The probable end of the Warriors’ dynasty, plus NHL playoff teams are set

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The probable end of the Warriors’ dynasty, plus NHL playoff teams are set

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Good morning! Jump over a Kia today for Blake Griffin.

While You Were Sleeping: RIP, Warriors?

It’s rare to actually know the moment a dynasty ends. Golden State’s 118-94 blowout loss to Sacramento in an elimination Play-In game last night sure felt like it, though. 

It was a jarring moment of catharsis for the Kings, who fell in seven games to these Warriors in the first round last season. And it was a low, low moment for the trio of Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, who might’ve played their last game together. That feels bizarre to even type. 

A few things: 

  • Curry is still a near MVP-level player and isn’t going anywhere. His contract is up in 2026, when he’ll be 38. He will obviously be the sun that the Warriors orbit for the next few years.
  • Green, 34, is also under contract for the next three seasons, plus a fourth-year player option. He’s also still an elite defender. His role might diminish, but he’ll likely be there.
  • Thompson is the odd man out. One half of the legendary Splash Brothers, the guy who scored 60 points on 11 dribbles and put up 41 on the road in an elimination game, an anchor of a team that won four championships in eight years — probably gone. He’s a free agent, and unless he takes a sweetheart deal to stay in the Bay, he’ll be in a different uniform next season. For what it’s worth, coach Steve Kerr wants him back. Also: Thompson scored zero points last night. Brutal. 

For a five- or six-year span, this group defined basketball. They changed the styles everyone played and the ways GMs built rosters. Their legacies have long been intact, but it’s nevertheless weird to see them start arriving at the legacy stage. 

 And of course this possible dynasty-ending loss comes at the hand of Mike Brown, the Kings coach who helped the Warriors win three of those four titles as an assistant. Sacramento plays in New Orleans on Thursday because …

  • The Lakers edged the Pelicans 110-106 on the road in a fantastic game. Zion Williamson scored 40 points and led New Orleans back from a double-digit deficit, but got hurt near the end of the game. Woof.
  • L.A. has just figured out how to play late in the season, though, and their prize for gutting out a Play-In win is the defending champion Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. After last year’s Western Conference Finals sweep against Denver, will the Lakers win a game this time? I wouldn’t bet on it. 

Tonight brings the Eastern Conference Play-In games. More on that in a bit.

News to Know

WNBA Draft smashes record
A startling 2.446 million people watched Monday’s WNBA Draft, which shatters the previous record of 601,000 viewers, set in 2004 when Diana Taurasi entered the league. The new record is also a massive jump over last year’s 572,000 viewers, which had been the most since that 2004 draft. Make sure to read Sabreena Merchant’s draft grades for each team today.

McIlroy shuts down LIV rumor
Rory McIlroy, one of the fiercest critics of the breakaway LIV Tour, emphatically denied a report he was close to going full heel and joining LIV for $850 million. McIlroy added that he’s never been offered by LIV at all. The star golfer has tamped down his LIV criticism in recent months though, as the two tours try to hash out some sort of agreement to unify golf. Read his full comments here.

One in, one out
Offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor is officially heading back to Alabama, he announced, finalizing a decision we’ve expected for weeks now. Proctor started every game for the Crimson Tide last season as a true freshman and transferred to Iowa after Nick Saban retired. In departure news, Colorado lost former five-star cornerback recruit Cormani McClain to the portal.

More news

Bad Beats: Detroit’s agonizing half-hour

Just before 9:30 p.m. ET last night, the Detroit Red Wings — down to their last seconds of playoff hope — saw left winger David Perron tie their game against the Canadiens at 4-4 with just 3.3 seconds left. Look at the reaction:

Patrick Kane later won the game for Detroit in a shootout. Playoff life. Breathe it in. 

Minutes later, the season flatlined: Washington won in Philadelphia, 2-1, to claim the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. Both the Red Wings and Penguins were thus eliminated. 

We still have to finalize seeding, though. See the current bracket and scenarios here.

Watch This Game

NBA: Heat at Sixers
7 p.m. ET on ESPN
Another doozy Play-In game. Miami always trudges through the regular season and turns into a juggernaut at this point. Philadelphia wouldn’t be down here if not for a Joel Embiid injury. Give me Embiid vs. Butler any day. 

NBA: Hawks at Bulls
9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Let’s be real: Neither of these teams is expected to make it through the Play-In, but there is still intrigue here. Tre Young could be elsewhere next season. DeMar DeRozan, who played the most minutes in the NBA this year at 34 years old, is a free agent. One franchise changes permanently tonight.

Pulse Picks

It’s easy to watch Connor Bedard play hockey and forget he’s 18 years old. And, as Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers write in a deep feature today, he’s already got one of the three best shots in the world. How is he this good already?

Strap in: Dane Brugler has a new NFL mock draft out this morning, spanning all 257 picks. Want to know a guess at your team’s sixth-round pick? It’s in there. We’ll have more on this tomorrow. 

John Hollinger makes his argument for Nikola Jokić winning the MVP, plus plenty of other interesting award notes that only John can give. A player I’m excited to watch again next year? Alperen Şengün

What does the 2024 NBA free-agent class look like, anyway? Danny Leroux has us covered

Nancy Froston penned a thoughtful piece on Wrexham, still the darlings of the soccer internet. Is the big-pocketed “underdog” good or bad for English soccer? Jury’s out. 

The Coyotes and their fans are resigned to a Salt Lake City future. It makes for a strange — and fascinating — home finale this week. 

Most-clicked in the newsletter yesterday: That interesting story we highlighted about the data-proven way to draft NFL players, and why most teams eschew it

Most-read on the website yesterday: The live blog from Paris Saint-Germain’s stunning win over FC Barcelona on aggregate in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. Kylian Mbappe, man.

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(Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/ Getty Images)