A Tale of Two Series: The NBA and NHL Finals Are Strikingly Different

After two marathon playoff seasons, the NBA and NHL playoffs are both down to the final series. On one side of the coin the Golden State Warriors face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth consecutive NBA Finals. On the other side, the Washington Capitals are making their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1998, and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are the first NHL expansion team to make the Finals since 1968. The matchups in the NBA and NHL final series couldn’t get much different.

It’s hard not to appreciate the greatness of LeBron James. This is his eight consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. It’s an amazing accomplishment. And no one can downplay how dominant the Warriors have been the past four seasons. But here we are, two impressive teams about to face off for the fourth straight year, and it is hard to get excited about it. Maybe because it is a forgone conclusion that the Warriors will send the Cavs packing in a short series. The Cavaliers are one of the biggest underdogs in NBA Finals’ history. Regardless, the fourth successive matchup between these two teams just feels anticlimactic. LeBron2.jpg

Skating on to the Stanley Cup Finals, there are all kinds of story lines. First, how about the fact that there is an expansion team in the final series? It may seem unfair to long suffering fanbases, and maybe the NHL expansion draft rules need changing, but this is an incredible story. This is a collection of rookies and guys not protected by their former teams, the fact that they have made it this far is amazing. Meanwhile, the Capitals are back in the chase for the championship after their last appearance 20 years ago. The Capitals have never won the Stanley Cup. Alexander Ovechkin is one of the greatest players of all time, and the only multi-time MVP not to win the Stanley Cup. The list of intriguing topics in the Stanley Cup Finals goes on and on. knights

So here we are, two final series that could not be more different. The Cavaliers-Warriors IV is like Shrek Forever After: the first two series/films were great and then followed by a dud. Watching the fourth installment seems more like a chore than a pleasurable experience. On the other hand, Capitals-Knights is like Baby Driver: a new, exciting series/film that is bursting with energy. Even though my love for basketball is exponentially higher than my feelings toward hockey, the Stanley Cup Finals has me more excited than the NBA Finals for the first time ever.

Quick Predictions for the 2017 NBA Season

The NBA season is upon us. After a whirlwind of an offseason that featured a lot of all-stars moving teams, it will be interesting to see how the season shakes out. Here are some quick predictions.

1. East Playoff Teams: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers

Boston wins the East again, mostly because Cleveland is without Isaiah Thomas for a few months. Despite trading Paul George, the Pacers manage to make the playoffs.

2. West Playoff Teams:  Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trailblazers, Utah Jazz

The Northwest division manages to get four of five teams into the playoffs. The Warriors run away with first place while the Rockets, Thunder, and Spurs all fight for spots 2-4.

     3. Kevin Durant wins MVP.

The Warriors are the best team in the NBA, and after a full year to mesh with Kevin Durant, they should be firing on all cylinders. I expect the Warriors to win around 70 games, and if they hit that mark it is hard to imagine Adam Silver not handing a Warriors player the MVP trophy.

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    4. Avery Bradley makes the all-star game.

Avery Bradley has long been one of the best defenders in the NBA. Bradley will help the Pistons make the playoffs, and he will get the recognition he deserves. Oh, and he’s going to get paid a lot of money this offseason.

    5. The Pelicans trade DeMarcus Cousins.

The Pelicans are aiming for a playoff spot, but in the ridiculously tough Western Conference, it seems like a bit of a long shot. Instead of potentially letting Cousins walk for nothing in the offseason, the Pelicans trade him away for pieces that better fit their team.

     6. The Warriors play the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Again.

This match up will occur for the fourth consecutive year. Some might be fatigued from the past three Finals with these two teams, but at least the Cavaliers have shaken things up.