Explaining Kristaps Porzingis’ leg injury; U.S. Open expert picks

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This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.


🏌 Good morning to everyone, but especially to …

THE U.S. OPEN FIELD

The toughest test in golf returns to one of the sport’s most iconic courses tomorrow as Pinehurst No. 2 hosts the 124th U.S. Open.

Things get started a few hours before tomorrow’s newsletter comes out — 6:45 a.m. to be precise, and here’s how to watch — so we’re going to do our full preview today. Let’s start with some notable tee times:

  • 7:29 a.m. — Will Zalatoris, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tiger Woods
  • 7:40 a.m. — Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka
  • 7:51 a.m. — Tony Finau, Ludvig Åberg, Dustin Johnson
  • 1:14 p.m. — Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler (Note: These are the top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking.)
  • 1:25 p.m. — Brian Harman, Nick Dunlap, Wyndham Clark
  • 1:25 p.m. — Bryson DeChambeau, Viktor Hovland, Max Homa

You can see all tee times here. Notably absent is Jon Rahm, who withdrew with a foot injury that included an infection.

If you’ve paid any attention to golf, you know Scheffler is the obvious favorite (here are the odds), having won five of his last eight tournaments, including the Masters in April and the Memorial last week. He’s the first player to enter the U.S. Open with five wins in the season, including a major, since Arnold Palmer in 1962. 

And if you haven’t paid any attention to golf, welcome aboard! We have plenty of stuff to get you started like top storylines, who to root for and what to know about the course.

No matter how much you know about the sport, Kyle Porter’s ranking of the top 24 players is a must-read. It’s the names you’d expect — Scheffler, Morikawa, McIlroy and Schauffele — at 1-4. (I love his call at five.)

  • Porter: 5. Ludvig Åberg — “It’s shocking to think that, as good as Åberg was as an amateur, this is his first U.S. Open. He has been almost inconceivably good for his first year on the PGA Tour with six top 10s and nine top 25s in 12 starts. I go back and forth on whether you want to enter major championships with experience (especially U.S. Opens), but I’m leaning on how great he was at the Masters … And that was his first-ever major appearance!”

Scheffler is the easy pick to win. But in our expert picks, Patrick McDonald goes another way.

  • McDonald: Winner — Hideki Matsuyama (50-1): “Scheffler is more-or-less assumed at this point, so let’s add a little more excitement to this topic. Matsuyama thrives in two areas that will be heavily tested at Pinehurst: on approach and around the green. The former Masters champion ranks No. 1 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained around the green and is among the leaders in terms of proximity from 200+ yards and bogey avoidance. He quelled any concerns regarding his lack of reps since the Masters with a top-10 result last week at Memorial and has a solid U.S. Open résumé with a runner-up finish in 2017 and top five in 2022.”

Kyle and Patrick also picked sleepers, top-10 locks and much more.

😄 Honorable mentions

🏀 And not such a good morning for …


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KRISTAPS PORZINGIS AND THE BOSTON CELTICS

The Celtics haven’t encountered much trouble so far this postseason, whether in their romp through the Eastern Conference or on their way to a 2-0 NBA Finals lead over the Mavericks.

That’s no longer the case.

Kristaps Porzingis is day-to-day with a torn medial retinaculum, allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon in his left leg. In plainer language, it’s basically a tear of the tissue that holds together a bunch of things in the ankle, including the tibialis tendon. The tibialis tendon connects the calf to the foot. If that tendon becomes dislocated … well, that’s bad. We have a full explanation of this exceedingly rare injury.

What you really need to know is …

  1. Joe Mazzulla called it a “serious injury” two days after saying the team wasn’t concerned.
  2. Mazzulla isn’t sure if Porzingis will play in Game 3.
  3. It’s unrelated to the right calf injury Porzingis returned from in Game 1.
  4. The Celtics say the injury happened late in the third quarter of Game 2, though it appeared he also tweaked his right calf in the fourth quarter.

I don’t want to speculate too much. Porzingis is officially day-to-day, after all. I will say this: Losing him for any time would be a big blow to Boston. After a magnificent Game 1, Porzingis had a strong Game 2, too. Boston is outscoring Dallas by 25 points this series with Porzingis on the floor. The teams are dead even when Porzingis is not on the floor.

Porzingis scores from all over, defends the rim and presents an unsolvable problem for the Mavericks, as Sam Quinn wrote after Game 1. Should Porzingis miss time, Al Horford would see a bigger role, with reserves Luke Kornet and/or Xavier Tillman also potentially getting more time.

On the other side, Luka Doncic is battling through an injury as well, and Jasmyn Wimbish looked at the five teams who have overcome 2-0 deficits in the finals.

😔 Not so honorable mentions

  • Sam ranked all 30 NBA head coaching jobs, and the Lakers did not do well after being turned down by Dan Hurley.
  • Aaron Rodgers missed Jets minicamp practice Tuesday due to a personal event, but it was still deemed an “unexcused” absence.
  • J.T. Realmuto will miss about a month after having knee surgery.
  • After some trash talk, Xander Schauffele lost to Michael Jordan straight up … in golf.

🌭 Joey Chestnut ineligible for Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest


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The GOAT won’t be grazing in Coney Island this July 4. Joey Chestnut was banned from this year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest by Major League Eating because he has partnered with Impossible Foods, a company that makes plant-based hot dogs and is a competitor to Nathan’s.

This is devastating. However you feel about competitive eating, there’s little doubt that Chestnut is in a class of his own when it comes to hot dogs. He has won the iconic Hot Dog Eating contest 16 of the past 17 years and each of the past eight years. He holds the all-time record with 76 hot dogs and buns consumed in 10 minutes at the 2021 event.

MLE says Chestnut would be eligible to compete if he dropped his partnership with Impossible Foods. That statement also called Chestnut “an American hero.” Listen, I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I watched Chestnut in silent stupor far more than I’d like to admit.

Last year, Chestnut ate “only” 62 hot dogs, but that was still 13 more than second-place Geoffrey Esper.

⚽ Golazo 100 No. 20-11: Messi just barely misses top 10


USATSI

Today’s the day! We’re announcing the top 10 players of our Golazo 100 this morning on the Golazo Network, capping a true labor of love by our soccer staff, from writers to TV analysts to researchers and more.

Tuesday, we revealed No. 20-11, which includes a player who was No. 1 for a long time, notes Roger Gonzalez.

  • Gonzalez: 12. Lionel Messi — “The greatest player of all-time. About to turn 37, playing in MLS, and he’s still this high on the list. If that doesn’t describe his greatness, do you need something else? After leading Argentina to the 2022 World Cup title in Qatar, he finished his time with PSG and made that move to Inter Miami where he has, as expected, made defenders look like children. He’s got 25 goals in 29 games for the Herons and needs just five more to become the club’s all-time leading scorer. … he continues to make a case as being the best player in the world.”

📺 What we’re watching Wednesday

USMNT vs. Brazil, 7 p.m. on TNT
🏀 NBA Finals — Game 3: Celtics at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. on ABC

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