Prep Professional Sports

SPORTS DIGEST: Cavaliers seem sluggish in two losses in NBA finals

The NBA Finals started a week ago and as this is being written the morning of June 8, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have played two games, with the third game coming up this evening.

We all know that television determines when the games will be played, but playing twice in six days is no way for the players to maintain any sense of rhythm.

When you factor in the fact that Cleveland had eight days off after eliminating the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals, no wonder the Cavaliers have looked sluggish in their first two games, both losses to Golden State.

Things are looking grim for LeBron James and company. James is playing in his sixth straight championship series, but he is 2-4 in the previous six and unless his teammates start playing better, he is going to be 2-5.

The Warriors lead the series 2-0 and they are still waiting for Steph Curry to have a complete game. Pity poor Cleveland when that finally happens.

Despite breaking the NBA record for the best season ever with 73 wins, there were many NBA fans who weren’t sure just how good the Warriors are.

The Warriors have three legitimate all stars in Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Their bench includes last year’s NBA Finals most valuable player (Andre Iguodala), the one-time fourth overall pick in the draft (Shaun Livingston) and a former sixth man of the year (Leandro Barbosa).

They are a better overall team than Cleveland, which is healthier this year than it was in last year’s finals, but too many of the Cavaliers seem to be waiting for James to make a play and, strong as he is, James can’t carry this team on his back like he once could.

Look for Golden State to close out the Cavaliers by June 13.

Dodger rookie shortstop Cory Seager is starting to perform at an all-star level. He hit five home runs in a weekend series sweep of the Atlanta Braves last week and is part of a young nucleus the Dodgers are rebuilding around. (Photo by Nick Koza)
Dodger rookie shortstop Cory Seager is starting to perform at an all-star level. He hit five home runs in a weekend series sweep of the Atlanta Braves last week and is part of a young nucleus the Dodgers are rebuilding around. (Photo by Nick Koza)

BIG SERIES: If there is any such thing as an important baseball series in June, the weekend series in San Francisco is important for the Dodgers.

After sweeping a weekend series against the lowly Atlanta Braves, the Dodgers returned to their light-hitting ways this week at home against Colorado. In the first two games of their series with the Rockies, the Dodgers were held to six hits total.

Only a walk-off home run by rookie surprise Trayce Thomson June 7 gave the Dodgers a split of the first two games with Colorado.

Yet, they are only three games behind the Giants going into their series June 10 and the Giants have lost right fielder Hunter Pence to another hamstring injury. This could be the time for the Dodgers to make their move.

Obviously a team in transition, the Dodgers are getting younger while trying to win a fourth straight Western Division title. That’s no easy feat.

Fortunately, the youngsters, particularly Thompson and shortstop Cory Seager, are showing they are capable of handling the day-to-day pressure of playing in the big leagues. Whether that will continue into August and September remains to be seen.

Young phenom pitcher Julio Urias still hasn’t won a game after three starts, but he pitched better June 7 than in his first two starts. And remember, he’s only 19.

Many people are questioning how the Dodgers are handling Urias. They wonder why he isn’t coming out of the bullpen if the Dodgers are concerned about the number of pitches and innings he throws or why the Dodgers brought him up to pitch on the road instead of at home.

The main thing is the Dodgers front office thinks Urias can help the team or he would still be in the minors. How helpful he is going to be on a 90-pitch count or a limit of 100 to 120 innings for the year remains to be seen.

But, you can pencil Urias’ name in the Dodgers starting rotation for next year and the only other guy on the roster you can say that about is someone named Kershaw.

TRACK CHAMPS: The Carson High School girls track team captured the state championship June 4 in Clovis.

Carson scored 40 points as a team to easily edge Agoura, which was second with 28 points.

Carson won the first race of the meet, the 4 by 100-meter relay in 45.06 and coasted to the title from there.

Carson also won the 4 by 400 meter relay and star sprinter Kaelin Roberts won the 400 meter race and finished second in the 200 meters to account for most of the points.

Triple jumper Jonon Young finished seventh in that event to account for the rest of Carson’s points.

Serra High girls team finished tied for 14th place with 13 points. The Serra 4 by 100 meter relay team was second to Carson and Jasmin Reed finished seventh in the 100 meters and sixth in the 200 meters.

Ailini Williams of Paramount finished fourth in the discus.

On the boys side of the ledger, Serra finished in a four-way tie for ninth with 13 points.Vista Murrieta ran away with the boys title with 54 points.

Isaiah Diego-Williams led Serra with a fourth-place finish in the 100 meters and a second in the 200 meters. Cahlil Hooper of Culver City High finished ninth in the 200 meters.

Cathedral High placed second in the boys 4 by 400 meter relay and Dorsey High placed fourth. The Dorsey 4 by 100 meter relay team also finished eighth.

Muhammad Ali called himself the greatest of all time and by the time he died June 3 at the age of 74, most people agreed with him. He grew from a heavyweight boxing change to a cultural icon before Parkinson’s Disease took over. (Courtesy photo)
Muhammad Ali called himself the greatest of all time and by the time he died June 3 at the age of 74, most people agreed with him. He grew from a heavyweight boxing change to a cultural icon before Parkinson’s Disease took over.
(Courtesy photo)

RIP, GOAT: There will never be another Muhammad Ali. The former heavyweight champion who died June 3 in Arizona transcended boxing, becoming one of the most recognized figures in the world.

Ali went from being an Olympic hero in 1960 to a vilified draft dodger when he refused induction into the U.S. Army in 1966.

He overcame all of that to win the heavyweight title three times and become a beloved figure before being overcome by Parkinson’s Disease, which many people attribute to the many punches he endured during his career.

His three fights with Joe Frazier are considered classic bouts, as is the “Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman in 1974, when he captured the heavyweight title for the second time in Zaire in a bout that lasted eight rounds.

That was a fight that to many people epitomized the battle of good versus evil.

Ali was the draft dodger, Foreman was the fighter who held a tiny American flag in his boxing glove after he won a boxing gold medal in the 1968 Olympics.

For most of the first seven rounds, Ali leaned against the ropes, holding his arms in front of his head, daring Foreman to hit him. Foreman exhausted himself trying to get to Ali’s head and he was knocked out in the eighth round.

“It was the rope a dope,” Foreman told radio host Dan Patrick this week, “and I was the dope.”

Twenty years later, Ali had become a beloved figure by the time he lit the Olympic torch to begin the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

By then, Parkinson’s had begun to take its toll on Ali. The man who was known early in his career as the “Louisville Lip” because he always had something to say, could barely speak above a whisper.

If there was a Mount Rushmore of great black athletes, Ali would belong there with Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson, with maybe former NFL running back Jim Brown as the fourth figure.

He liked to call himself the greatest of all time and by the time he left us, most of us agreed with him.