WILL THE NBA FINALS MVP BE STEPH CURRY OR LeBRON JAMES?
As most of us expected, it looks like the NBA Finals is a mismatch.
The Golden State Warriors lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 and if the Cleveland Cavaliers couldn’t steal Game 1, they certainly aren’t capable of winning four of five games to win the championship.
I’m a LeBron James supporter and I’m glad he has performed so superbly in these playoffs. I believe more fans than ever rank him with Michael Jordan as the two all-time best NBA players.
But I don’t think he’d deserve Finals Most Valuable Player if the Cavs lose – and how could they win?
Golden State’s amazing Stephen Curry is frontrunner for Finals MVP.
Curry is the best pure shooter I’ve ever seen and it isn’t close. Jerry West was a great shooter but he came along before the three-point shot. I assume he would’ve been terrific from three-point range, but we’ll never know.
Curry obviously owes a lot to the three-point shot because no one takes advantage of it like he does. He has the deepest range, the sharpest eye and the confidence to do his thing.
And he’s more than a super shooter. He’s an excellent playmaker and underrated driving to the basket. He’s a decent rebounder for his size and among the leaders in steals. He isn’t a great overall defender but so what? I want him working on the offensive end.
The Warriors are a great team – arguably the best all-time offensive team considering how much they rely on the three-point shot – and Curry is the man who makes the machine run. It all revolves around him. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson also are excellent shooters, but they aren’t playmakers.
Curry is the perfect complement to Durant and Thompson, and Draymond Green is the perfect complement to the three shooters. They’re one of the great quartets in NBA history.
Curry is a two-time league MVP but never has been MVP of the Finals. I believe his time has come. The man with the long shot is no long shot for this award.
By the way, just for fun, Curry was the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Blake Griffin was No. 1 followed by Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden, Tyreke Evans, and Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn – both point guards picked by Minnesota – instead of Curry. That didn’t work out real well.
THE PRESSURE IS ON SASKATCHEWAN
The Rochester Knighthawks obviously aren’t overly impressed that most National Lacrosse League observers have been touting the Saskatchewan Rush as the league’s best team.
The Knighthawks forced a third and deciding Game 3 in the best-of-three NLL Finals with an impressive 13-8 victory last Saturday night before 9,174 (announced) happy fans at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.
Saskatchewan won Game 1 in dominating fashion – 16-9 in Saskatoon May 26. The Hawks returned the favor to even the series.
Goalie Matt Vinc again frustrated Saskatchewan with 47 saves on 55 shots. Second-year forward Josh Carrier tied his career high with four goals. Probable NLL Defender of the Year Graeme Hossack was rock solid on defense and chipped in with two timely goals. Rookie Jake Withers continued his wizardry by winning 16 of 22 faceoffs.
The Hawks continued to frustrate Rush scoring ace Mark Matthews and the NLL’s best power play. Matthews had four assists but didn’t score a single goal after being held to one goal two assists in Game 1. Saskatchewan’s top-ranked power play – an awesome 67.8 percent (59-for-87) in the regular season, is 2-for-9 in the two playoff games against Rochester.
The Rush have been the NLL’s dominant team since 2015 but they’re not invincible:
2015 – Won the NLL championship in the team’s final season based in Edmonton.
2016 – Repeated as NLL champs in the first season in Saskatoon.
2017 – Lost in the Finals to the Georgia Swarm and failed to match Rochester’s NLL-record best three straight championships (2012-2013-2014).
2018 – Dominated the NLL in the regular season: 14-4 record; scored the most goals (254) and allowed the fewest goals (196).
Rochester, 2-6 through 8 games this season, is 11-3 since. The Hawks now are 3-1 versus Saskatchewan this season. The 2018 Rush are 16-2 against the rest of the NLL.
The deciding Game 3 will be Saturday. 9:30 p.m., in Saskatoon. The Rush deserve to be the favorites but by now it is obvious that the Knighthawks couldn’t care less and won’t be intimidated.
