Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. Things are not looking good for the Warriors.
In today’s SI:AM:
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Celtics dominated inside
For a game that featured a combined 75 three-point attempts, the difference-maker in Game 3 between the Celtics and Warriors may come as a surprise. Yes, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson rained down threes, but the deciding factor was the play on the inside.
Boston outscored Golden State in the paint 52–26 and out-rebounded the Warriors 47–31 (including 15–6 on the offensive glass) in the 116–100 win. The Warriors’ lack of size is no secret, but Draymond Green is supposed to make up for it. He may be only 6'6" but he’s supposed to be the guy collecting rebounds and anchoring the interior defense. He wasn’t last night.
Green was a complete nonfactor in Game 3, recording two points, four rebounds, three assists and a block before fouling out. That’s right: His biggest number in the box score was fouls. His biggest contributions were pestering Celtics players with some classic Draymond Green antics. Asked after the game how he thought he played, Green was frank: “Like s===.”
Aside from an eight-minute stretch at the start of the second half when the Warriors climbed out of an double-digit hole and briefly took the lead, Boston maintained control of Game 3. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart all scored at least 24 points, combining for 77 of Boston’s 116 points (45 in the paint). They were the first trio of teammates to each have at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a Finals game since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper in 1984.
Chris Mannix writes that Tatum and Brown’s side-by-side success on such a big stage validates the Celtics’ decision not to break them up when the team was struggling earlier in the season:
“Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have often been pitted against each other, treated as rivals instead of teammates. When the Celtics struggled to start the season, speculation swirled that Boston’s brass would break them up. Instead, they doubled down and were rewarded with a trip to the Finals. After Wednesday night’s 116–100 win over the Warriors, the Celtics moved within two wins of a title—with Tatum and Brown leading the way.”
While it was a positive sign for the Warriors to get 25 points from Thompson—who found his shooting stroke again after struggling in the first two games—the Celtics showed once again that they have far superior depth. They have a variety of players who can step in to contribute beyond their two stars. In Game 1, Derrick White and Al Horford both scored more than 20 points. Last night it was Smart who stepped up. If the Warriors are going to even the series tomorrow in Game 4, they need a big game from someone like Jordan Poole—or for Green to rein it in and anchor that defense that held the Celtics to 88 points in Game 2. That’s especially true if Curry’s foot injury proves to be significant. He was hurt late in the fourth quarter when Horford fell on his leg but stayed in the game until Steve Kerr emptied the bench in the final minutes with the contest out of reach. Curry and the Warriors have downplayed the injury but, as Howard Beck writes, they’re toast if he can’t play.
The best of Sports Illustrated
Today’s Daily Cover is the July magazine cover, featuring Deion Sanders and a story by Jean-Jacques Taylor about Deion’s impact on HBCU football:
“Last year, in his first full season, Sanders led the Tigers to a school-record 11 wins and their first Southwestern Athletic Conference championship since 2007. He did it while missing time after complications following foot surgery led to the amputation of two toes. He earned FCS Coach of the Year honors. And this, perhaps the most convincing piece of evidence that big things are coming to JSU: Three days before the season wrapped he flipped five-star recruit Travis Hunter, from Suwanee, Ga., who had originally committed to play cornerback at Sanders’s alma mater, Florida State.”
Predictably, Oklahoma won the first game of the WCWS championship round in a blowout. Emma Baccellieri was there and wrote about the tall task facing Texas in Game 2. … Conor Orr argues that the NFL needs to act quickly to address Deshaun Watson’s status with the Browns. … Andrew Brandt explains Aaron Donald’s contract and how the Rams manage their salary cap. … After the Angels fired Joe Maddon, Will Laws looks at which managers could be on the hot seat next.
Around the sports world
Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio made some really stupid comments about the Capitol insurrection, and former Washington running back Brian Mitchell took him to task. … There was a tense moment in a LIV Golf press conference yesterday when a reporter asked Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter whether they would play in a golf tournament organized by Vladimir Putin. … The Angels tried to snap their losing streak by having every batter walk up to the plate to a different Nickelback song, but it didn’t work. … Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is putting his NFL career on hold to begin a medical residency program.
The top five...
… things I saw last night:
5. Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena’s interaction with a young Cardinals fan.
4. Stephen Curry’s four-point play in the third quarter (which turned into a seven-point possession after Al Horford was called for a flagrant foul and Otto Porter nailed a three).
3. Draymond Green’s honest assessment of his play.
2. Yadier Molina getting a strikeout as a pitcher and Albert Pujols’s reaction.
1. Willians Astudillo motoring around from second to score the winning run for the Marlins.
Honus Wagner recorded his 3,000th career hit on this day in 1914, becoming the second player to reach the milestone. Who was the first?
