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Winter Sports Wrap Just In Time For Summer


Time now for sports.

And the winter sports season is screeching to an end. Only halfway through the year, hockey and basketball finals are set to begin.

The Boston Bruins are going to play the Vancouver Canucks for hockey's Stanley Cup, and the Dallas Mavericks will play the Miami Heat for the NBA championship.

NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Welcome, Tom.


TOM GOLDMAN: Happy to be here.

SIMON: And last night, of course, Boston beat Tampa Bay one-nothing; game seven in the Eastern Conference finals. Vancouver now, as they move into the finals, has never won a cup. Boston hasn't been in the finals since Derek Sanderson's mustache. How do you - all right, a dated reference. How do you see these teams shaping up?

GOLDMAN: The Vancouver Canucks are the favorites going in. Know that. They are a deep, talented team. They are particularly good scoring on the power play. That's when they've got a numbers advantage on the ice because the opponent has at least one player in the penalty box. And I know you know all about the penalty box, Scott.


SIMON: That's where I spend the game.


GOLDMAN: And they let you out every Saturday morning.

SIMON: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: And the Bruins...


GOLDMAN: ...have evolved...

SIMON: I'll do the jokes here. Go ahead, Tom

GOLDMAN: Sorry about that. The Bruins have evolved into a tough championship contender. They survived two pressure-packed game sevens in this post season. They've got a great veteran goalie in Tim Thomas and a raucous home crowd in Boston.

Now whoever wins, this is one of those fun series where a long drought is going to come to an end. Vancouver, as you said, has never won a Stanley Cup in its 40 years in the NHL. Canada hasn't won a Stanley Cup since 1993.

The Bruins, on the other hand, one of the storied franchises in the league, haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1972.

SIMON: Hmm. Let's move into the NBA, because I got to say, both Dallas and Miami are smokin' hot right now. What do you see ahead in the finals?

GOLDMAN: Gazing into my crystal ball, I have no clue. I mean, flip a coin with these teams. They are both entering the finals having won 12 playoff games and lost only three. They are both playing great defense, showing toughness and an ability to come back from big deficits. And each, of course, has a transcendent superstar.

Start with Miami. They're finally living up to huge expectations that began last July when Lebron James uttered those infamous words about taking his talents to South Beach. In this postseason he has shed his image of, you know, that he can't close out games.

B: James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but they're starting to get meaningful contributions from other players, especially Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem.

SIMON: There's another team, too, you know?

GOLDMAN: Certainly is. Dirk Nowitsky of the Mavs has been unguardable. He's a seven-foot player. He hits these step-back jump shots off either foot. He's throwing shots up and they're all going in. He's also playing defense and rebounding. He is absolutely one of a kind.

The Mavs offense has been outstanding. Their defense is really good. I like their height advantage. And, you know, Miami has the home court advantage, but not sure that means as much against the Mavs. Dallas has won the last five games on the road during the playoffs.

I, Scott, am picking Dallas to win this thriller.

SIMON: I will too, OK?


SIMON: I'm going to say seven games.

Look, biggest sporting event in much of the rest of the civilized world today is Manchester United versus Barcelona.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. For all...

SIMON: Wembley Stadium.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, there you go. For all the European marbles, it's the Spanish League champion going against the English League champ. You know, all eyes are on the stars, of course. Wayne Rooney from Man. U. And the brilliant passer and goal scorer, Lionel Messi for Barcelona. Ole, ole, ole.

SIMON: Ole. Ole, ole, ole, ole. I'm a Man. U. fan. Tom, thanks for being with us.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

SIMON: Tom Goldman, joining us from Portland.

And you're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.