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This Week in Sports

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin skates with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on June 7, 2018. (John Crouch/Cal Sport Media/Zuma Press/TNS)

Welcome to another weekly roundup in the world of sports. This week, the Warriors swept the Cavaliers, the Washington Capitals won their first ever Stanley Cup, the New York Yankees stayed hot and overtook the Boston Red Sox for the best record in baseball and President Donald Trump made headlines in the NFL yet again.

National Basketball Association

The Golden State Warriors captured their second straight NBA Championship and third in four years. On Friday, the Warriors completed the sweep over the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Before they had the opportunity to win the title, they had to play a Game 3 on Wednesday.

The Cavaliers played a strong game in the first half of Game 3. They held the Warriors at bay and going into halftime, Cleveland led the Warriors 58-52. Unfortunately for Cleveland though, the Warriors have been the best second half team in basketball all season long. Golden State came out in the third quarter and outscored Cleveland 31-23. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Warriors led by two points. If Cleveland wanted any shot at making it a competitive series, they had to come out and play a fourth quarter to remember. The Cavaliers once again played strong but like most teams that play the Warriors, it wasn’t quite enough. The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers by six points in the fourth quarter and finished off a 110-102 Game 3 victory.

Kevin Durant led the way for the Warriors with 43 points and 13 rebounds. It was an MVP type performance that Golden State needed to squeak by because the usual suspects for the Warriors weren’t getting it done statistically. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all had low point totals. Curry was 3-16 from the field and 1-10 from three-point range for a total of 11 points. Jordan Bell scored 10 points off the bench and Andre Iguodala added eight points.

For Cleveland, LeBron James played a game high 47 minutes and had 33 point triple-double with 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Kevin Love had 20 points and 13 rebounds. J.R. Smith was 5-14 from the field for 13 points and Rodney Hood had 15 points off the bench. Kyle Korver was noticeably absent as he played 11 minutes and went 0-4 shooting. Tristan Thompson and George Hill didn’t add much for Cleveland scoring only eight and five points respectively.

Going into Game 4, the Warriors had the opportunity to sweep James’ Cavaliers and Golden State came out firing on all cylinders. The Warriors had a 34-point first quarter and after both teams scored 27 points in the second quarter, Golden State led at halftime by nine points. The Warriors have created a reputation this postseason for dominating the third quarter of games. The third quarter domination was on full display in Game 4 as the Warriors outscored the Cavaliers 25-13 coming out after halftime. Going into the fourth quarter, Golden State led Cleveland 86-65 and was one quarter away from capturing the title. Cleveland needed a miracle in the fourth quarter, but they seemed to read the writing on the wall. The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers 22-20 and when the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read 108-85.

James, by his standard had a subpar game scoring 23 points on only 13 shots. With the season on the line, it was Hood, not James who put up the most shots. Hood was 4-14 from the field with 10 points. Love added 13 points and Smith had 10 points with all three of his made field goals coming from behind the arch. Thompson and Hill both underwhelmed again scoring only nine combined points.

After the game, James revealed he had been playing with a partially broken shooting hand. He suffered the injury after Game 1 in a self-inflicted fit of frustration. He was wearing a cast in the postgame interview that led to reporters asking him about the injury. Reporters also asked what has been on everyone’s mind. Was this James’ last game in a Cavaliers uniform?

“I have no idea at this point,” James said in his postgame comments about whether or not it was indeed his last game as a member of the Cavaliers. “Sitting down and consider everything, you know. My family is a huge part of whatever I’ll decide to do in my career and they will continue to do that. I don’t have an answer for you now as far as that.”

While James was being questioned about his future, the Warriors were celebrating their third championship in four years. Curry had a huge Game 4 with 37 points. He hit seven three-pointers and shot 12-27 from the field. Durant notched his first triple-double of the finals scoring 20 points with 12 rebounds and 10 assists. There were three other Warriors in double figures who helped secure the sweep. Durant earned his second straight NBA Finals MVP award.

The NBA landscape may look different next year depending on what James decides to do in free agency, but one thing is for sure: the Golden State Warriors will be back and looking to add to this impressive dynasty.

