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

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Good morning! Watch out for the Orioles.


Boston’s plausible path to history

To know what’s ahead for the resurgent Celtics, we must look back:

  • 150 teams have faced a 3-0 series deficit in NBA history. None have overcome.
  • Just three of those 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 last night over the Heat, it feels like they can see a path. They might be the most qualified to do it, too. All three of those teams above were lesser seeds playing objectively better teams. Not true here.

By most metrics, Boston is the better team. They are the higher seed and have posted two routs since going down 3-0. Last night’s game was never in question; the Heat even rested their starters in the fourth quarter because it was so out of hand.

Jayson Tatum looks like himself again. Jaylen Brown finally found his shooting stroke. Derrick White scored 24 points on 6-of-8 from 3. These are the terrifying Celtics that should be title favorites.

Game 6 is 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’ll certainly be favored at home in Game 7. 

This is the good stuff, and it comes just days after we tried to convince ourselves four sweeps was a good outcome. This is 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 ragtag Orioles are 33-17, good for the second-best record in baseball … behind division rival Tampa Bay. We saw flashes of this last year, too, as the talented young roster outperformed expectation 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 on the road (18-9) than at home (15-8). They’re 11-7 against the AL East — the toughest division in baseball — and have a +45 run differential. Both the pitching staff and offense have been perfectly above average.
  • Look no further than reliever Yennier Cano to see evidence of the good juju in Baltimore. At 29, Cano came into the season with just 18 innings pitched. This year, he might be the best closer in baseball.

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


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

Megafight booked
Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford finally have a fight on the books, both boxers announced yesterday, cementing the biggest possible matchup the sport has right now. Both welterweight fighters are undefeated, but could not come to an agreement in prior years due to management issues and other politics that have plagued boxing. Spence and Crawford will fight July 29 in Las Vegas.

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


Simply look at Aaron Judge’s dog

It’s Friday. You could use a palate cleanser. Look no further than Gus Judge, a tiny dachshund belonging to giant human and MLB superstar Aaron Judge:

Not many dogs get to play fetch at Yankee Stadium. Good dog.

Serious Matters

Inside Mike Bohn’s downfall

A week ago, Mike Bohn resigned as USC athletic director, mildly surprising news that raised some eyebrows but didn’t make a splash nationally. The story is simmering now.

Justin Williams spearheaded a stunning report, published yesterday, which paints a troubling picture of Bohn at both USC and Cincinnati, the job he had before decamping for Los Angeles. Among the lowlights:

  • At both schools, Bohn fostered a toxic work environment, per sources, including inappropriate comments about female colleagues and an inconsistent managerial style, to put it lightly.
  • At USC, Bohn was hands-off, which rankled some at the university. According to the story, he failed to forge relationships with most coaches and players, instead playing the part of disconnected figurehead. He attended none of the five events at which USC won national championships during his tenure — even including one played in Los Angeles. All five were women’s events, too.

The full story is worth a read, and you’ll leave surprised at how a man with so many wins on his resume — including hiring Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma — could falter so hard.

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

Pulse Picks

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

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

The legend of Matthew Tkachuk continues to grow.

Eno Sarris pens a smart column on MLB’s sticky stuff problem. For a sport so data-driven, we’re now deciding a pitcher’s eligibility in the most subjective way possible.

New Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had foot surgery after signing in Las Vegas, and apparently is still recovering. Gulp.

Evander Kane is close to erasing all that gambling debt after a court ruling yesterday.

What’s the holdup on the SEC’s scheduling decision? More money from ESPN, perhaps.

Michael Chang won the French Open at 17. Three-plus decades later, he reflects on his time at Roland Garros, where his name still resonates.

(Photo: Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images)