Our event of the day is Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Finals contested between the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers at the Oracle Arena. Whilst this will be the Warriors’ fifth straight appearance in a Western Conference Finals series, for Portland, this represents their best playoff campaign since 2000, when, after reaching the Conference Finals, they were dumped out by a star-studded Lakers team. Though they lack the experience of regular deep playoff runs, Portland have proven they can mix it with the league’s best, having already knocked out the Denver Nuggets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Golden State have had a similarly impressive post season campaign thus far, and have yet to find themselves trailing in a series. After seeing off a late Clippers comeback to progress to the second round, the Warriors dismantled James Harden’s Houston Rockets, earning themselves a date with this year’s success story in the Trail Blazers. However, Steve Kerr’s job of guiding his side to their fifth straight NBA Finals series has been made a whole lot tougher in light of all-star Kevin Durant’s recent injury, which could see him miss much of the series. Before his playoff campaign was blighted by injury, KD was averaging 34.2 points per game, meaning the scoring load will have to be more evenly shared amongst the Warriors’ other stars.
One such star who will be asked to come to the fore is Steph Curry, who will hope to gain bragging rights over his younger brother Seth, a shooting guard for the Trail Blazers who will likely feature heavily off the bench. The Trail Blazers have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in the postseason so far, with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum leading the Trail Blazers superbly. The dynamic duo averaged 54 points per game between them in the opening two series and will be crucial to Portland’s chances of progressing to the NBA Finals. Though the Warriors will believe they hold the advantage in the backcourt, when it comes to rebounding, very few teams are as adept as the Portland Trail Blazers, who have excelled in this department following the mid-season acquisition of Enes Kanter from the New York Knicks. The eight-year pro has grabbed 10.6 rebounds per game in the postseason, and will play the crucial role of ensuring Golden State’s big men are second best below the rim. Since appearing in two NBA Finals in three seasons between 1989 and 1992, Portland have failed to reach one since, and they will be desperate to make the most of their opportunity to try and secure a second NBA title. The Warriors however will provide a serious hurdle to get past - it should be a thrilling series.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the cricket as England face Pakistan in their 3rd ODI with this match taking place at the Bristol County Ground. In their recent meetings, England have got the better of today’s opponents and they will hope to extend their winning streak as they prepare for Cricket World Cup. In the EFL Championship the second leg Semi-final between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa will take place at the Hawthorns. You can expect more fireworks in this West Midlands derby after tempers flared in the first leg, culminating in Dwight Gayle receiving a late red card as Villa secured a crucial 2-1 win, putting them in the driving seat heading into tonight’s affair. Stateside in the NHL, the Carolina Hurricanes host the Boston Bruins at the PNC Arena for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. After Boston won the opening two clashes on their home ice, Carolina have it all to do in front of their home crowd, who will consider tonight’s clash as a must-win if they are to have any hope of extending their playoff journey. Elsewhere, Day 1 of a series of County Championship matches kicks off today in the cricket as Essex face Nottinghamshire whilst Somerset do battle with Surrey in Division One. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers will look to extend their impressive run of home form in the MLB as they welcome the San Diego Padres to Dodger Stadium. Finally, WWE is hopping across the pond tonight as Smackdown’s superstars compete at London’s O2 Arena, with Roman Reigns’ clash with Randy Orton the showpiece of tonight’s action.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Golden State Warriors; Portland Trail Blazers
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