We had what has to be considered the first upset in the NBA playoffs. On Thursday the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the San Antonio Spurs 113-99 to take Game 6 and win that playoffs series 4 games to 2. As Oklahoma City advances to the Western Conference Finals to face the Golden State Warriors the talk turned to what will San Antonio look like next season. The media stupidly wanted an immediate decision from Tim Duncan on if he would be back next season, but of course he didn’t have an answer. Duncan who just turn 40 years of age on April 25th was the #1 pick in the draft by the Spurs in 1997 and has spent the last 19 seasons with the Spurs. Duncan had a down year in 2015-16.San Antonio did what they could to keep Duncan healthy. He played in 61 games and averaged just 25.2 minutes per game which was a career low. Duncan also had his lowest points per game average (8.6) and rebounds per game (7.3) averages in his career. If Duncan does decide to retire he is a sure fire Hall of Fame selection. Duncan won 5 NBA championships with San Antonio and was Finals MVP 3 times. He was a 15 time All-Star and won the MVP of that game 1 time. He was also the league MVP in back to back seasons in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Duncan also won the Rookie of the Year in 1997-98. Besides Duncan the Spurs will also have to wait and see if Manu Ginobili decides to retire. Ginobili will turn 39 on July 28 and just completed his 14th NBA season. Don’t forget Ginobili didn’t start playing in the NBA until he was 25. Ginoblil played professionally in Argentine starting in 1995 before moving to Europe to play in Italy. San Antonio drafted Ginobili drafted in the 2nd round of the 1999 draft, but he choose to stay with his Italian team Kinder Bologna, which he helped win the 2001 Italian Championship, the 2001 and 2002 Italian Cups, and the 2001 Euroleague, where he was named the Euroleague 2000–01 Euroleague Finals MVP. He was also named the Italian League MVP in 2000–01 and 2001–02, and made the Italian League’s All-Star Game three times during this period. Ginobili has won 4 NBA tiles with the Spurs. He is also a 2-time All-Star and was elected 6-Man of the Year in 2008. The 2015-16 season was the first time since his rookie season that Ginobili didn’t average double digit points per game. Will Duncan and Ginobili decide to retire? or will they try to make one more championship run in 2016-17?
Now over in the Eastern Conference it seems as though the Cleveland Cavaliers have been waiting two weeks to find out if they’ll play the Toronto Raptors or Miami Heat in the conference finals. Miami picked up a 103-91 victory on Friday night to force the series to a 7th game. The teams meet Sunday afternoon to decide who will move on t face the Cavaliers. Besides possible to much these playoffs couldn’t of went better for Cleveland. The Cavaliers are a perfect 8-0 in the playoffs with sweeps of the Detroit Pistons in the first round and the Atlanta Hawks in the second round. As the Cavaliers wait for their next opponent you have to wonder what kind of shape that opponent will be in. Hasan Whiteside has a sprained MCL and has already been ruled out of Game 7 against Toronto and who knows if he’ll be ready to play in the conference finals. Luol Deng did play for Miami last night, but took just 5 shots as he’s dealing wit a wrist injury and is less than 100%. If the Heat do advance Deng’s injury will linger through that series. On the Toronto side Jonas Valanciunas left the series in Game 5 with a ankle injury and has been ruled out for the remained of this series. Would that ankle be healthy enough to allow him to play in a series against Cleveland. Also for Toronto Demarre Carroll played just 25 minutes in Game 6 because of a wrist injury. Carroll also took just 4 shots in Game 6. He’ll play in Game 7 and would also play if the Raptors advance, but he’s another player who won’t be 100%. It looks as though no matter which team advances to face Cleveland the Cavaliers are going to have a huge advantage health wise heading into the Eastern Conference Finals.
The NHL is down to just 4 teams and the Tampa Bay Lighting took the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals 3-1 over the Pittsburgh Penguins. It appeared with Steven Stamkos already out for Tampa Bay that Pittsburgh would have an advantage. Then when the Lighting’s Tyler Johnson went knee to knee with the Penguins Chris Kunitz and had to miss some ice time Tampa Bay had to wonder what was next. Sadly for the Lighting what happened next was goaltender Ben Bishop needed to be stretchered off the ice with 7:35 left in the 1st period. It looked as though Bishop caught a skate on the ice and fell awkwardly injuring a knee. It was reported that Bishop’s x-rays where negative for structural damage, but his status for Game 2 in uncertain. Bishop is a Vezina Trophy nominee, but like last seasons playoffs if he’s going to miss time back up Andrei Vasilevskiy will take over in net. Tampa Bay got out to a 1-0 lead when Alex Killorn scored his 4th goal of the playoffs at 14:46 of the 1st period. The Lighting extended that lead to 3-0 on 2nd period goals by Ondrej Palat at 2:33 of the period and then Jonathan Drouin at 18:25. Pittsburgh picked up it’s only goal of the game in the 2nd period as well when Patric Hornqvist scored at 19:05 of the period. Pittsburgh had 16 shots on goal in the 3rd period, Vasilevskiy turned them all away. For the game he stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced after replacing Bishop. Game 2 is Monday night in Pittsburgh. The Western Conference Finals doesn’t start until Sunday night and that features the San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have home ice and have reached the Conference finals by knocking off the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in the 1st round and the #1 seeded Dallas Stars in the 2nd round. San Jose reached the Conference finals by beating the Los Angeles Kings in 5 games and then winning a Game 7 against the Nashville Predators to take that series.
Just to get it a record Dan the Man has picked Pittsburgh to come out of the Eastern conference after they knocked off his Washington Capitals. Dan also likes San Jose to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup finals.
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