The Women’s World Cup is reaching its business end. The Netherlands’ victory over Japan yesterday confirmed the line-up for the quarter-finals, which begin tomorrow. For the eight teams remaining, only three matches stand between them and immortality.
The Brooklyn Nets‘ 2018-19 season was a demonstration of what can be achieved when team-mates simply like one another. Considered a long shot to make the playoffs last October, New York’s unfashionable franchise defied all expectations to make the playoffs, courtesy of strong chemistry, a never-say-die attitude and an egoless group of much-maligned misfits. Although they bowed out in the first round, they gave the heavily-favored Philadelphia 76ers a fright and with a band of young, united players, the Nets appear perfectly placed to develop further in the near future.
Eleven months ago, in an article detailing why the Boston Celtics were the favorites for the 2019 NBA title, I labeled the Golden State Warriors dynasty as ‘fragile’. While my crowning of the Celtics proved to be premature (I wasn’t the only one fooled), this description of the Warriors proved to be correct, although I did not envisage it having such a literal meaning.
From the moment Kevin Durant stunned the basketball world by signing for the Golden State Warriors in July 2016, he and the team from the Bay have been the NBA’s most notorious villains. Prior to his move, Durant had finished his last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder by blowing a 3-1 lead to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Three weeks later, his new team-mates also managed to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory, as they squandered their own 3-1 advantage, handing the Cleveland Cavaliers their inaugural title in the most humiliating fashion.
After racing out of the blocks in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bucks suddenly found themselves on the wrong end of a 16-2 Toronto Raptors run, giving the Canadian outfit their first lead of the night midway through the second quarter.
The Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers both prioritized the present over the future this season. By sacrificing continuity and steady progression for star power, both have transformed their rosters over the last 12 months to become true contenders. And after a chaotic six games between the two Eastern Conference heavyweights, they are each four quarters away from triumph or disaster.