Well it's that time of year again... the playoffs have shaken the blanket of would-be contenders off the picnic blanket and we are down to the final 2 for the titles. Lets get in to it. NBA first...
First let me state that if you didn't have Cavs vs. Warriors as your FInals picks then you are STUPID or maybe you just enjoy being wrong. These two teams are a class above all the other teams and it showed in their 24-1 combined record on the way to the Finals. Yup. 24-1. The one lost being the Cavs at home to the Celtics who somehow actually had the number 1 seed in the East BTW. As much as I look forward to Warriors Vs. Cavs 3 "The Rubber Match" It's sad for the rest of the NBA that you can put out a team that finishes 3rd or 4th in your conference, feel good about your chances, and get fan support but ultimately know you aren't good enough to make the FInals because the Cavs and Warriors exist. That's a feeling usually reserved for the 7th and 8th place squads.
Note: As an Orlando Magic fan I often believe that our starting roster wouldn't have a single guy starting on either FInals roster and would be lucky to consider some as a 6th man... when you're team is built out of mostly role players and has no stars, you aren't winning in the modern NBA. No matter how good a team is, in the case of the Celtics the sum of the parts doesn't equal shit when you're getting blown out at home in the Eastern Conference Finals. It's sad but true. As great as Isiah Thomas is and as good as Al Horford and the others are... they are no Lebron, Irving, and Love... no Durant, Thompson, Curry and Green.
So basically I expect a classic between GSW and CLE this time around. We've seen what happens to a frustrated Curry... can the Cavs keep him angry? We've seen what happens when Lebron can't take over... they turn to Kyrie. We've seen the splash brothers go ham from 3 land and Green dominate inside. The one thing we haven't seen in awhile is Kevin Durant in the FInals.
Ultimately while I think the Cavs discovered a formula for shutting down the Warriors last year I doubt that they will be able to contain Curry, Thompson, and Durant. I think the Warriors role guys are better than Clevelands and without the desire of Cleveland needing a championship behind them, will they fight with the same fury? I like the Warriors in this series but I'm sure the Cavs won't go without a fight. It should be a fun one and I say Warriors in 6 even though my heart wants to say 7.
Why did it take so long to get to the Penguins getting back to the cup finals? Those pesky Caps were always going to lose in the end and the same is true of the over-achieving Senators. I mean it's laughable that Ottawa made it that far.
In the west the Predators put us all on notice early by sweeping out perennial playoff studs the Chicago Blackhawks. Then they removed the Blues and Ducks which seemed to be dubbed the next Western beasts as they rolled along... Honestly I've only seen two of the Preds playoff games so far this year because their series have gone pretty fast and they were opposite other stuff I watch. But they are doing something right... check that... a lot of things right. I still can't shake that "this is a team over-achieving" feeling though. I mean don't get me wrong as a former Zamboni driver for the Predators AHL squad in Milwaukee I'm pulling for them. They even have former Hab, P.K. Subban (Still feel the Habs got the best of this deal going forward) Pekka Rinne is a lights out net-minder and this could be a hell of a series because...
The Pens have an awesome scoring attack. They have some of the most talented offensive players in the game today and score in bunches at times. BUT the Preds can defend and net-mind well enough to stay in games. And let's be honest, the Pens should win this but they have a habit of letting teams that don't belong hang around. I.E. the last 2 rounds... I don't think they can afford to allow the wave of confidence to get behind the Preds who will not only have their active and hungry fan-base rooting for their 1st Cup but also the bulk of the rest of the hockey-loving world who want to see Crosby and friends get served some humble pie. If the Pens step on the neck but don't clamp off that airway the Preds could rise up and steal this thing. If I were a betting man I'd throw some down on Nashville because the odds are probably paying off well.
But, I'm not a betting man so I say Pens in 5. The combination of the bigger stage and pressure to finally break through will cripple the Preds and this round the Pens will be smart enough to kill off their opponent before letting them get loose with the knowledge of their evil plan for Stanley Cup domination.
After all that we have a shot at back-to-back champs in both sports and if that doesn't interest you then you probably already know the favorites for the MLB all-star game this year. Go Nats!