In a possible Eastern Conference Finals preview, the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at the TD Garden by a score of 117-108. All the talk lately has been about how good Kawhi Leonard is, and while he does deserve a ton of credit, it was the forgotten man Kyrie Irving that stole the show in Boston. Irving led the Celtics with 27 points and a ridiculous total of 17 assists on the night, hitting a fade away jumper to hand them the lead and then a three-pointer that was the dagger as they closed out the game on a 17-4 run. The aforementioned Leonard collected 33 points on the night, with 11 of those coming from the free throw line as he was perfect. Irving said after the game that he even apologized for not realizing the load put upon LeBron James when they were in Cleveland. What a night there.
Another man that had a heck of a night was, you guessed it, James Harden. Unquestionably the favorite to land MVP honors yet again, he and the Houston Rockets hosted the Brooklyn Nets, and he erupted to the tune of 58 points as he took them on his shoulders and carried them. Unfortunately for him, it still wasn’t enough. And that has to be the thing that will scare him the very most as they keep getting closer and closer to the playoffs. After a huge third quarter by the Rockets, the Nets roared back to life and got the game into overtime. Thanks to 25 points from Spencer Dinwiddie in the fourth and in OT, they were able to get out of Houston with a 145-142 win. If the Rockets are going to keep up their pace, someone will have to help Harden and their defense will have to be much, much better.
In college football, the Oklahoma Sooners football program just keeps going from strength to strength, at least as far as the quarterback position is concerned. The Sooners, who have made three of the last four College Football Playoffs, have experienced two Heisman winners in a row in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. The former set the NFL record for most touchdowns for a rookie QB, while the latter has an enticing choice between going early in the NFL Draft as a highly-coveted QB or going to play in the MLB for big money. They’ve gone and got the best available QB out there now in Jalen Hurts, a man that went 26-2 as a starter at Alabama. Hurts, who was the backup to Tua Tagovailoa this past season but still saved the day in the SEC Championship Game, is a graduate and thus is eligible to play right away for one final season. Hurts has National Championship pedigree, and is a great pickup for Oklahoma, who will have highly-rated Spencer Rattler presumably backing him up and learning from him for a spell. Very few teams have a QB as good as Hurts, and this has to be viewed as a major win for the Sooners in both the landscape of the Big 12 and in college football in general.