SIDELINES: this week in sports

NBA season is underway

The 2019-20 NBA season kicked off last week with the Toronto Raptors receiving their championship rings ahead of their home opener against the Pelicans. It was a very nice ceremony, with the ‘WORLD CHAMPIONS’ banner displayed proudly among the rafters. The Raptors also got rid of their divisional championship banners and smartly combined them into one singular banner with all of the years in which they won the Atlantic written across it. Now all that’s left is to take down the ridiculous Bon Jovi banner and we’re good.

The Raptors weren’t the only team to play this week, however: Kawhi Leonard is the best player in the NBA. Not really a hot take anymore, but he torched the Lakers in their first game of the season to give the Clippers a 1-0 advantage in the battle of L.A. LeBron James may not even be the best player on his team anymore; Anthony Davis looks like the MVP calibre player he was when he tried last season and is easily the best teammate LeBron has had since D-Wade.

Trae Young is averaging 38.5/7/9 so far off 55 per cent shooting from deep — and his threes aren’t your average ‘P.J. Tucker-wait-alone-in-the-corner’ threes, but 40 foot bombs off the dribble from the centre court logo. It is an extremely small sample size, but with the crapshoot that is the Eastern Conference, an All-Star appearance certainly isn’t crazy for the sophomore guard.

The Sixers are enormous and Matisse Thybulle may make an All-Defensive team as a rookie. My god is that guy a pest. To me, the Sixers are the clear favourites to come out of the East come June. I think the Bucks got a bit worse and the Sixers have a clear advantage in length, size and defensive potential in a seven-game series. Might as well make a not-so-bold Clippers-Sixers finals prediction now.

Rookie Report: I already touched on Thybulle, but Toronto’s own RJ Barrett looks like one of the best Knicks draft picks since Patrick Ewing. Granted that may be the lowest bar in modern day sports, but still, Barrett has impressed thus far. Coby White of the Bulls is an incredible watch; his speed, afro and herky-jerky movements are all reasons to watch the Bulls this year (unrelated but Jack Armstrong’s “does he get paid by the shot?” remark about Zach LaVine was hilarious).

Deandre Ayton got suspended 25 games for taking a banned substance because Phoenicians apparently can’t have nice things anymore. I felt bad for them until I checked the Phoenix forecast.

 

World Series Update

After going up 2-0 on the road against the almighty Astros, the Washington Nationals now find themselves in a 3-2 hole heading into Game 6 in Houston. Gerrit Cole was once again electrifying in Game 5, allowing just one earned run over seven strong innings that saw Cole hit 100mph on the gun in his final inning of work. His only mistake was a solo shot off the bat of the recently turned 21-year-old Juan Soto, who’s now homered twice off Cole this World Series.

President Trump was at Game 5 on Sunday night and was welcomed to the ballpark with a shower of boos and chants of ‘lock him up’ when they showed him on the jumbotron. Did nobody in the Nationals game-ops department think that would happen? Did they expect applause? Oy vey.

The Nats bats have just disappeared the past three games, as they’ve scored just one run in each of the past three games. Crazy to think that Washington won games that both Cole (Game 1) and Verlander (Game 2) started and still will (probably) lose the World Series.

With Verlander taking the hill in Game 6 with the possibility of clinching the Astros’ second World Series championship in three years, the likelihood of a Nats comeback is slim, but still possible. Verlander may be the best pitcher since Randy Johnson and if I’m an Astros fan I’d feel pretty good about my chances.

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