COLE’S NOTES: Round 3 a must see
Well after my NBA and NHL Round 2 predictions, and going 4 for 8, I can say that I am getting closer to Mr. Fantana's magic number.
We'll start with the big series win by our beloved Toronto Raptors who are on their way to the franchise's first ever Eastern Conference Finals. There they will meet the No. 1 seeded Cleveland Cavaliers, and Lebron James.
Toronto finished off the Miami Heat with a convincing 27 point Game 7 win. At the start of Round 2, I predicted Miami would win in six games and was so confident that I made a small wager with a friend. With the pleasure of being richer and right I embraced the roll of a Heat fan for a week and a half and I have to say that it was interesting to look at the Raptors as "the enemy."
What I learned from this experience was how well Jack Armstrong and Rod Black do at making you, the attentive Raps fan, believe that everything each Toronto player does is extraordinary. Good on them because what they are able to hide is that Kyle Lowry fakes his way to having at least five fouls a game called in his favour.
Furthermore they will point out his endless moments of leadership but refuse to acknowledge the 20 times a game his looks at the referee to complain about something that doesn't go his way. It's not a way I would be proud of winning.
I will give credit where credit is due, though. Even though they were owned by Dwayne Wade for five out of seven games, they were still able to advance.
I have to give major props to the team’s best player, Demar DeRozan, for playing injured and still leading his team when given the chance. I also have to give Lowry credit for scoring 71 points in the final two games of the series. Granted he took about 75 shots but he made enough of them.
The Raptors will now play the Cavaliers who once again made quick work of their opponent and swept their way to the next round. The Cleveland line-up was just too deep and talented that Atlanta really never stood a chance.
The Raptors basically played an eight-game series with all of the overtime play in Round 2 so I see the lack of rest as a big detriment to Toronto especially when you couple that with the fact that Cleveland has had a week off.
As if the Cavs needed more in their favour but an injured Jonas Valanciunas is questionable to appear in Round 3.
A big reason why the Raptors were so successful, aside from the referees giving them double the amount of free throws was the fact that they didn't have to deal with a big man presence in the paint against Miami. That will not be the case this time around with the likes of James, Love, Thompson, and Moskov looking for some blocks.
I want to believe the Raptors can play the Cavs as well as they did in the regular season this round but with DeRozan not healthy, Valanciunas hurt, Carroll not shutting down stars like he has done in the past, and Lowry not able to put together a full series of really good games, I see Cleveland winning in 5.
Everyone believed San Antonio had the best chance to prevent the Warriors from repeating when the playoffs began. Well after the Thunder went out and just outran and outplayed the Spurs we will never know how that series would have turned out.
What we do know is that the Thunder will not lay down for the Golden State Champs. Durant and Westbrook are playing better than any other duo in the playoffs right now and with Curry still not 100 per cent healthy this is going to be quite the Western Conference Finals.
The big key to this series will not be the top duos of Curry and Thompson and Westbrook and Durant but more the other three players on the court and that advantage has to go to the Warriors.
Draymond Green will take Serge Ibaka too far out of his defensive comfort zone that I see him turning out to be the main factor of the Warriors winning in 7.
Now on to some HACKEY!
I will continue on with my lack of faith in the Stamkosless Lightning and see the Pittsburgh Penguins moving on, after winning the series in 7 games.
This Tampa Bay squad is making me look as big of a fool as I did in not believing the Carolina Panthers could win an NFL Playoff game and they made it all of the way to Super Bowl 50.
But this time it's for real! Crosby is playing like an elite forward again, their depth matches the Lightining and let's not forget that Evgeni Malkin is still in the NHL doing unreal things. The Game 1 win by Tampa Bay might be more costly than good after losing starting goalie Ben Bishop.
I do have to say that although I am not a fan of Phil Kessel I really do love seeing a former Leafs player advancing his team through the playoffs.
The Western Conference side of these playoffs have been the most entertaining in recent memory and this final matchup is looking like the trend will continue.
Both teams have numerous stars and lots of experience and even more talent. The Blues just survived Game 1 but I don't see the Sharks letting in many more easy goals and hitting as many posts.
The Sharks win in 7 because Joe Thornton’s beard told me so.
Round 3... can't wait to see!
P.S. Jose Bautista got punched in the face! Wow the Rangers sure hold a grudge.
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