Thursday, June 30, 2022

Why this is the most special NBA title for the Warriors, plus how the Celtics let the series slip away

Happy Friday, everyone! Congrats on another week down.

Let’s get right to it.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

The Warriors have climbed the mountain once again, and Stephen Curry has led the way. The Warriors beat the Celtics 103-90 in Game 6 of the Finals for their fourth NBA championship in the last eight seasons.

  • Curry had 34 points, seven rebounds and seven assists en route to his first career Finals MVP.
  • Andrew Wiggins capped an outstanding playoffs with 18 points, while Draymond Green did a little bit of everything with 12 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks.
  • Jordan Poole added 15 points off the bench.
  • The Warriors are the first team with four titles in eight seasons since the Bulls won six from 1991-98.

Two seasons ago, the Warriors were the worst team in the league. Last season, they didn’t make the playoffs. Klay Thompson suffered two devastating injuries in that time. Curry and Green also dealt with injuries. It was not pretty, to put it lightly.

But the challenges of the last three years — and how close that trio of stars are — make this title so special for Golden State, writes NBA expert Colin Ward-Henninger.

  • Ward-Henninger: “The trio, composed of three historically unique players who complement each other on the court in ways that render opponents paralyzed, have also reached a balance off the court that has allowed them to ascend, excel and persevere for the past 10 seasons. All drafted by the Warriors. All carrying a chip on their shoulder due to their draft position and countless other reasons, both rational and fabricated. Most importantly, all with an insatiable, preternatural yearning for competition and victory.”

As the core trio of the Warriors’ dynasty crept into their 30s, it was reasonable to wonder if the team’s dazzling highs were a thing of the past. Little did we know they were retooling and reloading — with the arrival of Wiggins, the emergence of Poole and the discovery of Gary Payton II — for perhaps their most remarkable and unexpected title yet.

Still, I can’t stop thinking about Curry, who was reduced to tears in the game’s final moments. Steve Kerr called it Curry’s “crowning achievement in what’s already been an incredible career.” I agree. He was great in Games 1-3, but Golden State still trailed the series 2-1. Then he was otherworldly — perhaps his best Finals game ever — in Game 4. The Celtics made a grave mistake not taking advantage of his rough Game 5, because he came right back and buried them in Game 6, just as a player of his caliber should.

And now Curry is finally a Finals MVP, and the Warriors are once again world champions. Oh, and they’re favorites to win it all next year, too.

As always, you can check out all of our outstanding NBA coverage here.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

THE BOSTON CELTICS

To recap:

  • In Game 4, the Celtics led with under five minutes left. Then they fell apart.
  • In Game 5, the Celtics led late in the third quarter. Then they fell apart.
  • In Game 6, the Celtics led early, and looked prime to force a Game 7. Then they fell apart… in historic fashion.

There are two areas that ultimately doomed the Celtics in the Finals.

  • Struggles in close games: Boston was outscored by 21 points combined in the fourth quarter of the last three games.
  • Careless, unforced errors: Boston was 1-8 this postseason when committing more than 15 turnovers.

While it’s easy to assume the Celtics will be back given their young core, making assumptions like that is never smart. Yes, Boston is very, very good. Yes, this was an outstanding season. But things change quickly in professional sports

The Eastern Conference is loaded. The Celtics will likely be a contender for years to come, but they’ll rue the chances they missed this year. You never know how many chances you’ll get.

U.S. Open updated leaderboard heading into the weekend ⛳

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After one round, the U.S. Open leaderboard had plenty of big names near the top, but only one player at the top: Adam Hadwin fired a four-under 66 to lead by a stroke. It’s the first time he’s ever led or co-led a major after any round.

Here’s the top of the leaderboard as entering this morning.

