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Here are the top stories for May 12:

Deflategate Fallout

Tom Brady will miss the first four games of the season for the New England Patriots, with an appeal forthcoming. It’s hardly a surprise that Brady will return for Week 5 when the Patriots take on the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Championship Game rematch. Brady will miss games against Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Dallas. The Patriots were also fined $1M and lost their 2016 first-round pick and 2017 fourth-round pick.

Oddsmakers reacted quickly, dropping the Patriots to a one-point favorite against Pittsburgh on opening night and lowering their win total to 10. In looking at the severity of the punishment, there are many different sides to take. Is deflating footballs a more egregious error than taking a banned substance? Ray Rice initially got two games for his Mike Tyson Punch Out impersonation on his fiancée in an elevator. It wasn’t until the video went public that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did what was right.

In this case, the league suspended Brady for 25 percent of the season, despite no actual proof that Brady asked for or orchestrated the deflation of footballs. The exact wording of Troy Vincent’s statement is that Brady “more probably than not” had knowledge of the act. He probably did, but the NFL failed to provide proof without a reasonable doubt.

On one hand, we can make the case that Brady probably knew or, at the very least, did not object when the balls were softer than usual. On another hand, is Brady any different from other quarterbacks that potentially doctor the footballs in other ways? The burden of proof is evident in so many other suspensions. A guy pops a positive drug test. A hit is dirty or a player steps on another player. There’s some sort of concrete evidence. It appears that there is no concrete evidence of Brady’s involvement in this case.

The fact remains that Brady is suspended. Whether it’s warranted or not, the team belongs to Jimmy Garoppolo for the first four games of the season. The Patriots’ reputation undoubtedly preceded them in this case, which is probably the reason for the severity of the suspension. Also, the event in question happened during the NFL playoffs. If the NFL had some foresight and took control away from teams in terms of providing their own footballs, especially in the playoffs, this would never have happened.

I have no personal opinion either way and I don’t think it affects the Patriots very much. In fact, it could help the Patriots. Brady gets to ease into the season with his 38-year-old body and the Patriots probably go no worse than 2-2 in those four games. Even if the worst-case scenario happened and the Patriots went 0-4, a 10-6 record would probably be good enough to win the AFC East anyway.

Kerr Finds The Golden Goose

The Golden State Warriors desperately needed a win. They got it because Steve Kerr made a tremendous adjustment in Game 4. Andrew Bogut was placed on Tony Allen to give the Warriors a better set of matchups on the defensive end. That allowed Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes to take care of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. The end result was a poor shooting performance from Allen and a Warriors win.

The playoffs are all about making adjustments, no matter the sport. Over four, five, six, or seven games, there are no more secrets between the teams. Kerr took advantage of Allen’s poor shooting performance throughout the season to focus on defending the interior. It worked beautifully, as the Grizzlies were held to just 84 points in a 17-point loss to the Warriors.

It didn’t hurt that Stephen Curry shot the ball much better in Game 4 than he has at other points in the series, but the defensive adjustment took Memphis out of their comfort zone and they only scored 44 points in the first half. That allowed Golden State to build a 17-point lead by the break. Mike Conley was 4-of-15 from the field and his performance, coupled with the defensive adjustment put the Grizzlies in a bad position from the opening tip.

While the play worked for at least one game, Kerr will probably need to adjust again. Dave Joerger had outcoached him through the first three games of the series. Kerr got one back to turn it into a three-game series with home court advantage. The chess match is officially on and the coach that wins will move on to the next round.

Best-of-Three

It will be a best-of-three format in both Eastern Conference series as the Atlanta Hawks took care of business in Game 5 to tie up the series at 2-2. The Hawks were extremely happy with how they played in Game 5, even though Paul Pierce’s game-tying three-point attempt could have really changed the dynamic of the game and the series. Pierce missed and the Hawks covered with a couple of late free throws.

DeMarre Carroll, who had been carrying the Hawks, was limited to five points on 2-of-8 shooting. Paul Millsap, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague combined for 63 of Atlanta’s 106 points. It was good to see Teague get aggressive after playing with some complacency early in the series. Millsap was very effective in his 27 minutes.

As for the Wizards, Bradley Beal tried to will his team to victory by taking 25 shots. Beal had 34 points on 11-of-25 shooting and was 8-of-9 from the line. The loss of John Wall was evident in this game and will now be a story moving forward. The Wizards rallied around each other in Game 3 after the Wall announcement. They could not replicate that same emotion in Game 4.

The concern for the Hawks is that this was still a very even game. The Wizards held a rebounding edge, shot better from distance, and both teams shot well from the free throw line. The Hawks had an edge in turnovers, assists, and shooting percentage. Atlanta was excited about the way that they played, but the game was one shot from possibly going the other way. The Hawks now have home court advantage again, but they are hardly safe.

Game 6 Preview

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens play Game 6 tonight in the NHL playoffs. Tampa Bay was the top home team during the regular season, but they have another bit of adversity to play through now. Along with losing Game 4 and Game 5 to turn this back into a series, the Lightning got some tough news late Monday night. Ryan Callahan, a playoff hero for the New York Rangers and one of the team’s most experienced players, had to undergo an emergency appendectomy.

Callahan only has three assists in the playoffs, so he hasn’t been a huge impact player, but he was reliable during the regular season and his loss as a vocal leader overshadows any loss on the ice. Callahan should be in the building, but somebody else will have to step up and lead by example on the ice.

This game will likely come down to the goaltenders. Ben Bishop was much better in Game 5 after a Game 4 blowup. Carey Price has been the backbone of the Montreal Canadiens all season long. For more on this game, check out my game preview.

College Basketball Update

It’s been a few days since I’ve taken a look around the world of college hoops. Here’s what has been going on. After Billy Donovan left Florida for the NBA, Florida AD Jeremy Foley wasted no time in plucking Mike White away from Louisiana Tech. Florida reportedly looked at Chris Mack of Xavier and Archie Miller of Dayton, but ultimately decided that it would take too much money to pull those guys from their positions. White played his college ball in the SEC at Ole Miss and is a Florida native.

Wichita State got a big boost when Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker both agreed to return to school for their senior seasons. They got another boost with the transfer of Cleveland State player Anton Grady. Sterling Gibbs is still one of the biggest transfer names out there. Rasheed Sulaimon just committed to Maryland after he was booted from the Duke program this past season.

MLB Recap

It was a rather quiet night in Major League Baseball, but there were some interesting developments. CC Sabathia picked up his first win of the season as the Yankees exploded for 11 runs against Alex Colome and the Rays pitching staff. The Red Sox won in extras and the Dodgers got a walk-off blast from Scott Van Slyke.

The Nationals rolled the Diamondbacks behind Max Scherzer and a strong offensive night. Adrian Beltre hit his 399th home run in the Rangers win over the Royals. Only four third basemen have hit 400 home runs in MLB history. It should solidify Beltre’s Hall of Fame status to join that prestigious group.

Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.