National Hockey League

The clock struck midnight on the NHL’s Cinderella story this week. The Las Vegas Golden Knights’ historic season came to end Thursday night at the hands of the Washington Capitals.

Game 4 was Monday night in Washington D.C. The Capitals held a 2-1 series lead going into the game. Las Vegas was trying to steal a game on the road to even the series. Washington denied the Golden Knights from grabbing any momentum and took all hope away when they scored the game’s first four goals. T.J. Oshie got the scoring started with a first period power play goal. Minutes later, Tom Wilson made it a 2-0 game with a goal. With 21 seconds left in the first period, Devante Smith-Pelly added a backbreaking goal to give the Capitals a 3-0 lead going into the first intermission. After a Washington goal in the second period, James Neal and Reilly Smith scored a pair of third period goals to bring the score to 4-2. Just over a minute after Smith’s goal, Michal Kempny scored a goal for the Capitals to stop the momentum of Las Vegas. With a 5-2 lead, Washington added another goal with under two minutes left to put the game out of reach and secure a 6-2 win. With the win, Washington took a 3-1 lead in the series.

Braden Holtby stopped 28 of Las Vegas’ 30 shots. Las Vegas out hit and out shot the Capitals and won the faceoff battle, but their 32 penalty minutes was too much to overcome. Marc-Andre Fleury had a rough game saving only 17 of the 23 shots he faced.

Game 5 was back in Las Vegas and the Golden Knights were trying to defend home ice and send the game back to Washington for a Game 6. The first period saw both teams battling but no goals got in. In the second period, the floodgates opened up. Jakub Vrana scored the game’s first goal six and a half minutes into the second period. The two teams then went back and forth as the Knights scored their first goal a few minutes later followed by an Alex Ovechkin goal for Washington and a David Perron goal for Las Vegas. Tied at two, Smith scored a power play goal for Las Vegas with 29 seconds left in the second period to give the Knights a 3-2 lead going into the third period. Half way through the third, Smith-Pelly scored the game-tying goal that silenced the rowdy Las Vegas fans. Two and a half minutes later, Lars Eller scored his seventh goal of the playoffs and the eventual game winner. The Golden Knights couldn’t add another goal and eventually fell to the Capitals 4-3 in the game and 4-1 in the series.

Holtby had 28 saves on 31 shots while Fleury stopped 29 of the 33 shots he faced. Las Vegas out hit the Capitals 39-27 and won 32 of the 61 faceoffs. Washington out shot the Knights 33-31. Ovechkin scored 15 goals in the playoffs and was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player. This was the Capitals first ever Stanley Cup victory, and the first for Ovechkin in his 14 year career.

Major League Baseball

With the NBA and NHL seasons now over, baseball takes center stage in the world of sports.

The New York Yankees have won eight of their last 10 games and taken over first place in the American League East. They currently have the best record in baseball, but their division rival Boston Red Sox are right on their heels sitting just a half game back in the standings. The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays are 14 and 14.5 games back of the Yankees while the Baltimore Orioles sit in the basement with the worst record in baseball.

The Cleveland Indians have improved in the standings and now have a five game lead over the second place Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. The Minnesota Twins are a half game behind the Tigers while the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals remain far out of contention.

The AL West has a tie at the top of the division with the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros separated by a few percentage points. Both teams have eclipsed the 40-win mark and are trying to pull ahead of the third place Los Angeles Angels, who are just four and a half games back of first place. The Oakland Athletics are currently two games over .500 while the Texas Rangers have dropped seven of their last 10 games and remain in last place.

Like the AL West, the National League East also has a tie atop the division. The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves sit at the top of the division while the Philadelphia Phillies are three games back of those two teams. The New York Mets have lost eight of their last 10 games and have dropped to seven and a half games out of first place while the last place Miami Marlins are 14 games out of the lead.

The Milwaukee Brewers have been in first place of the NL Central for most of this season, but the serging Chicago Cubs could soon take over that spot if the Brewers aren’t careful. The Cubs are now just a half game back of Milwaukee. The St. Louis Cardinals have remained steady and are only three games back of the division lead. The Pittsburgh Pirates have struggled of late losing seven of their last 10 games and falling to seven games back of the Brewers. The Cincinnati Reds continue with their rebuild and are currently in last place, 16.5 games behind the Brewers.