Yesterday’s SIQ: On this day in 1920, Hall of Fame Reds center fielder Edd Roush was ejected for doing what on the field?
Answer: Sleeping. Roush’s Reds were playing the Giants at the Polo Grounds when, in the bottom of the eighth, Cincinnati manager Pat Moran came out to argue that a double down the third-base line had actually been a foul ball. As Moran’s argument with umpire Barry McCormick began to drag on, Roush decided to catch some shuteye.
Sources differ about some of the details (SABR says Roush was sitting down, hanging his head, while MLB.com says he actually laid down in the grass), but Roush was definitely asleep. After Moran’s argument was over, third baseman Heinie Groh ran out to rouse Roush. After Groh was unable to wake him up in a timely manner, McCormick ejected Roush for delaying the game.
Despite that sluggish anecdote, Roush was actually renowned for being one of the speediest outfielders in the league. “In ground covering, he has no superiors and few approximate equals,” according to a 1920 Baseball Magazine article.
Roush spent 18 years in the majors, winning two batting titles while using an absurdly heavy 48-ounce bat. (He weighed only 170 pounds, which makes the bat choice even more unbelievable.) He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962 as part of a class that also included Jackie Robinson, Bob Feller and Bill McKechnie. Roush died in ’88 after suffering a heart attack before a spring training game in Florida, coincidentally at Bill McKechnie Field.
From the Vault: June 9, 1975
Rather than focus on the cover story about Steelers running back and Vietnam veteran Rocky Bleier, I want to use this issue of the magazine as an opportunity to look at the lives and careers of two of running’s biggest names.
When Steve Prefontaine died in a car crash on May 30, 1975, no one could have written a better story about his death than Kenny Moore. Though Moore was just getting started in his career as a writer, he was a friend of Prefontaine’s and had been at a party with him the night he died.
The wildly popular “Pre,” as he was known, had grown up in Coos Bay, Ore., then went on to win seven NCAA championships at the University of Oregon (three in cross country and four three-mile championships) and missed the podium by less than a second in the 5,000-meter race at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. In May of ’75, Prefontaine had arranged for a group of runners to come to Oregon from Finland and compete in meets, but some of the athletes and promoters withdrew, Moore wrote. Hours before his death, Prefontaine won a 5,000-meter race over a field that included ’72 Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter. After he crossed the finish line, Moore wrote, “the crowd was flowing out around him, small boys waving programs, beaming matrons, girls in halter tops.”
After the race there was a party at the home of Geoff Hollister, who Moore described as “Prefontaine’s associate in an athletic shoe company.” (The company was Nike.) Moore and his wife were there, as were Shorter, Finnish athletes and Prefontaine’s parents, among others. Moore wrote that he left around 11, but not before making plans with Prefontaine and Shorter to run 10 miles together in the morning.
Prefontaine drove Shorter back to Moore’s house (where he was staying while in Eugene for the race) and shortly after crashed his car into a rock wall. He was pinned underneath the vehicle and died at the scene. He was 24. An autopsy found his blood alcohol level to be .16, double today’s legal limit.
Moore was awoken by the news of his death with an early-morning phone call:
“In the morning the phone rang, waking me, and I learned he was dead. I told Frank. At eight o’clock, the day was still, full of sun and birdsong. From the radio we learned that the accident had happened only a few hundred yards from our house, and we knew Frank had been the last to see him. After a few minutes we walked down a path through a neighbor’s yard to the road below. The ashes of flares were scattered in the road. On one side, beneath an outcropping of black basalt, there was broken glass and twisted metal strewn among the poison oak. There was blood on the street, a street he had run at least three times a week for six years.
“Later, after we had spoken to the news people, Frank and I ran. I believe it was a sort of observation of ritual, something that had to be done. We could not have run a step anywhere that Prefontaine had not run. As it happened, we ran softly through the woods skirting Eugene, looking up at the rugged ground under the Bonneville power lines where he did winter training. After we finished a five-mile loop, we kept on, crossing the river over a footbridge where I had once seen Prefontaine crouched behind a tripod and movie camera, waving at a tired runner to sprint toward him out of the cottonwoods, yelling, ‘Do I have to do everything myself?’
“We avoided the road of the accident, coming up the hill to my house another way, a hard climb, feeling the effort, accepting it as the only link left with what Prefontaine had felt and accepted better than any of us.”
Moore’s story is a fantastic look not only at Pre’s final days but also the challenges facing him before his death (his dispute with the AAU over amateurism rules) and his approach to running.
Moore, himself a world-class distance runner (a two-time competitor in the Olympic marathon) went on to have a long career writing about running for Sports Illustrated. He contributed regularly to the magazine for more than two decades until 1995, when he began to focus more on book writing. He wrote his final piece for SI—about efforts to stage the New York Marathon after Hurricane Sandy—in 2012. He died last month at 78.
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