff game. The others? Michael Jordan (twice), Gary Payton and Rick Barry.
- Miami is 7-0 this postseason when Butler scores over 25 points.
- Butler wasn't alone. Bam Adebayo was terrific with 20 points and eight rebounds, and four more Heat players (Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin) scored 15 points apiece.
- Miami, whose 34.4% 3-point shooting in the regular season ranked 27th in the NBA, nailed 16 of 31 attempts (52.1%) from deep. It's the second-highest 3-point percentage by any team against Boston this season, regular season or playoffs.
Defensively, Miami executed its plan, running the Celtics off the 3-point arc. Boston attempted just 29 threes (and made just 10) after averaging nearly 39 attempts this postseason entering this game. Furthermore, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 10 turnovers, and in the second half, Tatum had more turnovers (three) than made shots (two, on only four attempts).
Just days after his Game 7-record 51 points, Tatum shrunk in the crucial moments, writes our Sam Quinn:
- Quinn: "Jayson Tatum had a stellar first half, but his quiet second was one of the stories of the night. He turned the ball over three times without making a field goal in the fourth quarter as Boston's late-game offense imploded."
Miami ---- took advantage and continued to shock the world. If they do that three more times, they'll be in the finals.
- The Mets power-hitting prospect Mark Vientos, who .
- Former Michigan State wide receiver Keon Coleman Florida State.
And not such a good morning for...
THE MICHIGAN WOLVERINES
A disappointing season has given way to a disappointing offseason for Michigan men's basketball, and things just got worse. Former North Carolina standout Caleb Love -- whoto Michigan last month -- . He remains in the transfer portal.
- Sources told our Matt Norlander that Love didn't have enough transferable credits to easily clear admissions at Michigan.
- Love averaged 15.9 points as a sophomore and made the All-Tournament team when he led the Tar Heels to the national championship game. He averaged 16.7 points last year as a junior.
- Love will not return to UNC.
After missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015, Michigan...
- All-Big Ten center Hunter Dickinson to the portal ( to Kansas)
- Lost Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin early to the NBA Draft
- Added and then lost Love, who is 17th in
Juwan Howard has added (and lost) a few others through the portal, but he has a ton of work to do -- much more than he expected at this point.
Not so honorable mentions
- Yankees starter Domingo Germán was for sticky stuff.
- Padres star Manny Machado .
- Dodgers starter Dustin May .
- Another Diamondbacks pitcher , stirring memories of Randy Johnson.
- Brentford striker Ivan Toney was .
PGA Championship preview: Who can actually win, expert picks and more 🏌
In case the NBA and NHL playoffs, the NBA Draft lottery and the Champions League weren't enough, the PGA Championship has arrived! A plays host; , and .
In total, 156 players will vie for the Wanamaker Trophy, but, really,, writes our Kyle Porter. Leading that list, unsurprisingly, is...
- Porter: "Jon Rahm enters having won six of his last 15 starts worldwide, and the course plays perfectly to his strengths. The lack of driver accuracy at times this year has me slightly concerned, but not as much as it would if Oak Hill hadn't been cleared of trees three years ago. I not only believe Rahm is one of the nine who can win but that he will make a real case to win the 2023 grand slam taking the next step to Los Angeles this summer."
Rahm also comes in No. 1 in.
As for some more big names:
- Rahm had to overcome Brooks Koepka at the Masters last month, and Kyle says .
- Justin Thomas has struggled this season, but with Wanamaker Trophies from 2022 and 2017, , writes our Patrick McDonald.
- Rory McIlroy .
So who will lift the trophy Sunday?, and Patrick is rolling with...
- McDonald: "Patrick Cantlay -- Cantlay ranks third in strokes gained total over the last three months and stands as the third-best driver of the golf ball on the PGA Tour behind only Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland. He has rattled off three straight top-15 finishes in major championships and was a member of the penultimate group at the Masters. The putter has been uncharacteristically cool, but a return to bent grass and New York (where he finished T3 at the 2019 PGA Championship) may allow it to reach a boiling point."
UEFA Champions League: Manchester City dominate Real Madrid, advance to final vs. Inter ⚽
If this Manchester City team -- this wondrous, supremely talented Manchester City team -- wants to differ from previous iterations, it must win the UEFA Champions League. The Citizens are one match away after running rampant through defending champion Real Madrid 4-0 Wednesday and 5-1 on aggregate.
City will face Inter in the final on.
- Bernardo Silva opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, rifling a shot past a helpless Thibaut Courtois after an incisive pass from Kevin De Bruyne.
- It was Silva again in the 37th minute, heading home after Ilkay Gundogan's blocked shot deflected to him. Silva earned the highest mark of any City player in .
- Madrid improved in the second half, but a Manuel Akanji goal in the 76th minute put things out of reach, and sub Julián Álvarez put the icing on the cake in the 91st minute.
- , notes our Chuck Booth.
City played, writes our James Benge.
- Benge: "Guardiola's previous iterations would have listened to their inner saboteur. You suspect that these days there are no voices in City heads, just the occasional chirp and beep of their internal Bluetooth pinging data from one node to the other. ... Everything and everyone was united in symphonic glory. Guardiola couldn't even bring himself to micromanage, just blowing jubilant kisses in the direction of Jack Grealish, bear-hugging Erling Haaland when he came off after the break. He seemed besotted."
City will be a massive favorite next month, but, says our Jonathan Johnson.
MLB first-quarter grades: Rays top of class, plenty of NL disappointments ⚾
We're officially in the seventh week of the MLB season, andOur Dayn Perry is doing the honors, and it's an easy pick up top.
- Perry: "Rays: A+ While a rotation waylaid by injuries raises concerns moving forward, the present reality is that the Rays are on pace for 120 wins this season. Wander Franco is looking like he's ready to take the next step toward (super)stardom."
They were the only team with an A+ but not the only team in the "A" range. Here's who else is thriving:
- Braves (A)
- Dodgers (A)
- Diamondbacks (A)
- Orioles (A)
- Rangers (A)
- Pirates (A-)
The NL has some familiar names at the top, but, really, the story early has been the teams far from it.
- Perry: "Cardinals: F | The Cardinals have undeniably been trending upward of late and are right among the hottest teams in baseball. That said, the depths of their 10-24 start to the season won't be easily overcome, and that current reality informs this grade. ... Padres: F | A full season of Juan Soto, the signing of Xander Bogaerts, and the return of Fernando Tatis Jr.? That's a large part of why the Padres on paper looked stronger than even the Dodgers coming into the season. Right now, though, they're below .500."
Somehow, though, "F" isn't the worst grade. One team is breaking the grading system,.