June 9, 2011

Who looks best in the best-of-threes?

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball, Ice Hockey

With both championship series both evened up at 2-2 after the Bruins’ mugging of the Canucks in Boston on Wednesday night, the NBA final and the Stanley Cup final both now come down to a best-of-three shootout. So, out of the four teams remaining, who has the best shot at winning it all? Let’s take a look.
4. Vancouver Canucks – Sure, they have home-ice advantage and didn’t lose there in Game 1 and 2 to start the series, a lot has happened since then. The biggest thing was, of course, the suspension laid on Aaron Rome. He may not have been the most important player on the ice for them – heck, the guy he knocked out was a lot more important to his team – but that hit fired the Bruins up and since then, they look unstoppable. Throw in the fact that Roberto Luongo has returned to the uber-shaky version of himself and it looks like a longshot the Cup comes back to Canada.
3. Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs have one game remaining in Texas – tonight’s Game 5 – and they better win it. Taking the two games in Miami may be an impossible task. Dallas has also shown that if Dirk is off this game, he needs a lot of help. Nowitzki should return to form after playing through a sinus infection, but the help has been scarce lately. Dallas also cannot count on LeBron James only scoring eight points in a game again.
2. Boston Bruins – In the past two games, the Bruins have beat down the Canucks 12-1. It may shock you, but the more important number there is the 1. Tim Thomas has been on absolute fire and while he may have botched the first two games, he allowed only four goals in them. Their opponent’s goalie, on the other hand, had to be pulled in Game 4. Even without Nathan Horton, I wouldn’t bet against the Bruins riding that emotion and momentum to a title.
1. Miami Heat – As much as hate to admit it, the hated Heat have the easiest route to a title. They’ll be playing the two potential decisive games at home – where they’ve lost only one game this post-season – and have two of the best three players in the series. LeBron James may have “checked out” in Game 4, but he won’t be scoring only eight points again. If anything, I see him exploding for 30 Thursday night. Then there’s Dwyane Wade, who is playing with a near MJ-like intensity and is really showing that he’s the true King of South Beach.
Of course, anything can happen and that’s why they play the games.
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