Golden State didn’t show much poise Friday night, led by Draymond Green, who has developed a habit of committing unnecessary fouls and then whining when they are called. That’s pretty off-putting, although the officiating has been poor both ways from the beginning of the series.
The Warriors have been by far the better team so far in this series -- and they are better than they were last year when they blew a 3-1 lead -- but the takeaway from 2016 is that the longer a series goes, the more unexpected things can happen.
By the end of last year’s Finals, the Warriors had lost their center to injury and looked worn down by a long series.
Cleveland ultimately won a battle of attrition, something Golden State would be wise to avoid this year...
Hockey, meanwhile, is done until September.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive year despite having to deal with some major injuries along the way.
Since nobody outside of Western PA likes Pittsburgh or its star, Sidney Crosby, this was a fairly unsatisfying finish.
This was a weird year in the NHL as the top seed in each conference was gone before the conference finals, in part because the nonsensical way seeds are determined.
As a Blackhawks backer myself, it seemed like they sort of won the West's No. 1 seed by default because all of the other contenders were either significantly flawed or suffered through some sort of health-related malaise at some point.
Some exciting and talented youngsters stepped into the void and looked good during the regular season, but they weren’t ready for the postseason game.
Meanwhile, the Capitals merely played up to their reputation as postseason chokers.
A lot has been made about the “lack of parity” in the NHL over the past decade, and I think that’s worth looking at more closely, especially as it compares to the NBA.
The Pens and Predators outlasted everyone else, but Ottawa, Edmonton and others put the league on notice they are coming with a lot of young talent.
Got any thoughts? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.
I’ll also be accepting suggestions for how the ‘Hawks can reclaim their thrown…
And then there is baseball.
The Reds were swept in Los Angeles, and the third loss was one that felt so inevitable by the end it didn't even hurt.
In a 2016 flashback, Bryan Price's bullpen totally failed him.
The coup de gras was Raisel Iglesias getting bombed in the eighth.
After a Yasiel Puig walk, Enrique Hernandez worked Iglesias for an incredible 13-pitch walk that showed Iglesias didn't have it, and even if he did he would be too spent to pitch the ninth.
There was no bottom of the ninth though so that didn't end up being a concern.
Another valley in this roller coaster season coinciding with the start of the MLB draft also leads back naturally to the debate about whether or not they are better off losing more games anyway...
I am still not in the camp rooting for the highest draft picks possible, especially in baseball.
I get the logic, I just can't get behind it myself. I’m fine with seeing a team go young (and cheap) once its window of contention closes, but I prefer not to bottom out any longer than is necessary.
Life's too short and the season too long to root for losses. I don't root for teams only to see championships. Baseball is an everyday diversion from April until... they're out of contention or the start of football season, whichever comes last.
High draft picks are a consolation, not a goal.
Besides, this current offensive resurgence is built on players who were not top 10 picks. Devin Mesoraco is the only first-rounder, and he went 15th.
Their best relievers are a late first-rounder and an international free agent.
The Cubs tanked and were awful for five years. Now they've got a World Series and a collection of prospects envied by everyone, but that’s not the only way to do build a winner.
The Reds look like they are close to moving back up the ladder after just two truly terrible years. They should have cashed in their chips a year or so earlier, but that's hindsight.
In baseball, there's so much unknown and so many ways to acquire talent, tanking isn't necessary (but it helps).
Tanking works best in the NFL and seems most necessary in the NBA, but there are caveats in both.
In the NFL, there's so much parity a decent or even good (not great) team can have a down year because of injuries or just losing most of its close games and end up with a top 10 pick then go right back to the top.
Winning in the NBA is impossible without superstars, but the lottery picks are so raw they are both hard to project and often a long time in developing.
This creates a market disruption that dilutes the talent pool and lets smart teams like the Spurs continue to build competitive rosters even if they aren’t up there regularly.
Here's a look at who the Reds could draft at No. 2 tonight.