Where to start? The NBA and NHL put on a show this weekend with four Game 7 matchups yesterday alone. Let’s take a look at what transpired.
While the Colorado Avalanche looked the part of Stanley Cup favorites winning their series against the Nashville Predators in 4 games, every other series were back and forth affairs. Five 1st Round matchups reached 7 games, highlighted by an instant classic between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins with the Rangers pulling it out in overtime. The Conference semifinals begin tomorrow with the Tampa Bay Lightning taking on the Florida Panthers (Florida clearly always known as a hockey hotbed) and the Avalanche taking on the St. Louis Blues. The other matchups see the Calgary Flames taking on the Edmonton Oilers who were pushed to the limit by the LA Kings, and the Rangers taking on the Carolina Hurricanes. If the first round was any indication, hockey fans should be in for a treat.
The story of the season so far continues to be the haves versus the have nots, with the division leaders starting to extend their leads. The Yankees are leading the league in runs against and are 7-3 in their last 10 games with 7 of their next 10 coming against the Baltimore Orioles. Compare that with the abysmal Cincinnati Reds who lost without giving up a hit to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. Yikes. A team to watch out for this week? The surging Houston Astros who are 9-1 in their last 10 games and have tied the Los Angeles Angels for first place in the AL West.
Kurt Busch wearing the famous Michael Jordan Jumpman logo survived a long day at Kansas Speedway taking the lead with 8 laps to go and holding on to the lead for the remainder of the race. Kyle Larson who had one of the strongest cars of the day went on to finish 2nd.
The Boston Celtics will meet the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals after finally dispatching the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in 7 games. The Bucks clearly missed star forward Khris Middleton as their 3-point shooting was abysmal all day on Sunday. Bucks forward Giannis Anteokounmpo gave a valiant effort and, in my opinion, has solidified himself as the best player in the league. The Celtics and Heat can go either way. The Celtics have a more well-rounded offense but the Heat defense is stout and have more experience at this stage of the game.
If you like offense the Western Conference Finals are for you. The Dallas Mavericks behind Luka Doncic knocked off the 1 seed and 64-win Phoenix Suns in dominant fashion on Sunday and will face the veteran Golden State Warriors for a shot to go to the NBA Finals. The Warriors have championship experience and will be the favorites going in, however the Suns were also heavily favored against the Mavericks and clearly that didn’t go according to plan.
Finally, it’s worth noting that for point guard Chris Paul, this was the FIFTH blown 2-0 lead of his career. He may have those stats when his career is said and done, but as I’ve mentioned on here multiple times, playoff success is the ultimate measuring stick of a player’s greatness. Paul is a sure-fire hall of famer, but for him and Devin Booker their championship window may have closed very forcibly.
(Photo Brad Penner - USA TODAY Sports)