NBA FINALS AN AFTERTHOUGHT – With the NBA season ending in October now instead of the customary June – which is still way too late in my opinion -- the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and upstart Miami Heat is getting lost in the shuffle.
The NFL is still, and will forever be, the king. We’re arriving at the quarterpole of the regular season and while fans aren’t allowed at nearly every stadium – Arrowhead will have fans on Sunday for the game with New England however – it’s the sport most people want to watch.
The NBA also is going up against the Major League Baseball playoffs, which began on Tuesday. There are so many games to watch as MLB has gone to a three-game, first-round playoff format.
The NBA normally has the spotlight for The Finals because baseball is plodding along in June and football is in its offseason. But I’ll be interested to see the ratings. Granted, the Lakers are in a big market and LeBron is the face of the NBA, but Miami is a surprise finalist and most fans probably can’t name more than 3 or 4 players on the Heat’s roster. There is the intrigue that LeBron is going up against his old team, but that’s been so long ago it’s really not a major storyline. The NBA is counting on LeBron’s star power to make some bank.
What the NBA really doesn’t need is for the Lakers to take out the Heat in four straight. But this Miami team is gutsy and will probably steal a couple of wins before LA finishes it off. Hopefully more people will be watching than I expect.
FIRST-DAY SURPRISES – Just call it the homefield disadvantage.
On Day 1 of the Major League Baseball playoffs, the road team won 3 of 4 and the three home teams that lost have to be feeling incredible pressure since it’s a best-of-3 format.
The only team to hold serve was Tampa Bay, as it took care of Toronto. But Cleveland, Oakland and Minnesota all lost, with the Twins now having lost 17 straight playoff games – most of them to the Yankees.
The Cleveland loss had to shake it to the core. Shane Bieber had an amazingly dominating season with an 8-1 record and was virtually untouchable – especially against the Royals – but he was battered and bruised by a Yankees team that has been given up for dead by most experts – including me, though I’m hardly an expert. Oakland elected to save its best two pitchers for Games 2 and 3 and basically conceded Game 1 to Chicago ace Lucas Giolito. Minnesota’s playoff failures are still haunting it as Houston, which has been given no chance, struck in the ninth to break a 1-all tie.
The home teams play all their games in their home park, which is why I picked six of the eight series to go to three games. It’s hard to imagine the best teams losing two straight, but anything can happen. For the most part it was all about pitching as most of the games were low-scoring.
NFL GAME TO BE POSTONED? – We may have our first NFL game fall victim to COVID.
The Tennessee Titans, who are to host Pittsburgh on Sunday, have closed their training facility until Saturday as some players and staff have tested positive.
According to ESPN, however, the NFL is going to make every attempt to play, even if it means delaying the game until Monday to do more testing.
It’s been remarkable the NFL has had so few positive tests. I really thought by now a slew of games would have been postponed, but the teams are doing their best to stay healthy.