Live From Augusta

April 7, 2021

Good Morning,

From one sports phenomenon to another, we transition from March Madness to The Masters. The quest for the green jacket tees off in 24 hours.

Letter Rip!

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TEAM NEWS

Congrats to our Bracket Challenge winner, Greg D. What’s Greg doing after winning the title? He’s going to Disney World! And he’s taking his granddaughter. That’s a pro move, Greg.

 

Thanks to everyone who played The Sportsletter’s Bracket Challenge for the last three weeks. That’s a wrap for March Madness. We’ll have more exciting group competitions coming soon, so stay tuned.

 

The Sportsletter Team

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THE MASTERS

Live From Augusta

Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Things to Watch Before Round 1 at The Masters

 

From one spectacle to another, the sports calendar shifts from Madness to Silence… Augusta Silence, that is. The next big-ticket item on the agenda is The Masters, and it’s already here. Players from all over the world drove up Magnolia Lane this morning for practice rounds and the Champions Dinner, served by last year’s winner, Dustin Johnson. DJ cooked up pigs in a blanket and filet mignon. That’s a nice start to the week.

 

The azaleas are blooming among the Georgia pines, the patrons are back and “A Tradition Unlike Any Other” returns to the forefront. The 85th Masters at Augusta National is ready for play. Quiet please…

 

Multiple Green-Jacket Winners

There will be no Tiger Woods at Augusta National after his horrific car accident last month. The five-time champion would’ve been the most decorated participant in the field, but that honor now belongs to Phil Mickelson (3). A 50-year-old Phil isn’t a safe bet to win this weekend, and that means the likely contenders will be in search of their first or second green jacket. Let’s look at who’s in top form for the biggest week in golf.

 

The Best Odds to Win

The 2020 winner, Dustin Johnson, opens the week as the favorite to repeat at Augusta, but Justin Thomas and a revitalized Jordan Spieth are sure to compete. Here are the top-10 players with the best odds to win The Masters. (Full List of Odds)

 

D. Johnson: 9-1

J. Thomas: 10-1

J. Spieth: 10-1

B. DeChambeau: 11-1

J. Rahm: 12-1

R. McIlroy: 14-1

P. Cantlay: 20-1

X. Schauffele: 22-1

B. Koepka: 25-1

C. Morikawa: 28-1

 

Wednesday Waiting at Augusta

The Par 3 contest, traditionally held on the Wednesday of Masters week, has been canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. In it’s place we’ll have one more day of waiting as the storylines and headlines ramp up before Round 1.

 

First Round Coverage

Thursday (3:00 pm ET, ESPN)

 

The Sportsletter will have full coverage of The Masters tomorrow and Friday.

 

Additional Storylines

PGA Tour: Power Rankings for The Masters 2021

Masters: Dustin Johnson Ready to Defend Masters Title

ESPN: Bryson DeChambeau Hints at ‘Very Helpful’ Club in His Bag, But Won’t Give Details

SI: Augusta National Leaves Tiger Woods’s Seat Open at Masters Champions Dinner

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NBA

The NBA Playoff Hunt

Photo: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images

Joel Embiid’s Return Puts 76ers Back Atop East

 

The return of Joel Embiid just spelled trouble for the rest of the Eastern Conference. The 76ers’ big man pumped in 35 points in his second game back after an extended absence with a knee injury. Philly dropped Boston below .500 on Tuesday (106-96), and the Sixers are 26-7 this season when Embiid plays — the highest win percentage for any individual player this season. In other words: the Most Valuable Player? With their second win since Embiid’s comeback, Philadelphia regained a share of the lead in the Eastern Conference. But Kevin Durant is making his Nets return tonight. Things are about to get interesting.

 

That got us thinking about the NBA playoff hunt with 20 games until the postseason.

