Down 0-2 in the Eastern Conference finals heading into Saturday’s Game 3, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had desperation on his side as his team played with a have-to-have-it edge in their 116-86 blowout of the Boston Celtics.
Now Lue is tasked with distilling that same sense of urgency for 48 hours heading into Monday’s Game 4 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Next year could bring a bump for several NHL players — and teams — however. The upstart Vegas Golden Knights already had measurable data in 76 countries as the most-searched NHL team in the world. Players like Hall and Nathan MacKinnon emerged as MVP candidates, and will certainly garner more discussion. Unrestricted free agent John Tavares and the Ottawa Senators’ Erik Karlsson, one of the league’s best players and the focus of rampant trade rumors, will be heavily Googled and tweeted about this offseason. And maybe some player’s Twitch stream will become a sensation.
Playing in a division that includes three playoff teams from last season is a good way to start in a hole. The Buccaneers have only two other 2017 postseason teams (Eagles and Steelers) on the docket, but they still face the fourth toughest schedule in the NFL with their opponents’ combined winning percentage from last season at .531. And that’s before you factor in the improvement teams like San Francisco and Chicago have made this offseason.
Toughest tests: The Bucs finishing last in their division last season gives them the chance to play other fourth-place teams in the conference. For a team on the rise like Tampa, that should be a good thing, but it might not be the case this year. Last year’s conference losers in San Francisco and Chicago have improved on paper and easily can give Tampa Bay a run for its money in those matchups.