NFL releases 2024 schedule; Celtics advance again; college football top 25 coach

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🏀 Good morning to everyone, but especially to …

THE BOSTON CELTICS AND DALLAS MAVERICKS

When their alarms went off this morning, the Celtics and Mavericks had a little bit more pep in their step. That’s because they both scored big wins in the NBA playoffs Wednesday night, and Boston advanced to its third straight Eastern Conference finals.

Jayson Tatum was terrific in Celtics’ 113-98 win over the Cavaliers in Game 5, but it was the ageless veteran who really gave Boston a spark. Roughly two weeks ahead of his 38th birthday, Al Horford did a little bit of everything in turning in a historic performance.

  • Horford is now the oldest player in NBA history to post at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, at least five 3-pointers and at least five assists in a playoff game.
  • Horford paced the Celtics from beyond the arc, knocking down six of his 13 3-point attempts.
  • On the defensive end, Horford was a big reason why Darius Garland was 4 of 17 from the field.

After punching their ticket to the conference finals, the Celtics got to kick their feet up and watch the Mavericks go into the Thunder’s gym and steal back home court with a 104-92 win in a pivotal Game 5. The Mavs now led the series 3-2 and can eliminate OKC back in Dallas in Game 6.

It should be no surprise that Luka Doncic was the driving force behind the Mavericks’ success. Doncic recorded his second straight triple-double with 31 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. He also cut his turnovers from seven in Game 4 to just three Wednesday night.

It wasn’t always the prettiest game from the Mavericks, but their defense completely stifled the Thunder. Dallas put forth a suffocating effort in the win.

  • Outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (30 points), no other Thunder player scored more than 13 points.
  • OKC shot 25.0% from three-point range, and Chet Holmgren went just 1 of 5 from deep.
  • The Mavericks grabbed 37 defensive rebounds to the Thunder’s 25.

On Saturday night, Dallas will be looking to advance to its second conference finals appearance in the last three seasons.

👍 Honorable mentions

👎 Not so honorable mentions

🏈 NFL releases its complete 2024 schedule

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The NFL knows how to dominate the sports calendar, and schedule release day is a prime example. For most other leagues, releasing the schedule for a season that is months away consists of a press release and some social media posts, but it’s reached full-on holiday status in the NFL.

All 32 teams unveiled their complete 2024 schedules on Wednesday night, and you can check out every matchup here. It is always interesting to see which teams are featured in prime time more than others, and the Texans will be prominently featured this season after getting exactly zero prime-time games last year.

The NFL’s vice president of broadcast planning, Mike North, sat down with our own Jonathan Jones and said the league won’t be hiding C.J. Stroud and the Texans under a bushel basket this fall.

  • North: “So six nationally televised games for a team last year, as you mentioned, was scheduled for zero … It’s a shame that that was the first time a lot of people got to see C.J. Stroud play quarterback, so hopefully we don’t have that same problem this year.”

Once the schedules got released, fans started running to their calendars to circle the dates of the biggest matchups, but they aren’t the only ones. Some players were doing the same thing, and CBS Sports’ Will Brinson has Russell Wilson’s trip to Denver among his biggest revenge games.

  • Brinson: “Russ got cut by the Broncos this offseason and eventually signed with the Steelers on a dirt-cheap, one-year contract. He has all the spite in the world for being publicly embarrassed, even though the Broncos are still paying him roughly $85 million not to play for their team.”

Of course, teams cannot simply release a schedule graphic and go about their day. Social media teams around the NFL work diligently to put out the most creative schedule release videos possible, and you can see all 32 of this year’s videos right here.

Here is more on the 2024 NFL schedule release.

🏈 CFB coach rankings: Riley clings to top-10 spot

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Talkin’ season has officially begun in college football, and CBS Sports has entered the chat with our annual Power Four (formerly Power Five) coach rankings. The top 25 were just released yesterday, and not everyone agreed on the final product.

There wasn’t much drama at the top. Kirby Smart landed at No. 1 following the retirement of Nick Sabanand he might have wound up there even if Saban was still at Alabama. That’s what two national titles and a 42-2 record in the last three seasons will do for you.

Beyond Smart, there were some tough decisions for our panel of college football experts. Perhaps no coach was tougher to place than Lincoln Rileywho has compiled a strong resume but went 8-5 with Caleb Williams at quarterback last season.

Tom Fornelli gets why Riley slid in the rankings, but there aren’t many coaches with four conference titles and three College Football Playoff appearances.

  • Stove: “This is one of the bigger surprises for me. I understand why Riley would drop after USC went 8-5 last season and failed to build a strong enough team around Caleb Williams, but this is still the same Riley who has won four conference titles and reached the playoff four times.”

Here are some of the more fascinating risers and fallers in this year’s top 25:

  • Ohio State’s Ryan Day lost to Michigan for a third consecutive season in 2023 and climbed six spots.
  • Steve Sarkisian soared nearly three dozen spots after taking Texas to the College Football Playoff.
  • Josh Heupel nearly slipped out of the top 25 coming off a nine-win season at Tennessee.

🏒 Cale Makar keeps Avs alive with two goals in Game 5

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Down 3-1 in the series, the Avalanche‘s season was on life support going into Game 5 against the Starsand Kale Makar used CPR to keep his team alive. Makar scored a pair of goals in a 5-3 road win to move the series back to Colorado.

The most impressive part of this win for the Avs is that they had to come from behind twice in front of a hostile crowd. Just over halfway through the second period, Miro Heiskanen gave the Stars a 2-1 lead, but Colorado didn’t blink.

Makar scored two goals in the final 23 minutes of game time, including what proved to be the game-winner just 4:28 into the third period. Through five seasons, Makar has already established himself as an elite playoff performer.

  • Makar now has 79 playoff points, which ranks 26th all-time among defensemen.
  • That puts Makar above Alex Pietrangelo, John Carlson and Brent Burns.
  • His 21 postseason goals are tied for 21st all time among defensemen and put Makar above Hall of Famer Serge Savard.

That’s not too shabby for a 25-year-old considering I was still living in my parents’ attic at that age.

The Avalanche are now 6-0 all time in Game 5 after falling behind 3-1 in a series, so that’s good. The bad news for Colorado is that the team has never won a series when facing that deficit.

📺 What we’re watching Thursday

PGA Championship12 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Game 6: Rangers at Hurricanes7 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Liberty at Fever7 p.m. on Prime Video
🏀 Game 6: Nuggets at Timberwolves8:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Game 5: Oilers at Canucks10 p.m. on TNT

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