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Four Big League Championships to Take Place Over the Next Month

September 21, 2020
SOURCE: CODIE MCLACHLAN/DALLAS MORNING NEWS
SOURCE: CODIE MCLACHLAN/DALLAS MORNING NEWS

The GIST: For the first time in forever, we’ll be treated to four big league championships in a one-month period, and kicking it all off is the Stanley Cup Final.

Tell me everything!: After beating the New York Islanders in six games, the Tampa Bay Lightning joined the Dallas Stars in the final round of the strangest season of hockey ever.

  • The Stars took Saturday’s Game 1 with a convincing 4–1 finish. Four different Stars players scored (including this beauty from Jamie Oleksiak), but 34-year-old rookie playoff starter Anton Khudobin was the real star, making 35 saves. Game 2 starts tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

What about basketball?: The NBA is getting there. After going down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Celtics bounced back in Game 3, trouncing the Miami Heat 117–106 and serving them with just their second loss of the playoffs. Game 4 isn’t until Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

  • In the Western Conference, the LA Lakers made it 2-0 in their series against the Denver Nuggets with a 105–103 win last night. The Nuggets are used to coming back though, so don’t count them out just yet. Game 3 is tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET.

Sweet. Gimme more!: The WNBA is a round away from their finals, too...but it may take them a little longer to get there. After the Connecticut Sun absolutely demolished the Las Vegas Aces in yesterday’s semifinal Game 1, the Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm were supposed to start their series. But due to a number of Storm players’ “inconclusive” COVID-19 test results, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert decided to postpone the game until new tests can be administered. Solid leadership!

Any other playoffs?: The MLB regular season ends on Sunday (doesn’t it feel like it just started?) and playoff spots are quickly filling up. Five teams in the American League and two in the National League have clinched, and more are expected today with 11 games on deck. Check out the full playoff picture here.

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Will the Pac-12 Schools Reverse Postponement Decision?

September 21, 2020
SOURCE: RALPH FRESO/AP PHOTO
SOURCE: RALPH FRESO/AP PHOTO

The GIST: Now that the Big Ten has decided to resume football, all eyes are on the Pac-12 (the last remaining sidelined Power Five conference) to make their own return-to-play decision. No pressure!

How’d we get here?: Back in August, the Pac-12 postponed all sports through the end of 2020. But with state restrictions lifted and increased access to rapid response COVID-19 tests, Pac-12 officials will now meet on Thursday to make a decision on returning to play prior to January.

  • If the Pac-12 resumes competition, it will have a major impact on football and basketball scheduling. For example, if the conference allows football to start by late October/early November, teams would be eligible for selection to the College Football Playoff.

How will it impact basketball?: A Pac-12 restart would also allow their hoops teams to begin play in line with the NCAA’s recently approved November 25th season start date. Some schools are planning to begin the season with a bubble, and the Pac-12 approving competition would offer schools more options for geographically close opponents.

Another bubble?!: That’s right! We’ve seen the success of pro sports bubbles, and it seems like college basketball coaches were watching, too. Top programs like Kentucky and Louisville are among those looking to create their own non-conference bubbles for the first games of the season.

🏈NFL Sunday Week 2 Rundown

September 21, 2020
SOURCE: DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD/TAMPA BAY TIMES
SOURCE: DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD/TAMPA BAY TIMES

The GIST: NFL Sunday had some lowlights — including the loneliest Lambeau Leap of all time, and not one, but two stars likely tearing their ACLs — and some serious highlights. Here are our top three:

  • This 46-yard TD run from Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette that gave the Bucs their first win under quarterback (QB) Tom Brady.
  • A one-handed grab for Dallas Cowboy Amari Cooper. The Cowboys put together a 16-point fourth quarter to come from behind and beat the Atlanta Falcons 40–39. Close one.
  • And the longest TD of the still-young season: an 84-yard pass from Pittsburgh Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger to wide receiver Chase Claypool, for the Canadian rookie’s first-ever TD. Big day for Canada!
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This Week in Golf, Cycling, Tennis

September 21, 2020
SOURCE: JIMMIE48/WTA
SOURCE: JIMMIE48/WTA

Tennis: Mondays aren’t all bad. In a warm up to next week’s French Open (aka Roland-Garros) major, the Italian Open is giving us not one, but two rare Monday finals to look forward to. First up, the tournament’s top two seeds, Simona Halep and Karolína Plíšková, will face off in the women’s final at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Golf: Yesterday, Bryson DeChambeau won the U.S. Open (the second of three PGA majors this season) and in the end, it wasn’t even close. DeChambeau finished with a six-under-par score, six strokes ahead of runner-up Matthew Wolff, and was the only player to finish under par. Yeesh.

  • This was the first major win for the newly jacked and quirky golfer, who uses brain-training, advanced algebra and equal length clubs to perfect his game. He also wears an ivy cap, loves Fortnite and signs his autograph backwards with his non-dominant hand, so this is a true win for the nerds.

