2023 NBA Finals - Miami Heat v Denver Nuggets
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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 to...


All postseason long, the Heat defense has frustrated opponents. The Nuggets, though, have an offensive cheat code in Nikola Jokic and a supporting cast around him that can exploit weaknesses.

That lethal combination was on clear display in Denver's 104-93 Game 1 win.

  • Nikola Jokic had 27 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. He joined Jason Kidd (in 2002) as the only players to have a triple-double in their Finals debut, and his 14 assists were most ever by a center in a Finals game.
  • Jamal Murray had 26 points and 10 assists. That makes Jokic and Murray the second teammate duo to have 25+ points and 10+ assists in the same Finals game, joining Magic Johnson and James Worthy, who did it in 1987.
  • The Nuggets led by as much as 24. Miami cut that to nine in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late.
  • Denver is 9-0 at home this postseason.

The star duo deservedly gets the most credit, but it was Denver's size and skill across the board that buried Miami early, writes our Sam Quinn.

There are some silver linings for Miami, though, writes our Bill Reiter.

  • Bam Adebayo was terrific with 26 points -- his most this postseason -- and looked much more comfortable offensively after a tough Eastern Conference Finals.
  • Jimmy Butler had just 13 points -- his fewest this postseason -- and should be better going forward.
  • Miami went 13-39 (33.3%) from 3 despite plenty of great looks. Caleb Martin, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson combined to go just 2-23 (8.7%) from the floor and 2-16 (12.5%) from deep. That probably won't happen again.

Still, this is the first time this postseason Miami has lost Game 1. Game 2 is Sunday.

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mentions

Previewing the Stanley Cup Final with expert picks 🏒

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The Stanley Cup Final begins tomorrow night with the Panthers clashing with the Golden Knights. Just like the NBA Finals, it's a fascinating matchup between a savvy South Florida-based No. 8 seed from the East and an explosive No. 1 seed from the West.

The Golden Knights are slight favorites at Caesars Sportsbook, but the Panthers have shown throughout the playoffs they don't care about being underdogs (and apparently they don't care about superstitions, either). Our Austin Nivison says Florida's stars must shine to pull off the upset.

  • Nivison: "Matthew Tkachuk has willed the Panthers to victory this season, and that has only been amplified in the playoffs. ... Tkachuk is a one-of-a-kind player, and he is doing something special in the 2023 NHL Playoffs. The Golden Knights don't have a player on par with Tkachuk... Sergei Bobrovsky has stolen multiple games for the Panthers, and if he can maintain that level of play, the Golden Knights will be hard pressed to win four games."

Chris Bengel, on the other hand, has reasons Vegas will win.

So, who are we picking? Here's Chris's take:

  • Bengel: "The Golden Knights' talented forward group is likely going to be the X-factor in this series. Vegas possesses a top-six group of forwards that includes the likes of Jack Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault, Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson, just to name a few. This is a team that has averaged 3.65 goals-per-game throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which ranks third among playoff teams. ... I do believe that the Golden Knights' scoring depth will prove to be the difference and will lead them to their first Stanley Cup. Pick -- Golden Knights defeat Panthers, 4-3"

Here are more players to watch, and here's the series schedule.

Winners, losers from NBA Draft deadline day, plus a new Top 25 And 1 🏀


Another NBA Draft deadline has come and gone, and we have plenty of winners and losers from a hectic few days that featured surprises both ways. In yesterday's newsletter, we mentioned Kentucky as a team with a ton to replace, and the Wildcats find themselves among David Cobb's losers.

But how about some winners? Two teams that made program-record NCAA Tournament runs are bringing key pieces back:

  • Cobb: "FAU brings back all five starters from Final Four team -- On Wednesday, the Owls cleared another hurdle as leading scorers Alijah Martin and Johnell Davis announced they were withdrawing from the draft. ... Creighton welcomes back key players -- This week's news that Trey Alexander and Ryan Kalkbrenner are on the way back means coach Greg McDermott will have three starters back. He's also added a solid transfer class to help atone for the departures. This team will contend for the Big East title."

Of course, no team has a bigger returner -- literally and figuratively -- than Purdue with Zach Edey. That vaulted the Boilermakers up to No. 2 in Gary Parrish's Top 25 And 1. Here's the top five:

  • 1. Kansas
  • 2. Purdue
  • 3. Duke
  • 4. FAU
  • 5. Michigan State

MLB's pitch clock is working wonders on multiple levels ⚾

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Whether you like it or not (and you should like it!) the pitch clock is working how MLB intended. Our Matt Snyder has the numbers behind it.

Through the end of May, game time for nine-inning contests is way down -- even with scoring up.

  • 2019: Three hours, 10 minutes
  • 2020: Three hours, six minutes
  • 2021: Three hours, 11 minutes
  • 2022: Three hours, six minutes
  • 2023: Two hours, thirty-nine minutes 

Perhaps just as important, attendance is up, too. It's more proof that the clock is good for the game, even if not everyone loves the quickened pace.

  • Snyder: "The die-hard fans who are vehemently against the pitch clock are still watching the game, and they're doing it alongside new fans. Attendance per game is up this season, albeit modestly, and there hasn't been a raise on this front -- with full crowds allowed -- since 2015. ... Independent polls show the pitch clock is working on garnering more interest just as MLB says all of its internal polling says it is wildly popular."

I've been to a handful of MLB games this year. The pitch clock takes some getting used to, and you're probably going to miss action if you grab concessions, a drawback Matt addresses in his piece. But I absolutely agree with Matt that the pitch clock is a good thing.

Ask yourself: Would you rather miss an at-bat or two or wait around for a half-hour of nothing happening? If missing one batter is the price to pay for more fans and more excitement, I'll gladly pay it.

Where will Lionel Messi land once he leaves PSG? ⚽

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Lionel Messi spent last fall leading his country to a World Cup trophy. He'll spend this fall in a new uniform.

Tomorrow's season finale will mark Messi's final game with PSG, as the all-time great will see his contract expire this summer. Messi scored a goal last weekend as PSG clinched the Ligue 1 title for a record 11th time. But with Parisiens struggling in international competitions and Messi set to turn 36 this summer, they decided to move in a new direction.

Messi now has a fascinating decision to make. Our Roger Gonzalez ranked five potential options for Messi, and No. 1 is...

  • Gonzalez: "Barcelona -- The reason that Messi left was that Barcelona put themselves in such a financial pickle that they couldn't afford to re-sign him. Over the last two years, however, they have, somehow, heavily invested in the squad despite those financial obstacles, pulling so-called 'levers' to make money appear. Exactly how many more levers they have now is unknown and how in the world they make this work is beyond me, but it's been obvious for months that they, including president Joan Laporta, will try their absolute best."

What we're watching this weekend 📺


Yankees at Dodgers, 7:15 p.m. on FOX
🏒 Panthers at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Storm at Sparks, 10 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
Cubs at Padres, 10:10 p.m. on FOX


🏀 Sky at Liberty, 2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
🏀 Heat at Nuggets, 8 p.m. on ABC