Good morning! I hope you had a better Sunday than the Suns did.
Phoenix, the No. 1 seed in the West after compiling a league-best 64 wins, wilted on its home court in Game 7. The Mavericks marched into the desert and dismantled the Suns for 48 minutes in a show of utter dominance. The final score read 123-90 in Dallas’ favor. Luka Dončić had as many points at halftime (27) as Phoenix did. More on that colossal letdown–one of two NBA blowouts–and the rest of the conference finals being set later.
The Stanley Cup playoffs also had a pair of Game 7s on Sunday and these didn’t disappoint. Instead of two blowouts, both games went to overtime—the Rangers completed the comeback against the Penguins after being down 3-1 in the series and the Flames closed out the Stars at home.
This is a rare day in playoff season with no games going on in either league. Keep reading Winners Club for more on the NBA’s final four playoff teams and the second round of the NHL postseason before games resume Tuesday night.
NBA Conference Finals Set
The Heat were the only team with a guaranteed spot in the conference finals entering the weekend. Miami handled Philadelphia on Thursday and got to enjoy watching the rest of the second round series like the rest of us.
The Warriors punched their ticket Friday evening, sending home the Grizzlies in six games. Klay Thompson led Golden State with 30 points, Steph Curry added 29 and Draymond Green finished with 14 in the 110-96 win, a massive bounceback from the 39-point loss they were handed in Game 6. Now the Warriors are on the cusp of the NBA Finals for the first time since 2019.
Neither Milwaukee nor Phoenix could close out their second-round opponents in Game 6. So the Bucks-Celtics and Suns-Mavericks series both headed to Game 7.
In Boston, Grant Williams outscored Giannis Antetokounmpo in an historic three-point shooting performance. Williams led all scorers with 27 points and the C’s outshot the Bucks 22-4 from behind the arc. That 54-point advantage from the three-point line allowed Boston to pull away in a 109-81 win and get back to the conference finals for the first time since 2020.
And in Phoenix, the water ran dry. The Suns came out cold with a 17-point quarter and followed that up with a 10-point frame. The offense picked up in the second half, but it was way too little, way too late for Chris Paul and Devin Booker. The duo combined for 24 points, fewer than Spencer Dinwiddie scored off the bench for Dallas, in an embarrassing blowout.
Dončić finished with a game-high 35 points and six backbreaking threes, his version of the “Luka Special.” This is the Mavericks first trip to the conference finals since their 2011 championship.
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN): Celtics vs. Heat (-2.5) | Game 1
9 p.m. ET (TNT): Mavericks vs. Warriors (-5.5) | Game 1
The second-round matchups are set after a wild opening round.
There was the Rangers going into a 1-3 hole against the Penguins. New York fought its way back to tie the series and force a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden and eventually send Pittsburgh home in overtime to complete the comeback.
The Lightning kept their chances of a threepeat alive by toppling the Maple Leafs in Game 7. That 2-1 loss extended Toronto’s losing streak in series-clinching games to 10.
And late Sunday night, the Flames beat the Stars in overtime in a war of attrition. Calgary sent 67 shots at Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger—three got through, including the winner in the extra period.
The schedule for the second round is out and can be found here.
7 p.m. ET (TNT): Lightning vs. Panthers (-150) | Game 1
9:30 p.m. ET (TNT): Blues vs. Avalanche (-225)
7 p.m. ET (ESPN): Rangers vs. Hurricanes | Game 1
9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN): Oilers vs. Flames | Game 1
In Other News
Jarvis Landry Signs with Saints: The five-time Pro Bowler is headed back to Louisiana, where he played high school football before he starred at LSU. He joins a revamped receiver room in New Orleans that includes Michael Thomas and first-round pick Chris Olave.
NBA Draft Lottery Preview: With the postseason still raging on, the league’s lesser teams turn their attention to Tuesday’s draft lottery. See each team’s chances of landing the top overall pick and what that could mean for each franchise.
Reds Allow No Hits and Still Manage to Lose: You might have heard Cincinnati is going through it. The team is an MLB-worst 9-26, but losing a game to the Pirates in which they didn’t allow a single hit might be a new low in a season full of them.
Fantasy Football Playoffs Strength of Schedule: It’s never too early to begin planning ahead for your fantasy season. Joe Burrow and Tyreek Hill have a rough stretch in store for Weeks 15-17 while Keenan Allen and Jameis Winston each draw favorable matchups.
Thanks for reading. I'll be back in your inbox Wednesday morning.