Next Man Up

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Welcome Back 👋 

An epic sports stretch is about to begin. The WNBA season tips off tomorrow before the PGA Championship this weekend. The French Open, Indy 500, and Champions League finale take us from May into June. And then we crown the NBA and NHL champs. We hope everyone enjoyed a fun weekend celebrating Mother's Day. Thanks to all the great sports moms out there.

In today's edition: We'll recap the usual playoff highlights before mixing things up this week. The Hawks won the NBA Draft Lottery, Paul Skenes was as good as advertised and much more.

Today’s WFT Quote of the day: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. - John F Kennedy

Written By: TorchPro and Jeff Yonder, New Era

Blitz Nation: today marks a new era for the Morning Blitz. We are so grateful for all the efforts of Danny, Noah, Ian, and everyone else who helped make the Blitz what it is today. That said - we remain committed to providing you with the best sports newsletter in the world, therefore - Next Man Up.

To that end - meet Jeff! He’ll be providing his expertise in the coming weeks - and while things might look and sound slightly different (for now) - you can rest assured you're in great hands and will still get your daily dose of sports news with other exciting updates coming soon.

About Jeff - in his words: “I’m a sportswriter from Indy where I’ve spent most of my career (10+ years) working with the NCAA, Pacers, and the Indy 500. I grew up near South Bend (Notre Dame land), and I’m a diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan (not the “snowballs at Santa” kind, though). You might learn more about me later, but you came for the good stuff. Let’s Go!”

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🏀 NBA PLAYOFFS - The Champs Fight Back

Nuggets & Pacers Respond From 0-2 Deficits to Tie Both Series (2-2) in Fight-Back Weekend

A full weekend of conference semifinals did little to separate any series in the NBA Playoffs. Things just got tighter across the board. The Mavericks and Celtics now lead their series (2-1), and both the Pacers and Nuggets won two straight weekend games to fight back from 0-2 deficits and send a message. The Pacers led by as many as 43 in an Indiana incineration of New York. Out West, a 44-point Game 4 from Anthony Edwards may have garnered the high score of the weekend, but Nikola Jokic (35-7-7) won the MVP for a reason. The Nuggets scored eight points in the final 20 seconds of the first half in Game 4, concluding with Jamal Murray's half-court buzzer-beater. It looks like some Game 7s could be possible this week. For now, it’s rapid-fire recaps. 

Photo: Nikola Jokic | Source: USA Today

NBA Playoff Highlights (Round 2)

DAL Leads Series (2-1)

BOS Leads Series (2-1)

Series Tied (2-2)

Series Tied (2-2)

Highlight of the Weekend

Read More

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NBA - Hawks Win the Draft Lottery 

Atlanta Hawks Will Get No. 1 Pick in 2024 NBA Draft Despite 3% Chance in Draft Lotto

Jackpot, Atlanta! Sunday’s NBA Draft Lottery fell to the Hawks in a stunning twist of fate. Atlanta (36-46) finished 10th in the Eastern Conference and participated in the play-in before winning the No. 1 pick with just a three percent chance. The Pistons and Wizards both had a 14-percent chance with the worst records in the NBA. As for the selection, the Hawks have options with their first No. 1 pick since 1975. There will be plenty of chatter surrounding the futures of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt, but two rangy French players (Alex Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher) top the mock boards.

NBA Draft Lottery

1. Hawks

2. Wizards

3. Rockets

4. Spurs

5. Pistons

Rest of NBA Draft Lottery Order: 6. Hornets, 7. Blazers, 8. Spurs, 9. Grizzlies, 10. Jazz, 11. Bulls, 12. Thunder, 13. Kings, 14. Blazers

Read More

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🏒 NHL PLAYOFFS - None Even, None Over

Hurricanes Avoid the Sweep While Stars, Panthers & Canucks Take Control of Series

Sweepless across the board! There will be no sweeps in the NBA or NHL second rounds. The Hurricanes staved off the Rangers’ bid for a second straight sweep and handed New York their first loss of the postseason on Saturday. Brady Skjei’s late power-play goal lifted Carolina to a 4-3 win, but they’ll still need a miracle to overcome the 3-1 series deficit. The other three series are all interesting after the weekend that was. Tyler Seguin scored twice to lift the Stars. The Panthers scored three unanswered to rally past the Bruins and put Boston on the brink of elimination. And the Canucks held off the Oilers with a pair of goals (each) from Brock Boeser and Elias Lindholm while goaltender Arturs Silovs made a career-high 42 saves. None are even, but none are over. We skate on this week.

