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Good morning to everyone but especially to...
Only four-and-a-half quarters ago, it seemed like Jayson Tatum hit rock bottom. Down 3-2 in the Celtics' second-round playoff series against the 76ers, Tatum was 1-for-15 from the floor and the famously agreeable Philadelphia fans sure made him hear about.
But with his team down midway through the fourth quarter, Tatum downed four 3-pointers to force a Game 7. That turned out to be a mere appetizer for the unforgettable main dish Tatum would serve Sunday in Boston.
- Tatum powered the Celtics to a 112-88 victory in Game 7 with 51 points, making him the second player in NBA history to -- Stephen Curry became the first by scoring 50 in a Warriors win over the Kings in the first round.
- After leading by three at halftime, Tatum and the Celtics blew the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the 76ers 33-10 to build a huge lead they would never relinquish.
- Boston has now won six straight playoff series against Philadelphia, with Tatum doing his part in three of them (2018, 2020, 2023).
While the 76ers have recently been more of a traffic cone than an actual obstacle for the Celtics, Boston's next opponent is one it cannot underestimate: the Heat. Boston and Miami will meet in the Eastern Conference Finals for a record-tying fourth time in the modern era, and three of those matchups will have come in the last four years.
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After Game 7, Tatum told reporters he's "humbly, one of the best basketball players in the world." He'll certainly need to play at that level to eliminate a Heat team that kept him out of the NBA Finals in 2020 and was a Jimmy Butler 3-pointer away from doing it again last season.
- The Golden Knights beat the Oilers, 5-2, to advance to the Western Conference Final.
And not such a good morning for...
DOC RIVERS AND THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Speaking of rock bottom... the 76ers somehow crashed below it. After blowing Game 6 at home, Philadelphia limped to an embarrassing blowout loss in Game 7, raising questions about the roster, front office and certainly coaching.
76ers coach Doc Rivers is now 6-10 in Game 7s, an NBA record by a whopping five losses, and is 17-33 in playoff series-clinching games. Our Bill Reiter believes it's:
- Reiter: "Remember: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get a different result. That's why the Sixers' decision to hire Rivers in the first place was insane, and it's why keeping him now would be even crazier. It's time to move on from the mistake they made when they hired him back in 2020."
After the game, Riversrather bluntly: "I think I got two years left."
Joel Embiid was a step slow defensively all night and went 5-of-18 for 15 points offensively, leading our Brad Botkin to . James Harden, meanwhile, put on a show in each of the last three fourth quarters -- if by show you mean disappearing act. The 10-time All-Star in Games 5, 6 and 7, missing all six of his shots.
The 76ers' future is seemingly hazier than ever, but it's clear a shakeup of some capacity is coming after this epic collapse.
After a 2022-23 season plagued by off-court drama, Ja Morant is unfortunately starting his summer off on the same note. The Grizzliesfrom all team activities after he brandished a gun in an Instagram Live video over the weekend.
It's unclear what punishment Morant will receive for his actions, as the Grizzlies and NBA are both still investigating. Here's a look at the times Morant has found himself in hot water over the last year.
- Morant was after posting a video of himself brandishing a gun at a Colorado night club, though no criminal charges were filed.
- High school basketball player Josh Holloway is during a pick-up game last July, and the two are currently engaged in a legal battle over the incident.
- A Memphis shoe salesman
- Last September, one of Morant's associates threatened to "beat" a group of students during a volleyball game at Morant's sister's high school, leading Grizzlies head of security Kevin Helms to arrive and "help smooth over the issue."
Following the Grizzlies' first-round playoff loss to the Lakers in late April, Morant He then admitted he needed to start "making better decisions" off the court. As our NBA scribe Sam Quinn writes, he's not off to an ideal start:
- Quinn: "Morant made a series of poor decisions over the past year, but the hope after his March suspension was that he had turned a corner and learned from his mistakes. For a video like this to surface less than one month into his offseason is not a development anyone was hoping for."
MLB Power Rankings: AL East dominating with five teams in top 10 ⚾
The Yankees are on pace for 89 wins, which would've been three games below first in the AL East last season. This season, however, that has them on track to finish last. That goes to show how insanely competitive the division has been thus far.
All five AL East teams, led by the Rays, have earned a spot in the top 10. Yes, that includes the Orioles, a team that lost 108-plus games in three consecutive seasons from 2019-2021. Our Matt Snyder admits in his latest power rankings post that he had doubts about the O's this year, but is not afraid to enjoy a slice of humble pie to describe them as "one of the best teams in baseball."
- Snyder: "Last season, the Orioles broke through with an 83-win season. Heading into 2023, I was tough on the Orioles' front office for not doing enough in the offseason to supplement the roster. Through just about 1/4 of the season, however, the Orioles look every bit a playoff team. It's a well-rounded offense that runs the bases well and has a star centerpiece in catcher Adley Rutschman. The bullpen is one of the best in baseball (take a look at Yennier Cano and his 22 strikeouts without a walk in 19 2/3 innings)."
As a whole, the AL East is 48 games above .500 and 93-46 outside the division. While impossible to predict, the AL East's dominance over the rest of the MLB can no longer be ignored.
Jason Day breaks five-year drought with Byron Nelson win ⛳
For the first time since 2018, Jason Day has entered the PGA Tour winner's circle. Day broke his five-year winning drought by finishing 23 under at the 2023 Byron Nelson, edging out Si Woo Kim and Austin Eckroat by a single stroke.
Day's victory is significant not only because his last was at the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, but it's his first since his mother died from cancer last year. So, after his final stroke, a visibly emotional Day shared a touching moment with his family on Mother's Day.
By virtue of Day's win, his 12th in the PGA Tour, the 35 year old is likely to be ranked third or fourth heading into next week's PGA Championship. Our golf expert Kyle Porter believes Day deserves such a ranking despite him potentially passing some of the sport's more established stars in Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau.
- Porter: "Does it feel like Day has been the third or fourth best player in the world in 2023? I'm not sure it does, but I'm also not sure it matters. Because the numbers are the numbers, and Day has satisfyingly proved on paper what he believed across all those hours of grinding and working: That he is once again one of the top golfers on the planet."
What we're watching Monday 📺
⚽ Liverpool at Leicester City, 3 p.m. on USA Network
⚾ Mariners at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. on MLB Network
🏒 Kraken at Stars, 8 p.m. on ESPN