Time to make predictions!
Also, a bit more on the French Open, as well.
Photo courtesy of Keith Allison's Flickr page - Stephen Curry: https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/5493668904
NBA Finals Prediction
Yes, we know now who will meet in this year's NBA Finals, and yes, it is time to make predictions.
So, we have the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the east, and the Golden State Warriors out of the west. The Warriors will have home court advantage, and unlike with the Atlanta series, this should prove very advantageous to Golden State, since they are so tough to beat at home.
The Warriors have been the best team all season, and despite some tough battles in the playoffs, they have pretty much looked like an unstoppable force.
Then again, the Cavs, to their credit, have the best player in the league, and the rest of the team, his supporting cast, has really been stepping up to the plate.
Nobody said it as going to be easy either way. These two teams truly look like the best two teams in the league, and it is indeed fitting to see them together in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors have the league's best rated offense behind Stephen Curry, and they look unstoppable - especially at home. However way you slice, Cleveland is going to have a hard time with them. The Cavs themselves can be explosive, especially with James at the helm. This has been particularly true during this playoff run. But they just do not have the firepower to keep up with the Warriors in a shootout, and I am not sure they have the defense that can slow Golden State down enough.
In the meantime, Golden State's defense is tough, and will present some tough challenges for Cleveland. The Cavaliers will answer some of these, but again, Golden State is built to win at this level.
Frankly, I just do not see the Cavaliers coming out of this series with enough significant advantages to keep up with the powerful Warriors. I think the Cavs will be a strong contender. They should be able to win at least a couple of games at home - by no means do I believe this will be a quick or easy series for Golden State. But if they are healthy and at their best, the Warriors should do what they have done all season long now - get past tough challenges to emerge as the best team in the NBA, even if it takes six or seven games to prove it.
Stanley Cup Playoffs
Photo courtesy of Nicole Yeary's Flickr page - Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Banner Ceremony: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagozen/5071476054
So, the Blackhawks did it, winning Game 7 by seizing control early, and then essentially wearing down Anaheim the rest of the way. Chicago played a nearly perfect first period, and then used their vastly superior experiences at this level to apply the killer instinct on the Ducks and choke the life out of them.
In the meantime, the Rangers missed too many opportunities, and all of the talk (frankly, it sounded more like bragging) about how the Rangers never, ever lose a Game 7 at home came to nil.
The Lightning are in the Cup Finals now.
But can they keep up with the Blackhawks?
I am betting that they cannot.
Yes, they got past the Rangers in New York, a very impressive achievement.
Chicago is a different ball of wax. They have more experience than the Rangers, as well as more talent. They also already displayed the killer instinct, which means Tampa has to prevent getting into a hole. Chicago is sporting a 10-1 record so far in these playoffs when scoring first.
My prediction is that Chicago may struggle at first, and the two teams may very well split the first two or more games.
Ultimately, however, the Blackhawks are a very experienced team on this level, and they should be able to choke the life out of the Lightning, and force them to tap out as the series gets deeper.
Bottom line, I do not see the Lightning being able to prevent the Blackhawks from securing a third Stanley Cup Championship banner in six years from being lifted at the United Center. They just do not have enough to stop this dynasty.
Rolland Garros/ The French Open
Photo courtesy of Yann Caradec's Flickr Page - Rafael Nadal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/la_bretagne_a_paris/5756335239
Photo courtesy of Yann Caradec's Flickr Page - Gael Monfils: https://www.flickr.com/photos/la_bretagne_a_paris/5762681145
No major upsets at the French Open yesterday, either.
However, Nadal and Djokovic keep on rolling, while Serene struggled mightily, ultimately winning. She looks far more vulnerable than most people anticipated to this point.
Still, she is a champion, and you certainly can never rule her out.
Today, the biggest match will be very intriguing: Roger Federer versus Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Should prove entertaining! Let's enjoy!
Photo courtesy of Yann Caradec's Flickr Page - Novak Djokovic: https://www.flickr.com/photos/la_bretagne_a_paris/5763317762