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Saturday sports: Brittney Griner hearing; NBA and NHL playoffs; Rich Strike rests

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Forty-six points by Boston's Jayson Tatum and more 7s in the Stanley Cup playoffs than a poker tournament. A derby winner gets the chance to kick back. And Brittney Griner's still in detention. Joining us is NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi there, Scott.

SIMON: Brittney Griner, a WNBA star, appeared briefly in a Russian courtroom yesterday, was told she'd have to remain in detention for another month. Is she being used by Russian officials?

GOLDMAN: Only they know for sure, Scott. Yesterday's hearing was a surprise - there was supposed to be one next Thursday - but then again, not a surprise. Griner's lawyer told our NPR colleague Charles Maynes in Moscow that scheduling ambiguity is typical. Russian officials continue to insist her case is a criminal offense case, nothing more, which - many suspect it is something more, a situation ultimately to be used as political bartering, for example. So Brittney Griner keeps waiting, a hearing or trial now expected in about a month, or maybe some action sooner, like the recent prisoner swap with former Marine Trevor Reed.

SIMON: NBA playoffs - the Celtics may have feared the deer, but you got to cheer on the leprechaun. The Celtics won 108-95 95 in Game 6. It was an amazing game, wasn't it?

GOLDMAN: Are you OK? Don't strain yourself.

SIMON: You know, I can't come up with anything for Golden State and Memphis, but go ahead, yeah?

GOLDMAN: But you can work on it. This whole series has been fantastic. Two great teams - both could win the title, their stars playing like stars, especially last night - as you mentioned, Jayson Tatum with 46 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn't too shabby either for the Bucks - 44 points, 20 rebounds. But he didn't have as much help as Tatum, so the Celtics won - staved off elimination. Tomorrow they play a deciding Game 7 in Boston. The Celtics have home-court advantage, but the road team has won four of the six games. And, you know, it's too bad, Scott, that this will end, and one of these great teams won't advance. But Tatum is only 24, Giannis 27. They will be thrilling us for years.

SIMON: And we'll note Golden State beat Memphis last night, so they're back in the conference finals after a three-year hiatus. Now let's turn to the NHL. There are three - three - Game 7s today. What the puck? What's the tournament looked like so far to you?

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Only you can say that. The tournament started slowly. Most games were being won by the team that scored first, so very few exciting comebacks. In fact, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper called the playoffs underwhelming. But yes, now three Game 7s today, two more tomorrow. Who doesn't love Game 7s, with their desperation and intensity? For today, Toronto against Tampa Bay is especially interesting. Toronto will try to end Tampa Bay's quest to win three straight Stanley Cup titles. No team has won three straight since the New York Islanders 40 years ago.

SIMON: And finally, a nice horse-racing story. Rich Strike, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, is going to sit out the Preakness Stakes because his owner wants to rest him for the Belmont Stakes. I - that's thoughtful. I appreciate that.

GOLDMAN: Thoughtful and unusual, you know? He's - Rich Strike is just the fifth Kentucky Derby winner to skip the Preakness in the last 40 years. It's disappointing for racing fans who love the novelty of horses winning the Triple Crown - the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. But, you know, his owners and trainer agreed to do, as owner Rick Dawson said, what's best for Ritchie, the horse's nickname, and gave Rich Strike the kind of rest and recovery that'll reduce the chance for injury and make him fresh for the grueling Belmont next month.

SIMON: God bless. NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.