Must Win, Part II.

I must admit, I was wrong in my last post. I went 1-3, missing both Game 3 of the NBA Finals and Hillary vs. Bernie in California.

Hillary vs. Bernie in CA

I clearly underestimated Hillary’s ability to “close.” Hillary needed a big day on Tuesday, and she got it! This was about the same time her campaign fell apart in 2008, and part of me was expecting the same thing in 2016. Bernie had seemed to be gaining momentum, and CA and Bernie seem to align on several issues. However, when it mattered most, Hillary got it done. Well done, Hillary.

It’ll be interesting to see who wins in November, as both candidates are clear winners (in the sense that they win, not that I endorse either one). Traditionally wisdom must have Hillary as the favorite, but since when has Trump followed traditional anything on his rise to the top of the GOP? Too hard to predict.

Cleveland vs. Golden State, Game 3

Again, I underestimated Lebron’s ability to win a “must-win” game with his back against the wall. Instead, Cleveland won by 30. I’m impressed, they showed up!

Not surprisingly, Golden State came back to win Game 4, after being down 8 in the second half. They now head back to Oakland for Game 5 up 3-1 and have the chance to close it out. Do I even need to predict who I think will win Game 5 tonight? Let’s just say there will be plenty of celebrations in the Bay Area tonight.

Brian’s Correct Pick, USA vs. Costa Rica

I’ll save my gloating for last. I called a “big win” for USA over Costa Rica, in a must-win game for the States. I called for 2-0, but instead, USA romped Costa Rica 4-0. The US went on to beat Paraguay 1-0 on Saturday, and after Columbia’s loss to that same Costa Rica squad, USA won the group! We now play Ecuador in the QF on Thursday. My “soccer brain” doesn’t know enough about the Ecuadorian side to make a logical pick, but my “soccer heart” would love to see the US advance. Can we all agree that Brooks is the best defender the US has had…maybe ever? He’s playing with intention right now, and it’s fun to watch.

Advertisements

Must Win.

Today is a pretty beautiful day. It’s election day in California, USA plays Costa Rica in the Copa America, and Game 3 of the NBA finals is tonight! Not bad for a Tuesday…

These events got me thinking, who wants it more? What I’ve found is, as in sports and in life, is that “winners, win.” They win because their focus is on winning, and nothing else. They don’t care about stats, how “well” they play, or anything else. They only care about winning.

The same philosophy can hold true in “must win” situations. The reason “winners win” never disappoints is because, since winners only care about winning, they tend to “want to win” more than their opponent, and ultimately, the team or individual that “wants it more” almost always comes out ahead.

So let’s apply that philosophy to the events today and see how accurate we are:

CA Election Day

Now I’m not trying to get political here, so please don’t confuse my pick of who I think will win versus who I think should win. This is simply a prediction. Also, since the Republican side is already finalized, we’ll stick to the Democrats.

Based on the “Winners Win” mentality, you’d have to say Hillary is the favorite. She’s been the clear pick (according to politicians) since the beginning, and has maintained a pretty comfortable lead over Bernie the entire primary season.

That said, in respect to “who wants it more”, I think you’d have to say this is a “must-win” for Bernie. Hillary already has the 2,383 delegates she needs for nomination, but Bernie is a good 800 short. California could help Bernie a lot, with 475 delegates at stake.

When you contrast the “Winners win” mentality of Hillary versus the “must win” situation with Bernie, I’m going to give the edge to Bernie. Why? Well, for one, Hillary hasn’t always been a winner. She lost to Obama 8 years ago, and she’s lost over 10 states to Bernie already. Thus, I “trust” Bernie’s ability more when his back’s against the wall, then I do Hillary’s overall ability to “win.”

Prediction: Bernie wins a close one in CA.

USA vs. Costa Rica – Copa America

This one is pretty easy. USA is already a clear favorite over Costa Rica, and after losing 2-0 to Columbia in Game 1, if USA doesn’t win this game, it’s over. I like USA big in this game, winning by multiple goals.

Prediction: USA 2, CRC 0.

