Last week was a spectacular week for me regarding the picks. To be honest, this was the toughest slate of games that I had to pick yet. I was certain that I'd go 2-4 last week. But I was pleasantly surprised. Anyways, here's hoping that I can pull off another 5-1 week... Or somewhere around that.
Okay, before you get mad at me for this article, understand this: I think I have a good hunch on who's going to be in the NBA Finals this season. Much in the same way that I have a good hunch on who'll win the Presidential Election come November, too. Anyways, I have my reasons for not giving much of a preview here other than telling you that I'm predicting Warriors/Cavs in the Finals for a third straight year. So before you come at me with torches and pitchforks, hear me out.
The Warriors Look To Be Too Good:I think that it'll take a little bit of time for this Warriors superteam to gel the same way LeBron and the 'Big Three' in Miami did in 2010. However, last year's 73-win team with the reigning MVP Steph Curry (tops in the NBA last year in PPG with 30.1 and steals with 2.14) recruited a pick-and-roll expert in Kevin Durant. Golden State will have a pretty tall task topping their 114.9 team PPG from last season. Still, if Stephen Curry's able to make 400 3-pointers in a single season, then anything's possible. Now, I don't want to discredit any of the other teams in the Western Conference. I love the backcourt that Portland has. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum make for one of the best dynamic duos in the NBA. Utah has a team that many experts love. Rudy Gobert (2.21 blocks per game) is a solid defensive player and the Jazz just added George Hill to solve their point guard issues (at least on paper). The Jazz also tied for seventh in defensive efficiency last season (101.6) and have a good tandem in Dante Exum and Derrick Favors. The Clippers have their own superteam with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. Oklahoma City has Russell Westbrook and is a great rebounding team. Then there's San Antonio, the Western Conference stalwarts who led the NBA in defensive efficiency last year (96.6). The Spurs are always a tough team to play and it'll probably be the same way this year, even without Tim Duncan. Nevertheless, the Warriors are still the team to beat in the West and will be a challenge for most teams this season.
The Eastern Conference Is Too Weak: The Cavaliers are one of the NBA's elite teams. In fact, it seems that they're the Eastern Conference's onlyelite team. The Boston Celtics added a big man in Al Horford, which is nice. The Celtics were also the fifth-best scoring team in the NBA last season (105.7 PPG). However, Boston ranked near the bottom in 3-point percentage last season (28th with a 3-pt. % of .335). Therefore, Boston will need to drive to the net as much as possible to beat Cleveland. As for the new-look Knicks, I'm not really buying their 'new look' a lot. They're getting an oft-injured Derrick Rose and a nearly-past-his-prime Joakim Noah to join Carmelo Anthony, who can't seem to make it to the conference championship. Will they be a playoff team? Possibly. I think they'll make it. But like Boston, their lack of a 3-ball threat (20th in the NBA in 3-pt. % with .346) will be a concern along with chemistry. The Detroit Pistons look like a nice pick-and-roll team, but will probably take a minor step back this year. Milwaukee's got the Greek Freak and are set up nicely for the future, it's just now isn't their time. The Bulls got Dwayne Wade and are trying to get Michael Carter-Williams. Still, that won't matter. The Hawks got Dwight Howard, who has no post moves and is a diva. Toronto's got one of the better defenses in the game and have one of the better trios in DeRozan/Lowry/Valanciunas. But will they score enough to beat the Cavs? Pretty much, this is setting up to be another year dominated by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference.
So there you have it. This year is setting up to be another Cavs/Warriors matchup. Who'll win it? Most likely the Warriors. They now have a pick-and-roll weapon and can mix the offense up now. But hey, everyone counted out the Cavs in the NBA Finals last season...
Tiger Woods made an interesting move this past week when he withdrew his name from the Safeway Open. A week later, Tiger starts up his own business called TGR, a firm that includes a faction for organizing tour events and designing golf courses. With that, one of the most dominant golfers of all time has begun his transition into the afterlife of golf.
This transition raises up some interesting questions: Who's ready to be Tiger's successor in being the face of golf? Is there such a person that exists? Will golf be a sport to watch if no such person exists? All of these questions are interesting thoughts that concern the state of golf as a whole.
When Tiger Woods burst onto the PGA scene in 1996, there was a lot of fanfare due to his play at the amateur level. Once Tiger won his first major at the age of 21 (the 1997 Masters), the endorsement deals were rolling in. Soon, Tiger was endorsed by companies like Buick, Gatorade, and most notably, Nike. Tiger even had his own video game franchise back in the day. All of Tiger's success (which includes a period of dominance where he won three majors in 2000) had amounted to Tiger's net worth being around $700 million today. Yes, Tiger went through a sex scandal in 2009 that was a part of the damage done to his game (his father's death and debilitating injuries being the others). The sex scandal also lost him a great number of endorsements and sponsors. However, Tiger's name is still up there regarding who's the greatest of all time in the golf realm and is still recognized around the world.
There aren't any golfers out there at the moment that have Tiger's sheer dominance. The current World Number One, Jason Day, only has one major championship (the 2015 PGA Championship). He probably will win another, but the 28-year old will be lucky if he wins at least four (maybe five). Jordan Spieth (ranked #4) won both the Masters and the U.S. Open in 2015, becoming the youngest to win the U.S. Open since Bobby Jones in 1923. He was also the 2015 Fedex Cup champion, capping off a dominant year. However, Spieth suffered one of the biggest collapses in PGA history after leading by five strokes halfway into the final round at the 2016 Masters (Danny Willett won). That loss showed Spieth lacking Tiger's intimidation factor and Tiger's ability to close out a tournament with the lead. Spieth has youth on his side and is perhaps the next successor to Tiger, but he probably won't touch Tiger's 14 major wins. Rory McIlroy is probably the closest thing to being Tiger right now, winning four majors and 22 PGA tournaments. However, the 27-year old has been hampered by an ankle injury from playing soccer. He also hasn't fared well at the Masters, with his highest finish being fourth (2015). The women's side doesn't have anybody that can be marketable, either. I mean, does anybody know who two-time major winner Lydia Ko is? I bet you didn't know that she's the current World Number One on the LPGA side and that she's only 19 (She has two majors).