Cycling: There were quite a few changes to this year’s iconic Tour de France. First, it was postponed from its usual July start to late August. Then they did away with the “podium girls” (damn right!). And finally, in a race usually dominated by steroids, er, we mean experience, a very fresh face was crowned the winner.

  • Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia won the three-week race yesterday, just a day ahead of his 22nd birthday, making him the youngest winner since 1904 and the first rookie to win since 1983. Generation Z is making its mark.
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NBA and NHL Playoff News

September 17, 2020
SOURCE: GARRETT ELLWOOD/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: GARRETT ELLWOOD/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: The NBA Conference Finals have arrived! Four teams are duking it out for conference glory and a shot at the Larry O’Brien.

Who’s made it this far?: Let’s start with the Western Conference, because this postseason, West is best (for the fans, anyway). Despite entering the playoffs as the conference’s third ranked team, the Denver Nuggets somehow found themselves taking on the underdog role, especially after they went down 3-1 in the conference semifinals against the surging No. 2 LA Clippers.

  • Down but not out, the Nuggets rallied — with some major help from superstar-in-the-making Canadian Jamal Murray — to force, and then win, Tuesday night’s epic Game 7, becoming the first team in NBA history to win back-to-back series after being down 3-1. Maybe Kawhi Leonard should have stayed with the Toronto Raptors.
  • Starting tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET, the Nuggets will face the West’s best, LeBron James and the LA Lakers. Yesterday, James was named an All-NBA player for a record-breaking 16th time. So, yeah, this series should be good.

And the Eastern Conference?: It’s the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics. The Celtics had a tough road after taking the defending champ Raptors to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but it’s been smooth sailing for the Heat, who’ve lost only one game this postseason.

  • This series started on Tuesday with an 117–114 overtime win for the Heat (because of course). Tune in tonight as Game 2 tips off at 7 p.m. ET, or, even better, head over to ESPN Radio to hear our fave basketball analyst, Doris Burke, make history as the first woman to call the Conference and NBA Finals on a national radio broadcast. A true icon.

Sweet. Any other playoff news?: And then there were three in the NHL. On Monday night, the Dallas Stars punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals with an overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights, taking the series 4-1.

  • So now we’re just waiting for the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders to decide who wants the other spot in the Finals more. Tampa’s up 3-2 in the series, which could end tonight. Puck drops at 8 p.m. ET.

Follow us on Instagram for the latest news @thegistusa

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Howdy, GISTers! 🤠
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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott really dressed the part for Sunday’s game vs the Atlanta Falcons! 🔥
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It was a showdown to say the least, as the Cowboys rallied past the Falcons 40-39 after putting up 16-points in the fourth quarter to come from behind! 🏈
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For more NFL updates, make sure to check this morning’s newsletter! 💌 #thegist
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(c/o - @dallascowboys)The MLB and the Players Association jointly committed $10 million to The Players Alliance on Monday to help boost the participation of Black Americans in all levels of the sport. Love to see it! 👏
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The Players Alliance, a nonprofit organization made up of active and former players, will use the money to fund annual grants through 2024 to improve access to the sport from the youth level all the way to MLB front offices.
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Former MLB player Curtis Granderson, president of The Players Alliance, said his organization is "The power of our player membership, including our non-Black teammates, coupled with the support of MLB and the Players Association, gives us the unique ability to create increased opportunities for the Black communities we care so much about." #thegistHappy Newsletter Day, GISTers! 💌 #thegistSimona Halep has won her first Italian Open Title (a warm up to next week's French Open, aka, Roland-Garros). 🏆
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The world No. 2 defeated Karolina Pliskova after she was forced to retire just 31 minutes into the match with an injury. Welp!
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Things weren't looking good for the defending champ, Pliskova, from the getgo as the Czech received treatment between sets on her lower back and leg. Halep cruised through the first set 6-0 and was up 2-1 before Pliscova retired. 😞
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With the win, Halep is now 14-0 since February and has now won three consecutive titles after winning in Dubai before the COVID-19 hiatus and in Prague last month. 👏 #thegistNew York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate sported some amazing cleats yesterday that celebrated two important figures that we’ve lost this year - Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman. 💜
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For an update on Week 2 of the NFL season, make sure to check your inbox for this morning’s newsletter. 💌 #thegist
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(c/o - @showtimetate)What. A. Finish. 🔥
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LA Lakers star Anthony Davis confirmed that he mouthed "Kobe" after this epic three-point buzzer-beater that gave the Lakers a 2-0 series lead vs the Denver Nuggets in last night's Western Conference Game 2.
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After the game, Davis said he wasn't going to let his team lose in their Mamba jerseys. Damn, here come the waterworks! 😭
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For an update on the NBA playoffs, make sure to check out this morning's newsletter! 🏀 #thegist
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(c/o - @bleacherreport @nbaontnt)