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Saturday Sports: Denver Nuggets struggle, Caitlin Clark's first week in the WNBA

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Game 7 for the reigning NBA champs. New York, New York - Rangers on a tear, Knicks on the cusp. And Caitlin Clark's first week as a pro. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media joins us. Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Let's begin in the NBA. Defending champion, Denver Nuggets on the ropes. They'll play Game 7 at home tomorrow against - timber...

BRYANT: (Laughter).

SIMON: ...The Minnesota Timberwolves. And look, they've got Nikola Jokic, the game's best player. But they lost Game 6 by 45 points. What's happening?

BRYANT: Yeah, 45 - that's not a misprint - 45 points in a closeout game when you're the defending champions. You know, Scott, it's been a really weird NBA playoff so far because the Nuggets are the defending champs. They do have the best player. They have the best duo because...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...Jamal Murray and Jokic make up the best tandem in the league. And they come out, and they lose the first two games at home against this young Minnesota team that's got Anthony Edwards, who will very soon be the face of the NBA. And then Denver reminds you that they're the champs. They come out. They win three in a row, and so you figure, OK, this is done.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: The champs...

SIMON: Right.

BRYANT: ...Have established themselves - game over. They go to Minnesota and get whomped by 45 points...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...So now we've got a Game 7 here. And then on the Eastern Conference, you had, you know, the Knicks. The Knicks are scrappy, and the Knicks are good, and the Knicks play great defense, and they've got Jalen Brunson, who is just terrific, and they've got the Nova Knicks with the trio of former Villanova guys. And they go out and get beat at home - I'm sorry - they get beat in Indiana.

SIMON: Indiana. Yeah.

BRYANT: So, now they're coming home for a Game 7 tomorrow. And just total toss-ups - are we going to get - the home team going to hold? Or are we gonna get another blowout?

SIMON: Of course, and we'll just note, Thunder-Mavericks game, of course, is tonight.

BRYANT: Oh, and let's not forget the Mavs (laughter) as well.

SIMON: Oh...

BRYANT: So much - and by the way, that's the other thing. I forgot about that series, which is a great series too, because Oklahoma City is the 1-seed. But when you've got Kyrie Irving, and you've got Luka Doncic, you know, Dallas is really terrific, as well. Good teams.

SIMON: Got to pay tribute to fire on ice. The New York Rangers clinched their spot in the conference finals for the Stanley Cup playoffs. What else - what do you see in the rest of the field?

BRYANT: Well, I think that, once again, you've got late games. I don't know if anybody saw it because of, you know, a double overtime game...

SIMON: (Imitating snoring).

BRYANT: ...But Colorado got knocked out.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: I really like watching Dallas and the old guys - Jamie Benn and Joe Pavelski and Tyler Seguin - really fun team, really fast team. They come through a disallowed goal in the first overtime, and they come back and win it in the second.

And also, way out West, you've got Edmonton and Vancouver. It's a really great series. Nobody is seeing it (laughter) because it's three hours' time difference. And you haven't had a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup since the Canadians did it back in 1993. And if you...

SIMON: Wow.

BRYANT: ...Get a chance to see them, Connor McDavid and the Avalanche are so - I'm sorry - and the Oilers are so much fun to watch, as well. So good stuff...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...If you can, you know, burn the midnight oil and watch these great games.

SIMON: WNBA season tipped off this week. Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever - two games in, hasn't won a championship. What's wrong with her?

BRYANT: (Laughter) Hasn't...

SIMON: What's going on here?

BRYANT: ...Won a game. Once again, the height machine is rolling. Caitlin Clark obviously is the name in basketball right now. And there's been - I think there's been some Caitlin Clark fatigue. I think there are some people who maybe want to take her down a peg. So, of course, after two games - she's had two tough games. It's the pros. There are great players now. I mean, there are very few rookies that come in and just take the league by storm in any sport.

And so it's a rocky start. She's here in New York, against - you know, playing the Liberty - championship-level team, as well. So when you're playing the pros, it's not gonna get any easier, but I think...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...At some point, there's gonna be an adjustment, and we'll see what she's all about. It's tough.

SIMON: Yeah. So is life. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media, thanks very much.

BRYANT: Oh, my pleasure, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.