The Masters - Round One
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Good morning to everyone but especially to...


It's time for one of the most relaxing yet exhilarating events in sports: the Masters.

We've spent all week previewing every angle, and now it's time for our expert picks. Let's start with Kyle Porter's:

  • Porter: "Winner -- Scottie Scheffler (5-1): I've never been more sure of anything in my life than I am that Scheffler is going to contend in this year's Masters (statements like that usually go well). Scheffler has been a beast so far in 2023, and he is actually playing better than a year ago when he came in and torched this field. He doesn't have anything worse than a top 12 finish since the fall, and though his odds are horrible in terms of picking a winner, I'm still going to roll with him. That's how well he's playing."

Our Patrick McDonald, meanwhile, is going slightly farther down the board.

  • McDonald: "Winner -- Xander Schauffele (20-1): Schauffele was my pick to win the Masters at the beginning of the year, and he has done nothing to make me jump off the ship now. Over the last three months, he is gaining +2.01 strokes per round with massive efforts from both his irons and putter. The driver has been a weak point for him, but the wide landing areas of Augusta National should alleviate some of that stress. A proven contender in major championships, Schauffele has a pair of podium finishes in his Masters career -- both a silver and a bronze -- and appears primed to finally climb to the top spot."

You can see more takes on winners, surprises, guys who definitely won't win and more here. Still trying to figure out who you should pick? Kyle narrowed the field down to nine guys who could win, and yes, both his and Patrick's pick are on it. Also on that list? Rory McIlroy. Kyle has an awesome piece on him as he chases the career Grand Slam.

Tiger Woods, for what it's worth, says it's "just a matter of time" before McIlroy gets that elusive green jacket. Woods, who has five, also talked about Scheffler defending his title. As for Tiger's game itself, can his body hold up?

And finally, to get you prepped for today:

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mentions

Clippers continue dominance of Lakers, pick up crucial win 🏀

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers

The stakes were as high as they've ever been in this series, but the end result remained the same. For the fourth time this season, the 11th time in a row and the 36th time in the last 43 meetings, the Clippers beat the Lakers, this time by the score of 125-118.

  • The teams entered with identical 41-38 records and the No. 5 seed in the West on the line, giving the game massive implications with the season ending Sunday.
  • Norman Powell had a team-high 27 points off the bench, and Kawhi Leonard had 25 as the Clippers had six double-digit scorers.
  • LeBron James had 33 points -- 30 of which came in the second half -- but it wasn't enough as the Lakers' four-game winning streak came to an end.

Now, here's what the Western Conference standings for two playoff spots and four play-in spots look like:

(Nuggets, Grizzlies, Kings, Suns all clinched playoff spots)

But back to the Clippers before we move on, because this was a truly awesome performance and a reminder of just how dangerous this team is. This win came without Paul George and showed LA's impressive depth. I already mentioned Powell -- one of the league's premier sixth men -- and Leonard.

But there was also Russell Westbrook (14 points) continuing his solid play for Los Angeles' "other" team. When he sat in the fourth quarter, fellow midseason acquisition Bones Hyland scored all 14 of his points. Center Ivica Zubac was steady throughout with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Basically, the Clippers have skill, scoring and versatility all over. They will be a team no one wants to face in the playoffs, and they just took a massive step in making sure they get there.

Rays move to 6-0, match MLB history in the process ⚾


There's only one team still undefeated this MLB season, and they're not just winning; they're dominating. The Rays polished off a sweep of the Nationals with a 7-2 win and are now 6-0. They're the first team to start 6-0 since the 2016 Orioles, but that's not the most impressive part.

They're the first team to start 6-0 and win each game by at least four runs since the 1884 St. Louis Maroons.

If you're unfamiliar with those Maroons, they finished the season 94-19-1 in a league called the Union Association, which folded after one season in large part because the Maroons were too good. Don't worry baseball fans, the Rays aren't going to cause MLB to fold, but they are really good. Here's who's standing out so far:

  • Wander Franco has 10 hits, a .417 batting average and seven RBI in six games. He crushed a two-run home run Wednesday.
  • Luke Raley has three home runs in 13 at-bats. His game-tying home run in the ninth inning Tuesday sparked a five-run inning.
  • Shane McClanahan through two starts: 2-0 record, 12 IP, 15 strikeouts, 1.50 ERA.

The Rays are off today before beginning a three-game series with the Athletics tomorrow. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the most consecutive wins to start an MLB season ever is 13 by the 1987 Brewers.

Bucks clinch NBA's top record, but Middleton hurt; Nuggets get West No. 1 seed 🏀

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With their 105-92 win over the Bulls, the Bucks clinched the NBA's best regular-season record and, in turn, home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. But it came at a cost.

Khris Middleton left the game with a knee injury and did not return.

  • The Bucks were already without Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee), but Bobby Portis (27 points, 13 rebounds) stepped up in his stead.
  • Middleton appeared hobbled after a fadeaway less than one minute into the game, though he did not come out immediately. He did not return after the first quarter.
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said it was "a re-aggravation of something that we've been working with him on all year."
  • Middleton has played in just 33 games all season due to wrist and knee injuries. He also missed much of last year's playoff run with knee issues.

It's been a tough year for Middleton, even when on the court. He's shooting a career-low 43.6% from the field, and his 31.5% 3-point shooting is his worst since his rookie year. Still, he's a crucial one-on-one scorer in halfcourt settings for the Bucks, especially in the playoffs.

The top five seeds in the East are officially locked in:

Out West, the Nuggets clinched the No. 1 seed thanks to the Grizzlies' overtime loss to the Pelicans. It's the first time ever the Nuggets have earned a 1 seed.

Here are the playoff pictures: East | West

What we're watching Thursday 📺

We're watching the Masters. Here's how.
🏀 Heat at 76ers, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Nuggets at Suns, 10 p.m. on TNT