Game 3: Golden State at Cleveland

This game is tied with the election for “hardest to predict.” If you’re going to adhere to the “Winners Win” philosophy, Golden State is the clear favorite. However, when it comes to “must win” games, this is about as much of a “must win” situation for Cleveland as it gets.

This is why I think Golden State will ultimately decide who wins this game. Cleveland clearly needs to win, and with Lebron, and the crowd, Cleveland is the obvious favorite. If I wanted to make a conservative pick here, I’d say Cleveland wins a nail biter. Lebron isn’t the biggest “winner” in NBA history, but he’s won 2 Championships already and he knows what it takes to win big games. If they lose tonight, it’s over. He knows that. Most “smart” people would take Cleveland tonight.

But, I adhere to “Winners Win” above all. Yes, this is a must win for Cleveland. Yes, Golden State will win this series regardless of whether they win tonight or not. But something tells me this team learned something from the OKC series: take no game for granted. Golden State is 5-0 since being down 3-1 in the last series to OKC, and I don’t think they want to start losing anytime soon. Golden State also knows if they win tonight, the series is over, and at this point, I think that’s enough to motivate them to “show up.” They’re the better team, and they’re the “winning-er” team. I like Golden State to “shock” the critics and go up 3-0.

Prediction: Golden State 104, Cleveland 99.

 

 

Winners, Win.

Warriors, wow.

Oklahoma City, this had to be tough to swallow.

Last night, Gina and I devoted our evening to this game. We went out for oysters, and sat at the bar for the entire 48 minutes. Both being huge NBA fans, and Curry fans, this was a must-watch event. What we saw was a team, in Golden State, who just couldn’t seem to pull ahead for the first 43 minutes.

Golden State was down by 3 after 1.

Golden State was down by 5 at halftime.

Golden State entered the fourth down by 8.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about sports, or life in general, it’s that “Winners, Win.” It’s what they do. You see, the first 43 minutes didn’t matter. In fact, the first 4 games of the series (when GS was down 3-1), didn’t matter. The ONLY thing that matters, to winners, is that WHEN it matters, they pull through. Klay Thompson had the game of his life last night. He set an NBA-record for 3s in a playoff game (11), and finished with 41 points on 11/18 shooting from downtown. His 3-point shooting percentage (61%) was almost as good as OKC’s free throw percentage (68%). Klay and Steph combined for a +27 point differential when on the court, compared to a combined -12 point differential for Westbrook/Durant. This is because as good as Westbrook and Durant are, and they are good, they are not winners.

They don’t win.

Steph and Klay ONLY win. And that’s the biggest difference.

OKC has been to the finals once, and lost. GS went to the finals once (last year), and won.

OKC gave up 15 4th quarter leads this season. GS lost 9 games, total.

To some people, individual play and stats are everything. Peyton Manning was notorious for this. Peyton had some of the best individual statistics of any QB in NFL history. I remember when he threw his 500th TD pass. It was the 1st quarter, game was far from over, but he walked off the field, waving to the fans as if he was just crowned Superbowl MVP. And that got me thinking, what would Tom Brady do in that same situation? My guess, nothing. That’s because to Tom, the only stat he tracks is 4. 4 Superbowls. That’s it.

The biggest difference between winners and great players is great players focus on “playing well” and winners focus on “winning.” That’s it.

Tom Brady in Superbowls: 4-2.

Peyton Manning in Superbowls: 2-2.

Kobe Bryant / Michael Jordan in NBA Finals: 11-2.

Lebron James in NBA Finals: 2-4.

Nick Saban in Nat’l Championship games: 5-0.

Bob Stoops in Nat’l Championships: 1-2.

Winners win. They don’t care about their stats, their minutes, or how they play individually. They don’t care what happened in the first 3 quarters, only the scoreboard at the end. Last night, you witness 2 great players on OKC who are just that –> Great Players, lose to 2 great players on GS who are more than just great players, they’re winners.

When it matters most, winners win. It’s the oldest rule in sports, and that’s why I like GS in game 7…. by a lot.