Out West, the Arizona Diamondbacks have won three in a row and still sit in first place of the NL West. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have both gotten hot after their rough starts and share the same record of 33-32, just two and a half games out of first place. Trending the opposite way is the Colorado Rockies. After a surprising start to the season, they’ve lost eight of their last 10 games falling below .500 but are still within range of the division lead. The San Diego Padres have gotten hot in the past week. They are still in last place but with the division this tight, another good week could see them climb out of the cellar as they are just five and a half games behind Arizona.

ESPN’s top five power rankings

1. New York Yankees (42-19)
2. Boston Red Sox (44-22)
3. Houston Astros (42-25)
4. Chicago Cubs (37-25)
5. Washington Nationals (36-27)

The Collegiate’s top five power rankings

1. New York Yankees (42-19)
2. Boston Red Sox (44-22)
3. Seattle Mariners (41-24)
4. Houston Astros (42-25)
5. Chicago Cubs (37-25)

West Michigan Whitecaps

The West Michigan Whitecaps had two series this week both at home. Despite the home field advantage, they experienced another average week going 4-3. They started with a three game series against the last place Great Lakes Loons on Tuesday. The Whitecaps took full advantage of their series against the struggling Loons sweeping the series. West Michigan pitching only allowed two runs in the three games sweep.

Friday, they welcomed the South Bend Cubs to town for five games in four days. The Cubs took Game 1 of the series 4-1. On Saturday, the two teams played a double-header. South Bend took the first game 5-3 while the Whitecaps won the second game 6-1. On Sunday, the Whitecaps tried to even the series but lost a close one 5-4. The Whitecaps will try to win game five of the series on Monday when they host the Cubs for the final game of the long series.

West Michigan will head out for a short three game road series against the Great Lakes Loons before returning home Friday for a three-game series against the Dayton Dragons.

Friday’s game against the Dragons will see a familiar face on the mound. Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink has been given the privilege of throwing out the first pitch. The theme of the evening is “what do you want to do when you grow up.” The GRCC Mobile Manufacturing Lab and members from the Enrollment Center will be set up in the parking lot of the stadium starting at 5 p.m. There will also be community business partners inside the stadium highlighting jobs in West Michigan. The Collegiate will be there to cover the event. For tickets, contact Nicole Dekker (616-234-3848) or Amy Bennett (616-234-3908) or click here for tickets to this game and all other home games.

National Football League

One of the great traditions in American sports is the opportunity to visit the White House and meet the president if you win a championship. The Philadelphia Eagles were scheduled to visit the White House this week to celebrate their Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots. On Monday, June 4, the news leaked that fewer than 10 players were planning on visiting President Trump while the rest of the team declined the visit. Reportedly none of the players that were planning on attending were African-American.

After hearing this news, Trump rescinded the invitation without informing Eagles personnel.

The White House released a statement saying, “the Eagles disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

The Eagles are refuting these claims and speculation is that Trump is trying to incite more divisiveness in the NFL. None of the Eagles kneeled for the anthem last season and it seems as if Trump is just trying to cover his bases.

Torrey Smith, now a member of the Carolina Panthers, was on the Eagles Super Bowl winning team last year and sent out a tweet regarding Trump’s claims.

“So many lies…Here are some facts,” Smith said on Twitter. “1. Not many people were going to go. 2. No one refused to go simply because Trump insists folks stand for the anthem. 3. The President continues to spread the fake narrative that players are anti-military.”

Smith continued on in another tweet about the situation.

“There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should’ve been able to go. It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you. To make it about the anthem is foolish.”

Trump released a tweet of his own stating why he cancelled the event.

“The Philadelphia Eagles football team was invited to the White House,” he said in the tweet. “Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the locker room for the playing of our national anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!”

Trump later tweeted that instead of celebrating the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, they would hold a playing of the national anthem and invited members of the military to honor America. He added at the end of his tweet, “NFL, no escaping to the locker rooms!”


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