Stars center isn’t traveling with team for Games 3 and 4 of series vs. Wild

The Dallas Stars are going to be without Joe Pavelski for at least the next two games in their opening-round series against the Minnesota Wild. The Dallas center isn’t traveling with the team for Games 3 and 4 as he remains in concussion protocol after being on the receiving end of a brutal hit, courtesy of Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, in Game 1.

Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said Thursday that he had “lots of hope” that Pavelski can return to the ice at some point during the first-round series.

“He’s getting better every day,” DeBoer said, according to TSN. “He was at the game last night, just not coming on this trip.”

During the second period of Game 1, Pavelski, 38, was lit up by Dumba on a play behind the net. Pavelski immediately left the game after the hit, one that left Dumba with a two-minute minor penalty for roughing. After a review of the play, he wasn’t given any major penalty.

“To be honest, I thought it was a clean hit. I figured (the refs) were going to see the same. Shoulder on shoulder,” Dumba said following Game 1. “I don’t even know why I got the roughing, probably because I was just in the box already.”

DeBoer stated after Game 1 that Pavelski’s head hit the ice when he fell after the hit.

“We have the best officials in the world. They called a five, they reviewed it, which is the right thing to do. If they reviewed and decided it wasn’t a bad hit then, you know, I guess it’s not for me to argue with that,” DeBoer added. “They got to look at it at multiple different angles and that was the decision they made, so we’ve got to live with that.”

The Stars are being extra cautious with Pavelski, as he does have a history of concussions throughout his length career. Pavelski didn’t play in Game 2, but the Stars rebounded in a big way with a dominant 7-3 win.

Picks for every first-round series, predicting the Stanley Cup winner

It’s Stanley Cup Playoffs time.

The Boston Bruins enter the postseason as the Presidents’ Trophy winners thanks to their historic 135-point season. In the West, the Vegas Golden Knights captured the top seed.

In the opening round, the lower-seeded wild card team faces off against the division winner with the best record. The other wild card team takes on the other division winner. The second and third place teams from the divisions battle it out in the other playoff matchups. In the opening two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, home ice advantage is given to the higher seed, which means that they had the better regular season record.

With the playoffs here, our NHL experts revealed their first-round predictions along with their Stanley Cup picks.

Western Conference
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(1) Golden Knights vs. (WC2) Jets
Chris: After missing the playoffs a season ago, the Golden Knights rebounded in a big way during the regular season. Vegas tallied the most points in the West and did that without having captain Mark Stone for the second half of the season due to a back injury. This will be Jack Eichel’s first career playoff appearance, and I expect him to dominate on the big stage. He enters the postseason riding a nine-game point streak with 11 assists during that stretch. The Golden Knights won all three meetings against the Jets during the regular season and outscored them 13-8 in those games. I do believe that the Jets are going to steal a few games, but will fall just a little short. Pick — Golden Knights beat Jets 4-2

Austin: The Golden Knights went 14-3-3 down the stretch, but they controlled just 46.9% of the five-on-five expected goals, per Natural Stat Trick. The Jets went 11-8-1 in that same span, but they were much better at five-on-five, controlling 56.5% of the expected goals. Even if Mark Stone is back in the lineup for the Golden Knights, the Jets have the biggest advantage in this series. Connor Hellebuyck is a top-three goaltender in the NHL, and he is capable of carrying Winnipeg past Vegas on his own. While Logan Thompson, Laurent Brossoit and Jonathan Quick have been anywhere from solid to really good for the Golden Knights, can you bet on that trio in the playoffs? I’d rather roll the dice with Hellebuyck and pick the Jets to pull off the upset. Pick — Jets beat Golden Knights 4-3

(2) Oilers vs. (3) Kings
Chris: This is simple: Connor. McDavid. He’s has put together a season for the ages as he recorded a mind-boggling 153 points, and led the way for the Oilers. These two teams split their four meetings during the regular season, so it’s going to likely be a tight series. While the Kings surpassed expectations, I just think that McDavid and company will be too much for them. Pick — Oilers beat Kings 4-2

