Congratulations everyone, we have made it to finals week! No, not exams, but rather the Stanley Cup and NBA Championship. After nearly a month, the Warriors, Cavaliers, Golden Knights, and Capitals are all playing for a title.
NBA Finals Outlook
Sportsbook in Vegas certainly think that the Warriors are going to blow the Cavaliers out of the water. In game 1, Golden State is a 12 point favorite and -900 to win the series. (If someone bet $900 on the Warriors, they would win only $100.) For reference, the Warriors are the biggest favorites in an NBA finals since the Shaq and Kobe Lakers.
Cleveland has been terrible on defense against the top scoring offenses in the league, and no surprise, the Warriors are one of the best offensive teams. It is safe to assume that the Warriors are going to score a ton of points.
How can the Cavs make the series competitive? The Rockets provided the blueprint to a certain extent. If Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love can pound the glass and give the Cavs extra opportunities on the offensive end, maybe they can stay close if their three pointers are falling. Additionally, Cleveland needs to close out on the three point shooters to limit the Warriors’ open shots.
All of those ideas are great in theory, but the Warriors are one of the greatest collection of players in NBA history. When the games are in California, home court advantage will tip the scales even more into the Warriors’ favor and even Lebron will not be able to save the Cavs.
Prediction: The Warriors are going to roll to the championship. Really the only question is whether they win the title in 4 or 5 games. Warriors in five.
NHL Stanley Cup Outlook
The Vegas Golden Knights already have a 1-0 lead over the Capitals by virtue of their winning game 1 6-4. Washington came back against Tampa, which they will have to do again if they hope to bring a title to championship-starved Washington DC.
Entering game 1, the narrative was understandably focused upon the goaltenders and they promptly gave up 9 goals between them. For the Knights, game 1 was the first time in the playoffs that they allowed more than three goals and still won.
Vegas is now 13-3 in the playoffs and is a heavy favorite to bring the Cup to the Vegas Strip in a week or two. In order to avoid that fate, Washington’s stars need to shine brightly. Vegas has greater depth, but the top lines and first defensive pairings are better on the Capital’s side of the ledger. If Holtby can match Fleury, the Capitals can stay out of the box, and the top lines play well, then Washington can get into the series.
The Knights can lean on their home ice advantage, depth, and speed to wear down the Caps. Vegas has not gone deep into a series because they have won so quickly, but the longer the Cup finals go, the more it counterintuitively plays into Vegas’ hands.
Prediction: At this point, it is not exactly going out on a limb to pick Vegas given that they have a 1-0 lead. Washington can get back into the series even if they lose game 2, and they have demonstrated a resilience not typical of the Capitals teams of the past. Despite all of that, Vegas just has all of the mojo going at this point and will likely win the Cup.
The Warriors and Knights could bring the Cup and NBA championship to the western time zone for the first time since the 1987-88 season. They are both the odds-on favorites and should be able to get the job done. Look for the Warriors and Golden Knights to be the 2017-18 champions.