🏀 Playoff Jamal Strikes Again
Plus, a preview of WNBA Opening Night
Hey, good to see you again! We have a piping hot serving of playoff basketball to dig into, along with a WNBA opening day preview.
But before we get started, make sure to keep your eyes peeled to our socials, because we have an ICE COLD collection coming your way next week!
Stay tuned 👀 🥶
Murray Magic 🪄: Jamal comes alive in the 4th to take down LA.
Around the W with Crina 🔥: Check out tonight’s WNBA opening day matchups!
Mt. Mutombo ⛏: How the ‘94 Nuggets became the original playoff underdogs…
But first, here’s some trivia:
Who has the record for the most blocks per game in a single playoff series?
Find the answer at the bottom of the newsletter!
Conference Finals Check-In
Denver wins 113-108 behind Murray’s massive night
On a night where LeBron James and Anthony Davis just couldn’t seem to find a rhythm, LA’s role players still almost pulled this one out. Rui Hachimura hit all seven of his first half shots to spearhead a five point LA lead at the break, while Austin Reaves picked up the slack after halftime with some nice shot-making down the stretch.
But without a doubt, the story of the night was the torrential 4th quarter downpour courtesy of none other than Jamal Murray. 5-17 through three quarters? Who cares. He never lost his confidence and it paid off big time, as he put up one of the most dominating late game performances we’ve seen this year. When you’re burying thirty footers in LeBron’s face, you know you’re on one.
JAMAL MURRAY FROM DEEP OVER LEBRON JAMES 🔥
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp)
May 19, 2023
But it would be dishonest to say Murray did it alone. The entire Denver offense came alive late, as they continuously exploited LA’s porous transition defense. Nikola Jokic dropped yet another triple double, Michael Porter Jr. hit four huge threes, and Bruce Brown led the game in +/- while being a beast on both ends.
The Nuggets are on the way to their first NBA finals appearance in franchise history. Time to see how the Lakers respond in LA. 👀
Scorching third quarter helps Heat escape Boston, take Game 1 123-116
Erik Spoelstra must be a master of the dark arts, because since 2020, the Heat have won seven playoff games in which they only won one individual quarter. That’s as many of those as the rest of the NBA combined. 🤯
Wednesday night was the same story. Everything was going right for the Celtics in the first half. Robert Williams imposed his will on the offensive glass, Marcus Smart embraced his inner Steve Nash with pinpoint passing, Jayson Tatum led all scorers early with 18, they won the free throw and turnover battles— seriously, we could keep going.
So it came as a bit of a shock when Miami came out of the break looking like the best offense in basketball. Jimmy Butler sliced through Boston’s defense to repeatedly find open looks for himself and his teammates, all while Max Strus revealed his secret identify as the Human Torch. Meanwhile, Bam Adebayo scored bucket after bucket in the paint en route to the highest scoring playoff quarter in Heat history.
And in the fourth, who else could it be but Jimmy Buckets? The Celtics did try to mount a late run, but three steals and a rim-rattling three from Butler sealed Boston’s fate. We think we know which side the basketball gods are on…
JIMMY BUTLER WITH THE DAGGER 😮💨 https://t.co/0XGjDzSlEa
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter)
May 18, 2023
Around the W with Crina: Opening Night
WE MADE IT TO OPENING NIGHT! The 2023 WNBA season begins with four great matchups tonight. Let’s take a look through who’s playing and where you can watch! (our Canadian friends can find all the games on WNBA League Pass)
Connecticut Sun at Indiana Fever
Time: 7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT / 4 p.m. PT
TV schedule: WNBA League Pass, Bally Sports Indiana, NECN
2023 #1 draft pick Aliyah Boston will make her WNBA regular-season debut at home in Indiana! All eyes will be on the Fever as they face the Sun, whose core of Brionna Jones, Alyssa Thomas, and DeWanna Bonner went to the WNBA Finals last season. Watch out for a dirty front court battle in this one.