Austin: The Oilers have an explosive offense that features a 60-goal scorer, a 50-goal scorer and two 30-goal scorers. Edmonton might give up a little more the other way, but the defense has improved drastically with the addition of Mattias Ekholm, and Stuart Skinner has become a reliable starting goaltender. On the other side, the Kings have been one of the best defensive teams in hockey all season, allowing the second fewest expected goals at five-on-five, per Natural Stat Trick. The battle between elite defensive forwards Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault and peak Connor McDavid will be a lot of fun to watch. The biggest x-factor in this series will be each side’s goaltending situation. If the Kings’ goaltending was in a better place, I would be more tempted to pick them, but the Oilers just have too much firepower. Pick — Oilers beat Kings 4-2

(1) Avalanche vs. (WC1) Kraken
Chris: In just their second NHL season, the Kraken are headed to the postseason for the first time. Their reward? Getting to face the defending Stanley Cup champions in the opening round. The Avalanche have dealth with a ton of injuries, but they still won the Central Division and are getting hot at the right time. They’ll be without captain Gabriel Landeskog for the entire postseason, but Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar bring a ton of firepower that Seattle just doesn’t possess. Sure, this isn’t the same loaded Avalanche roster from a season ago, but they’re clearly the better team here. Pick — Avalanche beat Kraken 4-1

Austin: Seattle has solid depth, and the scoring is balanced throughout all four lines, but the team may not have enough firepower to match the talent that fills Colorado’s bench. The biggest issue for the Kraken is in goal. Philipp Grubauer and Martin Jones have combined for one of the league’s worst save percentages again this year, and that is a major problem against this Avs team. For Colorado, Alexandar Georgiev has never started a playoff game, but he is coming off a much stronger regular season than either goalie in Seattle. It’ll be fun to see playoff hockey in Climate Pledge Arena, but Colorado will spoil the party rather quickly. Pick — Avalanche beat Kraken 4-1

(2) Stars vs. (3) Wild
Chris: The Wild and Stars were both battling with the Avalanche for the Central Division crown down the stretch. However, the Stars are definitely the better team in my eyes. They’re an offensive juggernaut that ranked seventh in goals-per-game (3.41) throughout the regular season. Jason Robertson has become one of the league’s most lethal goal scorers and the amount of depth that the Stars have is out of this world. For the Wild, it’ll be interesting to see who gets the start between the pipes out of Marc-Andre Fleury and Filip Gustavsson. Gustavsson makes more sense, as he’s had a much stronger campaign, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if head coach Dean Evason goes with the veteran in Fleury to start the series. If that turns out to be the case, how long will Fleury’s leash be? I do believe that we’ll see both goalies in this series, and that’s not a recipe for success. Pick — Stars beat Wild 4-2

Austin: The Stars have played like a top-10 team all season, and when they are at their best, they look like a real Stanley Cup contender. The Wild have been more inconsistent, and they don’t come into the playoffs at the top of their game. After a few years of being a one-trick pony, Dallas has gotten scoring from more than just its top line. Jamie Benn has found his game again, and Miro Heiskanen has added some offensive pop to his game on the blue line. Outside of Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy, Minnesota has struggled to find regular goal-scoring this season, and that means goaltending has been forced to carry the load at times. Filip Gustavsson has done just that, and he has earned the right to be the Game 1 starter for the Wild. He could steal a series. The downside for Minnesota is that Dallas has a goaltender who can do the same thing in Jake Oettinger. The Stars have been the better team in a lot of ways, and I don’t expect that to change over the next two weeks. Pick — Stars defeat Wild 4-1

Eastern Conference
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(1) Bruins vs. (WC2) Panthers
Chris: The Bruins recorded the most points in a single season in NHL history. Star forward David Pastrnak racked up a career-high 61 goals and kept opposing defenses scratching their heads. On top of that, Linus Ullmark was tremendous between the pipes. While the Panthers are certainly no slouch, it’s hard to imagine the Bruins seeing a ton of resistance in this matchup. I’ll say the Panthers steal a game at home, but the Bruins will definitely cruise to victory in the series. Pick — Bruins beat Panthers 4-1

Austin: The Panthers played their best hockey down the stretch and climbed into playoff position after looking dead in the water for most of the season. That would normally make them a dangerous team, except they are going up against a Bruins team that just set the record for wins and points in a single season. There might have been a two-week stretch in the middle of the season where Boston wasn’t playing like the best team in the league, but that is it. The Bruins were second in goals (301) and first in goals allowed (174), and that was no fluke. They were really that dominant. Matthew Tkachuk has been brilliant for the Panthers this season, and Carter Verhaeghe and Aleksander Barkov give Florida some very real threats up front. That said, the Panthers just don’t have enough horses — or the goaltending — to beat the Bruins in a seven-game series. Pick — Bruins beat Panthers 4-2

