Minnesota’s blowout victory delivers a new favorite for the NBA title, plus the best pitcher you’ve never heard of.

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While you were sleeping: Minnesota is really that good

Hindsight always brings clarity, and while the regular season told us Minnesota was charmed, I don’t know anyone who saw This future. And if anyone says they did it, they’re probably lying.

Last night, the Timberwolves hit the defending champion Nuggets 106-80 in Denver, a game Minnesota led by as many as 32 points. Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns combined for 54 points. There really was no doubt as to who would win this match, no matter how shocking the end result was.

We’ll need more time to digest this before Game 3, but two things to remember:

  • Minnesota, down 2-0 in this series with two road wins, is clearly our championship favorite at this point. Sorry about Boston (bookmakers still favor the Celtics, though). Doing that to a defending champion who went 33-8 at home this year makes you the favorite.
  • Fight, Denver. Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray combined for 24 points on 8-of-31 shooting last night. Friday’s Game 3 at Minnesota might be the most interesting game of the playoffs so far, as a 3-0 series deficit seems impossible to overcome, even for the defending champions.

And Minnesota did it all without Rudy Gobert. Incredible stuff. Somewhere else:

  • No Knicks game can end normally. What history will show as New York’s 121-117 victory over the Pacers will, in the short term, be remembered for Donte DiVincenzo’s flop that led to an Indiana turnover with 12 seconds remaining and to the Knicks up one. Here is the piece that earned a call on mobile screen:
  • It’s hard. The truth is, it was a great game, one that the Pacers led for most of the night. The last four minutes were exciting and then, womp, that call. To me, that’s a clear miss on a call that probably shouldn’t be made in the final seconds of a huge playoff game. Adding salt to the wound was NBA post-game report, which ruled that a late-game kick call against Indiana’s Aaron Nesmith was both incorrect and impossible to challenge. Brutal. But that doesn’t really matter. Knicks lead 1-0.

Read our full recap of last night’s NBA action hereand be sure to subscribe to The rebound for Zach Harper’s spicy analysis later this morning.

Meanwhile, on the icethe Bruins went to Florida and housed Panthers 5-1. After Boston scored three in the second period (including one by brand new father Brandon Carlo – nice story here), this game should put the rest of the NHL on alert, at least for a few evenings. The Bruins might finally have overcome this playoff fate.

The playoffs are so much fun.

News to know

A hint of forgiveness in golf?
Talor Gooch will play next week’s PGA Championship via special invitation, announced the golfer, which could represent a historic change in the current division of the golf world. Gooch, who joined the LIV Tour in 2022, is the first LIV golfer to advance to a major tournament thanks to his performance on the breakaway tour. I just hope we can all get along soon.

Wemby wins the ROY unanimously
We knew this was coming, but it’s newsworthy nonetheless: Victor Wembanyama is NBA Rookie of the Year after receiving 99 first place votesthe first clean slate since since Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016. Wemby entered the league as a star, then transformed into a budding superstar in the spring. He is only the second rookie to lead the league in blocks (Manute Bol did it in 1985-86) and is a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, which will be announced today.

Riley slams Butler
Miami Heat president Pat Riley — while saying he doesn’t want to trade his franchise superstar — chastised Jimmy Butler yesterday, after Butler was seen in a video saying the Celtics and Knicks would be “at home.” house” if he had been healthy enough to play. . “If you’re not on the court playing against Boston, if you’re not on the court playing against the New York Knicks,” Riley said, “you should keep your mouth shut when you criticize these teams .” Sip. It might be a summer of discontent between Butler, 34, and the Heat.

No more news

Hi my name is: The best launcher you’ve never heard of

We linked the Tyler Kepner one story about Tarik Skubal in yesterday’s Pulse Picks, but upon closer inspection I felt Skubal deserved more attention – because, outside of Detroit group chats and fantasy baseball, I don’t know if anyone knows who this guy is.

However, he is arguably the best pitcher in baseball today:

  • Skubal is in his fifth season in the major leagues but remained largely anonymous until last year, when he produced a 2.80 ERA in 15 starts for an extremely mediocre Tigers team. The 27-year-old hasn’t been bad since his 2020 debut, but ace quality? No.
  • This year, that changed. He is 4-0 with a 1.90 ERA. According to FanGraphshe’s in MLB’s top three among xERA, FIP (fielding-independent pitching) and xFIP, scary acronyms for statistics that better gauge a pitcher’s solo performance.
  • As Tyler pointed out, if you look his Baseball-Reference page, he is the model of an improving pitcher. His ERAs started in the 5s and literally declined by single digits every year. Will he finish in the 1s this year? Maybe not. But he could still win a Cy Young.

This is one of the main reasons the Tigers are above .500. in a surprisingly competitive AL Central. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the game,” Aaron Judge said this weekend. Aaron knows it, so you should too. Read Tyler’s full story to learn more.

Watch this match

NHL: Hurricanes at the Rangers
7 p.m. ET on ESPN
We can’t wait to see how the Avs and Stars perform in their series opener. I want to see how the Canes react to New York’s entertaining Game 1 win. Both teams are desperateas Mark Lazerus wrote.

NBA: Mavericks at Thunder
9:30 p.m. ET on TNT
I’m pretending the Boston-Cleveland series isn’t too competitive, so stay here unless the Cavs surprise us. After the Mavs made easy work of the Clippers in the first round, Dallas will certainly be a tougher test for Oklahoma City than New Orleans was. I even played well enough to Win coach Jason Kidd an extension.

Get tickets to games like these here.

Pulse selection

THE Winnipeg Jets ride an uncomfortable line until NHL cities go – the metro area represents the smallest market in the league, but, as Dan Robson illustrated today, perhaps the most passionate. It’s a city obsessed with hockey and, despite a hugely successful season on the ice, the Jets could leave… again.

You probably know Jordan HowlettOr Jordan the stallionSince Tic Tac (i.e. the guy who went viral because he looks much older than he is). What you don’t know is Howlett’s story went from bad high school baseball player to D.I. prospect – and how his baseball dream died, largely out of his control.

Austin Mock looked to history for guidance on how the NFL Rookie QB Class is going to happen this year. Can any of them match CJ Stroud performance last year? Don’t count on it.

No one exemplifies the beauty and difficulty of playing for Toronto Maple Leafs better that Mitch Marner, the hometown kid who is revered and criticized in equal measure. Marner maintains he wants to stay in Toronto. This might not happen.

THE Monday Tennis Briefing is jam-packed this week, including a fun and informative excerpt on tennis’ struggle between “property and drama.” This was triggered by a guy asking Rafael Nadal for his sweaty shirt.

Most clicked in the newsletter yesterday: Tom Brady Roast Highlights. Still wild.

Most read on the site yesterday: Jim Bowden proposed MLB deals he would like to see happen before the deadline and gave some thoughts on the Luis Arráez deal.

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(Photo: Bart Young/Getty Images)

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