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Sports Quick Hits: Winners Edition - June 19th, 2021

July 19, 2021
Source: Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR
Source: Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR

⛳️Golf: Collin Morikawa made his Open Championship debut on Thursday and won the whole darn thing by Sunday. The oldest of the majors, and last of the men’s golf season, the Open is challenging for North American golfers because of the links-style courses, but the 24-year-old, who won the 2020 PGA Championship, won handily with a 15-under-par final score. 

🏎F1: Less than a lap into yesterday’s British Grand Prix, a racing incident occurred between eventual race winner Lewis Hamilton (who recorded his 99th grand prix title) and rival Max Verstappen, who crashed into a tire wall and tweeted his anger after a brief hospitalization. Hamilton was dealt a penalty and suffered awful abuse online following the race.

🏀NBA: The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from their first NBA title since 1971. They beat the Phoenix Suns 123–119 on Saturday night to put them up 3-2 in the series. Game 6 is tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET and a possible Game 7 Thursday, just in time for Suns’ Devin Booker and Bucks’ Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton to hop on a plane to Tokyo

🚲Tour de France: The most grueling race in men’s cycling is complete, and for the second straight year, 22-year-old Slovenian Tadej Pogacar claimed the yellow jersey. The youngest two-time winner in Tour de France’s 118-year history, Pogacar is also headed to Tokyo and is obviously a gold medal favorite in the men's road race. 

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Sports Quick Hits: July 12th, 2021

July 12, 2021
Source: Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog
Source: Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

🏀Basketball: Team Canada’s Kia Nurse is getting ready for the upcoming Olympics the best way she knows how: by killing it in the WNBA. Last night, the Phoenix Mercury star recorded 28 points and a career-high seven 3-pointers. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for a win, with the Mercury falling 82–75 to the Seattle Storm.

  • The Mercury’s NBA counterpart, the Phoenix Suns, didn’t fare any better either, losing last night’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals 120–100 to the Milwaukee Bucks. 

⚾️MLB: While the FBI prepares the city of Denver for a safe All-Star Game, the Toronto Blue Jays are sending their four All-Stars off in style. Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez each recorded a hit in yesterday’s 3–1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, which was a no-hitter until the seventh inning. 

  • Most of the Jays are on a break until Friday, with Bichette, Hernandez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien playing in tomorrow night’s All-Star Game. But first, don’t miss tonight’s Home Run Derby at 8 p.m. ET on Sportsnet.

🚵‍♂️Tour de France: Movin’ on up! Ottawa native Mike Woods earned his first-ever King of the Mountains honor and the chance to don the prestigious (and fashionable) polka dot jersey after Stage 14 of the Tour de France on Saturday. With seven stages left in cycling’s biggest event, Woods sits second in the overall climber rankings. Keep climbing, Mike. 

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Sports Quick Hits: July 8th, 2021

July 08, 2021
Source: Steve Kingsman/Canada Soccer
Source: Steve Kingsman/Canada Soccer

⚽️Soccer: As Team Canada gets ready to say hello to Tokyo, living legend Diana Matheson is saying goodbye. After 18 years and 206 international games, the three-time Olympian, best known for her bronze medal–winning goal during the London 2012 Games, announced her retirement yesterday. So long, Diana, and thank you.

🏀Basketball: Although Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced YAHN-iss ah-dedo-KOON-bo) miraculously returned from injury for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Phoenix Suns led the way. 

  • Phoenix set an NBA Finals record with 25 consecutive made free throws and Chris Paul became the first player since Michael Jordan to notch 30 points and eight assists in a finals debut. Decent company.

🏈CFL: False alarm, folks. After scaring diehard fans with talks of a possible merger with the Dwayne Johnson–led XFL, the CFL has announced they’ve scrapped collaboration efforts. It’s cool, we were kind of confused by it anyway. Onwards and upwards: after a year off, the new season starts August 5th. 

🏀Everything you need to know about the NBA Finals

July 06, 2021
SOURCE: NBA/GIPHY
SOURCE: NBA/GIPHY

QUOTE OF THE DAY

I dream about winning a championship, where everybody is hooting and hollering for you. The whole world is drawn to the NBA Finals. 

—Former NBA star and Hall of Famer Ray Allen, who knows a thing or two about the NBA Finals: he won two NBA Championships in his 18-season career.

🏆 The NBA Finals

SOURCE: ESPN/TWITTER

At this time last year, the 2019–20 postseason hadn’t even started, and it wasn’t until October before the LA Lakers hoisted the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Now we’re on the verge of crowning a second NBA champion in nine months, with the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns emerging from the pandemic-shortened 2020–21 season as the final two contenders.

  • The Eastern Conference champion Bucks and Western Conference champion Suns will begin their best-of-seven series tonight, with Phoenix hosting the first two games.

The Suns are looking to become the 21st franchise in NBA history to win an NBA Championship, having lost in the Finals twice before. The Bucks, on the other hand, are trying to regain their former glory and end a 50-year drought after last winning in 1971.

  • This unexpected Finals pairing features future Hall of Famers, soon-to-be Olympians, dangerous X factors and the best defenses in the league, and while we can’t say either team has the clear advantage, we do know we’re in for an exciting two weeks.

