Axios Sports

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June 14, 2022

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Today's word count: 1,625 words (6 minutes).

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1 big thing: 🏀 The supporting cast steps up

Jordan Poole

Jordan Poole celebrates with the San Francisco crowd. Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The other Warriors came through on a rare off night for Steph Curry, lifting Golden State past Boston, 104-94, and putting them one win away from their fourth title in eight years.

ICYMI: Curry was 0-for-9 from behind the arc, ending a streak of 233 postseason and regular-season games in which he'd made at least one three-pointer. He finished with 16 points.

  • Andrew Wiggins stepped up with 26 points and 13 rebounds — the first time all season and the first time in his playoff career that he led his team outright in both categories.
  • Klay Thompson had 21 points on the three-year anniversary of the night he tore his ACL, which began a 2 1/2-year absence. Gary Payton II added 15 and Jordan Poole poured in 14.

The other side: Jayson Tatum had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who lost consecutive games for the first time this postseason. They finally won the third quarter, only to collapse in the fourth.

  • The Warriors scored 22 points off 18 Celtics turnovers, which is becoming a theme: Golden State's 103 points off turnovers are the most through five Finals games since the 1992 Bulls (vs. Trail Blazers).
  • The Celtics are 1-7 when they turn the ball over 16 or more times during these playoffs. They're 13-2 in games when they don't.
Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins during his postgame interview. Photo: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

What they're saying: "We knew we needed his athleticism and defense and his versatility. We had no idea that he would make this kind of contribution," Steve Kerr said of Wiggins, a once mega-hyped prospect who appears to have finally found a home.

  • "I think it's a reminder that for almost every player in the NBA, circumstances are everything," added Kerr.
  • "You kind of need to find the right place, the right teammates, that kind of stuff. Wiggs has been a great fit."

Looking ahead: Game 6 is Thursday night in Boston. "Our backs are against the wall," said Celtics big man Al Horford. "This is the time that we look at each other in the eyes and figure it out."

2. ⚾️ The 75th College World Series

Nebraska postcard
Photo: Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty Images

The College World Series field is set, as 299 D-I teams have been whittled down to the eight who will compete for a championship starting Friday in Omaha, Nebraska, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.

The contenders:

  • No. 2 Stanford (47-16 record; 18 CWS appearances/2 titles): The Cardinal won back-to-back titles in 1987-88, but none since. Opponents beware: Stanford's nine shutouts trailed only Vanderbilt's 10.
  • No. 5 Texas A&M (42-18; 7/0): In their first year under Jim Schlossnagle, the Aggies are back in the CWS for the first time since 2017 — when they were eliminated by Schlossnagle's TCU.
  • No. 9 Texas (47-20; 38/6): The Longhorns have an elite slugger in Ivan Melendez, whose 32 HR broke Kris Bryant's D-I record for the most since the NCAA changed bat regulations in 2011.
  • No. 14 Auburn (42-20; 6/0): If the Tigers want that elusive first title, they'll need senior transfer Sonny DiChiara, aka "Thicc King," to keep raking. The 6-foot-1, 263-pound first baseman is top five in OBP and OPS.
  • Arkansas (43-19; 11/0): The Razorbacks are seeking their first title after falling just short in 2018, when they lost to Adley Rutschman's Oregon State squad in the Finals.
  • Notre Dame (40-15; 3/0): The Fighting Irish beat mighty Tennessee to reach their first CWS since 2002, ensuring that for the 22nd straight year the No. 1 overall seed won't hoist the trophy.
  • Oklahoma (42-22; 11/2): What a week for the Sooners, who reached their first CWS since 2010 just a few days after their softball team repeated as champs.
  • Ole Miss (37-22; 6/0): The Rebels are the longest shot in the field, having barely squeaked into the NCAA tournament as the last at-large bid. This is just their second CWS appearance since 1973.

3. ⚽️ Moultrie, 16, makes NWSL history

Olivia Moultrie

Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Olivia Moultrie snuck one past the keeper on Sunday in the Portland Thorns' 4-0 win over the Houston Dash, Jeff writes.

Why it matters: At 16, she's the youngest goalscorer in NWSL history, a feat she never would have achieved if not for her dogged persistence to make it to the league.

  • Last year, Moultrie became the NWSL's youngest player ever after settling an antitrust lawsuit over the league's age restriction (18).
  • When the NWSL's inaugural CBA was inked earlier this year, the age restriction was removed.

The backdrop: Moultrie has been preparing for this moment for years, making history along the way with the help of her parents, who homeschooled her and installed a $60,000 turf field in their California backyard so she could train daily.

  • At 10, she became the youngest girl to train full time with the boys in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
  • At 11, she became the youngest girl to accept a college soccer scholarship (North Carolina).
  • At 12, she trained abroad with Barcelona, Bayern, Lyon and PSG. By the end of the trip, she was scrimmaging with PSG's U-17 boys.
  • At 13, she signed a six-figure deal with Nike and turned pro, becoming the apparel giant's youngest-ever female team athlete. She decommitted from UNC and joined the Thorns.

