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This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

🏆 Good morning to everyone but especially ...


If there's one thing the Pacers are going to do, as their name suggests, it's set the pace. So far in the NBA's In-Season Tournament, no one has been able to keep up. The league's highest-scoring team is headed to the championship game after a 128-119 victory over the Bucks.

  • Tyrese Haliburton continued his star rise with 27 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds -- while not turning the ball over even once. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If you're not watching him, you're missing out. What he's doing is truly historic.
  • Oh yeah, and Haliburton mimicked the "Dame Time" celebration after a late clutch 3-pointer ... against Damian Lillard's team.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo had 37 points and 10 rebounds, but the Bucks' defensive woes continued. Milwaukee is 22nd in defensive efficiency this season; it was fourth last year. Bobby Portis reportedly called out his teammates and coach Adrian Griffin postgame.

Earlier this week, Sam Quinn wrote Haliburton is the perfect star for the In-Season Tournament. Now, Haliburton says he's trying to bring stars to Indiana, too. The power of the In-Season Tournament!

In the nightcap, the Lakers, fresh off a controversial, nail-biting win over the Suns in the quarterfinals, crushed the Pelicans, 133-89, to book their spot in the championship game. Los Angeles went 17 of 35 from 3 and outscored New Orleans 43-17 in the third quarter to effectively put the game away. LeBron James had 30 points and made some (more) history in the process.

That means it will be a matchup of two 6-0 squads (in tournament play) when the Lakers and Pacers meet in the championship game Saturday night.

😁 Honorable mentions

😬 And not such a good morning for ...

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
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Through 11 games, we were wondering how the Steelers kept winning with their underwhelming numbers.

Now, it's easy to see why they're losing ... and hard to find solutions. Pittsburgh fell, 21-18, to the Patriots, its second straight loss to a 2-10 team. That made for some not-so-good history.

  • The Patriots, coming off a shutout and having scored 13 points total in their last three games, scored all 21 points in the first half. Bailey Zappe, who hadn't thrown a touchdown pass in over a year, threw a career-high three.
  • Even when Pittsburgh's defense improved in the second half, the offense provided little help. Pittsburgh finished with 264 yards, its eighth game with 300 or fewer yards. Only the Panthers, Giants and Jets have more. Those three teams are a combined 9-27. Pittsburgh is somehow 7-6.

Listen, the Steelers' 7-4 record two weeks ago wasn't exactly representative of how good (or not good) they were. Now, they're losing the war of attrition. Kenny Pickett is out, Mitchell Trubisky struggled and the defense has been ravaged by injuries. They also lost Alex Highsmith during this game. The Steelers fell out of the AFC playoff picture with the loss, and they're fading fast.

😔 Not so honorable mentions

🏌 Jon Rahm leaves PGA Tour for LIV Golf in shock move

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Jon Rahm, the reigning Masters champion and current world No. 3-ranked golfer, joined LIV Golf on Thursday. In an interview, Rahm cited team golf and growing the game as major reasons. A three-year contract for over $300 million doesn't hurt, either, and Rahm admitted the money played a factor.

It's interesting, timing-wise. The deadline for an agreement between PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan to house worldwide golf operations under a new entity, PGA Tour Enterprises, is Dec. 31. So a partnership/merger of sorts could be coming in the near future.

Rahm once pledged "fealty" to the PGA Tour. But as Patrick McDonald writes"Monahan's deciding to accept the money, which he had previously criticized from a moral high ground, essentially gives a shield for PGA Tour players to do the same."

This is a huge get for LIV. The fledgling tour's recent additions had underwhelmed, and its request for OWGR points was denied in October. Now, it has arguably the world's best player.

So, what's the future of the PGA Tour ... and the sport as a whole? Kyle Porter tried to answer those questions.

  • Porter: "There are two paths forward. Either the PGA Tour and the PIF merge -- leading the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to play under the same umbrella -- or the PGA Tour rejects the PIF, takes investment elsewhere and remains at odds with the PIF. ... The golf audience is not big enough to support two prominent leagues, especially at the level of money at which they're both operating, which means that one would eventually be phased out. And for the first time perhaps ever, it might be the PGA Tour at risk given the unlimited bank account the PIF brings to the table."