Compared to its "grand slam" brethren, the sport of tennis, the PGA doesn't really have anybody marketable for the game of golf. Tennis has names from both the men's and women's side with players like Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, and Roger Federer all being recognizable figures. You can even say Rafael Nadal is marketable, although injuries have severely crippled Nadal's ability. All of these tennis stars are still dominant at their profession and still have plenty of years left in their game. For golf, it may take some time for that one player to emerge.
If golf wants to remain relevant, it needs a player who either has: an "it" factor, an amazing amount of talent, or preferably, both. The sport of golf needs a player that can be marketed and easy to relate with towards the common fan. Will that player come around in the near future? Who knows.
Another week of college football has gone by. How did the two upset-potential games pan out? Did anybody get knocked off of their perch?
Winner: West Virginia: I have mentioned many times in this blog about how the Big 12's playoff chances are dwindling. I've put them in the 'loser' section numerous times this year. Well, the Big 12 deserves to have a winner recognized. Their playoff hopes got a ray of hope... At least for now. #20 West Virginia went into Lubbock in what was being labeled as a trap game and ransacked Texas Tech 48-17. The Mountaineers produced 650 yards of offense in this game, providing the Big 12 with a bit of hope amidst their current crisis. Winner: Syracuse: The Orangemen got a pleasant surprise on Saturday when they beat #17 Virginia Tech 31-17. This was Syracuse's first win over a ranked team since 2012. Check out Syracuse head coach Dino Babers's speech after the game. Winner: Carlos Henderson: The Louisiana Tech wide receiver tallied 326 receiving yards and five touchdowns in a 56-28 win over Massachusetts. Henderson tied a program record for most receiving touchdowns in a game, but he still was a ways away from the receiving yards record (Troy Edwards had 405 in 1998). Still, those type of numbers make Julio Jones's performance against the Panthers a couple weeks ago seem tame. Loser: Ole Miss: How in the blue hell is a team like this ranked #12 if they're .500? I get that they play in the SEC West, which gets a lot of love. But still, that baffles my mind how they're ranked so high after a loss to Arkansas. Loser: Potential Upsets: Wisconsin had a chance to send their game against #2 Ohio State to another overtime. Instead, a sack on fourth down sealed the deal for the Buckeyes as they escaped Madison with an overtime win 30-23. North Carolina State had a chance to pull off an upset against #3 Clemson as well, but came up short in overtime like the Badgers 23-17. As for #9 Tennessee, don't ask them about their game against top-ranked Alabama. Overall, it was a chance to shake up the playoff picture that ended up being squandered. Loser: Stanford's Missed Field Goal: While Stanford rallied back to beat Notre Dame 17-10, they certainly would've loved to have made this field goal. That has to be worth at least six points, right?
Other Winners: USC, Army, North Carolina, Western Kentucky vs. Middle Tennessee Other Losers: Houston surviving again, Notre Dame, Northern Illinois, Georgia
It's time for some more funny sports-related GIFs... Or 'Vines'... Or whatever you call it. Actually, some of these GIFs will make you go "ahhhh"! Anyways, here are some short-second GIFs to make your day better!!!
It's time to wrap up my NHL preview with a look at the Pacific Division. This division features a few teams that are young and budding and a couple others whose window(s) of contention are closing. Will the California teams reign supreme once again in the Pacific?
San Jose Sharks: The defending Western Conference champions basically return their entire team from last season. The only difference is they get Mikkel Boedker, a left wing who had 17 goals and 34 assists last season. The Sharks have a great shot of repeating as Western Conference champions this season.
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks's window of opportunity for a Stanley Cup is quickly shutting. Randy Carlyle is back with Anaheim, but he'll have some things to work on. One issue to fix is the penalty minutes, where the Ducks amassed the second-most in the NHL last season.
Los Angeles Kings: Los Angeles possessed the top two plus/minus leaders last season (Tyler Toffoli with +35 and Anze Kopitar with +34), which is nice. But like the Ducks, LA's time for winning a cup (another one, that is) is winding down. Still, Darryl Sutter is an underrated coach and will probably get this team back to the playoffs (So will Kopitar, Toffoli, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick).
Calgary Flames: Calgary made plenty of moves in the offseason, nabbing Brian Elliott to shore up anemic goaltending and signing Johnny Gaudreau long-term. Could the Flames make a return trip to the playoff the same way that they did a couple seasons ago? A lot of experts are penning Calgary as a playoff team.
Arizona Coyotes: Formerly the Phoenix Coyotes, this team is flowing with young talent and prospects. Granted, players like Max Domi still have at least a year left before takeoff. But if the Yotes manage to contend, they should go for a goalie. Maybe Ben Bishop? Also, you've got to like the pickup of defenseman Alex Goligoski.
Edmonton Oilers: Edmonton acquired Milan Lucic for a long period, giving phenom Connor McDavid some company on the offensive front. They also have Jesse Puljujarvi, a young right wing from Finland who'll help the Oilers with even more scoring in the future. Edmonton just might make it back to the playoffs with just McDavid and Lucic alone.
Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks inked Loui Eriksson for five years, which is nice. He should provide some scoring with the Sedin brothers. However, there isn't much else to look forward to as a Canuck fan.