The Chosen One: Upcoming professional championships up for grabs

first_imgVegas built a team based on all-around decent players who were underrated or didn’t quite fit in with their past clubs. Collectively, those players created a formidable contender. Thomas has only one major win under his belt: the 2017 PGA Championship. He had historically good — not great —  outings at all majors, but he has seen steady improvement in the standings each year. At the end of the day, however, I think LeBron and his crew will overcome those obstacles and prove they are the best team in the league come June. This year, the Golden Knights are once again sitting atop the Pacific Division thanks to their offensive firepower from players like wingers Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty, and they are currently on a six-game win streak. Thomas is coming off a phenomenal season, during which he placed third in the FedEx Cup standings. At 26 years old, Thomas is nearing the prime of his career, so I expect him to have another big season on tour in 2020.  The Masters: Justin Thomas  With Tiger Woods playing inconsistently and Brooks Koepka returning from injury, I think Thomas has a prime opportunity to steal the Masters early in the PGA season. On paper, the Lakers have everything they need to win a title. They have superstars, shooters, hustlers, rebounders and defensive stoppers. But in reality, it seems like the team has relied a little too much on star duo.  We’ve already seen major sporting events in 2020 like the College Football Playoff and the Super Bowl, but aside from football, we still have a year full of championships to win in every sport, at every level. This week, I will make my predictions for the winners of the most high-profile remaining American sporting events this year — except for the upcoming March Madness, which I’ll dive into deeper in a couple of weeks. However, the Braves will have no easy path to the World Series, as a number of other prominent teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees will be hungry for titles of their own. It’s going to take a complete and flawless postseason with minimal injuries, but I think the Braves have what it takes to win it all this October. From a pitching standpoint, the Braves are once again stacked with a deep and trustworthy rotation, including Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels, and even bolstered their bullpen to give them depth at all positions. NBA Finals: Los Angeles Lakers  The Lakers have been Finals contenders since the day they acquired Anthony Davis, and so far, the Lake Show has lived up to the hype. With the second-best record in the league, the Lakers have looked formidable thanks to the duo of Davis and LeBron James, both of whom have put up highly impressive stats this season. The one major area of concern will be L.A.’s role players: The Lakers need players like guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Danny Green and forward JaVale McGee to play at an extremely high level to provide the necessary support for Davis and James. Founded just a couple of seasons ago, the Golden Knights have quickly emerged as one of the NHL’s most exciting teams. The Golden Knights started out their first season with a bang by making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Last year, they had another solid season where they made the playoffs but were quickly eliminated by the San Jose Sharks. World Series: Atlanta Braves  One key player that has contributed to the Braves’ resurgence has been young outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., who has put up massive numbers in his two MLB seasons. He and first baseman Freddie Freeman’s firepower should spearhead another deadly Braves offense this year.  In addition, the Lakers will have to deal with other stacked rosters like the hometown rival Los Angeles Clippers, led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, as well as the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the NBA’s best record. The Braves suffered through the rebuilding process for several years, but recently, the team has taken major strides. Last season, the Braves finished first in the National League East in front of the eventual World Series winners, the Washington Nationals, but they made a quick playoff exit after losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series. Thomas is currently first in the FedEx Cup standings, first in top-10 finishes and fourth in scoring average. Stats like these allude to my prediction that this is the year Thomas takes his game to the next level and finally pulls out another major win. Defensively, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been outstanding. Other than him, however, stopping the puck has been an area of concern for the team. The Golden Knights might not have the most stacked team on paper compared to teams like the Boston Bruins or the Washington Capitals, but they will have to find ways to overcome those giants in the playoffs, and I believe they will. Stanley Cup: Vegas Golden Knights Harrison Cho is a sophomore writing about sports. His column, “The Chosen One,” runs every other Thursday.last_img read more

