Honorable Mention: Big Bad Vlad
Honorable Mention: Big Bad Vlad
Last Tuesday, 20 of my buddies and I drove down to Manchester to watch the New Hampshire Fisher Cats take on the Portland Sea Dogs — partially to have a good time, partially because groups of 20 or more get free hats, mostly to see 19 year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. play baseball. For context, Vlad Jr. is the top-rated prospect in the minors right now who has yet to be called up to the major league this season. Through 31 games this season, he’s batting .397 with 36 RBIs and five homers, including one monstrous dinger off a nearby hotel the night before we went.
The Fisher Cats lost that game 5-3 and Vlad Jr. went one-for-four, but it was all worth it to see a future All-Star-caliber player in action. It’s just a matter of time before he gets called up to the big leagues, and plenty of columnists and Jays fans have clamored for Vlad Jr. in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform. Definitely worth seeing in the flesh. Can’t wait for the Class of 2028 to rock some Vlad Jr. jerseys during Green Key.
The NBA playoffs are now down to four teams. That means it’s time for another set of incredibly accurate predictions.
Western Conference Finals:
Houston Rockets (1) vs. Golden State Warriors (2)
Previous predictions: HOU over UTA, 4-2 (actual: HOU over UTA, 4-1), GSW over NOP, 4-2 (actual: GSW over NOP, 4-1)
To nobody’s surprise, the two top teams in the West made it to the conference finals. It’s the matchup we’ve all been waiting for: old superteam versus new superteam. The Rockets may be hurt by their relative playoff inexperience, but the truth of the matter is that James Harden and Chris Paul are legitimate superstars who can get the job done. Whether this team can best the Warriors has been a season-long question, and the answer is still probably no. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are two of this league’s best players and they’ve been here before. For my own entertainment’s sake, I would love to see this series go to seven. It’s just real tough to put any team over Golden State.
Prediction: GSW over HOU, 4-2
Eastern Conference Finals:
Boston Celtics (2) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (4)
Previous predictions: PHI over BOS, 4-1 (actual: BOS over PHI, 4-1), CLE over TOR, 4-3 (actual: CLE over TOR, 4-0)
In the past two weeks, the narrative regarding the Cavaliers has swung every way imaginable. The underrated Indiana Pacers took LeBron and his pals to seven games, and every sports headline in America asked if the Cavaliers were just too weak this year. And just as quickly as that narrative spread, “LeBronto ” came to town and the one-seed Toronto Raptors were dispatched in quick fashion while the Cavaliers regained their footing on the East. Then just as the tide seemed to turn, Cleveland received a 108-83 game one drubbing courtesy of over .500 shooting from the field for the Celtics and only 15 points from LeBron.
On the other hand, this Celtics team has surpassed all expectations and easily dispatched a young Philadelphia 76ers team. How far they can go remains to be seen, but it would be unsurprising to see their youth come back to bite them as they deepen their playoff run. Also, LeBron has willed this team through two rounds now; I wouldn’t be shocked to see him make it three. There’s a reason he’s been to seven straight NBA Finals.
All in all, it really is shaping up like whoever makes it out of the West will win the title, but these four teams have demonstrated incredible strength throughout the playoffs. I just want to keep watching some great basketball.
Prediction: CLE over BOS, 4-2