The big picture: Milestones like this don't happen in a vacuum; they require the type of steady progress that women's soccer has experienced in recent years.

  • Four years ago, just two USWNT members had skipped college to go pro, and few if any left college early. But that's changing as the women's game evolves both here and abroad.
  • To wit, the NWSL's last four No. 1 picks all left college early, and eight of the 23 women named to the USWNT roster on Monday either left early or skipped college entirely.

The bottom line: Moultrie was the first 16-year-old to score in the NWSL. She almost certainly won't be the last.

Go deeper: Women's soccer's grand experiment (SI)

4. ⚡️ Lightning round

Big 3

The "Big Three" in 2013. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

🎾 Rare sight: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are missing from the top two spots in the ATP rankings for the first time in nearly 20 years.

⚽️ World Cup changes: A new rule will allow for five substitutions per match (up from three) at the World Cup and clears the way for rosters to expand from 23 to 26.

⚾️ O's update: Orioles CEO John Angelos says the team will remain in Baltimore — a response to a lawsuit filed by his brother that suggested a possible move to Nashville.

🏡 Looking for a new home? This $2 million Scottsdale, Arizona, listing comes with its own whiffleball field.

5. 🏏 The world's second most valuable league

Illustration of a cricket playing hitting a ball through a television screen

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

National broadcast rights for the upcoming five-year cycle of the Indian Premier League (cricket) have sold for $5.6 billion.

  • Viacom18 will pay $2.6 billion for the streaming rights.
  • Disney will pay $3 billion for the TV rights.

Why it matters: This is expected to make the IPL the world's second most valuable sports league on a per game basis ($13.4 million), still trailing the NFL ($17 million) but topping the English Premier League ($11 million) for the first time, per the Times of India.

6. 💵 Seeing green: Betting on the Jets

Ny Jets Football GIF by New York Jets - Find & Share on GIPHY
Giphy

NFL fans have been doing something this offseason that they rarely do on fall Sundays: betting on the Jets, Jeff writes.

Driving the news: More bets have been placed on the Jets to win the Super Bowl than any team besides the Bills, and they're currently the largest Super Bowl liability at FanDuel and Caesars, per ESPN.

By the numbers: New York opened as one of the longest shots in the league at 200-1, but all this action has dropped their title odds to as low as 100-1.

  • At DraftKings, no team's win total has been bet more heavily than the Jets (over 5.5).
  • At PointsBet, more money has been bet on the Jets to win the AFC East than the Dolphins and Patriots combined.

The bottom line: Clearly, football fans think the Jets are being undervalued. The franchise is sure due for a breakout: Their 11-year playoff drought is nearly twice as long as the next worst (Broncos: six).

7. 🌏 The world in photos

Australia celebrating
Photo: Joe Allison/Getty Images

DOHA, Qatar — Australia edged Peru, 5-4, in a shootout following a 0-0 draw to clinch the second-to-last World Cup spot. They'll join France, Denmark and Tunisia in Group D.

Phil Mickelson
Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

BROOKLINE, Mass. — Phil Mickelson stumbled through an awkward U.S. Open press conference, offering little about his LIV decision.

BMX
An action shot during the BMX World Cup. Photo: Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/AFP via Getty Images

ARNHEM, Netherlands — Woah.

8. 📺 Watchlist: The final ticket

Soccer stadium

Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, the site for today's game. Photo: Qatar 2022/Supreme Committee via Getty Images

Costa Rica plays New Zealand today in Qatar (2pm ET, FS2), with the winner earning the 32nd and final World Cup spot.

  • Looking ahead: The winner of today's match will join Spain, Germany and Japan in Group E.
  • The big picture: This is the last World Cup where the 32nd team to qualify will also be the final one. Beginning in 2026, 48 teams will make the field.

More to watch:

9. 🏒 Stanley Cup trivia

Avs celebrating

Photos: Al Bello/Getty Images Sport; Matthew Stockman/Allsport

The Avalanche are the only team with a perfect record in the Stanley Cup Final, winning their two appearances in 1996 and 2001.

  • Question: Who's in second place with an .833 win percentage (5-1)?
  • Hint: Multiple titles this century.

Answer at the bottom.

10. ⚾️ 1 MVP thing: Hollywood stars

Illustration of a hand dusting off home plate to reveal a star

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Los Angeles truly is the city of stars tonight: Six former MVPs are on the active rosters for the Dodgers-Angels game.

  • Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Freddie Freeman
  • Angels: Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani

Why it matters: The last time this many former MVPs were rostered in the same game was Sept. 27, 1982, when the Royals hosted the then-California Angels.

  • Angels: Rod Carew, Don Baylor, Fred Lynn, Reggie Jackson
  • Royals: George Brett, Vida Blue

Thanks to reader Armen K. for the stat!

Talk tomorrow,

Kendall "J-E-T-S" Baker

Trivia answer: Penguins (wins in 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016 and 2017; loss in 2008)

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