As the Conference Finals pass the midway point, we wanted to give some quick reactions and previews for the two series between the Warriors and Thunder as well as the Cavaliers and Raptors. But first, we owe our neighbors up north an apology.
Jurgen Klinsmann released his final 23-man roster for the Copa America on Saturday. Looking back on my prediction from two weeks ago, what seems to stand out the most is Jordan Morris’s exclusion. This will be endlessly debated for the next week, but suffice to say I am firmly in the camp that believes Morris should have been in and Chris Wondolowski should be out after Jozy Altidore’s injury opened a spot up front.
There is simply no historical comparison for Steph Curry in basketball. He is doing things that no other player has ever done, by a significant margin. In 2015, Curry made 286 three-point shots, breaking his own NBA record of 272 set in 2013. This season, he broke that record in just 58 games and to top it off, made his 400th three-pointer in the 82nd and final game of the regular season, finishing the season with 402 threes. To put that in perspective, the next three highest players in history besides Curry (teammate Klay Thompson, Ray Allen, and Dennis Scott) have made 276, 269, and 267 three-pointers in a season respectively. Always shooting like he is running out of time, Curry shot 240 more three-pointers this year than in 2015, yet increased his made three-point field goal percentage by over a full percentage point. Don’t be surprised when your history books mention him.
For the third year in a row, the favorite to win the Triple Crown has won the Kentucky Derby and heads to Baltimore looking to capture the middle jewel and the Black-Eyed Susans at the Preakness Stakes. This year’s Preakness has a different feel to it. Last year, and the 35 before that, we were anxiously awaiting the race to see if the winner at Churchill would be the winner at Pimlico. Now, most thoroughbred racing fans have mixed feelings about the outcome of the race; do we want to see a Triple Crown winner in back to back years or do we want to wait for another Triple Crown winner and let American Pharoah remain alone on his perch of living champions?
It is only mid-May, but that does not mean we can’t talk a little NFL and it certainly does not mean we can’t talk a little wagering. Now you do not have to use this list strictly as an attempt at monetary gain. You can use it for several different things such as wagering among friends for the next round at the bar, a nice steak dinner or even just to keep track of yourself as the season goes along. Hey – you can even use them to troll Yours Truly if by chance these do not turn out the way I predict. Just make no mistake, you will benefit in some way from this should you chose to do so.
Yes the NBA Conference Finals are beginning today, but why focus on the present when you can look forward to the future? We’re taking a quick break from the current slate of games to look at the NBA Lottery, which will be held tomorrow evening and can potentially change the fate of almost every franchise in the NBA. After securing the first pick in the draft via the lottery, teams like the Spurs (Tim Duncan), the Cavs (LeBron James), and the Pelicans (Anthony Davis) have unquestionably changed the history of their franchises. Even last year, the Timberwolves won the lottery and were able to acquire Karl-Anthony Towns, the freshly minted Rookie of the Year and arguably the best young big man in the NBA. Whose fate will change forever tomorrow night? That remains to be seen. But until then, we wanted to fantasize about how we hope the lottery turns out (and how we hope it does not turn out).
But First, a Eulogy for the Spurs
San Antonio lost last night, which means not only do we all have to keep checking on Bair all summer to make sure he is emotionally okay, but we’ve probably seen the end of an era. Although the predictions have come every summer for the last few years that Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were retiring, there was something final about last night’s game. Timmy waved to the crowd as he exited, while Pop took Manu out with seconds remaining so even the Thunder crowd could applaud him.
And if they do retire, there should be no question about what this Spurs team meant to the NBA for the last 20 years. This was a dynasty, consistently competitive, and revolutionary in their ability to adapt to the changes in the game as they happened with the personnel they already had. That is not to say they won’t still be competitive next year. Having Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, led by Popovich, means the Spurs will still be a team to be feared. Before then, though, just take some time to appreciate the genius that was the Tim Duncan era. Now for the last remaining conference semifinal…