May 24, 2024

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Let’s get right to it.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to…


Welcome to the Stanley Cup Final, everyone! Tonight, the Avalanche and Lightning open up their best-of-seven series in Denver, and both teams enter under very different circumstances.

  • The Avalanche haven’t played since June 6 after sweeping the Oilers in the Western Conference Final. Colorado has played just 14 games this postseason and has not trailed in a series.
  • The Lightning last played on Saturday, finishing off the Rangers in six games. Tampa Bay has played 17 playoff games and trailed its opening series 3-2 and its Eastern Conference series 2-0.
  • This is the Avalanche’s third Stanley Cup Final appearance ever. They also won in 2001 and 1996.
  • This is the Lightning’s third Stanley Cup Final appearance… in the last three years (and fifth overall). They’re looking to become the first team to three-peat since the Islanders won four straight from 1980-83.

Our hockey experts have made their picks for who will raise Lord Stanley’s Cup, and here’s who Chris Bengel is rolling with:

  • Bengel: “This is about as evenly matched of a Stanley Cup Final that we’ve ever seen. Stellar offense versus exceptional goaltending. The amount of star power is through the roof. … While it’s so tough to pick against a team going for their third straight Stanley Cup, I have to take the Avalanche to win it all. This lethal offense is averaging a mind-numbing 4.6 goals-per-game throughout the postseason and is tied for the most goals. … Pick — Avalanche beat Lightning 4-3

Honorable mentions

The U.S. Open is one day away! Expert picks and ranking the field ⛳

We’re a day away from one of the most highly anticipated U.S. Opens in recent memory, and that means it’s time for our golf experts to make their picks. Kyle Porter is going with a familiar name to lift the trophy:

  • Porter: Justin Thomas (11-1) — He’s playing the best golf of his career and has paired an ever-present confidence that nobody in the world is better than him with a wisdom that can only be attained with age and experience. J.T. is one of the three best iron players on the planet, and his hot putter has translated to wins and near wins for the last two months. That’s not going to change this week as he pulls even with Jordan Spieth with three career major championships.”

You can check out all of our experts’ picks — including winners, sleepers, top 10 locks and surprise predictionshere.

Meanwhile, Kyle has also ranked the field 1-22, and it’s no surprise who’s number one.

  • Porter: Rory McIlroy enters No. 1 in the Data Golf rankings… All the ingredients are there for a Rory romp, but whether it happens is a completely different story. … Interestingly, the U.S. Open is the one place he’s started fairly strong at majors over the last few years. The problem has been one blow-up round later in the week. If he can avoid that mine at Brookline, it could be major No. 5 for somebody who’s been hunting it for nearly a decade.”

Here’s the entire top five:

  • 1. Rory McIlroy
  • 2. Scottie Scheffler
  • 3. Justin Thomas
  • 4. Jon Rahm
  • 5. Collin Morikawa

Here’s the whole list.

Why Stephen Curry’s 3-point streak bodes well for the Warriors 🏀


Stephen Curry failed to make a 3-pointer on Monday for the first time in his playoff career and the first time in any game since 2018. It snapped streaks of 132 straight playoff games and 233 games, respectively, of making at least one 3-pointer — both NBA records.

Curry’s 0-for-9 performance from deep actually bodes well for the Warriors as they look to close out the Celtics in tomorrow night’s Game 6, though. Curry has shot over 52 percent from three in his career in games immediately following a game he doesn’t make a single three. That bounce-back trend was especially on display the last time one of Curry’s long streaks was snapped, notes NBA expert Sam Quinn.

  • Quinn: “On Nov. 4, 2016, Curry’s previous record (regular season) of 159 straight games with at least one made 3-pointer came to an end with an 0-for-10 showing against the Lakers. In his next game, three days later, he broke what was, at the time, the single-game record with 13 3-pointers against the Pelicans. This would seem to bode pretty well for Curry and the Warriors in Game 6 on Thursday.”

Of course nothing is guaranteed. The Celtics’ defense is awesome, and its adjustments against Curry in Game 5 were quite effective. Still, facing Curry the game after he struggles is never fun. With their backs against the wall, the Celtics will have their work cut out for them.

Pete Prisco’s top 100 NFL players for 2022 🏈

We all love rankings and lists, especially when it comes to the NFL, so when I saw our NFL expert Pete Prisco had ranked his top 100 players for the 2022 season, it certainly caught my eye. It did not disappoint, and his top pick is spot-on.

  • Prisco: 1. Aaron Donald — He continues to be the best in the NFL; his ability to take over a game is second to none on any defensive line. He is one of the best inside players of all-time, and might be the best ever when his career is over.”

If you missed it last week, Donald got paid like the best player in football, too. He’s guaranteed $95 million over the next three seasons — provided he doesn’t retire — which makes him the highest-paid non-quarterback on a per-year basis in NFL history. He leads a star-studded Rams roster that landed three players in Prisco’s top 10:

  • 1. Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
  • 2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
  • 3. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
  • 4. Josh Allen, QB, Bills
  • 5. Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams
  • 6. Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers
  • 7. T.J. Watt, OLB, Steelers
  • 8. Trent Williams, OT, 49ers
  • 9. Myles Garrett, DE, Browns
  • 10. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Rams

I think Pete did an awesome job overall. Yes, of course everyone will have a little quibble with some players’ placements, but that’s the fun of it. It’s the middle of June, and we want all the football we can get with kickoff still nearly three months away. Having said that, I think Nick Chubb came in too low at 47th (and fifth among running backs).

  • Chubb is the only player in the NFL with at least 1,000 rushing yards on 5.0 yards per carry in each of the last three seasons.
  • In fact, he’s the first player to do it three straight seasons since Marshall Faulk in 1999-2001.

As we push through the dog days of the NFL offseason, our team of NFL reporters continues to produce excellent work, all of which you can read here.

What we’re watching Wednesday 📺

Brewers at Mets, 7:10 p.m. on FS1
🏒 Stanley Cup Final Game 1: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. on ABC

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