Tyler Seguin with two on Saturday to lift the Stars | Source: USA Today

Stanley Cup Playoffs (Round 2)

NYR Leads Series (3-1)

DAL Leads Series (2-1)

FLA Leads Series (3-1)

VAN Leads Series (2-1)

Read More

⚾️ MLB

Scorching Skenes

Pirates Rookie Paul Skenes (7 Ks) Tops 100-MPH 17 Times in MLB Debut

Just how it was supposed to happen. Rain clouds disappeared and the sun shined down on Pittsburgh as last year’s No. 1 pick Paul Skenes stepped to the mound for his Pirates debut Saturday against the Cubs. One look at the box score might not drop your jaw (4 IP, 6 Hits, 3 Runs, 7 Ks), but Skenes looked every bit like a batter’s nightmare. His first pitch clocked 101 mph — the fastest pitch in the majors this season. His first pitch! By the end of his four innings, he threw 17 pitches that topped 100 on the gun, including a 102-mph snap. A few of his seven punch-outs were downright filthy. The Pirates held a 6-1 lead after four innings before Skenes began to falter, but they hung on for a 10-9 win. Was it perfect? No. But the Skenes era is here.

Paul Skenes’ after major league debut | Source: USA Today

MLB Quick-Hitters

Braves No-No Spoiled: The Braves won 2-of-3 against the Mets this weekend, including a near no-hitter on Saturday that was broken up in the 9th inning by Mets’ DH J.D. Martinez with one out left. On Sunday, Marcell Ozuna made history, becoming the fastest Braves player to 40 RBIs since Hank Aaron.

Cubs Walk-A-Thon 5th: Chicago was on the losing end of that Skenes debut Saturday, but they were the focus of one bizarre inning. The Cubs drew six bases-loaded walks in a wild, seven-run 5th inning after Skenes exited. That’s the most bases-loaded walks in an inning since 1959.

Vintage JV Torches Tigers: At age 41, Justin Verlander isn’t slowing down. The Astros’ veteran ace showed some vintage stuff against his old team in Detroit on Sunday, throwing a scoreless seven-inning, two-hit gem to top the Tigers (9-3).

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OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Golf ⛳️ 

PGA: Rory McIlroy (-17) Dominates Quail Hollow

Shoots 6-Under Sunday for Win 4th Wells Fargo Win

LPGA: Rose Zhang (-24) Captures Cognizant Cup

Madelene Sagstrom (-22), Nelly Korda (-7) Streak Ends

Racing 🏁 

NAS: Brad Keselowski Captures Darlington Race

Snaps 110-Race Winless Streak With Late Pass

IndyCar: Alex Palou Wins Indy GP Road Course

Goes Back-to-Back in Indy GP from Pole Position

NEWS

Which team won the 2019 NBA Finals?

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Photo: Matt Kuchar | Source: USA Today

On My 13th, 2012 PGA Players Championship, TPC at Sawgrass: Matt Kuchar wins by 2 strokes ahead of Ricky Fowler, Zach Johnson, Martin Laird and Ben Curtis. Koooooooch!

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NBA Playoffs

Gm 4: Celtics at Cavaliers (7:00 pm ET, TNT)

Gm 4: Thunder at Mavericks (9:30 pm ET, TNT)

Stanley Cup Playoffs

Gm 5: Hurricanes at Rangers (7:00 pm ET, ESPN

Gm 4: Stars at Avalanche (9:30 pm ET, ESPN)

MLB

Phillies at Mets (7:10 pm ET, ESPN+)

Rays at Red Sox (7:10 pm ET, NESN)

Cubs at Braves (7:20 pm ET, MLBTV)

Dodgers at Giants (9:45 pm ET, MLBTV)

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Trivia Time Answer

A. Toronto Raptors. The Raptors defeated two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, 4-2 earning the franchise its first NBA championship as well as the first win by an NBA team based outside the United States.