Sun. May 26th, 2024

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Good morning to everyone but especially …

VICTOR WEMBANYAMA AND KRISTAPS PORZINGIS

A move to shake the defender and an open pull-up jumper. It was a shot Kyrie Irving has taken hundreds — if not thousands — of times. It was his first time shooting it with Victor Wembanyama on the court, though. A shot that’s normally open was blocked so easily it was almost laughable. A few minutes later, the French phenom buried a 3-pointer — his first career points — and just like that, a new era was upon us. Even in the Spurs126-119 loss to the Mavericks, the promise was evident.

Wembanyama canned two 3-pointers in the first quarter but was stuck on the bench with foul trouble for much of the first three quarters.
In the fourth, he provided an instant boost with 9 points, showcasing the full arsenal: Another 3-pointer, two dunks and a midrange jumper. Overall, he finished with 15 points and 5 rebounds in just 23 minutes.
Of course, we have to give props to the actual winners. Luka Doncic was outstanding with the fourth 30-point triple-double in a season opener in NBA history. Irving had 22 points.
While Wembanyama was the most ballyhooed rookie, it was actually Dereck Lively II who ended up making the biggest difference. The Duke product had 16 points and 10 rebounds to become the first player in franchise history to record a double-double off the bench in his NBA debut.

In New York, Kristaps Porzingis reminded us why he was once such a hyped prospect in the Wembanyama mold and why he can be a terrific fit with the Celtics. The lanky Latvian scored 30 points — a franchise record for a debut — and the Celtics beat the Knicks, 108-104, to open their season.

The Celtics’ struggles to close games in the past have been well-documented. They get bogged down and isolation-heavy. Porzingis is a one-man fix who can pick and pop, pick and roll and put the ball on the deck. He scored 9 of the Celtics’ last 11 points, including the 3-pointer that gave them the lead for good. Early returns are very positive.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for …


USATSI

THE MICHIGAN WOLVERINES 

The more details that emerge about Michigan‘s sign-stealing scheme, the worse it looks for the Wolverines. And now the details are coming in waves. The latest news — via a report from the Washington Post — says the investigation began when an outside firm approached the NCAA with files and video from university-maintained computer drives and that multiple Michigan coaches and staff members allegedly could access said files.

If you need a refresher …

Considering the hot water Harbaugh was already in with the NCAA, he’s now “warming up” on Dennis Dodd’s latest Hot Seat Rankings.

Dodd: “The ultimate Michigan Man could be a football version of Jerry Tarkanian. A brilliant coach with multiple NCAA allegations annually chasing a title. Harbaugh has his best team at Michigan, a true contender. Also, he’s no doubt driving his bosses crazy. At the same time they were considering a contract extension, news broke of the sign-stealing scandal. Like Tark, Harbaugh is a brilliant coach but a different dude. He may not care about the perceived gray area. Could the outside noise actually inspire the players? Preseason rating: 0″

Not so honorable mentions

NFL injuries: Brock Purdy in concussion protocol, Tyreek Hill misses practice


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Two of the best players on two of the NFL’s best offenses are dealing with injuries, In San Francisco, Brock Purdy is in the concussion protocol, putting his Week 8 status in doubt, and in Miami, Tyreek Hill missed practice with a hip injury.

Purdy first started experiencing symptoms on the 49ers‘ flight home after their Monday night loss to the Vikings, their second straight defeat after a 5-0 start. Given the short week, it’s looking increasingly likely that Sam Darnold will get the start for San Francisco against the Bengals, and Chris Towers explains the Fantasy implications if Darnold takes over.

Towers: Christian McCaffrey is still the No. 1 running back in my rankings for Week 8, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they leaned on him even more in the running game to help Darnold out. The bigger question comes with Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. I’m still ranking both as starters, but it’s on the lower end of the range.”

Hill leads the NFL with 902 yards receiving, putting him on pace for what would be an NFL-record 2,190 on the season if he can play in all 17 games. That appears to be a bigger “if” now more than ever, though.

Purdy isn’t the only notable quarterback injury: Ryan Tannehill (ankle) could miss the Titans‘ game against the Falcons, and Mike Vrabel said both Will Levis and Malik Willis could see action if that’s the case. Also, Deshaun Watson won’t play this weekend for the Browns.

Here’s our full injury roundup.

UEFA Champions League: PSG thrashes AC Milan, Haaland nets brace


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Warren Zaïre-Emery. Get to know the name. It’s going to be a big one for a long time. The 17-year-old PSG wunderkind had a pair of assists — one to fellow Frenchman Kylian Mbappé and another to Lee Kang-in — as PSG cruised past struggling AC Milan3-0. The future is exceedingly bright, writes Jonathan Johnson.

Johnson: “There is some way to go before Zaire-Emery can hope to emulate the likes of a 20-year-old Jude Bellingham in terms of impact at such a tender age but the former has three years to get close to the latter’s elite levels and the early signs have been encouraging enough to even prompt such parallels. Should Zaire-Emery continue to dominate for PSG from midfield in the way that he is doing so far under Luis Enrique, he realistically has the potential to develop into a truly top player …”

Chuck Booth says there’s still hope for AC Milan.

As for a name you already know, Erling Haaland ended his goal drought with a pair of tallies as reigning champion Manchester City beat Young Boys, 3-1. The Citizens remain atop Chuck’s Champions League Power Rankings.

Here’s more from the final day of Matchday 3:

What we’re watching Thursday

76ers at Bucks, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
Syracuse at Virginia Tech, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
Georgia State at Georgia Southern, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Buccaneers at Bills, 8:15 p.m. on Amazon Prime
USWNT vs. Colombia, 9 p.m. on TBS
Suns at Lakers, 10 p.m. on TNT

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