Sidelines: this week in sports

Photo Credit: Sarah Shaffer on Unsplash

Photo Credit: Sarah Shaffer on Unsplash

 Crazy AFC playoff weekend

This divisional weekend was one of the wildest weekends in recent memory, with crazy performances from the Titans and Chiefs leading the way. The Titans upset likely MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, largely thanks to another incredible performance from Derrick Henry — proclaimed as King Henry by Titans fans and players alike. A Ryan Tannehill led football team is now one win away from a Super Bowl appearance, a strange thought, but then again, crazier things have happened. Like when the government sent a Mr. Burns inspired text to the entire province about a nuclear explosion followed by a ‘jk’ two hours later.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, were down 24-0 in the first quarter, only to score 41 unanswered points en route to a 51-31 win. Patty Mahomes threw five touchdowns, and would’ve gotten me so many fantasy points had this been a fantasy week. Travis Kelce and Damien Williams each scored a hat trick as well while Bills and Texans fans alike will now be meeting twice a week in a post-playoff support group. The AFC Championship game should be a doozy.

 

NBA All-Star Ballot

 

With the NBA All-Star game taking place in just about a month’s time (and because I was in a big ol’ phase of writer’s block), I’ve decided to compile my fake All-Star ballot below:

 

East Starters:

Kemba Walker (BOS)

Jimmy Butler (MIA)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)

Pascal Siakam (TOR)

Joel Embiid (PHI)

East Reserves:

Trae Young (ATL)

Ben Simmons (PHI)

Jayson Tatum (BOS)

Domantas Sabonis (IND)

Bradley Beal (WAS)

Bam Adebayo (MIA)

Kyle Lowry (TOR)

 

The starters were very easy to compile; Siakam has missed 11 games but he’s been too good in the games he has played to leave off. Giannis is looking like he’s going to repeat as league MVP while averaging a stupid 30/15/5 on the best team in the East. I don’t think I need to explain the rest of my starters.

The reserves, however, were much tougher. Are stats or results more important? Well Trae Young and Brad Beal are the only ones on my ballot on bad teams, but Trae’s offensive numbers are just too good for someone who’s only 21 years old with 29 points, nine assists and four rebounds on respectable shooting percentages. The most impressive part is the nine assists though — Atlanta sucks. Like they’re really bad. But he’s been good enough to warrant my meaningless campus newspaper vote. Same with Beal (although the Wizards are at least okay-bad, not Hawks bad), who’s on a 13-25 team as of Sunday. Beal is hurt as of now, but he’s averaging nearly 28 points, five rebounds and over six assists per game, while playing respectable defense.

I was torn between Tatum and Jaylen Brown as my second Celtic, but ultimately went with Tatum due to his superior offensive talent, but also because of the importance to his team. Even with Walker as the primary ballhandler, Tatum has often been the closer for the Celtics.

 

West Starters:

James Harden (HOU)

Luka Doncic (DAL)

LeBron James (LAL)

Kawhi Leonard (LAC)

Anthony Davis (LAL)

West Reserves:

Paul George (LAC)

Nikola Jokic (DEN)

Brandon Ingram (NO)

Damian Lillard (POR)

Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)

Donovan Mitchell (UTA)

Rudy Gobert (UTA)

 

The West starters were even easier than the East, no surprises there. Even with Kawhi’s load management extravaganza, he’s been so good. That, paired with the fact that this is a much weaker West field than usual due to no Durant, Curry or Klay, earns him a starting spot.

While some may wish to remove Brandon Ingram from this list, I will stand by my Ingram selection for the rest of time. Is it because I am a Duke fan? Maybe a little. But I also think he’s improved so much from his first three years in L.A. and has become a really terrific all-around scorer. Yes the Pelicans are not so good, but Ingram has been playing like an All-Star all season long. I hope the assistant coaches come through and vote him in.

It did feel a little weird to put two Jazz in, but I couldn’t decide which one was more deserving between Mitchell and Gobert. While Mitchell is the team’s best player and is averaging north of 25 a game, Gobert’s defence is just too good to ignore (even though he’s been snubbed the past two seasons). Again, it’s a weaker-than-usual West, so this might be the year that both guys get in.

Karl-Anthony Towns also plays for a garbage team and has only played in 23 games so far, so I am kind of assuming he’s going to come back soon, because if not 23 games is a little light to make the All-Star team. Assuming he does come back, though, Towns is once again averaging crazy good numbers on crazy good percentages. 26 points, 12 rebounds, four assists on over 50 percent shooting and 40 percent from deep is absurd for a 7-footer.

No matter who makes the final team and who gets cut, you can guarantee it’ll be a really fun first quarter before you remember no one cares and no one is trying. I hope the dunk contest is good.

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