It’s that time of year…4th of July is just around the corner and everyone is refilling their gas tanks and loading up the charcoal for the grills. Sam’s Summer is on tap at every bar and it’s light out until 8:45pm every night. Yes, it’s Summertime…and as the Fresh Prince would say, time to sit back and unwind.
Unfortunately, that also means we’ve entered the dark ages of every sports season. The NBA season is finally over (and ended just as I predicted by the way), NHL finals finished a few weeks ago, and we’re even halfway through the golf grand slam with the U.S. Open in the books. Literally all that’s left is baseball. For Red Sox fans, that means there is NOTHING left. So it’s time to get the countdown started to NFL training camps and preseason games, because until then I’ve got nothing to live for.
Even Game of Thrones is over…I’m going to resist the urge to really dig into how upset I still am about that season finale….but WTF?!?! I hope the whitewalkers kill every last one of those crow bastards. That was my shortest GoT rant possible, so you’re welcome.
But seriously, what the hell am I supposed to watch all summer? The Women’s World Cup? Sorry ladies, no disrespect but that’s not going to cut it. Until football starts up I won’t have any valid excuse to skip out on Sunday morning trips to the farmer’s market. No excuse to graciously bow out of Monday night walks around the neighborhood. Basically, I now have nothing to get out of “busy Sundays” like this…
As you can imagine, football can’t come fast enough. Until then, alcohol, weddings and barbeques will be my only escape (at this point they’re synonymous – all result in the same end game). But I can’t watch the Sox all summer…please save me football season, I beg you.
If there was any lingering hope that Tiger Woods could regain his form and once again compete at golf’s highest level, let’s put that to bed. I’m not sure who was out on that course playing the Memorial this past weekend, but it sure as hell wasn’t the Tiger that I grew up watching. Tiger Woods never had to battle just to make the cut (keep in mind this wasn’t even a major) and he definitely NEVER was the first person teeing off on Sunday morning (playing by himself by the way – which Tiger has probably had to do a lot more of since his sexcapades became public knowledge).
I’ll give Tiger some credit for at least keeping his composure out there, because I fully expected him to go Happy Gilmore and start screaming at the ball. “Are you too good for your home ball? ANSWER ME!!!! “ As someone who grew up watching him in his hay day and only took up golfing because of how popular he made the sport, it’s really depressing to watch what he’s become. Don’t get me wrong, seeing him go from one bunker to the other, absolutely butchering that par 3, definitely made me feel better about MY golf game. But people don’t tune in to watch Tiger embarrass himself. Although at this point that might be the only option.
He’s saying all the right things publicly. That he’s working through ANOTHER swing change and hasn’t played much golf in the past year. Both true – but let’s be real…his career as we all know it, is over. I think Tiger knows too…he just isn’t ready to accept it yet. The great ones never are. It’s rare for those in the ‘greatest-of-all-time’ conversations to ever hang them up willingly. Usually it has to get real ugly before they call it quits, and that’s exactly where we’re at with Tiger.
Remember those days when Tiger used to intimidate all the other golfers? When Tiger in red on Sunday actually meant something? It’s just a distant memory now. I don’t think guys like Fowler, Spaeth, and McIlroy even think twice about Tiger anymore. He’s now ranked #181 in the world, and even that could be generous. If you want to see vintage Tiger again you either need to watch some YouTube highlights or dig out your PS2 from the attic and throw in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2008.
The NBA was gracious enough to give both teams a week off, which had two major benefits: (1) Klay Thompson can have some time to recover from his concussion systems (and hopefully be ready to go for game 1) and (2) it gave me plenty of time to do this write-up. What follows is some combination of my random thoughts on this series, as well as what I think will happen (as a realist and fan of the game) and what I hope will happen (as a well-documented LeBron hater).
