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.

Ranking NBA Logos: 10-1

This is a continuation of the NBA logo ranking series. Rankings 30-21 can be found here and 20-11 can be found here.

 

 

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10. Golden State Warriors – You probably assumed that the bridge in the Warriors logo was the Golden Gate Bridge, but actually it is the Bay Bridge. The blue and yellow color combination is great. The fact that the bridge isn’t centered in the circle is interesting and unique. The logo is featured prominently on the Warriors jerseys, and those are some of the best in the league as well.

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9. San Antonio Spurs – Hey, are the Spurs just good at everything? They haven’t missed the playoffs since Tim Duncan was drafted in 1997. Duncan has since retired, but that hasn’t stopped the Spurs from being one of the best teams in the NBA. Great team, great coaching, great organization, great logo. Silver is an underutilized color, and it works great with the Spurs name. The spur that is used for the “U” is a really smart idea. It isn’t flashy, but the Spurs aren’t either. The Spurs have a logo that rivals the rest of the organization’s greatness.

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8. Memphis Grizzlies – This is one cool looking bear head. The yellow eyes contrast with the two different shades of blue and look really neat. The bear isn’t snarling, but the intimidating glare it gives it more toughness than the old Grizzlies logo. The grizzly is powerful, but calm. Usually, I’m not a fan of multiple shades of blue being on a logo, but the Grizzlies make it work.

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7. Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks underwent a full redesign before the 2015-2016 season. The redesign featured some interesting changes: patterns on the jerseys, a volt green color, uniforms with different colored shorts and jerseys, etc. While those changes have been met with criticism, the overwhelming consensus seems to be that the Hawks nailed their new logo. The logo is very reminiscent of the logo the team used from 1972-1995. It’s simple, but looks great. I don’t know how I feel about the term “basketball club” that is featured at the bottom of the circle, but it is certainly different.

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6. Philadelphia 76ers – The 76ers are named after the year the United States of America became an independent nation. The 13 stars right above the 7 represent the original 13 colonies. The rich blue color is awesome, and it meshes extremely well with the dark red contrast. It looks so simple, but it looks timeless.

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5. Milwaukee Bucks – Fear the deer. The Bucks logo is no longer cartoony. The buck is stoic and fierce, the “M” that makes up the buck’s neck is brilliant. The cream color is unique and gives the Bucks logo a distinct feel, and it draws further attention to the deep forest green color of the buck. Milwaukee’s G-League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, has a similar logo but with three bucks.

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4.  Portland Trail Blazers – The Blazers redesigned their logo this year for the upcoming season and it looks great. It maintains the classic pinwheel and has set it free from the parallelogram it used to be trapped inside. Now the pinwheel is free. If you don’t know what the logo is supposed to be, you are not alone. There are ten black lines, five that are in the red section of the pinwheel, and five in the white section. These represent the ten players on court at the same time, and the different colors signify the different teams. It is creative, but even without knowing what the logo represents, it just looks really cool. Of the five teams that made logo changes for the upcoming NBA season, the Blazers logo is by far the best.

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3. Charlotte Hornets – The Hornets have always had a popular logo, but with the return of the Charlotte Hornets in 2014, the logo was redesigned. And it looks amazing. The hornet looks intimidating and dangerous, unlike the goofy cartoon they previously had. The teal, purple, and white are a great set of colors. The logo makes me imagine a team filled with a lot of fast guys zipping down the floor. It is a fantastic design.

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2. Boston Celtics – The Celtics logo is a true classic. The leprechaun might not be the most politically correct representation of the Irish (and you have to think if this logo were proposed today in 2017, there would be plenty of people upset), but it looks cool. Some of the designs behind this logo might be better, but it is impossible to separate this logo from the amazingly rich history it has.

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1. Chicago Bulls – Could this really be any other logo? The Bulls logo has remained untouched since the franchise began in 1966. It is a true classic. The Bulls have had some rough times, but thankfully Michael Jordan was able to make this bad-ass logo a real winner in the history books. There isn’t much that needs to be said about the Bulls logo. Really, it’s the best logo in all of sports.