Friday, June 2 2023
2023 NBA Playoffs - Sacramento Kings v Golden State Warriors
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Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

For the first time since 2007 — when Stephen Curry was a little-known Davidson freshman and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were high schoolers — the Warriors trailed a playoff series 2-0. For far from the first time, the Warriors showed the resiliency and confidence of a champion — which, of course, this current core is four times over.

Golden State crushed Sacramento, 114-97 — despite Green’s absence — and cut the Kings‘ series lead to 2-1. Curry poured in 36 points, including six 3-pointers. He also had one turnover after five in each of the first two games. The supporting cast stepped up crucially, too. Kevon Looney had one of the stranger stat lines you’ll see — an astonishing 20 rebounds (nine offensive), nine assists and four points — and was of vital importance, writes our Brad Botkin.

Looney wasn’t the only one who had a great night:

  • Andrew Wiggins had 20 points and seven rebounds and looked the best he has since returning from his prolonged absence.
  • Moses Moody added a playoff career-high 13 points off the bench.
  • Perhaps most important, everyone was more careful with the basketball: The Kings had just seven points off turnovers after 41 across Games 1 and 2.
  • Golden State also won the second-chance points battle, 24-12.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

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THE LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

After Kawhi Leonard dropped 38 points in a stunning Game 1 win, coach Tyronn Lue said, “That’s what we’ve been saving up for,” regarding Leonard’s load management. Unfortunately for LA, you can’t save up for everything, especially when it comes to health.

After Leonard was abruptly ruled out with a knee sprain, the Clippers battled valiantly but ultimately fell, 129-124, to the Suns and into a 2-1 series hole.

  • Devin Booker was incredible again with 45 points. It’s his fifth playoff 40-pointer, tying Charles Barkley for most in franchise history. Booker has scored 83 points in the last two games, most in Suns history over any two-game playoff span.
  • Kevin Durant added 28 as all five Phoenix starters scored in double figures.
  • For the Clippers, Norman Powell dropped 42 points and Russell Westbrook had 30 points and 11 assists.

Listen, Booker was excellent. I don’t want to take away from that. The Clippers have plenty of high-level defenders beyond Leonard and the also-injured Paul George. Booker torched them all. This was an excellent game. I don’t want to reduce it to one injury.

But it’s hard not to feel for the Clippers and for Leonard, who Clippers president Lawrence Frank said was “extremely disappointed” to not play. Leonard didn’t play at all last year, recovering from the ACL tear he suffered in the 2021 playoffs. In 2020, the Clippers collapsed in the bubble.

Seemingly ever since Leonard and George arrived in Los Angeles, the Clippers have been a big “what if” regarding their health. Thursday night, that rang true again.

Not so honorable mentions

Harden, Claxton ejected, Embiid gets flagrant as 76ers top Nets, lead 3-0 🏀

USATSI

Two ejections, one Flagrant 1 that easily could have been another ejection and, most important for the 76ers, a 3-0 series lead

Philadelphia’s 102-97 win over the Nets truly had it all.

The 76ers avoided disaster, though, thanks to Tyrese Maxey. The third-year guard scored 10 straight for the 76ers late, and outscored Brooklyn by himself, 10-5, over the final 3:08. Philadelphia then got defensive stands with an Embiid block and a De’Anthony Melton steal-and-score to secure the win.

A timeline of the Athletics’ demise in Oakland ⚾

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Oakland is losing another sports team. The Athletics have purchased land for a stadium in Las Vegas and plan to move there. It won’t be overnight, but the team intends to have a stadium ready for 2027.

However, they could relocate before then and play at Las Vegas Ballpark, current home of their Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas Aviators. The lease on their current stadium, Oakland-Alameda Stadium, expires after the 2024 season. Afterwards, they could add a short-term renewal or even play games at the Giants‘ Oracle Park in San Francisco.

  • The Athletics’ efforts to get a new stadium in Oakland dated back to 2009, and there appeared to be progress as recently as last summer.
  • The Athletics will be just the second MLB team to relocate in the last 50 years, joining the Montreal Expos, who became the Washington Nationals in 2005.
  • This is nothing new for Oakland, though. In the past half-decade alone, Raiders moved to Oakland and the Warriors left for San Francisco’s Chase Center.

This, of course, is a bummer for Oakland fans. The Athletics were once the beloved “moneyball” franchise that did more with less. But eventually “less” simply became too little. The Athletics are an MLB-worst 3-16 this season after going 60-102 last season and opened this season with an MLB-low $60-million payroll. Our R.J. Anderson has a detailed timeline on how they got here, and the recent teardown is wild:

  • March 2022: Once MLB‘s owner-imposed lockout is lifted, the A’s go into firesale mode. Within a week, they trade away starting pitcher Chris Bassitt, first baseman Matt Olson, and third baseman Matt Chapman. They would later trade away starters Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas.”
  • December 2022: Catcher Sean Murphy… is traded to the Atlanta Braves as part of a three-team deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. Oakland’s portion of the trade is widely panned both inside and outside of the industry.”

How Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia came to be 🥊

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One of the most anticipated fights in recent memory is nearly here: Gervonta Davis faces Ryan Garcia in the headliner of a loaded card tomorrow.

This fight has been years in the making, and our Brian Campbell has a wonderful, in-depth feature on how it came together.

  • Campbell: “The pursuit of legacy is the exact reason why both fighters ultimately said yes. It’s a refreshing and old-school quality that many hope, should the fight live up to its expectations both commercially and in terms of excitement, leads to a ripple effect across the sport. … ‘I think it’s really a testament to where my heart truly is,’ Garcia said. ‘There have been a lot of perceptions of who I am as a fighter or if I’m serious about it. I was tired of the misconception about myself. I said to myself, ‘I will do everything I have to do to make this fight happen.””

Our Brent Brookhouse, meanwhile, broke down strengths and weaknesses of both fighters.

  • Brookhouse: “Davis has some of the best pound-for-pound power in the sport. In 28 professional bouts, Davis has only failed to knock out two men, and only one of those fights was a scheduled 12-rounder. … He has knocked out men with both hands, with hooks, with straight shots and with brutal uppercuts. That kind of power is rare and it allows Davis to get away with some of his bigger flaws, though more on that later.”

You can also see top storylines here, including the elephant in the room: Could Davis-Garcia create a ripple effect across the sport? Brian has answers.

What we’re watching this weekend 📺

🏀 We’re watching the NBA playoffs. Here’s how.
🏒 We’re also watching the NHL playoffs. Here’s how.
We’re also watching the NWSL and Serie A on Paramount+.

Friday

Dodgers at Cubs, 2:20 p.m. on MLB Network

Saturday

Mets at Giants OR White Sox at Rays, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Tigers at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. on FS1

Sunday

Mets at Giants, 7 p.m. on ESPN

Source: CBSSports.com

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