Rochester has won five NLL championships, one fewer than pacesetters Toronto and Philadelphia. Considering how far the Hawks have come this season, one could make a case that a victory Saturday night would be the most satisfying title in franchise history.
NOT MUCH LOVE FOR THE BILLS IN THE FIRST NFL PREVIEW MAGAZINE
The first 2018 NFL Preview to hit the magazine rack at Wegman’s is Athlon Sports Pro Football. It’s loaded with facts and opinions – for $8.99 it should be. Warning to Buffalo Bills fans: It is not real high on the prospects for this season’s Bills.
Not a single Buffalo player is among the NFL’s “Top 50 Players”.
In the player rankings by position, LeSean McCoy is 5th among RBs, Tre’Davious White is 12th among cornerbacks, Lotulelei and Kyle Williams are 12th and 15th among defensive tackles, Lorenzo Alexander is 13th among outside linebackers and Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are 17th and 23rd among safeties.
In the Fantasy version of position rankings, McCoy is 12th, tight end Charles Clay 19th, wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones 49th and 70th respectively, kicker Steve Hauschka 24th (sort of ridiculous), defense/special teams 21st and quarterbacks Josh Allen and AJ McCarron 34th and 35th respectively (Baker Mayfield and Tyrod Taylor 29th and 36th respectively).
On future Bills QB Josh Allen: “He’s a big, strong and can throw the ball a country mile. Problem is, Allen has never played that well in, you know, football games.”
On departed (To Cleveland) Bills QB Tyrod Taylor: “Taylor dragged a sack of potatoes to the playoffs, despite Buffalo seemingly trying to lose last year.”
Buffalo is 9th in the AFC Power Rankings but second in the AFC East (Miami 12th and Jets 13th).
Final analysis: “While making the playoffs for the first time since 1999 was cause for dancing in the streets in Western New York, Bills fans are bracing for a step back. Even though (Tyrod) Taylor had his limitations, he was experienced and he had a track record (22-20) of moderate success. If (AJ) McCarron can lend some stability until (Josh) Allen is ready, and if Buffalo’s defense can improve at stopping the run, the Bills could make a push for a return to the postseason. But they still play in the AFC East where the Patriots reign, and their schedule (five of the first seven games are on the road) won’t make a fast start very easy.”
BASBALL HITS AND MISSES...
Even the New York Yankees haven’t had a six-man young nucleus better than Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Greg Bird (I’m stubborn...I still think he’ll be a star).
In Eddie Rosario’s portions of two seasons with the Red Wings, I was impressed with his arm more than his hitting potential. Now he could be heading for a start in the American League outfield in the All-Star Game. On Sunday, he became the first Minnesota Twins player ever to have two three-HR games. He’s batting .317 with 13 HRs, 40 RBI and a .925 OPS....In portions of the 2015 and 2016 seasons for Rochester, he hit .290 (74-for-255) with 10 HRs and 37 RBI in 64 games.
How did Baltimore get so lousy (MLB-worst 17-41 record) so quickly? Third-last in MLB in fewest runs (215) and ERA (5.00).
The Orioles currently are on their second seven-game losing streak of the season. They’ve been outscored 36-12 on this one. They were outscored 50-24 in the seven straight losses May 1 through 8.
Thumbs down to the Orioles for scheduling a split doubleheader (separate admissions) for a doubleheader against the Yankees Saturday, August 25, to make up for Sunday’s game postponed by rain. It seems like paying to watch one O’s game per date is sort of a waste of money.
A few neat notes from ESPN: MLB’s batting average of .246 entering Sunday was on pace for the lowest BA in 46 years (.242 in 1972)...Michael Wacha’s (St. Louis) no-hit bid Sunday was the 26th no-hit bid of 6+ innings this season. There were 24 all of last season...Saturday was National Donut Day. There were five shutouts – most in MLB this season.