(2) Maple Leafs vs. (3) Lightning
Chris: I’m ready to say it: They’re finally going to get the job done. Yes, I realize it’s crazy to count out the Lightning, but I just think that this year’s Maple Leafs squad is different. Toronto’s dynamic duo of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner was lethal throughout the regular season, and I don’t expect that to change against Tampa Bay. Now the Maple Leafs will need to receive some stellar goaltending since Andrei Vasilevsky will likely provide that on the other side. It’ll be a back-and-forth series, but I believe that the Maple Leafs will finally make it out of the opening round for the first time since 2004. Pick — Maple Leafs beat Lightning 4-2

Austin: Am I going to buy into the Maple Leafs only for them to possibly make me look like a fool? Yes. The Maple Leafs have simply been better than the Lightning this season, and that was especially true in the last 20 games. In that stretch, the Leafs went 12-5-3 while Tampa went 9-10-1, and the underlying numbers also favored Toronto. There is always the chance that the Bolts are able to return to championship form in the playoffs. Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy know exactly what it takes to win at this time of year. On top of that, this is a Toronto team that hasn’t been out of the first round since “Shrek 2” was sweeping the nation. Despite that recent history, the Leafs are in position to get the job done this time around. If Toronto can’t get over the hump this year, I’m not sure when it will happen. Pick — Maple Leafs beat Lightning 4-2

(1) Hurricanes vs. (WC2) Islanders
Chris: The Hurricanes have been bitten by the injury bug this year. Max Pacioretty returned for five games before tearing his Achilles all over again. In March, Andrei Svechnikov was lost for the season due to a knee injury. Carolina certainly doesn’t have quite as many weapons as New York, but should still have enough to get out of the opening round, though. If Islanders star Mathew Barzal is actually healthy and consistently plays in the series, the Islanders have a much better chance to knock out the Canes. I still think it’ll be tightly contested, but the Hurricanes will come out on top regardless. Pick — Hurricanes beat Islanders 4-2

Austin: If you’re a fan of low-scoring playoff hockey, then this will probably be the series for you. Neither of these teams really filled the net in 2022-23. The Hurricanes and Islanders aren’t afraid to let shots fly from the point, which makes life a little easier on opposing goaltenders. To Carolina’s credit, it is able to create quite a few slot shots off of rebounds, but those rebounds may not be there against an all-world goaltender like Ilya Sorokin. Therein lies the biggest issue for the Canes. Sorokin has the ability to steal games for the Isles, and Carolina is without a pair of strong finishers in Andrei Svechnikov and Max Pacioretty. It sounds like Mat Barzal will return to the Islanders’ lineup in Game 1, and this has potential to be a tight series. The Hurricanes’ depth wins out, but the Isles will put up a solid fight. Pick — Hurricanes beat Islanders 4-3

(2) Devils vs. (3) Rangers
Chris: Pencil this one in as the most entertaining series that the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has to offer. Falling into the No. 2 spot in the Metro Division isn’t an ideal scenario for a Devils team that doesn’t possess a ton of playoff experience. Still, it’ll be great to see Jack Hughes on the big stage for the first time. I just think that the Rangers will have too much firepower from a forward standpoint. On top of that, reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin gives New York a huge advantage in the crease. Pick — Rangers beat Devils 4-3

Austin: Let’s hope this series is able to live up to the hype. These two rivals have been among the NHL’s best all season, and there will be starpower littered all over the ice. For the second straight season, the Rangers outplayed somewhat pedestrian underlying numbers at five-on-five, as stars like Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox torched opponents. The Devils, on the other hand, were dominant at five-on-five all year as Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier all took big steps forward. New Jersey has the starpower and depth necessary to take down its biggest rival, but Igor Shesterkin might be a rather large speed bump. Shesterkin’s spectacular performance in the 2022 playoffs took the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Final, and he has been elite over the last six weeks. Even though Shesterkin gives me a lot of pause, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the Devils every step of the way this season, so I’m sticking with them in this series. Pick — Devils beat Rangers 4-3

