A whole lot went down Thursday, starting bright and early when Jimbo Fisher held court to air his grievances with Nick Saban over the Alabama coach’s comments about Texas A&M’s recruiting tactics. Rory McIlroy got off to a strong start in Round 1 of the PGA Championship and the Mets lost Max Scherzer to an oblique injury.
In the evening slate of games, everything went south for South Florida sports fans. The Heat fell apart in Game 2 against the Celtics and lost their first home game of the postseason. And then the Panthers, just a few moments away from forcing overtime against the Lightning, allowed a last-second goal and now face an 0-2 deficit heading across the state to Tampa.
Celtics Win in Smart’s Return
Boston didn’t have Marcus Smart or Al Horford in Game 1 against Miami. It lost accordingly. Those two returned to the lineup for Game 2 on Thursday and the Celtics rolled to a 127-102 win after building up a sizable lead in the first half.
Smart had his most complete game of the postseason—he finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists and three steals. Horford had a more modest performance (10 points), but it was a team effort that allowed the Celtics to enter halftime with a 25-point lead that the Heat would not cut into at all in the second half. Jayson Tatum added 27, Jaylen Brown had 24 and Grant Williams had 19 to contribute to the blowout. Once again, Jimmy Butler led the way for Miami with 29 points, but the Heat defense, which gave up 20 three-pointers, was not up to the challenge.
Dallas will look to rebound the same way Boston did in Game 2 tonight. The Mavericks never got comfortable against the Warriors in the first game and fell, 112-87. Golden State, meanwhile, had seven players score in double figures, shut down Luka Dončić in the second half and looked every part the Finals favorite it has become—the Warriors are now even money to win the Finals.
9 p.m. ET (TNT): Warriors vs. Mavericks
Lightning Take Commanding 2-0 Series Lead
We already touched on the Lightning’s late-game heroics at the top. Tampa Bay is now the only team in the second round with a 2-0 series lead and now it’s heading home for Games 3 and 4. The Lightning are now tied with the Hurricanes for the second-best odds to win the Stanley Cup at +400 behind the Avalanche (+188).
Colorado, still the clear favorite to win it all, lost for the first time in these playoffs on Thursday. The Blues scored a 4-1 win on the road to even up the series.
The other two second-round series—Rangers-Hurricanes and Oilers-Flames—pick back up tonight with a pair of Game 2s.
3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN): Hurricanes vs. Rangers
8 p.m. ET (ESPN2): Flames vs. Oilers
In Fantasy Football, There Is No Offseason
You want rankings? We’ve got rankings. Michael Fabiano ranked the top 200 players overall—and broke them down by position—for auction league players.
Jonathan Taylor sits atop the list and you might be sensing a theme here. For years, Christian McCaffrey was the 1.01. After a few injury-riddled seasons for McCaffrey, combined with Taylor’s Year 2 breakout, the Colts running back is the new guy to get at the top of your draft (he went at the top of ours, too).
Again, Fabiano has already come out with auction rankings, dynasty rankings, positional strength of schedule, good and bad landing spots for rookies and more. Your draft might not be for a few weeks or even months, but it’s never too early to start preparing.
I just had a rookie draft for a dynasty league that I’m in and I came away with George Pickens at the end of the first round after consulting Matt De Lima’s rankings. He also has a sleeper series you should consult if you’re in search of some late-round value picks. Quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends—he’s got it all covered.
And another series you should check out is Shawn Childs’s team-by-team fantasy outlooks. He’s already previewed the entirety of the AFC East and he’s working his way through the AFC North. So far, he’s done the Bengals, Ravens and Browns. Next up is the Steelers, so look out for that next week before he moves to the AFC South.
In Other News
Preakness Stakes Betting Profiles: Interested in betting on the ponies this weekend? Find out everything you need to know about the top contenders and the longshots ahead of Saturday’s race in Baltimore.
NBA Draft No. 1 Pick Odds: Now that the Magic have the top pick in June’s draft, which player is the best bet to go first? Auburn’s Jabari Smith is the favorite, followed by Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero. Read about each player and how they might fit in with Orlando.
USFL Week 6 Spreads and Picks: The Birmingham Stallions are the only remaining undefeated team in the league. Can they keep it up this weekend against the Michigan Panthers as 6.5-point favorites?
Jordan Addison Announces Transfer to USC: The former Pitt receiver and Biletnikoff Award winner is headed west to play for Lincoln Riley. Addison’s future was the subject of much conversation after he entered the transfer portal earlier this month, and he now joins a long list of players who have transferred to play for the Trojans in the offseason.
Fantasy Replacements for Max Scherzer: New York’s ace was diagnosed with an oblique strain, another blow to the starting rotation of the first-place team in the NL East. Scherzer’s production will be difficult for fantasy managers to replace, but there are a few available options.
Thanks for reading Winners Club. Enjoy your weekend!