The NBA Playoffs kicked off last week. Who will take home the championship?
East: The Heat are the only logical option here. The Pacers got home court advantage, but to say they’ve been inconsistent would be an understatement—the fact that they’re tied 1-1 with the 38-win Atlanta Hawks says it all. The Nets swept Miami during the regular season, but I still take LeBron and Co. in a seven-game series. Any other contenders? Didn’t think so.
West: You wouldn’t think that the winner of the ultra-competitive West could be described as “lackluster,” but that’s how I’m going to feel when the Thunder win the conference. It’ll really come down to OKC, San Antonio, and the Clippers. Out of those teams, I give KD’s gang the best chance to go to the Finals—they’re a matchup nightmare for the Spurs, and Serge Ibaka is one of maybe four players in the NBA who can stop Blake Griffin right now.
Champion: The matchup we’ve all been waiting for, King James’s Heat vs. The Slim Reaper’s Thunder, may end up less exciting than we hope. Durant has been playing out of his mind, but so has LeBron, but there’s the thing: the Thunder have settled into a predictable, unimaginative offense predicated on the high pick-and-roll. If Erik Spoelstra can get his team to beat the high screen and deny Durant the ball (he has the defenders to do it), Miami should be content to let Russell Westbrook launch idiotic threes from five feet beyond the arc. I’d feel comfortable taking the Heat in five, but to be safe I’ll say MIAMI IN SIX.
Kelley: Is it a coincidence you asked who I thought was going to win the finals before writing your section? Food for thought.
East: Heat. Heat. Heat. It may not even be worth it to get into why, but since I have the words to do so, I will. The Pacers look very beatable. An fistfight before Game 1 never bodes well for that team chemistry you rely on in crunch time. I love the Nets, but once again, it will come down to age in that series and I feel Pierce and Garnett are just too old. The Truth does hurt though. But LeBron will just be on another level… as usual.
West: Trailblazers. Just going out on a limb here with this pick, but what the hell, I like em. Maybe it’s LaMarcus Aldridge’s two straight 40-plus-point games. Or not. I don’t know. They are deep and talented and will pose the biggest threat to OKC in the West. Besides, the school year and my Mike’d UP career will be over before the time this pick can be validated. So why not?
Champion: HEAT IN FIVE. Welcome to Legendville, LeBron. Dwayne Wade can call himself ‘4’ now instead of ‘3’ and Chris Bosh can weirdly have champagne poured all over himself again. Please watch that video it was incredibly uncomfortable.
The NFL released the 2014-15 schedule on Wednesday. The Mike’d UP guys give an early look at which matchups you should mark on your calendar.
Kowaleski: I’m going to try and stay away from divisional matchups, because those are too easy. I’m thinking outside the box. Points for originality.
New England at Kansas City (Week 4)—Kansas City was one of my favorite teams last year, with a feel-good story in Andy Reid and Alex Smith’s redemptions and a stellar defense to back it up. While the Colts Lucked out (I’m really sorry for that line) in the first round of the playoffs, this will be a good test to see if they’re ready to truly contend in the AFC.
Green Bay at New Orleans (Week 8)—Do I have to say much about this matchup? Two of the best quarterbacks of this generation are facing off in what is bound to be a high-scoring matchup, despite the fact that both defenses should be significantly improved in the offseason. Rodgers vs. Brees is more than worth the price of admission.
Seattle at Kansas City (Week 11)—The team so nice I used them twice. On paper, the Chiefs have a lot in common with the defending Super Bowl champs: stellar defense, mobile quarterbacks who prefer to use their agility for pocket presence rather than scrambling, superstar running backs, etc. This will also be a good chance for the Seahawks to silence any doubters that emerge during the season. The Week 11 matchup could be an important statement game for both teams in the middle of the season.
Kelley: Too easy? We’re debating which games will be the best to watch. Have fun watching your Alex Smith-led Chiefs – I’m heading elsewhere. I love revenge games, so here goes.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (Week 3) – Alleged gang ties? No Eagles upset at his departure? Clashing with Chip Kelly? Welcome back to Philadelphia, DeSean Jackson!! This will be a dandy. Fortunately for Jackson, Philadelphia fans, including our own GM, Gina Morrone, have been known for their patient and sympathetic ways. Look for Jackson to get many opportunities to stick it Chip Kelly.
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (Week 3) – The Broncos have a revamped defense and seek revenge against the Legion of Boom. Downright embarrassed in Super Bowl XLVIII, Peyton and company will hope to put up more than eight points. Shame this is in week three, but nonetheless, I will be watching this one. It’s at 4:25 by the way, so when you finish watching Redskins-Eagles at 1pm, head over to this one.
New England Patriots at New York Jets (Week 16) – Revis Island comes to New York. Was that a heartbreaker or what for Jets fans? One of the franchise’s best joins Darth Vader in New England. Now he comes back to MetLife. Hopefully a division title is on the line too.