 

NBA Playoff Picture

 

Eastern Conference

1. 76ers (35-16)

2. Nets (35-16)

3. Bucks (32-18)

4. Hawks (27-24)

5. Hornets (25-24)

6. Heat (26-25)

 

Play-In: 7. Knicks (25-26), 8. Celtics (25-26), 9. Pacers (22-27), 10. Bulls (21-28)

 

Western Conference

1. Jazz (38-12)

2. Suns (35-14)

3. Clippers (34-18)

4. Nuggets (32-18)

5. Lakers (32-19)

6. Blazers (30-20)

 

Play-In: 7. Mavericks (28-21), 8. Grizzlies (25-23), 9. Spurs (24-24), 10. Warriors (24-27)

 

Additional Highlights & Storylines

House of Highlights: Steph Curry Scores 41 as Warriors Hold Off Bucks (122-121)

CBS Sports: Trae Young (30) Leads Hot-Shooting Hawks Past Zion (34) for 4th-Straight Win

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SOCCER

Champions League Highlights

Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty Images

Manchester City & Real Madrid Take Advantage With Leg 1 Wins

 

The Champions League returned Tuesday with the first leg of the quarterfinals as the tournament nears the end. Two more games are on the docket today after a pair of scintilating matches yesterday, including one 90th-minute goal to vault Manchester City to victory. Here’s how yesterday’s UCL matches went down:

 

Man. City def. Dortmund (2-1)

The quarterfinals kicked off with the Premier League giants from Manchester City at home against Borussia Dortmund and its bright young star, Erling Haaland. It was City and Kevin De Bruyne who struck early, but Marco Reus found the equalizer in the 84th minute. A draw appeared almost certain before City’s Phil Foden finished a beautiful layoff from Ilkay Gundogan. City takes a slim one-goal lead into Leg 2 at Dortmund next week.

 

Real Madrid def. Liverpool (3-1)

The resurrection of Real Madrid’s season continued with a shocking win over Liverpool in Leg 1. The once-unbeateable Reds scored just once on their only shot on target from Mo Salah. Madrid stayed on the attack throughout, getting a pair of goals from 20-year-old Vinicius Junior and a top-class performance from Toni Kroos to take a two-goal edge into Leg 2.

 

Today’s Schedule

Bayern vs. PSG (3:00 pm ET)

Porto vs. Chelsea (3:00 pm ET)

 

Additional Storylines

ESPN: Toni Kroos the Key Difference-Maker as Real Madrid Thwart Lackluster Liverpool

Yahoo! Sports: Champions League Ref Caught on Video Asking for Erling Haaland’s Autograph After Blown Call

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MLB

MLB Quick-Hitters

McMahon Mashes 3 Homers

Not one, not two, but three jacks from Rockies’ 2B Ryan McMahon on Tuesday night. Colorado and Arizona went deep into the morning hours (13 innings), and McMahon stamps the first 3-homer game of the 2021 season.

 

Soto’s First Walk-Off for the Nats

Juan Soto smacked a walk-off single to score Victor Robles and help the Nationals beat the Braves (6-5) after a COVID-19-delayed season-opener. The Nats are 1-0.

 

Cole Cooks the O’s With 13 Ks

Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole was dealing on Tuesday. He struck out 13 Orioles batters and allowed just four hits and zero runs in seven innings of a 7-2 Yankees win.

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THE STORYLINES 

🏈 What We Learned From NFL Pro Days

In the months leading up to the draft, which begins April 29, there have been pro days and… a whole lot of hoping for the best with virtual meetings with prospects. (ESPN)

 

⚾️ Can One Weekend Tank a Season?

Three or four games may not seem like a lot across a 162-game season, but opening weekend still presented enough data to swing some potential playoff teams’ chances by significant margins. (The Ringer)

 

🏀 Will We Ever See an Undefeated Team?

From Nov. 26 through the early evening of April 5, the 2020-21 Gonzaga Bulldogs felt like a Death Star laying waste to everything in their path. If they couldn’t go undefeated, can anyone? (B/R)

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📰 THE HEADLINES

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The Sportsletter Team

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