The NBA Playoffs begin Saturday as 16 teams begin their challenge for a championship. OK, only about seven of them think they actually have a chance. But still. Here’s what’s on tap today.
1 p.m. EST: Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls. The Sixers actually do really match up better with Chicago than Miami, all the numbers indicate so, but Evan Turner openly saying the Sixers were trying to face Chicago was up there with was that time I told that girl in 8th grade the reason I wanted to go out with her was because everyone said she was easy. There is no situation in which that is the right decision. And the Sixers will likely pay for it the same way, only instead of getting kicked in the crotch, the Bulls will just run up the score on them. Over/Under on minutes for Derrick Rose when the team is up by 15+ in the fourth is 8.5.
3:30 p.m. EST: New York Knicks at Miami Heat. The big one for today, as the most hyped team in the land takes on the most hyped city in the land. The Knicks are facing the Heat with what feels like their 18th different incarnation. They’ve faced them without Melo, without Stoudemire, without Jeremy Lin. Now they’ll be facing them possibly without Tyson Chandler, who has the flu. Good times! Anyway, a lot of people are doing that “I’m not saying Miami’s going to lose, but…” thing with this series which is code for “I think they’ll lose but I don’t want to look horrendously stupid if they don’t.” The Heat in all likelihood won’t lose, but NY can steal a game and set the tone today. Over/Under on Melo Isolation shots when Steve Novak is wide open in the corner, waving flaming maracas while Mariachi music plays to try and get Melo’s attention: 10.5.
7 p.m. EST Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacerzzzz No one cares about this matchup, and the Pacers will win easily. You can just cut and paste that sentence for the other three games in this series. (The Magic will now proceed to win by five in thrilling fashion. Hate you, hubris.) If you’re going to make a drinking game out of one of today’s games, this is the one. Over/Under on tequila shots you’ll need for every time Glen Davis does something which causes someone on the Magic bench to shake their head: 5.
9:30 pm. EST: Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder. The reigning champs start on the road versus the team they beat last year. That’s awkward. This isn’t the same Mavericks team, but they’re still dangerous. Specifically, Delonte West is back in a starting role in the playoffs, so that could be fun. Delonte West + Russell Westbrook = must-watch television. Oh, and that Durant fella and the big German guy, too. Also, Kendrick Perkins faces Brendan Haywood in a battle of one player facing an earlier/later version of himself. It’s like “Back to the Future, Part III” only with more glaring. Over/Under on Ibaka Goaltends is 2.5.
It’s a good time to be a Cleveland sports fan. Finally.
Next Tuesday, Oct. 25, will be one of the great sports days in the history of the city — the Cavaliers will get their championship rings, and the Indians will open the World Series at home.
Only one little problem: the two events were going to overlap.
So in the spirit of city unity the Cavaliers have moved up the start time of their ring ceremony by 30 minutes, and the game by 30 minutes as well. The ring ceremony now begins at 7 p.m. Eastern, with tip-off against the Knicks at 7:30 (both will be broadcast on TNT, followed by the Spurs at the Warriors).
First pitch for the World Series is at 8 Eastern.
Fans attending the Cavaliers ring ceremony will be given a special silicone ring, which if viewed on their phone through the Cavs app will look like a virtual championship ring. Kind of cool idea.
Tuesday is going to be a great day to be a Cavaliers sports fan (just don’t bring up the Browns). A lucky few will be at these events.
Although personally, I’d rather watch them both on a television while eating the brisket and having a beer at the bar at Mabel’s BBQ.
When asked my prediction for the 2017 NBA champion, I say the Warriors have about a 50-50 chance. Some call that a copout answer – but it’s really not.
For a team to have even odds against 29 others combined entering the season is extraordinary.
Just how rare is it?
David Purdum of ESPN:
Jeff Sherman, head NBA oddsmaker at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, remembers the 1997-98 Bulls team, which was coming off a 72-win season, being around a minus-125 title favorite entering that season.
But Sherman and other sports betting industry veterans struggled to recall another team — in basketball, baseball or football — that was an odds-on favorite to start the season.
Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen led Chicago to the championship in 1998 (which was actually two seasons removed from the 72-win year).
Will Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson also meet their oversized expectations and deliver a title this year?
Flip a coin.
Tyus Jones has a lot to like — he’s a point guard who makes good decisions, his shot is developing (40 percent from three at Summer League), and he’s got skills. Minnesota won the Summer League championship because of Jones’ leadership — just drafted and highly touted Kris Dunn was out for the title game, that’s where Jones shined.
But Dunn is the future at the point in Minnesota, and Ricky Rubio is still there. So Minnesota is seeing what might be out there for Jones, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Minnesota has had talks with Philadelphia, New Orleans, and others about Jones for a while.
Jones is likely a steady backup point guard at the NBA level — he’s a smart passer, knows how to run a team, and as his shot develops he becomes more dangerous. His downside is defense, but as a reserve that’s less of an issue.
For a team like the Sixers — without Jerryd Bayless to start the season — or while New Orleans waits for Jrue Holiday‘s return, Jones makes some sense. The only question is the price going back to Minnesota.
The Bucks got a rude awakening about Greg Monroe‘s value when they tried to sell low on him this offseason – and still got no takers.
Now, Milwaukee seems to have gotten the picture. Monroe – whose agent claimed the center could name his contract terms from multiple teams last year – might opt into the final year of his deal, which would pay $17,884,176.
Zach Lowe of ESPN:
Milwaukee is already preparing for the possibility Monroe opts into his deal for 2017-18, league sources say.
The Bucks indicated this thinking when they extended Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s contract, putting a large 2017-18 salary rather than a relatively low cap hold on the books to begin next offseason. If Monroe opts in, the difference in Antetokounmpo’s initial cap number is far less likely to matter. (Though Antetokounmpo’s extension wasn’t a complete giveaway into Milwaukee’s Monroe expectation, because the Bucks saved over the life of the extension.)
Don’t put it past Monroe to opt out if he believes he can find a better situation. After all, he signed the small qualifying offer to leave a tough basketball fit with Andre Drummond in Detroit. Monroe also took the risk of a shorter detail in Milwaukee. He’s secure enough in himself to at least consider moving on if he’s unhappy.
It’s also possible he finds a satisfying role with the Bucks. They’ll bring him off the bench, which could hide his defensive shortcomings and give him a chance to mash backup bigs. Heck, he could even play well enough to justify opting out.
There’s still a full season before Monroe must decide on his option, and a lot can change by then. But it seems Milwaukee now has a realistic expectation.