Preview: NHL And NBA Finals

Jun 5, 2014

Tonight, the NBA finals begin as the Miami Heat compete against the San Antonio Spurs.

The two teams will meet for the second year in a row in the finals as Miami fights for a three-peat win, making them the fourth team ever to achieve the record and the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers since 2000 to 2002.

NHL finals also continue tonight as the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings fight for the Stanley Cup. The Kings dominated in game one, but will they hold up against the Rangers’ speed?

NPR’s Only a Game’s Doug Tribou joins Here & Now’s Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson to preview the games.


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Tonight, the NBA finals begin with the Miami Heat facing the San Antonio Spurs again. They met in last year's finals and there is talk of legacy if Miami wins again. This would actually be the third championship, although, don't count the Spurs out just yet.


And then there's hockey. The Los Angeles Kings beat the New York Rangers last night in the first game of the Stanley Cup finals. But you never count out the New York Rangers. Doug Tribou of NPR's Only a Game is here. And I know Jeremy wants to get to the NBA, but start with the NHL. Comeback Kings, as they've been called, did win last night in overtime. But what do you expect for the series?

DOUG TRIBOU, BYLINE: Boy, if we get games like that game throughout the series, it's going to be spectacular. That was a terrific win for the Kings. They were down 2 to 0, rallied and then won in overtime. And that is a tough loss for the Rangers. The Rangers on the road could have stolen a game and regained home ice advantage in Los Angeles. Bad news for Rangers fans - 57 of the last 74 seasons, the team that wins game one wins the series.

YOUNG: Oopsie. Well, you know, this could be the year you guys. But Justin Williams of the Kings has been making a name for himself, actually many names. He's been called Mister Game Seven because he always comes through in the last game. But now he's being called Mister Game One. He made that winning shot last night. Twitter a-flurry with new names for him.

TRIBOU: Right, Captain Clutch, Mister Clutch - they were making apologies to Robert Horry, the former great NBA sharpshooter saying he is the new Mister Clutch in hockey. He had a terrific goal. He's been terrific all throughout the playoffs. And they're really relying on him. He came through and he gave them the win last night.

HOBSON: Now what about the NBA? We've got the Heat and the Spurs going at it again tonight. Although, this time the Heat is not just LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. There are others.

TRIBOU: Well, they've got Ray Allen still producing at this level and still...

YOUNG: Sadly. Sorry, a Celtics fan. Sorry, go ahead.

TRIBOU: And the key here is that you've got two of the best franchises. This is the ideal matchup. You're looking at the Heat possibly winning their third consecutive title. The Spurs are looking for their fifth title since 1999. They are the model of consistency.

HOBSON: And that third title would be called a three-peat. That's what we would call it. And it turns out that that is - what is that? - owned by Pat Riley, the owner of the Heat?

TRIBOU: That's right. In the...

HOBSON: The term, three-peat.

TRIBOU: Right, so Pat Riley, the president of the Heat, had this term coined in the '80s. He trademarked and he has protected aggressively. None of the teams, while he's been with them, have done it. But he has profited when the Yankees three-peated. He has protected it aggressively against other teams using it. So, if you want it on your t-shirts when you win three in a row in your sport, you're paying some money to Pat Riley.

YOUNG: Well, now he's part owner of the Heat. So, Doug, we've got about a minute left. One last thought on Don Zimmer, the baseball lifer. He was married to his wife on a baseball diamond. He played for the Mets. He bench coached the Yankees. He managed the Boston Red Sox and the Cubs. In '89, Manager of the Year. And now, Jeremy, you were pointing this out. Everybody...

HOBSON: Every newspaper around the country pointed out that their own Don Zimmer has passed away because they're all claiming him.

TRIBOU: Right, exactly 66 years in baseball. There are some special people who are able to transcend their generation and relate to players. This was a guy that was valued enough to still be a bench coach, you know, into his late years as a valued advisor to much younger players. And that's a rare gift to be able to connect with a 20-year-old superstar when you're in your 70s and 80s.

YOUNG: In his 80s. Well, pitcher Bill Lee used to call him the gerbil because of his cheeks.

TRIBOU: Popeye was another popular name.

YOUNG: He didn't appreciate that, but it does feel today like a lot of people want to just pinch those cheeks one last time. So Don Zimmer, what a baseball life. Doug Tribou of NPR's Only A Game, thanks so much.

TRIBOU: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.