The National League leads the American League 47-35 in interleague play (thanks largely to Pittsburgh’s 10-2). The AL has won the interleague series each of the past 14 seasons.
How about an All-Star Game starting pitchers matchup of former Detroit Tigers teammates Justin Verlander (Houston; 7-2 record; 1.24 ERA; 0.72 WHIP; 87 1/3 innings; 46 hits allowed; 17 walks; 104 strikeouts) versus Max Scherzer (Washington; 9-1 record; 1.92 ERA; 0.85 WHIP; 79 2/3 innings; 49 his allowed; 19 walks; 120 strikeouts).
I’m pretty sure when this season started that no one expected these two guys to enter June 4 ranked 2nd and 3rd in batting average in Major League Baseball: Matt Kemp of the Dodgers .344 and Scooter Gennett of the Reds .342.
Arizona is using a humidor to reduce offense and the Diamondbacks rank last in MLB with a .217 team batting average and tied with the Mets in 27th for runs (230).
Yankees HR update: Lead MLB with 90 home runs; on pace for 265 HRs this season. The MLB record is 264 by Seattle (1997).
The Toronto Marlies finally lost a playoff game. After 10 straight victories, the Marlies lost 2-1 last Saturday night to the Texas Stars in Game 2 of the American Hockey League Calder Cup Finals. The crowd of 8,219 was the largest ever for the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum. Toronto had won 13 straight home playoff games and it was the first loss for the Marlies since April 27. Games 3-4-5 will be in Texas starting Tuesday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...
Monday, June 4
Greg Monroe NBA (28)...Taylor Fedun (30)...Evan Lysacek (33)...Darin Erstad (44)...Derian Hatcher (46)...Andrea Jaeger (53)...Xavier McDaniel (55)...Jim Lachey (55)...Laurie Boschman (58)...Tony Pena (61)...Terry Kennedy (62)...Sandra Post (70)...Sandra Haynie (75)...Phil Linz (79). Bobby Wanzer was born on this date in 1921 and died in 2016 at age 94. Evan Spiegel (28), Angelina Jolie (43), Michelle Phillips (74) and Bruce Dern (82) are invited to the birthday party.
Tuesday, June 5
Sam Darnold (21)...Michael Gbinije (26)...Ryan Mallett (30)...Marcus Thornton (31)...Mike Fisher (38)...Zydrunas Ilgauskas (43)...Sean Moran (45)...Ray Lankford (51)...John Carlos (73)...Tommy Smith (74)...Nelson Burton Jr. (76)...Robert Kraft (77). Mark Wahlberg (47) and Suze Orman (67) are invited to the birthday party.
ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...
91 years ago (1927), the US beat Europe 9 ½-2 ½ in the first Ryder Cup...80 years ago n(1938), Pasturized won the 70th Belmont Stakes...77 years ago (1941), the Nazis forbid Jewish people from using beaches and swimming pools...54 years ago (1964), Sandy Koufax pitch his third no-hitter, beating the Phillies 3-0...46 years ago (1974), the NFL granted a franchise to Seattle...29 years ago (1989), Patty Sheehan won the LPGA Tour stop in Rochester...10 years ago (2008), the Detroit Red Wings beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4 games to 2.
139 years ago (1879), George Evans rode Spendthrift to victory in the 13th Belmont Stakes...81 years ago (1937), War Admiral completed his Triple Crown in the 69th Belmont Stakes...98 years ago (1920), Philadelphia Athletics vice-president Thomas Shibe denied charges that baseballs were livelier...66 years ago (1952), Jersey Joe Wolcott won a heavyweight title fight over Ezzard Charles in the first sporting event televised nationally...37 years ago (1981), Nolan Ryan passed Early Wynn for the most career walks – 1,777... 29 years ago (1989), the Toronto Blue Jays lost 5-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers in the first baseball game at the SkyDome...15 years ago (1993), Julie Krone rode Colonial Affair to victory in the 125th Belmont Stakes.