  • 1. Adam Hadwin (-4)
  • T-2. Rory McIlroy, Joel Dahmen, David Lingmerth, Callum Tarren, Matthys Daffue (-3)
  • T-7. Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Matt Fitzpatrick, Aaron Wise, Brian Harman, Matthew NeSmith, Hayden Buckley (-2)

McIlroy, who has become the preeminent voice in professional golf, delivered a strong on-course statement too, writes golf expert Kyle Porter.

  • Porter: “There are other great talkers in the game, too, but they don’t shoot 67s across their first 18 holes at The Country Club. … He did what we should all be doing — at least for the next three days — by reminding everyone of the historical magnitude of the major championship that’s now underway and could soon be within his grasp.”

It wasn’t a good day for the most notable player on the other side of the PGA-vs-LIV saga: Phil Mickelson shot an eight-over 78.

For more on McIlroy, Mickelson and everything else from Day 1 at Brookline, be sure to read our leaderboard breakdown and takeaways. Plus, here are the tee times and groups for today.

World Cup venues for 2026 announced; Clarity for 2022 USMNT roster? ⚽

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Getty Images

FIFA has announced the host cities for the 2026 World Cup. The games are being played in the United States, Canada and Mexico. 

Here are the U.S. cities where games will take place:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Kansas City
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York/New Jersey
  • Philadelphia
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

Toronto and Vancouver (Canada) and Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey (Mexico) were the other five cities selected. Notably not on that U.S. list? Washington D.C., which had a joint bid with Baltimore. Ottawa also was not selected, meaning Mexico City is the only country capital hosting.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we still have the 2022 World Cup to focus on, and the U.S. men’s national team just finished a four-game slate that featured many players we’ll see in Qatar. The USMNT picked up two wins, two draws and plenty of valuable information for manager Gregg Berhalter and his staff. The biggest takeaway is that the striker spot is locked up… for now.

Be sure to check out our expert Roger Gonzalez’s takeaways, as well as Chuck Booth’s excellent roster projection for the World Cup.

2022 MLB Mock Draft: Sons of former All-Stars go 1-2 ⚾

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Getty Images

The 2022 MLB Draft is one month away, and the Orioles‘ pick at No. 1 remains wide open. Our MLB expert Mike Axisa has Baltimore taking the son of a seven-time All-Star in his latest mock draft.

  • Axisa: “Baltimore is rumored to have narrowed its preference for the No. 1 pick down to five players: Jackson Holliday (Matt’s son), Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee, LSU slugger Jacob Berry, and high school outfielders Druw Jones (Andruw’s son) and Elijah Green. With a field that wide open, the portfolio approach seems likely, and Holliday is a decent bet to take a below-slot deal because he could fall as far as the No. 7 or 8 pick if he doesn’t go No. 1.”

Here’s the top five:

  • 1. Orioles: SS Jackson Holliday, Stillwater HS
  • 2. Diamondbacks: OF Druw Jones, Wesleyan HS

  • 3. Rangers: OF Elijah Green, IMG Academy
  • 4. Pirates: SS Brooks Lee, Cal Poly
  • 5. Nationals: C Kevin Parada, Georgia Tech

You can see the entire mock draft here.

What we’re watching this weekend 📺

We’re watching the U.S. Open all weekend. Here’s how you can, too.

And also…

Friday

🏀 Storm at Sun, 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Spirit vs Racing Louisville FC, 7:30 p.m. on Paramount+

Saturday

Guardians at Dodgers or Cardinals at Red Sox, 7:15 p.m. on FOX

🏒 Stanley Cup Final Game 2: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. on ABC

Current vs Red Stars, 8:30 p.m. on Paramount+

Sunday

🏀 Storm at Liberty, Noon on ESPN

Thorns vs Pride, 3 p.m. on Paramount+

Courage vs Dash, 5 p.m. on Paramount+

White Sox at Astros, 7 p.m. on ESPN

Warriors NBA championship gear now available

The Golden State Warriors have won their fourth NBA title in the last eight seasons. Now, you can celebrate with championship hats, shirts, hoodies, and more. See the entire collection here.

We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

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