Stanley Cup Final is off to a blistering start, plus will Warriors win the NBA title tonight?
Happy Thursday, everyone. Hope you’re doing well.
Let’s get right to it.
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Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE COLORADO AVALANCHE
The Avalanche’s explosive offense was on display last night — but so was the Lightning’s championship grit. Then Andre Burakovsky showed he knows a thing or two about clutch goals… especially against Tampa Bay.
It all led to the Avalanche taking Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in a 4-3 overtime thriller.
Colorado jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the first period, with Gabriel Landeskog, Valeri Nichushkin and Artturi Lehkonen all scoring. Nicholas Paul had the Lightning’s tally.The game changed quickly in the second period, when Ondrej Palat and Mikhail Sergachev scored 48 seconds apart to tie things at 3-3. Neither team scored in the third period.Then Burakovsky struck with his first career Stanley Cup Final goal, beating Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevsky just 1:23 into overtime.
Lightning fans must have cringed when they heard Burakovsky’s name: He scored twice against Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Final as a member of the Capitals.
While the game went to overtime, our NHL expert Austin Nivison wrote in his takeaways that the Avs dominated throughout.
Nivison: “No matter how you slice it, the Avs took it to the back-to-back champs in the opening game. At five-on-five, Colorado generated 2.60 expected goals to Tampa Bay’s 1.05, per Natural Stat Trick… Colorado converted on one of its three power plays and got some quality chances on the other two. Meanwhile, the Avs’ penalty kill unit completely silenced a lethal Lightning man advantage on all three opportunities.”
That being said, this was an exciting opening to the Final. If every game can be as good as Game 1, sign me up for six more, please.
Honorable mentionsNot so honorable mentionNBA Finals expert predictions: Warriors can finish Celtics off tonight 🏀
Could tonight be the last night of the NBA season? I sure hope not (there are no two better words in sports than Game 7) but it’s a strong possibility. After taking both Game 4 and Game 5, the Warriors are 48 minutes away from their seventh NBA championship in franchise history and fourth in the last eight seasons.
The Celtics may look down and out, but that’s when they’ve done their best work this postseason.
They overcame a 3-2 series deficit against the reigning champion Bucks and survived a Game 7 against the Heat.They’re 7-1 following losses this postseason.They haven’t lost three straight games since December.They certainly sound plenty confident in their ability to come back.
So, who wins it tonight? In our NBA experts’ picks, Brad Botkin goes with the hosts.
Botkin: “I think Jaylen Brown plays better at home. I think one of the role players — Derrick White, Grant Williams or Al Horford — has a big night and Jayson Tatum can’t finish this poorly forever. Boston’s crowd is going to be bananas. Golden State isn’t a juggernaut. It has holes. Boston will find its way through enough of them to push this thing to seven. Pick: Celtics -3.5 | Celtics 107, Warriors 103“
Not everyone feels that way, though. NBA columnist Bill Reiter picked the Warriors and says the Celtics will have to show us something special to extend the series, much less win it.
Reiter: “The real answer to how Boston wins this thing is simple and twofold: Don’t let Curry beat you, and don’t beat yourself. … On the first one: Good luck. Curry, as I’ve written, is likely going to end his career as a Top-5 all-time player, an all-time talent too often underappreciated, earning the dues he deserves long after the fact. … But the second point addresses why this series feels finished: No team can win a championship if the closer they get to it, the quicker they fade. And the Celtics have been a bundle of nerves and worry and poor play in the moments in which a ring has been at its closest…”Can Brooks Koepka get back to form, maintain dominance at U.S. Open? 🏌
There’s a reason that it takes a while to find Brooks Koepka‘s name on the odds list for the U.S. Open at Caesars Sportsbook. The two-time U.S. Open champ has played in two events since the start of April: a missed cut at The Masters and a T-55th at the PGA Championship.
But, as our golf scribe Kyle Porter found out, he’s brimming with confidence ahead of this year’s event, which starts today.
Porter: “He’s the rarest of all players who can seemingly flip the switch at the toughest tests in the sport on the hardest courses in the world. … There are a million reasons to doubt that Koepka can win his third U.S. Open and fifth major championship, but perhaps the two most important indicators of all — past performance at the hardest championship in the world and confidence level compared to the field — are certainly not among them.”
In case you need any more convincing, here are Koepka’s last four U.S. Open appearances:
2017: 1st2018: 1st2019: 2nd2021: T-4th
That’s also why he’s one of nine players who can win, according to Porter. Here’s what else you should read to get ready for what should be an enthralling event:
MLB All-Fun Team: Jazz Chisholm, Yankees sluggers lead the way ⚾
Our MLB reporter Matt Snyder hit the nail on the head when he wrote: “Sports are fun, that’s why we watch.”
That’s why his latest installment of his MLB 2022 All-Fun Team is a great read for any baseball fan. The Yankees are having plenty of fun this season with an MLB-best 46-16 record, and they land two players on Snyder’s list.
Snyder: “Aaron Judge — He’s on pace for 60-plus homers. No further explanation needed. … Giancarlo Stanton — There is no one in baseball who hits the ball harder. Now we have the technology to measure it and prove it, too. It’s even funnier — if we can get over how unfair it is to the rest of us — when he barely makes contact off the end of the bat and it still clears the wall.”
While Judge and Stanton are really fun (and really good), neither earn the hypothetical “captain” title on this hypothetical team. That honor belongs to a player who may still be a casual baseball fan’s radar.
Snyder: “Jazz Chisholm, Marlins — If there’s a team captain here, it’s Jazz. … He’s an extra-base machine of all varieties (seven doubles, four triples, 13 homers). He’s a power-speed combo when you look at just the home runs and steals. He’ll make things happen on the bases other than steals, including how good he is at bunting for a hit. He’ll make exciting defensive plays. He’s always outwardly amped up and his home run trots are something to behold. The different colors in his hair are just a bonus. All hail our captain.”What we’re watching Thursday 📺
⛳ U.S. Open Here’s how to watch
🏀 NBA Finals Game 6: Warriors at Celtics, 9 p.m. on ABC