If there is a glaring hole on Golden State’s championship resume Cheap Troy Apke Jersey
, it’s that the Warriors have never gone back-to-back.
That will change.
The Warriors are about to win their second straight NBA championship and their third in the last four seasons – all of them coming at the expense of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won’t have enough even if LeBron James plays to the absolute utmost of his capabilities. The Warriors have home-court advantage, and have three of the best four players who will appear in the series.
They’re just too good to lose.
If they were going to lose, it would have been in the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets. Houston was a team that was built for one purpose – beating the Warriors. And the Rockets might have done it, too, had Chris Paul’s hamstring not popped in the final seconds of Game 5 and forced him to the sideline for the rest of the series.
Golden State rallied in both Game 6 and Game 7, as Paul looked on helplessly. Yes, the Warriors caught a huge break. They won’t waste this chance.
The teams have changed mightily over the last four seasons. There were 20 players who appeared in first Cavaliers-Warriors game of the 2014-15 season – only eight of them will be in uniform during this series. Kevin Durant is in Golden State now, Kyrie Irving isn’t with the Cavaliers anymore, the benches are very different particularly in Cleveland’s case.
But the principals are still there: James, Stephen Curry Cheap Baker Mayfield Jersey
, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green.
And over these four years since James returned to northeast Ohio, the Warriors are 17-9 against the Cavaliers. Golden State needed six games to beat Cleveland for the title in 2015, five games last season and if Andrew Bogut didn’t get hurt in Game 5 of the 2016 Finals the Warriors – who ended up blowing a 3-1 lead that year – probably would have won that series as well.
James might be playing the best basketball of his life. That’s why Cleveland is still in these playoffs.
Even he won’t be able to save the Cavs this time.
Cleveland looked like a team that couldn’t guard anyone in the regular season, and to its credit has greatly improved on that end of the court during this postseason. But facing Golden State will be such a bigger challenge than Indiana, Toronto and Boston could provide. And if the Warriors get Andre Iguodala back, their spacing will be even better and put further demands on the Cavs.
The Cavs won’t have any pressure on their shoulders. The Warriors will have it all, but after Curry, Durant and Thompson found a way to rally from 15 points down in Houston to win a Game 7 on the road and capture the Western Conference, Golden State will come into this series brimming with confidence.
That confidence will keep growing until they get handed another Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The pick: Warriors in five.
When Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold entered the team’s new practice facility a couple of weeks ago, the organizational motto was staring him in the face.
So was the advice he should make a change in the front office Chipper Jones Jersey
, despite his fondness of general manager Chuck Fletcher.
”It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door: `Good is not good enough,”’ Leipold said. ”I felt that was a signal for me.”
The Wild split with Fletcher after nine seasons and only two playoff series wins, a decision – ”very agonizing,” Leipold said – that the 25-year veteran of NHL management would not have his contract renewed was delivered in a Monday morning meeting.
”I wanted a new set of eyes on this team,” Leipold said.
The Wild have six straight postseason appearances, matching the longest current streak in the Western Conference with the Anaheim Ducks, but they have not reached the second round since 2015. They were only 15-29 in playoff games during Fletcher’s tenure, enough evidence that the roster wasn’t built well enough for all the success the team has enjoyed in the regular season.
”Right now I just don’t see us with this team getting to the championship series. I just don’t see it,” Leipold said. ”I think we’re a good team. I really do, and I just talked to our players about this. They’re a good team, but they’re not good enough right now.”
Since Fletcher stunned the NHL by signing left wing Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter Authentic Harrison Phillips Jersey
, the market’s most-coveted free agents in 2012, the Wild have been a runaway success on the business side with sellouts at Xcel Energy Center as routine as the aroma of mini donuts and the swish of the skates on the ice. The fans have been frustrated by the postseason plateau, though, and Leipold bluntly acknowledged he dismissed Fletcher in part to appease the customers.
”The fans deserve to win one here,” Leipold said. ”This is the state of hockey, and I’m really confident that we’re going to have candidates that are interested in coming here because of our fans, because of our market, because of our team. I’m energized by the opportunity to talk to some of these people.”
Leipold, who purchased the Wild the year before hiring Fletcher, said the move was unrelated to the Wild’s early exit this year. They lost in five games in the first round to the Winnipeg Jets, after being ousted in five games in 2017 by the St. Louis Blues. Last year http://www.ramsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-brian-allen-jersey
, Leipold declined to extend Fletcher’s deal.
”My antenna’s been up,” Leipold said. ”Chuck and I have had numerous conversations all year. I wanted to wait until the end of the year to assess everything, to understand how I feel about where we’re going. Are we still in the window to win the Stanley Cup? I believe we are. He believed we are. But my personal feeling was that I wanted someone new to come in and kind of shake it up.”
Leipold said he won’t order a significant rebuild, nor does he believe that’s necessary for postseason progress. He added he would not hire a general manager who recommended a long-haul approach to hoisting the Stanley Cup.
”We were sixth overall two years ago. We were eighth overall this year,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”We’ve got an awful lot of good, moving parts there. We’ll tweak it a little bit, and we’ll be better.”
The Wild haven’t struggled enough to get a game-changer in the draft, with Matt Dumba in 2012 (seventh) and Mikael Granlund in 2010 (ninth) the only top-10 picks that Fletcher and his staff had. The rival Jets, for example, picked up Patrik Laine with the second overall selection in 2016 and watched him finish second in the NHL with 44 goals in 2017-18 while the team posted the second-best record in the league.
In one way, the Parise-Suter signings for 13 years and $98 million each have worked against the Wild considering they account for 20 percent of their salary cap space and are on the books for seven more seasons. But Suter had a career-high 45 assists Youth Oren Burks Jersey
, before breaking his right ankle with four games left in the regular season, and Parise was one of the team’s best forwards down the stretch with 12 goals in the last 19 games. He scored in all three playoff games before breaking his sternum.
Trades that didn’t pan out under Fletcher have hurt the Wild more than any free-agent signing or first-round draft pick. Charlie Coyle is all that’s left from the deal that sent defenseman Brent Burns to San Jose in 2011, and Coyle didn’t notch a goal or an assist in the series against the Jets. The trade last summer that sent Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella to Buffalo for Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis didn’t wind up helping.
So Fletcher’s successor will eventually go to work on a roster that produced a goal-less streak of 141:27 to end the series with Winnipeg.
”If you look at the teams moving on, the teams that are winning, they’re scoring and playing at a pretty fast pace,” Parise said. ”We’ve got to get to that level.”