5-at-10: KD's NBA-changing injury, Braves big Monday, US Open storylines and free contest, Rushmore of Hollywood nicknames

5-at-10: KD's NBA-changing injury, Braves big Monday, US Open storylines and free contest, Rushmore of Hollywood nicknames

June 11th, 2019 by Jay Greeson in Breaking News
Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Game 5

Gang, I know a few of you have not paid the NBA an ounce of attention. And that's fine.

Game 5 of the NBA Finals was so intrigue-filled it's difficult to know where to start the discussion this morning.

Warriors stars Klay Thompson and Steph Curry were killers in the final 90 seconds, hitting big-time shots, and the defense forced the ball away from Kawhi Leonard in a 106-105 series-extending win in Toronto.

That's the bullet-point headline.

Kevin Durant, who is no worse than the third-best basketball player on the planet, returned to action and looked like, well, Kevin Durant. He hit three 3s in the first quarter and a half.

Then the entire NBA changed. From New York to Portland to Phoenix. Everything.

Durant had missed the last 32 days of playoff basketball with a calf strain. His return made the Warriors look like the team that won the last two titles. The spacing was better. The ball movement was better. Kawhi was forced to shadow KD rather than smother Klay.

Then it happened. Durant crumpled midway through the second quarter, grabbing his lower right leg. The first thought was it likely was a re-injury of the calf. After the game, the Warriors uttered the worst body word for every athlete everywhere.


So KD is out for the playoffs and we'll have plenty of time to discuss those ramifications on the series before Game 6 at Golden State on Thursday.

The bigger ripples to this are how it affects KD's looming free agency. How wide-reaching are those concerns? Well, the headline of the New York Post this morning over a photo of KD holding his leg was "Knicks Lose Game 5" in reference to Durant likely missing all of next season if it is an Achilles' tear.

Durant was the biggest fish in this free agency pool, and he was going to be courted by a handful of franchises looking to redirect their current and their future.

Yes, KD still has options. He could opt in with the Warriors, collect $31 million to rehab his injury next year and maybe be ready for the postseason. He could opt out and there will be several teams willing to meet his max demands even if it means the 2019-2020 season is a wash.

Also, how does this affect next week's draft? There were several teams looking to move pieces with two potential transcendental talents atop the draft and the Pelicans looking around with a disgruntled Anthony Davis in play.

And the entire picture was overhauled when KD grabbed his leg.

Braves big day

Hard to imagine the Braves having a better day than Monday, right?

They hit five homers, including Ronald Acuna's first career grand slam. More on him in a moment.

Ozzie Albies homered twice and is 7-for-his-last-17 with six runs scored in his last five games.

They got 4.2 innings of excellent relief from Sean Newcomb, who allowed one hit while striking out 6 in 4.2 innings after bailing out Kevin Gausman, who failed to get through the third.

Dallas Kuechel was lights out in a minor league start Monday night. Yes, it was A-ball in Rome, but still seven innings with one hit, one walk, nine Ks and just 77 pitches sounds pretty sharp, regardless of the competition.

Add in the Phillies allowing eight homers — including back-to-back-to-back shots to lead off the game for Arizona — and the Braves are tied for first in the NL East.

Good times.

US Open

OK, the entries are flowing in and this looks to be a fun group.

There is still time. Send five golfers, top five performers count, with points going for each golfer's finish. (If you pick the winner, two guys who tied for third and the fifth-place finisher, you would get 1, 3, 3 and 5 points for a hard-to-beat score of 12. Low score wins. Deal? Deal.)

With that, heading into the third major on the calendar, let's explore five storylines that will make this major even more fun.

> Mickelson in contention come Sunday. I know what you're thinking. "How is Tiger not the No. 1 storyline every time he puts a peg in the dirt?" That question has merit and we'll get to El Tigre in a moment. But think of the storylines if Phil is in the final group Sunday. First, Sunday would be his 49th birthday. It will be Father's Day. It will be the 20th anniversary of the classic moment when Payne Stewart grabbed Phil's face after toppling Lefty at Pinehurst in 1999. And most importantly, it would complete the career grand slam for Mickelson, who has been the bridesmaid six times at this event. There is no bigger story this week.

> Woods. Tiger is a bigger star, even when he's not the biggest story. If Tiger is in the mix, with the prime time options for the weekend and the classic venue that is Pebble Beach, this could be one of the most golf events ever.

> Brooks or the field. It's a fair question, and almost all pop the entries understandably have Brooks name included. Here's a name you have never heard but will start to once we get closer to this week. Brooks Koepka is trying to become just the second man to win three consecutive U.S. Opens. Of course we all knew the only previous three-peater was Willie Anderson, right? Sure. Spy, how good was Wee Willie when he won that third straight title in 1905 at Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Mass.?

> How will the USGA set up the pristine grounds that comprise Pebble Beach, which may be the most beautiful course on the planet. (No, I am not saying it's better than Augusta or more historic than St. Andrew's but neither of those joints — as magical and special and mystical and pure as they are — has is nestled alongside the Pacific friends. If God was going to be a member of a golf club, he'd likely join Pebble. Of course, I'm not sure the Masters would let him in.) Last year the USGA was blasted for losing the greens at Shinnecock and turning the course into a punchline. If you mess up Pebble, then you have no BID-ness setting up a course.

> Baylor's duo of Luke List and Keith Mitchell. Yes, it's localized for some of us who know those dudes, but it's still a big storyline for me. Sure, putting Jordan or Rory or DJ here would be easy. But how Luke and Keith handle this moment will be fun to watch.

(Remember to enter the contest gang.)

This and that

— Acuna is crushing with a consistency right now that is rarely seen from players of his tender age. In 10 June days he has 12 hits and 14 RBIs. His projected numbers right now through 40 percent of the season are .277/.360/.488 with 37 homers, 110 RBIs, 101 runs and 20 steals. Oh yeah, he likely will win a Gold Glove in center too.

— Speaking of power plays, Arizona and Philadelphia combined to hit 13 homers last night. It's the most ever in a MLB game. Yes, the D-Backs and the Phillies.

— It was an eternally bad look with that many Raptors fans cheering for KD's injury.

— Speaking of last night, the Warriors staved off elimination. Stave is one of those words that is always used with the connecting "off elimination" right? Not unlike wreak havoc, billowing smoke and waiting with bated breath. Or champing at the bit. Any other nominations?

— Man, we all knew that Kellen Winslow had some issues, but these stories coming out of court — where he was found guilty of raping a 58-year-old homeless woman — are horrific.

— Auburn scored 13 runs in the first and won 14-7 to get to the College World Series. Arkansas completed the field, which has four SEC teams.

— Deion Sanders' son Shedeur is becoming a hot-shot prospect and picked offers from Alabama, Georgia Tech and South Carolina, recently.

Today's question

True or false Tuesday.

True or false, Ronald Acuna will win an MVP in the next five years.

True or false, Mickelson or Tiger will contend this weekend at Pebble.

True or false, KD will now opt in with the Warriors.

You know the drill. Answer a T or F; leave a T or F.

As for today, June 11, let's explore.

It's national corn on the cob day.

Jurassic Park opened on this day in 1993.

American Idol premiered on this day in 2002.

Joe Montana is 63 today. Jon Wayne died on this day 40 years ago.

Let's go there. Rushmore of Hollywood nicknames, because it's going to be tough to keep The Duke off of that one.


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