The Hunter’s Week Ahead – 3 June
Tips, Tricks, Picks, and Odds.
Everything’s on the line, and it’s crunch time.
This a big week in sports, that’s for sure. So many finals, so much to play for. Over the weekend, we’ve seen champions league winners, World Cup losers, and NHL bruisers. And we’re sure keen to see it all again this working week.
As always in this column, I’ll explore what Australians can look forward to in this week of sports – focusing on a different sport for each day – and provide the tips that I feel most confident in based on my research, analysis, and expert intuition.
Tuesday – NHL Finals
One of the most intense finals in NHL, or indeed sporting history is well underway in this year’s fight for the Stanley Cup. The league stalwart Bruins, and surprise contender Blues, have been duking it out for the better part of a week already (three games so far) and I’m honestly not any closer to knowing which team will emerge victoriously.
ST LOUIS BLUES V BOSTON BRUINS
Boston come into this match with the two to one series lead, but considering the first two games were played in TDGarden, this wouldn’t be an all-round surprising scoreline. What makes it surprising, is the fact that the home team has only won one of the three games so far, with St Louis claiming one of the games in Boston, and Boston quickly reclaiming the home advantage in their first game at St Louis.
In this game four, Boston will be hoping to claim a virtually unassailable three to one lead for their home journey, and St Louis will pull out all the stops to ensure that does not happen. To be honest, it’s anyone’s game.
St Louis’ strength (up until game three) was their defence, in particular, the prowess of their mid-season ring-in keeper Jordan Binnington. But they had a rare lapse of form in the last game, conceding seven goals and having to replace Binnington with Jake Allen. In the Stanley Cup, you can’t afford to have two games of that calibre, so they’ll have to hope they can regather to impress their home crowd before their trip back to Boston.
Now Boston, on the other hand, will be riding the high of one of the best offensive performances in modern Stanley Cup history. To score seven goals away from home is no easy feat, and will definitely instil a great degree of confidence in the Bruins side. Whether they can ride this momentum into another away win is a question in and of itself, but they’ve certainly started on the right foot after their crushing Game two OT defeat at home.
Honestly, even though home advantage has proven to have little merit in the series thus far, I think it’ll be the home team (the Blues) that claim victory come Tuesday. They’ll be back with a vengeance after the embarrassment they suffered at home in the last game, and this fire in their bellies should be enough to overcome the Bruins and head back into Boston with an even series score.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: St Louis Blues to Win
Wednesday – Cricket World Cup
We’ve seen some interesting games in this new format World Cup so far, and I’m only more excited to see how it’ll continue to play out. On Wednesday, we have a great match between two of the teams vying for that top four berth, and I’ve got a feeling that it’s going to be one of the games of the tournament.
SOUTH AFRICA V INDIA
Now, South Africa have not quite had the start they were after. They came into this tournament touting their bowling capabilities and challenging anyone who questioned otherwise. In the first game of the tournament, their bowlers were blown out of the water by the English batsmen – who walked away with 311/8 – and were then embarrassed at The Oval by none other than Bangladesh – who managed to score a very generous 331 runs, including 54 in the last five overs of cricket. The Saffas will be desperate for a win because one more loss might just send them packing from the tournament.
India, on the other hand, have yet to even play a game this World Cup, so will be desperate to launch their title charge with a win against the South Africans. The Indian team always have great support when they play in England, so they’ll have the added value of playing in a pseudo-home environment. This is definitely their game to lose. Kohli is unreal with the bat, and the pitches have looked pretty favourable to spin so far, something that plays right into India’s hands.
I think South Africa will try hard, but ultimately fall short. I see them posting a total of 290+, but being outclassed by the Indian batsmen. India should claim their first game of the tournament.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: India to Win
Thursday – NBA Finals
On Thursday morning, hopping back across the Pacific once more, we’re treated to the best of the best in the basketball world, as the Warriors host the Raptors for the third game of the much-hyped NBA Finals.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS V TORONTO RAPTORS
The Golden State Warriors head back for their first home game in their fifth consecutive finals appearance on Thursday, and what a game it promises to be. The Raptors have already proven they won’t be another 2018 Cavaliers, with a dominant performance in the opening game of the series. Kawhi Leonard has been an ever-reliable star these playoffs, and Pascal Siakam shone with a 31 point display in the franchise’s first-ever finals appearance – pretty good for someone who didn’t pick up a basketball until they were 16.
The Warriors were left wanting in the opening game. Curry was killer as always, but the lack of KD was abundantly clear, and they’ll be hoping beyond hope that he’s capable of playing this game three. For their last games in the Oracle Arena (before they move to their new bay-area stadium next year) they’ll want to put on a show and will come out guns-a-blazing.
Ultimately, this game will come down to who wants it more, and with the Raptors in the driving seat of the series thus far, they might get a little too comfortable, and drop a game or two to GSW. I think the Raptors are ultimately good enough to win the series (and end the GSW reign of terror) but I think Golden State will be the ones to claim this game.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Golden State Warriors to Win