Here is a look at this week’s “three stars” – according to X Marks the Sport.
1. LeBron James (SF – Cleveland Cavaliers)
Over the last half decade, the NBA’s Eastern Conference playoffs has officially turned into the LeBron James invitational. Most people thought the Cavaliers-Bulls series would essentially serve as the “real” Conference Finals series, and a sweep of the Hawks justified those opinions. Of course, after James missed his first 10 field goal attempts in Game 3, it certainly didn’t look like he would be on this list. But he bounced back in incredible fashion and posted a monstrous stat line of 37 points, 18 rebounds, 13 assists, and 3 steals. His 8 offensive rebounds were more than the Hawks’ whole team had. James had a driving lay-up near the end of overtime to help put the game away. He followed up that performance by posting game highs of 23 points and 7 assists in the clinching Game 4, despite playing under 30 minutes for the first time all postseason. These efforts are why James will be headlining the NBA Finals for a 5th straight year.
2. Lionel Messi (FW – FC Barcelona)
Messi was his usual prodigious self in the 2015 Copa del Rey Final, scoring the first goal of the match and later on adding a second to help put the match out of reach. Messi led Barcelona to its third Copa del Rey title since 2009, and his goals on Saturday were his 33rd and 34th career goals in the tournament. The first goal he scored was a memorable one on which he showed off a lot of his brilliance, and listing him among this week’s “Three Stars” was an excuse to post think link to a video of him shredding the defense of Athletic Bilbao.
3. Josh Donaldson (3B – Toronto Blue Jays)
Donaldson put together an impressive 4-game home run streak this week, and his overall numbers over the last seven days have been a .385 batting average with 5 home runs, 10 RBI, and 10 runs scored. The highlight of the week came when Donaldson hit a walk off 3-run HR with his team down by 2 to the White Sox – his 2nd home run of the contest. Donaldson struck out 4 times in a tough game at the plate on Sunday, but did not strike out at all the rest of the week. The 10 RBI he collected between Monday and Friday represent 26% of his RBI total for the season…A quick shout out to Colorado Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado, who had 4 HRs this week along with 4 games with multiple hits and multiple RBI.
Honorable Mention: Chance Shepard (C/OF – North Carolina State Wolfpack)
When the alma mater scores a dramatic come-from-behind win in a big game, they’ve got to get a virtual high-five here. Serving as the Wolfpack’s final hope, Shepard hit a clutch go ahead 2-run home run off of one of the premier closers in the nation, TCU’s Riley Ferrell, to advance NC State to the Regional Finals on Sunday. Thank you Chance Shepard!!!