How the Rangers won another Game 7, plus why the Celtics are NBA’s most resilient team

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Hope you enjoyed a long weekend full of friends, family and, of course, sports.

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE NEW YORK RANGERS

PNC Arena was the strongest of strongholds for the Hurricanes. No visitor came to Raleigh and left with a win.

Until last night.

Behind an explosive offense and the dazzling shot-stopping of goalie Igor Shesterkin, the Rangers dominated Game 7, earning a 6-2 win and advancing to their first Eastern Conference Final since 2015.

  • New York scored twice in the first period, both times on the power play. Adam Fox opened the scoring, and Chris Kreider followed shortly thereafter.
  • Ryan Strome made it 3-0 in the second period.
  • Kreider, Filip Chytil and Andrew Copp (empty net) all scored in the third period for New York, while Carolina got goals from Tony DeAngelo and Max Domi.
  • Shesterkin saved 36 of the 38 shots he faced, including several from point-blank range.
  • In the Carolina net, starter Antti Raanta left injured in the second period. Backup Pyotr Kochetkov entered and allowed three goals on 12 shots. Defender Seth Jarvis also got injured.

This was one of the most impressive Game 7 road performances you’ll see. Entering last night, Carolina had been 7-0 at home this postseason with a +17 goal difference across those seven games. From the start, though, this one had a different feel to it. The visitors’ power play overwhelmed Carolina early, and it was 2-0 within eight minutes. Any time it looked like the Hurricanes might get back into it, Shesterkin shut the door.

The Rangers will face the two-time defending champion Lightning next. New York won all three regular-season meetings, but as we’ve seen this year — and the two years before — Tampa Bay hits a different level in the playoffs.

Honorable mentions

Our latest MLB Power Rankings: Memorial Day check in ⚾


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It was a relatively stable week at the top of our MLB expert Matt Snyder’s latest MLB Power Rankings, but we did get a new team at the top.

  • Snyder: 1. Dodgers — They’ve won 13 of 15 and the two losses were by one run apiece — one of them was a routine grounder being cleanly fielded away from a win.”

Here’s the entire top five:

  • 1. Dodgers (prev: 2)
  • 2. Yankees (prev: 1)
  • 3. Mets (prev: 5)
  • 4. Brewers (prev: 6)
  • 5. Padres (prev: 3)

As the season nears its third month, Snyder has also identified some teams that could soon start rising in his rankings, including…

  • Snyder: “The Red Sox have played well enough since that brutal start to get within three games of .500. They’ll need to shore up the bullpen, but there are always plenty of relievers to be had in front of the trade deadline. The upside is there.”

You can check out the full list — and the full Power Rankings — here.

How Celtics rallied from slow start to make Finals; Heat at crossroads? 🏀


USATSI

On Jan. 6, 2022, R.J. Barrett hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, capping the Knicks‘ 25-point comeback in a 108-105 win over the Celtics. Boston fell to 18-21 on the season, 11th in the Eastern Conference. Fast forward nearly five months, and those same Celtics are headed to the NBA Finals after beating Miami 100-96 in Game 7 on Sunday night.

Our NBA expert Jack Maloney examined how the Celtics turned things around and became the NBA’s most resilient team. There are a few stats that best exemplify that toughness:

  • Since that loss to New York, the Celtics have only lost consecutive games once (in late March).
  • In the playoffs, Boston is 6-0 following a loss and 3-0 in elimination games.
  • From Jan. 7 onward, Boston led the league in defensive rating (104.9). Miami was second at 109.0.
  • To illustrate just how much better defensively Boston was than everyone else: The difference in defensive rating between Boston (first) and Miami (second) was bigger than the difference between Miami (second) and Minnesota (18th) over that span.

On the other hand, for the Heat, Jimmy Butler‘s incredible play not only forced a Game 7, but nearly won it for the overmatched Heat. However, Miami now finds itself caught between two eras, writes our NBA guru Sam Quinn.

  • Quinn: “Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker are probably going to decline next season. They have plenty of youth to make up that lost value, but it’s not going to be cheap for very much longer. Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus all expire after next season. Bam Adebayo is on a max contract, and Duncan Robinson is locked in for four more seasons despite falling out of the rotation, and lest you believe this problem is exclusive to the youngsters, Tucker has a player option, and after a strong postseason run, could probably opt-out and at the very least command multiple years at his current salary. Throw in Victor Oladipo, who is also headed for free agency, and only Butler, Lowry, Adebayo and Robinson are locked in after next year.”

Our team of NBA reporters has done an excellent job previewing the Finals, which start Thursday, and their work will be shared in this newsletter in the next couple of days. If you can’t wait until then, though, check it all out here.

Cardinals cornerback Jeff Gladney dies in car accident at 25 🏈


USATSI

Jeff Gladney, who signed with the Cardinals in March, died in a car accident early Monday morning. He was 25.

  • Gladney starred at TCU and was a first-team All-Big 12 performer as a senior in 2019.
  • He was selected 31st overall by the Vikings in the 2020 NFL Draft. He appeared in all 16 games for Minnesota as a rookie.
  • The Vikings released Gladney in August 2021 after he was indicted on a charge of assault.
  • He was found not guilty of the charge in March 2021 and signed with Arizona shortly thereafter.

A female passenger also died in the crash. 

Several players, including former TCU teammate and current Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor as well as Cardinals star J.J. Watt took to Twitter to share their condolences.

What we’re watching Tuesday 📺

🏀 Mercury at Sky, 7 p.m. on ESPN 2
Angels at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. on TBS
🏒 Western Conference Final: Oilers at Avalanche, 8 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Sun at Aces, 9 p.m. on ESPN

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