Who will be the breakout player of the playoffs and the MVP of Round 1? Which team has the easiest path to Finals?
Our NBA Insiders give their bold predictions and what to watch in a supersized edition of 5-on-5.
“In fairness to history,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told The Post, “we have to see if they can make history.’’
Alex Rodriguez, who owns 696 home runs, fourth highest in major league history and who once hit 57 home runs in a season, said, “They have an opportunity to be the first right-handed Yankees duo to hit 100 home runs and drive in 300 runs.’’
A-Rod (57) and Rafael Palmeiro (43) combined for 100 home runs with the Rangers in 2002. Maris (61) and Mantle (54) hold the teammate mark with 115 home runs in 1961. The only other Yankee duo to hit the century mark was in 1927, when Ruth (60) and Gehrig (47) combined for 107 home runs.
“The home run power is there and this is a 1-2 combo that could be crazy,’’ said Don Mattingly, who knows something about hitting home runs in the Bronx and was Stanton’s manager the past two years with the Marlins.
Rinne tied Vasilevskiy for most shutouts with eight, which is also a Nashville team record.
Vasilevskiy and Helleybuyck, both first-time finalists, tied for the league lead with 44 victories.
Vasilevskiy, 23, helped carry the Lightning to their best record (54-23-5) in franchise history with a 2.62 GAA and .920 save percentage.
Hellebuyck, 24, is the first finalist in franchise history and had a 2.36 GAA and .924 save percentage.
The winner will be announced at the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 20.
Little snippets that reflect the team’s new mindset emerge daily. In spring training, Kapler declared a moratorium on shagging batting practice fly balls because it’s a way to get pitchers off their feet and create an opportunity for “awesome volunteers” to patrol the Citizens Bank Park outfield in the early afternoon. TV cameras capture Philadelphia’s outfielders consulting positioning index cards they have tucked in their back pockets. Fans who ride the SEPTA train to the park see a stern-looking Hoskins accompanied by Kapler’s catch phrase: “Be Bold.”