New York Liberty at Washington Mystics
Time: 7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT / 4 p.m. PT
TV schedule: NBA TV, NBC Sports Washington
Two of the top three title contenders will have their first look at each other when the Liberty and Mystics tip off in Washington. Keep an eye out for the Liberty injury report, as Courtney Vandersloot and Jonquel Jones have been dealing with training camp ailments. Breanna Stewart vs Elena Delle Donne and company is a national TV-worthy matchup for sure!
Chicago Sky at Minnesota Lynx
Time: 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT / 5 p.m. PT
TV schedule: WNBA League Pass, Bally Sports North Extra, Marquee Sports Network
Oh hey, we know these two teams! ICYMI, Chicago and Minnesota faced off in the historic Canada Game last week, with the Sky winning the preseason matchup 82-74. Tune in to see if the Lynx can get their revenge when it matters!
Phoenix Mercury at LA Sparks
Time: 11 p.m. ET / 10 p.m. CT / 8 p.m. PT
TV schedule: ESPN, ESPN+
The late-night matchup is a special one, as we’ll see the return of Brittney Griner to the Phoenix Mercury after she was wrongfully detained in Russia for almost a year. Put this one on the ‘very good news’ bulletin board!
Which matchup are you most excited about tonight? Let us know why on social media!
The GIST Sports News
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Hoops History Spotlight
When Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat took down the Milwaukee Bucks in an improbable upset a couple weeks ago, they joined a storied lineage of 8-seeds who have defied the odds to win a playoff series by beating their conference’s best team.
But for the 1994 Denver Nuggets, there was no David vs Goliath story to look back on.
Back then, an 8-seed taking down a 1-seed was something you saw in sports movies or video games, but never in real life. So when Denver went down 2-0 to the 63-win Seattle SuperSonics, led by the dynamic Hall-of-Fame duo of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, it felt like they’d be boarding flights to Cancun sooner rather than later.
Even Nuggets Head Coach Dan Issel was realistic about the situation: “To be honest, we just wanted to get some playoff experience this year,” he said before Game 3.
But then… something incredible happened. Denver’s Reggie Williams dropped 31 in a Game 3 blowout. LaPhonso Ellis put up 27 and 17 to win Game 4 in OT. And quicker than you could say “Dikembe Mutombo”, the two teams were heading back to Seattle for a winner-take-all Game 5.
And simply put, the Nuggets showed up.
Reserve guard Robert Pack came through with 23 off the bench, Bison Dele’s 19 rebounds made sure Denver had a vice-grip on the glass, and Mutombo blocked 8 (!!) shots to seal Seattle’s fate.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Nuggets became the first 8-seeded team to beat a 1-seed in NBA history, and Mutombo fell to the floor with a look of pure happiness on his face. Truly iconic.
Kevin Garnett breaks down how he’d guard Nikola Jokic.
The hilarious height difference between Victor Wembanyama and Kylian Mbappe.
What We’re Enjoying
Victor Wembanyama and The Undying Legacies of Tony Parker - Devon Birdsong (Pounding the Rock)
Bronny James is a product of nature and nurture - Ken Makin (Andscape)
Random Access Memories 10th Anniversary: Iconic electronic duo Daft Punk might be broken up, but they’re still blessing us with new music from the void. The RAM 10th Anniversary Edition brings an extra 35 minutes of demos and cut songs to the already all-time great album.
That’s all from us today! Is there someone you’ve been meaning to catch up with recently but just haven’t gotten around to? Maybe a family member who lives far away or just a friend you haven’t seen in a minute? Why don’t you give them a call this weekend. Everyone deserves to know they matter. 💙🏀
Until next time,
Trivia Answer: We gave you a subtle hint in the newsletter, because the answer to today’s trivia is Dikembe Mutombo! During that historic playoff upset we talked about earlier, he averaged an astounding 6.2 blocks per game.
Before you go…
Happy birthday to true Enjoyers Elliot and Jedd! We seriously appreciate the support 💙🏀 If you want a birthday shoutout in the newsletter (and to help us improve our fire content), fill out our survey below!
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