Stanley Cup winner
Chris: This was my prediction prior to the season getting underway and I’m sticking to it. It’s not going to be an easy road for the Rangers to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. New York is likely going to have to take down Boston at some point in order to reach the Stanley Cup Final, and that’s quite a tall task. However, the Rangers beefed up their forward group for this time of year. It won’t come as a huge surprise if Patrick Kane goes on a heater during the postseason. From a Western Conference standpoint, I’d love to go with the Avalanche getting back to the Stanley Cup Final, but the loss of Gabriel Landeskog is just too monumental. I believe it will finally be Connor McDavid’s time to get to the pinnacle of the sport. Seeing these two offenses do battle would be quite the treat. II just think that the combination of a top six that include Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Vladimir Tarasenko and Kane and an elite goaltender in Igor Shesterkin will be too much for the Oilers to overcome. Pick — Rangers beat Oilers 4-3

Austin: This is Connor McDavid’s moment. I cannot be convinced otherwise. He’s been on a mission all season, and it seems like he finally has a great supporting cast around him. The acquisition of Mattias Ekholm and the emergence of Stuart Skinner have made the Oilers a much more complete team. Edmonton may have to dethrone the Avalanche in the process of reaching the Stanley Cup Final, but the teams are much more evenly matched than they were last season. In the Eastern Conference, the Devils and Bruins were two of the best teams from start to finish in the regular season, and I expect them to meet in the conference finals, where New Jersey will end Boston’s historic season. A Stanley Cup Final featuring Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jack Hughes and Timo Meier is a hockey fan’s fever dream, and there’s a good chance we get it. In that matchup, McDavid leads the Oilers to their first Stanley Cup since 1990. Pick — Oilers beat Devils 4-3

Fight card, start time, how to watch, Paramount Plus

Combate Global hosts an intriguing main event that pits experience against success rate. Ivan Castillo vs. Santiago Guzman headlines the promotion’s return to Miami on Saturday night.

Combate is generally known as a platform for up-and-coming fighters, but Castillo will compete in his 40th professional fight on Saturday night. The jiu-jitsu specialist welcomes Guzman into the Combate cage for the first time. Guzman only has a quarter of his opponent’s professional experience despite a relatively small three-year age gap. What Guzman has going for him is a 70% winning rate, which is notably higher than Castillo, and a recent win over another Combate veteran.

Saturday’s co-main event welcomes women’s bantamweights into the cage. Claudia Villalobos impressed in her MMA debut and looks to extend her perfect run. Opposing her is Kristina Pettigrew who pursues her third consecutive win.

Below is the fight card and viewing information for Saturday’s Combate Global event.

Anthony Edwards, Jalen Brunson lead Americans to easy win in FIBA World Cup tune-up

Team USA jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead in their friendly against a Luka Doncic-less Slovenia on Saturday and never looked back. They led by double-digits for the majority of the afternoon en route to a 92-62 victory in the second of five tune-up games ahead of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

For the second consecutive game, Anthony Edwards led the way in the scoring department with 15 points, while Jalen Brunson (11 points, four rebounds and eight assists), Tyrese Haliburton (10 points, four rebounds and six assists) and Austin Reaves (10 points, five rebounds and four assists) all had solid all-around performances. It was a true team effort, as nine players had at least seven points and everyone on the roster scored.

About the only negative aspect of this outing for Team USA was that their poor 3-point shooting continued. After shooting just 6-of-27 from downtown against Puerto Rico earlier this week, the Americans went 9-of-33 versus Slovenia. It’s worth noting that Brunson is the only player on the roster who finished in the top 30 in 3-point shooting in the NBA last season, and Cameron Johnson, Haliburton, Reaves and Bridges were the only other players in even the top 75. They create so many good looks that you would expect the shooting to improve, but this could be an Achilles heel for this group.

Next up for the Americans is Spain on Sunday, which will conclude their short trip to Malaga. That game figures to be their first real test of the summer after two comfortable wins. After departing Spain, they will travel to the United Arab Emirates for their final two tune-up games against Greece and Germany in Abu Dhabi.

Then, it will be time for the real games to begin. Team USA has been drawn into Group C in the World Cup along with Greece, Jordan and New Zealand, with all of those games taking place in Manila, Philippines. Those games will run from Aug. 26-30, and they must finish in the top two to advance to the second round of the tournament.

There is always immense pressure on the Americans in any major tournament, but even more so this year after they stumbled to a seventh-place finish in the 2019 World Cup. Team USA last won the World Cup in 2014, and has five gold medals overall — tied with Yugoslavia for the most all-time.

