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Winners Club: Celtics Look to Even Eastern Conference Finals

Plus, the Warriors take a 3-0 lead, an NHL playoffs update and Justin Thomas’ PGA Championship win.

Good morning! Over the weekend, the Warriors took a 3-0 lead over the Mavericks, the Heat pulled ahead of the Celtics, the Lightning moved within one game of sweeping the No. 1 seed Panthers and Justin Thomas won the PGA Championship in a playoff.

Did you get all that? Don’t worry if not—all that and more is covered in greater depth in today’s edition of Winners Club. But before getting into it, let’s start with the last few conference finals bouts and just how rare competitive games have come to be late in the NBA playoffs.

We finally got some close-ish games over the weekend—a six-point Miami win and two nine-point Golden State victories. That followed the first three conference finals games being decided by double digits, as well as the two Game 7s in the conference semifinals.

Before the Warriors’ nine-point Game 2 win Friday, the scoring differentials over the last week were: Celtics by 25, Warriors by 25, Heat by 11, Mavericks by 33 and Celtics by 28. And that doesn’t even include the Grizzlies’ 39-point win against Warriors in Game 5 of the conference semifinals.

Here’s hoping for a close game tonight at TD Garden. It’s become rarer than you might think.

Heat-Celtics Series Resumes in Boston

Miami scored a gutsy win over the weekend to take a 2-1 advantage in the series. The Heat came away with a 109-103 win Saturday night despite Jimmy Butler missing the second half with a knee injury and Jaylen Brown scoring a playoff-high 40 points.

Bam Adebayo had his best game of the postseason—he finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists—while Jayson Tatum had his worst showing. Boston’s star had just 10 points to pair with six turnovers and now the onus is on the Celtics to win Monday night. Butler (knee) intends to play and the Heat are -125 favorites to win the series.

The Warriors took Game 3 against the Mavericks in Dallas, 109-103, and are now one win away from their first NBA Finals since 2019. Steph Curry led the Warriors with 31 points, but Sunday was the Andrew Wiggins game. He threw down a ferocious poster dunk over Luka Dončić for two of his 27 points and corralled 11 rebounds.


Dončić posted his second consecutive 40-point game, but it wasn’t enough. The Mavericks’ role players had a rough shooting night from outside and yet another third-quarter run by the Warriors put the game just out of reach, despite solid performances from Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie.

8:30 p.m. ET (ABC): Heat vs. Celtics (-6.5) | Miami leads series, 2-1

9 p.m. ET (ESPN): Warriors vs. Mavericks (-1.5) | Golden State leads series, 3-0

Lightning Could Complete Sweep Tonight

Tampa Bay scored a 5-1 win on Sunday against Florida and now the teams have a quick turnaround for Game 4 tonight, which very well could be the final game of the series. The Lightning have built a 3-0 lead by outscoring the Panthers, who won the President’s Cup in the regular season, 11-3.

The rest of the second-round series have been much more competitive. The Avalanche beat the Blues, 5-2, on Saturday to take a 2-1 series lead and remain the favorites to win it all at +155. The Rangers, back at Madison Square Garden, scored an important 3-1 win against the Hurricanes on Sunday and the Oilers beat the Flames, 4-1, to take a 2-1 lead in the series thanks to Evander Kane’s second-period hat trick.

7 p.m. ET (TNT): Panthers vs. Lightning (-125) | Tampa Bay leads series, 3-0

9:30 p.m. ET (TNT): Avalanche (-163) vs. Blues | Colorado leads series, 2-1


7 p.m. ET (ESPN): Hurricanes vs. Rangers (-110) | Carolina leads series, 2-1

9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN): Flames vs. Oilers (-110) | Edmonton leads series, 2-1

In Other News

Justin Thomas Wins PGA Championship: A miraculous comeback saw Thomas force a playoff Sunday, where he defeated Will Zalatoris for the Wanamaker Trophy in his second major win.

Manchester City Wins Premier League Title: The title race came down to the final day of the season and City defeated Aston Villa and edged out Liverpool in the standings to finish atop the table for the fourth time in five seasons.

Max Verstappen Wins Spanish Grand Prix: Red Bull took its second 1-2 finish of the season in Barcelona with Verstappen winning his fourth race of the year, while teammate Sergio Perez finished second, edging out Mercedes’ George Russell.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back in your inbox Wednesday morning.