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Good morning! Luka Dončić is very good at basketball.
Trades! The Knicks are doing it
I apologize for calling this NBA trade deadline a “dud-line” last week. Sort of. Yesterday was busy, with nearly 20 trades completed in the last 24 hours or so. Let’s process this by tier:
Whew. We have so much more on the deadline today. Zach Harper will espouse his thoughts in The Bounce later this morning, which includes LeBron’s Lakers doing nothing, while The Athletic NBA Show broke down every deal here.
Things You Need to See: Sheesh, Luka
One of my favorite NBA bits: star players saving their best for Madison Square Garden, no matter how good the Knicks are. Luka Dončić contributed to the gag last night in a special way:
Luka MAGIC with a behind-the-back dime!
Mavs-Knicks on TNT pic.twitter.com/Hr3DNF2W9C
— NBA (@NBA) February 9, 2024
The wherewithal to see the opening and pull off that pass in such a short time frame is nothing short of savant stuff. Dončić is almost past hyperbole at this point, but I still gasped on first watch.
Dončić’s Mavericks even beat those Knicks. Dallas is somehow quietly a really good team this year, though they remained mired in the West standings glut at 29-23, only good for No. 8 right now. The front office clearly believes after making multiple trades yesterday.
News to Know
Texans and Lamar clean up
Last night, quarterback C.J. Stroud and pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. won the NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards, precisely quantifying why the Texans have a bright future. Houston coach DeMeco Ryans came within one first-place vote of winning Coach of the Year, too. That went to Browns head man Kevin Stefanski. (Oh, and the big award: Lamar Jackson ran away with his second MVP vote.)
Clark inches closer
Caitlin Clark scored 27 points in Iowa’s win over Penn State last night, leaving her 39 points shy of Kelsey Plum’s NCAA women’s basketball scoring record. The Hawkeyes play Nebraska on Sunday, and Clark has scored 39 or more points three times this season. Keep an eye out.
The Fun Bets: Let’s get silly
We’re saving the big, brooding Super Bowl storylines for Sunday’s Pulse. Today is for Friday fun. Translation: Let’s do some Super Bowl prop bets.
Just like your local restaurant wine list, these are going from driest to richest. All odds via BetMGM:
- First touchdown scorer: Isaac Pacheco (+550). I am betting the Chiefs end up with the ball first and Pacheco stomps his way to the end zone for an opening salvo. More evidence-based touchdown prop choices this way.
- First 49ers touchdown: Brock Purdy (+2200). I went all googly-eyes at those odds. Purdy doesn’t rush often, but he’s good for about four yards per carry, counting the playoffs. I fully expect this game to be 7-7 after two drives, and I’m talking myself into Kyle Shanahan scheming a Purdy run at the goal line. See full Purdy prop odds here.
- Patrick Mahomes passing TDs: Under 1.5 (+120). Mahomes has one or fewer touchdown passes in nine games this season, including two of Kansas City’s three postseason wins. As we mentioned this week, expect the Chiefs to rely on the run. I like this one, although the rest of Mahomes’ prop odds left me stressed. Which means Vegas did well.
- What apparel will rapper Drake wear Sunday, thus enacting the Drake Curse? 49ers (+130). I wish I could get odds on what weird lyric containing the word “Purdy” he’ll put on Instagram, too. Just one of many fun prop bets.
- Which Taylor Swift song will Tony Romo reference first? Pulse friend Hannah Vanbiber voted for “Bad Blood.” I will bet on a clumsy “Shake It Off” use.
Our betting crew went a little props-wild this week. There’s a massive list of more bets here, which you can actually vote on — including how long Reba McEntire’s national anthem will be. Go win some fake money.
Watch This Game
NBA: Pelicans at Lakers
10:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV
I am intrigued to watch New Orleans finish the second of two L.A. games, the first being Wednesday’s big win over the juggernaut Clippers. Many assumed these teams would figure heavily into trade deadline action yesterday, but both stood pat. Need a vibe check.
NCAAM: Indiana at No. 2 Purdue
8 p.m. ET on Fox (Sat.)
This is not the best matchup on the court, but the stakes are massive nonetheless, as Purdue — for now — has supplanted the Hoosiers as Indiana’s basketball school. More proof: tickets for this game are hovering around $300 a pop on the secondary market.
Zak Keefer has a great feature on Sunday’s stakes for Kansas City, who can enter rarefied air with a Super Bowl win. I loved all the input from the Patriots’ dynasty in this one. We’ll expound more on this — for both teams — Sunday morning.
I am praying for a doink on Sunday, because this year, we have a Doink Cam. Richard Deitsch has the scoop.
Spring training is so, so close. Our baseball staff put together an insightful (and very funny) guide to who won and lost the MLB offseason, complete with a slick interface.
You may have missed FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s shot at the NFL this week, in which he said there would be “104 Super Bowls” on American turf for the 2026 World Cup. Felipe Cardenas used it for a good story idea: How do the Super Bowl and Champions League final compare?
Ken Rosenthal got an exclusive interview with the mayor of Oakland to talk about her eye-raising comments about the possible move of the A’s.
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(Photo: Adam Pantozzi/Getty Images)