The Celtics’ chance to make history, plus the latest USC scandal

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Good morning! Watch out for Orioles.


Boston’s plausible path to history

To find out what awaits the resurgent Celtics, we have to look back:

  • 150 teams have faced a 3-0 series deficit in NBA history. None has won.
  • Only three of these teams — the 2003 Blazers, 1994 Nuggets and 1951 Knicks — came back to force a Game 7. All three lost.

The 2023 Celtics aren’t quite there yet but, after a blowout 110-97 win over the Heat last night, it looks like they can see a way forward. They might also be the most qualified to do so. The three teams above were lower seeds playing objectively better teams. Not true here.

By most measures, Boston is the better team. They are the highest seed and have posted two defeats since their 3-0 loss. Last night’s game was never in question; the Heat even rested their starters in the fourth quarter because it was so out of control.

Jayson Tatum looks like himself again. Jaylen Brown has finally found her shot. Derrick White scored 24 of 6 of 8 of 3 points. It’s the terrifying Celtics who should be the title favorites.

Game 6 takes place tomorrow in Miami at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT. The Celtics are favored by 2.5 points on the road, according to BetMGM. If they win, they will definitely be home favorites in Game 7.

That’s the right thing, and it comes just days after we tried to convince ourselves that four swipes was a good result. It’s better.


The Orioles!

We had a feeling about Baltimore before the season, but not like this.

With a 3-1 win over the Yankees last night, the motley Orioles are 33-17, good for baseball’s second-best record … behind division rival Tampa Bay. We also saw flashes of that last year, as the talented young outfit exceeded expectations en route to an 83-79 record, just a year after losing 110 games in 2021.

  • They’re not fluky, at least not yet. Baltimore is slightly better away (18-9) than at home (15-8). They’re 11-7 against the AL East — baseball’s toughest division — and have a +45 point differential. The pitching staff and the offense have been perfectly above average.
  • Look no further than reliever Yennier Cano to see proof of good juju in Baltimore. At 29, Cano entered the season with just 18 innings pitched. This year, he might be baseball’s best closer.

The O’s are just a really good team. Don’t sleep on it.


The stars avoid sweeping
Sweepmas was canceled on top of that last night, when Joe Pavelski’s slapshot found the back of the net in overtime to give the Stars a massive Game 4 victory. The win was more impressive when you realize Dallas was missing captain Jamie Benn and Evgenii Dadonov. The Stars cling to life 3-1, hoping to channel their inner Celtics and win Game 5 in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Reserved Megafight
Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford finally have a fight on the books, the two boxers announced yesterday, cementing the biggest possible matchup the sport has right now. Both welterweight fighters are undefeated but have been unable to reach an agreement in previous years due to management issues and other policies that have plagued boxing. Spence and Crawford will fight July 29 in Las Vegas.

Tapping punished
The NFL docked two OTA workouts in New England and fined head coach Bill Belichick $50,000 for a rule violation this offseason, which seems like a stiff punishment when you realize the “violation was an office schedule posted in the locker room. The Patriots self-reported the violation after learning the voluntary practices were mandatory.


Just look at Aaron Judge’s dog

It is Friday. You can use a palate cleanser. Look no further than Gus Judge, a tiny dachshund owned by human giant and MLB superstar Aaron Judge:

Few dogs can play in Yankee Stadium. Good dog.

serious business

Inside Mike Bohn’s Fall

A week ago, Mike Bohn resigned as USC’s athletic director, in slightly surprising news that raised a few eyebrows but failed to make a national splash. The story is simmering now.

Justin Williams led a stunning report, released yesterday, that paints a disturbing picture of Bohn at both USC and Cincinnati, the job he held before he decamped to Los Angeles. Among the weak points:

  • At both schools, Bohn fostered a toxic work environmentaccording to the sources, including inappropriate comments about female colleagues and an inconsistent management style, to put it mildly.
  • At USC, Bohn was indifferent, which upset some in college. According to the story, he failed to form relationships with most coaches and players, instead playing the role of an out-of-touch figurehead. He did not attend any of the five events at which USC won national championships during his tenure. – including one even played in Los Angeles. All five were women’s events as well.

The full story is worth reading, and you’ll be surprised how a man with so many wins on his resume – including hiring Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma – could falter so badly.

It’s been a complicated decade for one of America’s premier athletic departments. Nicole Auerbach and Bruce Feldman have a slate of candidates to replace Bohn here.

Pulse choice

Make time for this one today: The Liam Hendriks Experience – full of profanity, entertainment and courage – is about to return after Hendriks beat cancer.

Jayson Stark has a fun Friday brainstorming exercise: Which active MLB players are on track for Cooperstown?

The legend of Matthew Tkachuk continues to grow.

Eno Sarris writes a clever column on the MLB sticky stuff problem. For such a data-driven sport, we now decide a pitcher’s eligibility in the most subjective way possible.

New Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo underwent foot surgery after signing in Las Vegas and appears to be still recovering. Sip.

Evander Kane is set to clear all that gambling debt after a court ruling yesterday.

What is the delay on the SEC programming decision? More money from ESPN, maybe.

Michael Chang won the French Open at 17. More than three decades later, he thinks back to his time at Roland Garros, where his name still resonates.

(Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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