☀️ Phoenix Suns

SOURCE: ROBERT HANASHIRO/USA TODAY SPORTS

Looking back: Three years ago, the Suns went 21-61 in the regular season. Two years ago, they went 19-63. They were bad. But interestingly, not much of the roster has changed since then. Instead, the Suns spent the past couple of seasons focusing on their defense and improving their team chemistry...and clearly, it’s working.

  • They went 51-21 in the regular season, winning the Pacific Division for the first time since 2007 and finishing second in the Western Conference.
  • In the postseason, they defeated the No. 7 seeded and defending NBA champion LA Lakers, the No. 3 seeded Denver Nuggets and the No. 4 seeded LA Clippers to reach their first NBA Finals appearance in 28 years.

Who to watch: Ten-time All-Star Chris Paul is no stranger to the playoffs, but this marks his first finals appearance in his 16-season career. Alongside Devin Booker, who’ll hop on a plane to Tokyo as soon as the finals are over, the Suns stars will duke it out for the series MVP title as they try to lead their team to glory.

The X factor: In a series so evenly matched, Deandre Ayton can be the difference maker. As the de facto No. 3, he’s averaging 16.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, and has already shut down Lakers Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and current league MVP Nugget Nikola Jokic in the postseason.

🦌 Milwaukee Bucks

SOURCE: JASON GETZ/USA TODAY SPORTS

Looking back: Finally, the Bucks have arrived. In stark contrast to Phoenix, the Bucks recorded the best regular-season records in 2019 and 2020, but were ousted from both postseasons before the Finals.

  • Like the Suns, the Bucks were divisional champs this regular season, clinching the Central Division and coming third in the Eastern Conference, thanks to a solid 46-26 record.
  • To make it to their first Finals since 1974, they swept the Miami Heat, took the heavily favored Brooklyn Nets to seven games and beat the Atlanta Hawks, losing just one home game in three rounds.

Who to watch: This NBA postseason has been pockmarked by bad injuries to big stars, and the Bucks aren’t exempt. They’ll start the series without top star, leading scorer and 2020 league MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced YAHN-iss ah-dedo-KOON-bo), after he hyperextended his knee in Game 4 against the Hawks.

  • The Bucks have no shortage of star power though, with Team USA stars Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton filling in the gap. And, of course, Giannis’ big brother, Thanasis, will make sure the Antetokounmpo name is well represented.

The X factor: Honestly, it’s Giannis’ knee. With no structural damage, he’ll likely be back in the lineup soon, but without the main driver of the Bucks’ shutdown defense on the court, the Suns could take control of the series before he’s able to return. Never before has an NBA Championship rested so heavily on one hyperextended joint.

🏀 The matchup

SOURCE: JOE CAMPOREALE/USA TODAY SPORTS

No player on either team has ever won an NBA Championship, so regardless of what each team brings to the table, Finals experience isn’t a factor.

  • Head-to-head records don’t count for much either. They met each other twice during the regular season, and though Phoenix won both games, it was by a single point each time, and game two went to overtime.
  • Instead, both the Bucks and Suns will rely on strong defense, star power, roster depth and veteran coaching from Mike Budenholzer and Monty Williams, respectively, to get ahead.

But with all this said, there is one player who’s a winner no matter what: Torrey Craig started the season with the Bucks before being traded to the Suns in March, so he’ll get a championship ring regardless. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

👀 How to watch

SOURCE: JOE CAMPOREALE/USA TODAY SPORTS

Except for Sunday’s Game 3 at 8 p.m. ET, every other game is set for 9 p.m. ET, starting tonight. Tune in to TSN1 or TSN4 in Canada, and ABC or ESPN3 in the U.S. Don’t miss a minute.

🏀Diana Taurasi Returns and Sets New WNBA Record

June 28, 2021
Source: Michael Chow/azcentral.com
Source: Michael Chow/azcentral.com

WNBA: That's right, the GOAT returned to the court after recovering from a sternum fracture (ouch) to help her Phoenix Mercury defeat the LA Sparks 88–79 last night. And in classic Taurasi fashion, she set a new record in her return by becoming the first W player to reach 9,000 points. 

  • Meanwhile, in a rematch of last year’s W championship finals (and potential preview for this year’s) the Las Vegas Aces beat the reigning champ Seattle Storm in overtime, but the Storm still remain atop the Commissioner’s Cup leaderboard.

NBA: The Milwaukee Bucks took a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals last night with a 113–102 win over the Atlanta Hawks, largely thanks to an unreal fourth quarter performance from Khris Middleton, who put up 38 points. The Western Conference Finals could end today if the Phoenix Suns beat the LA Clippers in tonight’s Game 5 at 9 p.m. ET. A quickie.

  • In front office news, two head coaching positions have been filled: the Dallas Mavericks hired Jason Kidd — who has a history of domestic abuse charges and a DWI — and the Portland Trail Blazers hired alleged sexual assaulter Chauncey Billups.
  • Meanwhile, candidates without assault allegations against them, such asBecky Hammon and Dawn Staley, remain available. We feel unseen.