Basketball

The Celtics are playing their best basketball right now, plus the NFL winners and losers

The Celtics are playing their best basketball right now, plus the NFL winners and losers

Happy Friday everyone! Another week (almost) of stopping, and we have a FULL weekend ahead of us…

Let’s cut to the chase.

This is the article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM morning bulletin. To subscribe and receive it in your inbox, fill in the information below.


Hello everyone, but especially to…

BOSTON CELTICS

There’s no two ways about it. the Celtics play their best basketball — maybe the best basketball in the league – right now. Their last victory proves it. Boston led almost wire by wire en route to a 120-107 win over the Grizzlies. The Celtics now have won 13 of their last 15 games and sit down fifth in the Eastern Conference.

  • Jayson Tatum had 37 points (21 in the fourth quarter) to celebrate his 24th birthday.
  • Al Horford scored 21 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had five assists. It was his first 20/15/5 game since 2019.
  • Every Celtic who has played at least 15 minutes has scored in double figures.
  • Boston did it all without a star forward Jaylen Brownwas out with an ankle injury.

It’s not hard to see why this team succeeded.

  • Boston has the best defensive rating in the league since January 1. Every player who gets significant minutes is either an excellent defender or at least a capable defender.
  • Tatum can take over. He has terrific body control, can still shoot his own shot and can finish in a variety of ways at the rim.
  • In a league where seemingly every team wants to play smaller, Boston takes on big men Horford and Robert WilliamsIII together because they offer such different and important skills. Horford is very good defensively, and he stretches the ground on offense (four 3-pointers last night). Williams III is an ultra-athletic rim protector on defense and a rim runner on offense.

The Celtics entered last night without their second-best player and made quick work of the team with the league’s third-best record. Given their defense and depth, the Celtics are a team no one will want to see in the playoffs.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

Getty Images

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

To be fair, the three months haven’t been so good for MLB. The league lockout remains in place and on Tuesday the commissioner Rob Manfred canceled the first two series of the regular season. Somehow the news is getting even worse.

According to reports, four owners actually voted vs the latest proposal the league presented to players before Tuesday’s deadline. The leaders of the players’ union rejected this proposal unanimously.

As we have seen in this newsletter Wednesday and Mondaya big problem is Competitive Balance Taxessentially a salary cap that would force owners to pay extra if they go over (fully explained here.) Players want the cap to be significantly higher, so owners can – and hopefully will – spend more money on their roster before entering the tax. Owners don’t want the cap to be that high because they don’t want to spend that much on players.

  • MLB Proposal: $220 million in 2022passing to $230 million by 2026
  • MLBPA Proposal: $238 million in 2022passing to $263 million by 2026

So four owners haven’t even approved their own $220 million proposal (look at those numbers above – that’s not even close to what players want either), and even more owners would have voted “no” if this number had been higher. Remember, MLB needs 23 of its 30 owners to endorse CBA for it to pass. Meeting industry players on this crucial issue now seems even less likely.

Anyway, three of our MLB reporters expect the season to be delayed until at least May. Sorry, baseball fans.

Not so honorable mentions

Coach K’s 42 best players in 42 years at Duke πŸ€

Keytron Jordan/CBS Sports Graphic

Mike Krzyzewski42nd and final regular season of duke ends Saturday night when the No. 4 Blue Devils take on UNC in one of college basketball’s biggest rivalries. While Duke has its sights set on much more than the ACC regular season title it has already won, it will no doubt be an incredible scene inside the Cameron Indoor Arena.

Krzyzewski has coached 208 players in his 42 seasons at Durhamranging from four year icons like Christian Laetner and JJ Redick to unique superstars like Sion Williamson and Jahlil Okafor – plus just about every type of player imaginable.

So, who are Coach K’s 42 best players since his time at Duke? We gave our college basketball experts Matt Norlander, David Cobb and Kyle Boone the excruciating task of narrowing it down and then deciding the order. I think they nailed number 1:

  • Norse:Christian Laettner is the greatest. Two-time NCAA champion, 1991 Final Four MOP and consensus National Player of the Year in 1992. Laettner personified what made Duke both compelling and polarizing. He was arrogant, he knew it, he let you know it and he never apologized for it. He has one of the best three or four college careers in history, guiding Duke to the Final Four every year he played there. His shot to beat Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight is one of the most significant and memorable moments in American sports history.

Krzyzewski’s newest superstar – Williamson – isn’t far behind, but I won’t say. You’ll have to read the story yourself to find out. πŸ˜‰

NFL Combine winners and losers 🏈

USATSI

The players finally took part in drills at the NFL Combine yesterday, with quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends take to the field. There was many big winners β€” especially in the fast wide receiver class β€” but the bigger storyline wasn’t exactly positive.

It was The size of Kenny Pickett’s hand.

Former Pitt quarterback listed 8.5 inch needleswhich would be the shortest of all NFL quarterbacks. Additionally, 663 QB prospects have had their hand measured since 1987. Only nine have been smaller than Pickett.

Listen, I don’t think hand size is a big deal — Joe Terrier has small hands, and look how it worked – but that’s definitely not a plus for Pickett, who is a candidate to be the first quarterback selected. You can see all the official measurements here.

Charlotte FC should break attendance records this weekend ⚽

Getty Images

Charlotte FC played their very first game last weekend. He will likely break an MLS record this weekend.

The new Major League Soccer club is expected to have nearly 75,000 fans in attendance at Bank of America Stadium in Saturday night’s home opener against the Los Angeles Galaxy. The current MLS record is 73,019 for an Atlanta-Portland game in the 2018 MLS Cup.

It will be a great moment for the club and the leaguewrites football journalist Chuck Booth:

  • Booth: β€œThe goal is to take the momentum from that home opener and use that as a selling point for new players. Fan support goes a long way towards adding Designated Players, which is what Charlotte struggled to head into the inaugural season…. In a budding football market with fans clearly on their side as they try to unite South Carolina and North Carolina, Charlotte will get there where she would like to go following the plan. It’s a long road, but as long as there is progress on and off the pitch, time is on their side.”

What we’re watching this weekend πŸ“Ί

Friday

πŸ€ Bucks to bulls, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN

Saturday

πŸ€ No. 14 Arkansas at No. 13 TennesseeNoon on ESPN
πŸ€ No. 21 Texas at No. 6 Kansas4 p.m. on ESPN
πŸ€ UNC to Duke #46 p.m. on ESPN
πŸ€ Lakers Warriors8:30 p.m. on ABC
πŸ€ Ohio Valley Men’s Tournament Finals8:30 p.m. on ESPN2
πŸ€ No. 16 USC at No. 17 UCLA10 p.m. on ESPN

Sunday

πŸ€ Men’s Big South Tournament FinalNoon on ESPN2
πŸ€ ACC Women’s Tournament FinalNoon on ESPN
πŸ€ Michigan to Ohio’s 23rd state12:30 p.m. on FOX
πŸ€ Nets at the Celtics1 p.m. on ABC
πŸ€ Women’s SEC Tournament Final2 p.m. on ESPN
πŸ€ No. 24 Iowa at No. 20 Illinois7:30 p.m. on FS1