Kyrie Irving eager for playoffs, feels badly that LeBron James likely won’t partake

first_img Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs “When everyone’s on the same page, we’re a different team. We weren’t doing that consistently throughout this season and now it’s more important than ever for us to have connectivity and be together, and that’s where my focus is. And that helps me play at a high level, when all my teammates are playing at a high level.”On Saturday, Irving performed like the elite scorer he’s billed as, racing downhill with gusto, taking the ball around his back, finding the bottom of the net from just about everywhere on the court and in the process stifling the short-handed Lakers’ hopes.When the Lakers cut a 15-point Celtics lead to 5 midway through the third quarter, Irving stepped on the gas. In a flurry, he scored 11 of his team’s 13 points — connecting on a 19-foot jump shot, a running reverse lay-in, a turnaround jumper, a driving hook shot and a deep 3-pointer, all of which helped rebuild the lead back to 11. “He was really good tonight,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Irving, who finished 12 for 18 from the floor and 5 for 8 from the 3-point range. “The third quarter when they made their run, I thought he obviously steadied us and scored in different ways, scored off the pass, scored off the drive, did his thing, and again, stopped runs and gave us a little more of a cushion heading in to the fourth.”“Another example of some of the things he can do,” Boston forward Gordon Hayward said.“Obviously, we had a lead,” said Irving, who also had seven rebounds and five assists. “I just knew we had to battle, keep ‘Bron out of the paint, make those other guys beat us, and I think we did a great job of that tonight.“Right now,” he continued, “it’s just finishing off the regular season very, very strong and going out there and feeling good in the playoffs.”But this time, James and his new Lakers teammates almost certainly will miss all the fun. “Like I said, I feel for him.”After a long, apparently helpful coast-to-coast flight and three consecutive road victories, Irving said he’s feeling much better about the spirit and connectivity of his Celtics team, which has been the focus of chemistry questions for much of the season.“The stuff that happens in the regular season, people barely remember it,” said Irving, who’s been oft-mentioned in free agency rumors, some of which have suggested he’ll team up with Kevin Durant in New York, others reflecting the wishful thinking of Lakers fans.“When it comes to the playoffs, that’s when you want to be playing your best basketball. So we just want to play well, everyone has to step up. But it starts with me and it starts with my energy out there and my spirit,” added Irving, whose now-famous phone call to James earlier this season had to do with leadership. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“LeBron’s … always been a championship contender. He’s such a great player, such a great teammate and when you’re not eligible to qualify for the playoffs, it’s hard. I can only imagine.Related Articles PreviousLos Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, and Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving chat during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Los Angeles Lakers’ Moritz Wagner, right, of Germany, and Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart, left, fight for a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLos Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, and Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving chat with their mouths covered during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, grabs a pass as Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, left, passes the ball under pressure by Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Los Angeles Lakers’ Rajon Rondo, left, dribbles the ball past Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Los Angeles Lakers’ Rajon Rondo, right, and Boston Celtics’ Al Horford, left fight for a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, center, passes the ball as he is double-teamed by Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, left, and Al Horford during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Los Angeles Lakers’ Moritz Wagner, right, of Germany, is fouled by Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, left, shoots under defense by Boston Celtics’ Marcus Morris, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, and Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving chat during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)NextShow Caption1 of 10Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, right, and Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving chat during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)ExpandLOS ANGELES — Kyrie Irving is looking forward to the playoffs, saying so with a twinkle in his eye Saturday as he explained that “that’s where the fun is, that’s where you have the most fun.”Unfortunately for LeBron James, Irving’s friend and former Cleveland teammate, the Lakers’ late-season struggles virtually assure that James won’t get to partake this postseason for the first time since 2005.Irving — who was hurt and had to watch the Celtics lose to James’ Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals last season — said Saturday that he feels badly for James.“I can only imagine,” Irving said after matching James’ 30-point output with 30 mostly timely points of his own in the Celtics’ 120-107 at Staples Center. “I feel for him, obviously just missing a lot of time (with a groin injury), as well as (the deep venous thrombosis diagnosis given Friday to) Brandon Ingram. Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions last_img read more