The Road Here
Frankly, it’s what most people wanted and expected – LeBron and the Cavs in the finals. Even without Kevin Love, there was little chance of anyone else making it out of the Eastern Conference. I thought the Bulls could pull it off, but they shit the bed during crunch time of that series. Thought maybe the Wizards could give the Cavs a tough series, but John Wall got hurt and they couldn’t get past the Hawks. Never thought the Hawks would be able to knock out the Cavs, and once DeMare Carroll AND Kyle Korver went down, it became a walk in the park for Cleveland. LeBron waltzed his way into his 5th straight NBA Finals; which by the way is an absolutely insane accomplishment. As bad as the East is, and as much as I can’t stand him, it’s a damn impressive feat.
Golden State on the other hand obviously had to make it through a much more difficult road in a far superior Western Conference. They had a momentary scare against the Grizzlies, but going down 2-1 in that series might have been the best thing that ever happened to them. They fought through the Grizz, then dispatched of the Rockets pretty easily to cruise to their first NBA Finals in over 40 years. I just want to also take this opportunity to say: Thank god the Warriors beat the Rockets because I could not watch anymore “hack-a-whoever BS”. The Clippers-Rockets series was the worst I’ve ever seen. The NBA needs to find a way to get that shit out of the game, because nobody wants to watch Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan and Josh Smith stroll to the free throw line every ten seconds. I’d rather watch Project Runway than that garbage….so thank you Golden State for ending that trauma. Of course, now that I said that they’ll probably employ the “Hack-a-Tristan” and make Tristan Thompson take 20+ FTs a game in the finals…but here’s hoping we see actual basketball instead.
The Warriors had the best record in the NBA for good reason. They have the best shooting tandem in the league with Curry/Thompson. They have length and athleticism at the wing with Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala. They have good size down low with Andrew Bogut (and David Lee/Festus Ezeli off the bench). And they have a jack-of-all trades in Draymond Green (runner up as Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player this season) who is athletic enough to play the 3, but strong enough to play the 4 or even 5 in a small-ball lineup. They move the ball well, play solid defense and have the type of depth and flexibility with their lineup that allows them to match up well with Cleveland and also impose difficult matchups upon the Cavs.
Meanwhile it’s all about LeBron on the other side. No Kevin Love. Kyrie Irving has been fighting through an injury but hasn’t been his normal explosive self. The Cavs have made it through the east largely thanks to the New York Knicks, as J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert have both looked rejuvenated since they escaped from the shitshow that was this season in the Big Apple. Then out of nowhere Tristan Thompson turned into an absolute BEAST on the boards, and Cleveland’s new fan favorite Matthew Dellevadova busted onto the scene. Very unexpectedly, the supporting cast has come up huge for the Cavs and will be a big factor in this series.
My Random Thoughts and Bold Predictions
Steph Curry goes off for 40+ points in at least one game this series
Johnny Manziel will show up courtside in Cleveland for Game 3. He’ll get booed relentlessly by the crowd, get pissed and try to throw a water bottle at the jumbotron. He’ll miss badly and the boos will turn to laughs as Johnny football once again proves why he isn’t an NFL-caliber quarterback.
There will be at least 2 ejections in this series – I’d put my money on: J.R. Smith and Andre Iguodala. Iguodala will get tossed for a bogus “Flagrant 2” call for a hard foul on LeBron (in game 3 or 4 in Cleveland) and Smith will get tossed for starting another fight in retaliation.
Dellevadova injures at least 1 Warrior with this reckless, albeit energetic and hustling, style of play (personally I think he’s a dirty player but damn good at covering it up)
LeBron will bitch and complain so much about “non-calls” in Games 1 & 2 that the refs will freak out and send him to the line for 15-20 FTs in Game 3 (in Cleveland).
Draymond Green will be the key to this series for the Warriors, and will post a triple-double and win Finals MVP.
Bonus prediction: the real star of the NBA Finals will be: Riley Curry…I mean, c’mon
The only question that really matters; I’m going with the Warriors in 6. My exact prediction, game by game: Game 1 – Warriors win by double digits; Game 2 – Cavs steal this one on a late 3 by JR Smith; Game 3 – Warriors win a close one behind a HUGE game by Chef Curry; Game 4 – Cavs win big behind a monster performance by LeBron; Game 5 – Warriors come back home and win by 20+; Game 6 – Warriors finish off the series and take home the title, and best of all get to celebrate it on LeBron’s home court. Suck it LeBron!!