The two teams with the most wins during the season are in the finals, but it wasn’t easy. As a matter of fact, the defending champion Golden State Warriors found themselves in a big hole in the Western Conference Championship round of the playoffs. Down 3-1 to the Thunder, the Warriors faced elimination three times and each time they rose to the challenge.
In game 7, Stephen Curry knocked down yet another of his seven 3-pointer as time was expiring and celebrated his teams 96-88 victory, sending them back to the Finals to defend last year’s championship. The MVP hit an NBA-record 32 3-pointers in a seven game series. Klay Thompson added six threes in game seven, only two days after his record eleven 3-pointers sparked a game 6 comeback that forced the final game.
The Cavaliers didn’t have as close a call as the Warriors, but the Raptors gave them all they could handle. Toronto set a franchise record with 56 wins this season, unfortunately for the Raptors after waiting 21 seasons to get to the conference finals they had to face LeBron James and a Cavalier team that won 57.
James is making his sixth straight trip to the NBA Finals, and in game 6 versus Toronto he had the biggest game of the year. James scored 33 points and Kevin Love scored 20 as their Cavs advanced to a second straight finals appearance with the 113-87 blowout win last Friday night.
Granted there are great supporting players in this year’s NBA Finals, but fans know, this is the James vs. Curry show. James becomes the eighth player in NBA history to appear in six consecutive finals. All of the others played for the Boston Celtics.
Vegas has put Curry and the Warriors as heavy favorites in the NBA Finals. Golden State beat Cleveland in six games in the finals last year and they have home court advantage once again. The Cavs haven’t faired well against GS this season, getting knocked off on Christmas Day in Oakland, 89-82, and they were pounded by the Warriors on Jan 18th, 132-98 in Cleveland.
Stanley Cup Championship
In game 1, Pittsburgh got off to a hot start. The first period was all Penguins, but just as fast as they put two goals in the net in the opening period, the Sharks returned the favor in the second, leaving the game tied in the third. Nick Bonino was a big part of the late game heroics.
Bonino lifted the Penguins over the San Jose Sharks in game one when he darted to the net and knocked in Kris Letang’s centering pass with just over two minutes left in the game for the 3-2 victory. It was Bonino’s fourth goal of the playoffs. San Jose goalie Martin Jones made 38 stops but couldn’t get over in time to stop Bonino’s shot.
San Jose is making its franchise debut in the Stanley Cup Final. They have been close, but choked away a 3-0 series lead in the first round against Los Angeles two years ago. If they have any chance at making this a successful quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup the Sharks will need to speed things up on the ice in game 2. They are pretty good at collecting themselves after a loss. In the postseason, San Jose is 5-1 following a loss.
NASCAR: Truex Jr Dominates in Charlotte
Martin Truex Jr. didn’t need any lucky breaks to go his way in Charlotte; the race was clearly his to win. Luck hadn’t been on his side up to this point on the Sprint Cup circuit so far this season, but on Sunday night, Truex was in control of the Coca-Cola 600. When you lead all but 12 of 600 miles, that’s domination, and a NASCAR record. However, Truex had dominated in the past and failed to win.
At Texas, Truex led 141 laps and in Kansas, he was out front for 172 laps, and finally, a year ago on the site of his recent victory (Charlotte), he led the most laps (131) but pitted late for fuel while four other cars, including winner Carl Edwards stayed out, he fell to fifth; but not last Sunday. He was rarely challenged by the field, except for once when four-time Coca-Cola 600 winner, Jimmie Johnson passed him on a restart 55 laps from the end of the race, but Truex went back in front a lap later and that was “all she wrote”.
Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the mother of all high-end racing weekends and last weekend didn’t fail to deliver. Truex’s win finished off the festivities that began with Lewis Hamilton’s win at the Monaco Grand Prix and Continued in grand fashion with the surprise victory at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 by American rookie Alexander Rossi.
Truex will try to follow up his win in Charlotte by trying to win twice at Pocono Raceway in as many years this Sunday in Long Pond PA.
The Axalta We Paint Winners 400 is Sunday at 1:18pm ET.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP
- Kevin Harvick (4) 457
- Kurt Busch (41) 421
- Jimmie Johnson (48) 409
- Kyle Busch (18) 405
- Carl Edwards (19) 404
- Brad Keselowski (2) 404
- Martin Truex Jr. (78) 381
- Chase Elliot (24) 374
- Joey Logano (22) 373
- Matt Kenseth (20) 347