Here's how PGA Tour players reacted.

🏈 NFL Week 14 picks: All eyes on Eagles-Cowboys, Bills-Chiefs

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The NFL has one heck of a Week 14 to open the final quarter of the season, but nothing tops the Sunday night matchup: Eagles-Cowboys in Dallas, with the hosts just one game back in the division.

Dak Prescott has been playing ridiculously well. Since Week 8 ...

  • Prescott has an NFL-best 20 touchdowns passing, eight more than anyone else.
  • Prescott has an NFL-best 1,901 yards passing.
  • Prescott has an NFL-best 0.35 expected points added per dropback.

Now he faces a struggling Philadelphia defense. Then again, Dallas' only loss during Prescott's hot stretch was against the Eagles. Is revenge in the cards? John Breech says ...

  • Breech: "The Cowboys almost always seem to choke when they face a good team, so I always get nervous whenever I pick them to win in a big spot, but they were my preseason pick to get to the Super Bowl out of the NFC, which means they're going to have to win a big game at some point and I say they do that here. The pick: Cowboys 34-24"

The matinees are wonderful, too. Bills-Chiefs should be awesome, writes Pete Prisco.

  • Prisco: "The Bills need this in the worst way for their playoff hopes, while the Chiefs need it for seeding. This will be a high-scoring game, which will be won by the Chiefs late. It will be a classic. Pick: Chiefs 34, Bills 33"

Here are all of our experts' picks:

Pete Prisco | Will Brinson | John Breech | Tyler Sullivan | Jordan Dajani

⚾ Which team needs Shohei Ohtani most?

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Angels

The relatively quiet Winter Meetings have come and gone -- here are our takeaways -- and while there have been plenty of rumors on Shohei Ohtani's next home, we're still awaiting a decision.

But which team needs him the most? That's what our MLB experts discussed in their latest Batting Around roundtable.

R.J. Anderson says ...

  • Anderson: "Either the Dodgers or the Giants. The former have played the long game to put themselves in position to land Ohtani. They'll be fine if they miss out -- they'll just pivot to the next star -- but Andrew Friedman always seems to get what he wants, and this would be a shocking turn of events if he comes up empty again on Ohtani. The Giants meanwhile really, really need to get across the goal line with a superstar at some point after whiffing left and right (plus having Carlos Correa's medicals pop up) on various headline names."

📺 What we're watching this weekend


🏀 Knicks at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 Clippers at Jazz, 10 p.m. on ESPN


🏀 No. 20 Illinois at No. 17 Tennessee (M), noon on CBS
🏈 Army vs. Navy, 3 p.m. on CBS
🏀 No. 23 Wisconsin at No. 1 Arizona (M), 3:15 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Arkansas vs. No. 19 Oklahoma (M), 4 p.m. on ESPN 2
🏀 Missouri at No. 2 Kansas (M), 5:15 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Saint Mary's at Colorado State (M), 6:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
🏈 Heisman Trophy ceremony, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 In-Season Tournament Championship: Pacers-Lakers, 8:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN 2


🏀 No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 20 Florida State (W), noon on ESPN 2
🏈 Colts at Bengals, 1 p.m. on CBS
🏈 Jaguars at Browns, 1 p.m. on CBS
🏈 Buccaneers at Falcons, 1 p.m. on CBS
🏈 Rams at Ravens, 1 p.m. on Fox
🏀 Colorado at No. 15 Miami (M), 2 p.m. on ESPN 2
🏀 Kentucky at No. 18 Louisville (W), 2 p.m. on ACC Network
🏀 No. 11 Utah vs. No. 1 South Carolina (W), 2:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏈 Seahawks at 49ers, 4:05 p.m on Fox
🏈 Bills at Chiefs, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
🏈 Broncos at Chargers, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
🏀 No. 24 North Carolina vs. No. 17 UConn (W), 5 p.m. on ESPN
🏈 Packers at Giants, 8:15 p.m. on NBC