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KSR Today: NBA Playoffs, Yahtzees and the SEC championship

Jack PIlgrimby:Jack Pilgrim05/26/24

As our resident Boston Celtics fan here at the KSR offices, I’m waking up feeling grateful for Jrue Holiday and a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, though, that comes at the expense of many Kentucky fans who grew up diehards of the Indiana Pacers due to proximity — it’s the closest NBA team to us here in the Commonwealth by a few hours. And the Pacers have also taken in our cherished treasure Oscar Tshiebwe, who won G League Rookie of the Year honors after putting up video game numbers all season with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He’s on the bench every game while fellow former Wildcat Isaiah Jackson is in the rotation and giving Indiana solid minutes.

So I get it, and for that, I’m sorry. Please don’t take my fandom personally as I celebrate the 18-point comeback win to put the Celtics just one victory away from the NBA Finals. Or the fact that I root for a team whose franchise player is a Duke Blue Devil with a running mate who infamously picked Cal-Berkeley over Kentucky on Derby weekend back in 2015. The statute of limitations has passed on Al Horford after running through the college basketball world at Florida under Billy Donovan back in the day — no reason to hate that guy still. At least I don’t have to pretend to like Grant Williams anymore, right?

All of that to say if there are any Indiana fans fed up with the series and want to sell their tickets for Monday, I know a guy looking for two.

Celtics win 114-111 to go up 3-0

We’ll make this quick since most of you may not to read it, even if it’s the top sports story of the morning. Boston found itself down as many as 18 before chipping away down the stretch and ultimately securing the comeback win, led by Jayson Tatum with 36 points on 12-23 shooting while adding 10 rebounds and eight assists. Jaylen Brown added 24 on 10-18 shooting while Al Horford went for 23 with a career playoff high of seven made threes. It was Jrue Holiday coming up down the stretch, though, securing an and-one to take the 112-111 lead, followed by a clutch steal in the final seconds with two made free throws to seal the 114-111 victory. He went for 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals after coming in questionable due to illness.

On the other side, Andrew Nembhard went nuclear for a career-high 32 points and nine assists while TJ McConnell added 23 and Pascal Siakam and Myles Turner each put up 22. The Pacers as a team shot 50.5% from the field after a red-hot start to put Boston in a rough spot early.

And they were in position to tie it at the buzzer to send it to overtime, taking a page out of an NFL playbook to draw up a clean look for Aaron Nesmith from three, one that came up just short.

Can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.

KAT looks to avoid 0-3 deficit at Dallas

Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves are in a similar spot going into Game Three of the Western Conference Finals, down 2-0 in the series to the Dallas Mavericks. The greater issue? They gave up home court advantage by losing both in Minneapolis, meaning the Wolves will have to make their series comeback on the road, desperate to avoid a 3-0 deficit that has never been overcome in the history of the NBA.

Towns will need to step up to make that happen after being the subject of criticism up to this point, combining for just 31 points on an abysmal 10-36 shooting and 3-14 from three through two games this series.

“With KAT, I think he’s just got to calm down,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said following Minnesota’s Game 2 loss — a buzzer-beating effort by Dallas’ Luka Doncic. “I think he’s coming out of the gate pressing a little bit, maybe getting off on the wrong foot and then chasing the game.”

Can the Wolves chip away at that deficit or can PJ Washington’s Mavericks take the commanding 3-0 lead? That game tips off tonight at 8 p.m. ET on TNT with Dallas favored by 2.5 as of this morning and the point total set at 207.5.

4-Star Safety Martels Carter Commits to Kentucky

Memorial Day Weekend isn’t limited to the NBA Playoffs — Mark Stoops and the Kentucky football program got massive news Saturday afternoon, as well.

Martels Carterthe No. 1-ranked prospect in the state of Kentucky, committed to the Wildcats over Auburn, Colorado and Louisville to become the sixth commitment in UK’s 2025 class. And it’s a massive one as the 6-1, 185-pound safety Paducah Tilghman (Paducah, KY) is the nation’s No. 193 overall prospect and No. 25 safety, according to the On3 Industry Ranking, a weighted average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies.

How did he land on Kentucky? That answer is easy.

“It’s home,” Carter said told KSR+’s Jacob Polacheck.

It was Vince Marrow and Frank Buffano who helped seal the deal on the four-star safety’s commitment.

“[Marrow] keeps it real. He doesn’t try to just talk. He’ll tell you what it is,” Carter said. “[Buffano] is the exact same way. It’s about business. He’s going to have fun doing it.”

What are his goals in blue and white?

“I’m coming down and booming with my power and explosiveness,” Carter said. “When you see me on that field, my job is to get you ecstatic, excited, and on your feet. I’m going to do that with a passion. … My job is to flip UK around and make it poppin’ again.”

Someone will win the SEC Tournament in Hoover on Sunday

Kentucky has returned home from the SEC Tournament after ending its run with a 1-2 record in Hoover, the latest a one-run loss to South Carolina on Friday in the quarterfinals. From there, the No. 10 seed Gamecocks advanced to take on No. 11 seed LSU in the semifinals, a game won by the Tigers by a final score of 12-11.

On the other side of the bracket, it was No. 1 seed Tennessee defeating No. 5 Mississippi State 6-5 in the quarterfinals, followed by a 6-4 win over No. 8 seed Vanderbilt to advance to the title game. Now, we’ve got the Volunteers vs. Tigers coming up at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2 for the championship trophy.

Where does that leave the Wildcats? D1 Baseball lists Kentucky as the No. 2 overall seed as of May 26, behind Tennessee who overtook the No. 1 spot with its run in Hoover. From there, North Carolina is the projected No. 3 overall seed, followed by Texas A&M at No. 4, Arkansas at No. 5, Clemson at No. 6, Florida State at No. 7, Oklahoma at No. 8, Georgia at No. 9 and Virginia at No. 10 — five of the top 10 seeds coming from the SEC.

Enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day Weekend, Big Blue Nation. Go Cats.

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