Stanley Cup Finals!

Just in case you have not been watching, the Stanley Cup Finals are just around the corner.  Game 1 will be played on Monday in Las Vegas.  Wait, Las Vegas?  That’s right, the expansion Las Vegas Knights will be playing for the Cup.  They will be playing against the Washington Capitals, who are in their own right a great story.  I wanted to give a rundown of the playoffs to this point and take a look at the match-up in the Finals.

The Las Vegas Knights have been a surprise team all year and they were able to secure the number one seed in the Western Conference.  They were able to make history and sweep the Kings in 4 games.  The Sharks were able to sweep the Ducks as well.  The Winnipeg Jets beat the Wild in 5 games and Nashville knocked off the Avalanche in 6 games.  The Knights then had a tougher match-up with the Sharks, winning in 6 games.  Regardless, every game they win is making history.  The Jets were able to knock off the Preds in 7 hard fought games.  This set up the Western Conference Finals match-up of the Knights vs. the Jets.  After losing the first game, the Knights were able to go on a run and win the next four games to advance to the Finals.

The Eastern Conference played out in a different manner.  The defending champ Penguins needed six games to knock off the Flyers.  The Capitals lost their first two games at home before digging out of a major hole and knocking off the Blue Jackets in 6 games. The Boston Bruins beat the Maple Leafs in 7 games while the Lightning took care of the Devils in 5 games.  The Capitals were then matched up with the Penguins and they were finally able to get over the hump and advance to the Conference Finals. The Lightning took care of the Bruins in 5 games to set up a great series with the Caps.  The Capitals were able to win a back and forth series in 7 games and advance to the Cup Finals vs. the Knights.

The Cup Finals will be a great series no matter who wins as it is quite historical.  The expansion Knights are a fantastic story and if this were either of the other 3 major American sports the story would be even greater.  Just think, a team that for the most part was put together with the scraps from other teams being able to make it this far in year one.  It shows that effort and will can carry a team quite a long distance. Meanwhile, the Capitals have had one of the best teams in the league over the last ten years as well as one of the best players in the league in Alex Ovechkin.  Unfortunately, players are measured by championships and if Ovechkin does not get one he may not go down as one of the best to ever play even though he is.

You can take a look at this page to get an idea of what the experts think of the series outcome.  It looks like 8 out of the 14 experts believe the Caps will win it all.  They may be the favorites, but not by much.  I do not like either team but can make a case for either team to win.  I think it would be great to see an all time great player finally break through and win it all.  I also think it would be a story for the ages if the expansion Knights can win it all in their first year of existence.  I have no idea who will win, but I do know that Stanley Cup Finals hockey is great viewing. I will be tuning in to watch the action.

—Victor Mandalawi

 

2 rounds down, 2 to go!

If you did not already know, the NBA playoffs have began. I mentioned it a few weeks ago in the blog.  To win the championship a team has to win 4 rounds and we have completed 2 rounds, meaning we are halfway to a champ.  Let’s take a look at how each series has gone in each conference and discuss the potential matchup in the Finals.

In the Eastern Conference, round one saw the Raptors knock off the Wizards in 6 games.  The series had each home team winning the first 5 games and then the Raptors were able to grab game 6 playing away from home to end the series.  The Celtics were able to knock off the Bucks in 7 games with each team winning every home game showing the importance of home court advantage.  The series was very entertaining to follow and the Celtics were able to win despite having so many injuries.  The Sixers were able to beat the Heat in 5 games.  The Sixers were able to win the games quite easily as the Heat just did not have enough.  The last series was a match up of the Cavs and Pacers.  This ended up being a very good series as well.  The series went 7 games and the Cavs looked to be in trouble plenty of times during the series.  It took a historic effort by Lebron to get to the next round.

The Western Conference was not as entertaining as the Eastern but it was still plenty entertaining enough to watch.  The top seeded Rockets were able to knock off the T Wolves in 5 games.  The Warriors were able to send the Spurs packing in 5 games as well.  The Pelicans swept the TrailBlazers even though they were the lower seed.  The Brow was just too much for the Blazers to handle.  The Jazz sent the Thunder home in 6 games to complete the first round.

The semifinal match-ups in the East were the Cavs vs. Raptors and Celtics vs. Sixers.  As mentioned before, the Cavs seemed to be out of gas against the Pacers.  Clearly they were not, they steamrolled the Raptors and swept them out of the playoffs.  I predicted this would be the end of the line for the Celtics, but I was wrong.  The Sixers just did not have enough to beat the Celtics.  This gives us a Celtics vs. Cavs match-up for the right to go to the Finals.  I would have been very excited about this outcome earlier in the year, but the injuries the Celtics have suffered might have taken a little shine of the meeting.  In the Western Conference, the Warriors beat the Pelicans easily to advance.  The Rockets were able to beat the Jazz handily to set up the dream showdown of Rockets vs. Warriors.

Many would argue that the Western Conference finals would give us the eventual champ, but you have to play the games.  I do think they will be highly favored even though LeBron could be standing in their way.  If LeBron were to somehow pull off a Championship victory, it would have to go down as one of the greatest accomplishments of all-time.  I may not know the outcome of the games, but I do know that I can not wait to watch them.

—Victor Mandalawi