‘That didn’t age well for me’

Golden State Warriors forward Klay Thompson is the latest player to sit down with Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George on his podcast, “Podcast P.” During his appearance, Thompson admitted that he regrets taunting Devin Booker during a loss to the Phoenix Suns last season.

The Oct. 25 match-up was just the fourth game of the season for both clubs, but it had a playoff-like atmosphere. In the third quarter, Thompson started jawing with Booker, repeatedly reminding him that he had four championships to his name. The two eventually came face-to-face, which resulted in double technicals. A few minutes later, Thompson received another technical for shoving Mikal Bridges, which earned him the first ejection of his career.

While the game was close when Thompson was ejected, the Suns later pulled away for a 134-105 win. Thompson finished with two points on 1-of-8 from the field, and was soundly outplayed by Booker, who finished with 34 points and seven assists.

“Yeah, I was in my feelings though and Book was busting my ass that day,” Thompson told George. “I was not where I needed to be. God. You know stuff doesn’t age well and that didn’t age well for me. I don’t need to be flexing four rings, bro, like everybody know that. That’s on Wikipedia. My game wasn’t where it was at and we all get insecure at times.

“I’m man enough to admit that we all have our moments of weakness. I’m not really proud of that one. Cause I see Devin Booker and I should be like, man, I should be proud of this young man. The work he’s put in. He survived a tough regime in Phoenix where everyone getting traded, he’s playing for a new coach every year but now he’s a franchise player cause he just kept working. So, I admire the guys who have work ethic like that, you know?”

Good chance you won’t see Klay flexing his 4 rings to opponents again 😂

— Podcast P with Paul George (@PodcastPShow) August 7, 2023
The respect is mutual. After that game, Booker said that the exchange didn’t change his attitude towards Thompson.

“I love Klay Thompson,” Booker said. “I have from the beginning. From the draft, coming out, I said I wanted to be Klay Thompson. That doesn’t excuse us from competing against each other and talking a little mess with each other. I had fun with it. Big fan of his and his competitive nature, and that’s that.”

As Booker’s quote from the moment shows, this incident wasn’t a big deal. Still, it was pretty cool to see Thompson being this candid in an interview and admit that he wasn’t proud of how he handled that moment. We usually don’t see that from players, especially while they’re still active.

 ‘I will win Rookie of the Year’

Scoot Henderson ended up falling to No. 3 in the 2023 NBA Draft earlier this summer, and he’s determined to make the two teams that passed on him regret their decision. During a video for Playmaker released on Monday, Henderson guaranteed that he will win Rookie of the Year and said he eventually wants to be the “best point guard to ever play in the game.”

The Portland Trail Blazers’ new point guard has been on the NBA radar since 2021, when he joined G League Ignite out of high school, and his success on the professional level as a teenager has only increased his confidence.

“My goal, obviously, is to win Rookie of the Year, and I will win Rookie of the Year,” Henderson said.

Later in the video he explained his approach to the game and why he has so much self-belief.

“That’s just a mindset, a manifestation that I kind of grew,” Henderson said. “Never doubted myself, you know, making sure I’m always putting good energy in the air, making sure I’m telling myself ‘I’m gonna have a great rookie season.’ I’m not saying I want to have a great rookie season, I’m gonna have a great rookie season. I’m gonna have a great career. I will have a great career and making sure that’s always in just past tense because it happened.”

“I will win rookie of the year”

Portland Trailblazers’ Scoot Henderson (@thereal013) didn’t take the traditional pathway to the NBA that most players do. As the youngest professional EVER in the G League he was able to not only figure himself out, but his game as well.


— Playmaker (@playmaker) August 7, 2023
Henderson currently has the third-best odds to win Rookie of the Year, behind No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama and No. 2 pick from the 2022 draft, Chet Holmgren, who missed all of last season with a broken foot. Here’s a look at the lastest odds, per

Wembanyama is the favorite for obvious reasons; he’s one of the best prospects to ever enter the league and has the ability to make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball. Holmgren has a similiar build and skillset to Wembanyama, and also has the benefit of spending a year learning on the bench.

Henderson will likely have the ball in his hands more often than either of them, though, assuming the Trail Blazers trade Damian Lillard before the start of the season. He also has fewer injury concerns, which could come into play given the new rule that requires players to have appeared in 65 games to be eligible for major awards.

If you were just making a pick for the honor, you would go with Wembanyama. From a betting perspective, though, Henderson is probably the best value based on the current board.