It's a Lakers - Heat NBA finals

Basketball

It's a Lakers - Heat NBA finals

In the NFL, quarterback Patrick Mahomes continues his remarkable run

BY MARK ARCHER
Contributor

Friday, October 02, 2020

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Twenty -twenty has been a tumultuous year (to say the least) and several things have negatively affected our daily lives, most specifically the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, in the midst of it all, sporting leagues worldwide have successfully restarted their seasons and in many instances, begun new seasons.

While it has been far from normal and stringent adjustments needed to be made to facilitate the events, there have been very few episodes that affected the smooth running of the various leagues. Some, like the National Basketball League (NBA) were structured inside a 'bubble' and others, like soccer and the National Football League (NFL) are being played with little to no spectators.

The successful NBA bubble has already decided this year's finalists in the Los Angeles Lakers and the improbable Miami Heat.

The Heat overcame the exploits of the Boston Celtics to take the series 4-2 but most of NBA-land were tuned to the series between the Lakers and the upstart Denver Nuggets.

Having overcome 1-3 deficits in the two series prior, many were expecting Denver to recover from the same shortfall against the Lakers.

However, in Game 5, especially in the fourth quarter, there was too much LeBron James and too little Jamal Murry/Nikola Jokic — with LeBron registering his 27th play-off triple-double, second only to Magic Johnson (30) and making his 10th NBA Finals appearance in 11 years — a feat that will probably never be repeated.

For the first time ever, the NBA Finals will feature two teams that didn't make the play-offs the prior year —as the Lakers last made the play-offs in 2013 where they were swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs while Miami last made the post-season in 2014 where they were defeated 1-4 in the NBA Finals by the Spurs.

The Heat defeated the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks 4-1 in the first round and basically waltzed through the Eastern Conference, but they are now faced with the champions of the Western Conference and should find this hill much harder to climb.

Despite not using a 'bubble', the NFL is heading into its fourth week and is reaping as much success as the NBA. There have been very few reported COVID-19 cases and the League has recorded its highest scoring average for the first three weeks — with so much more to come.

The much-anticipated Monday night matchup of MVPs did not quite live up to expectations but had enough moments to fill a highlight reel. Reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes is having a particularly good year with a Super Bowl win, a new US$450-million contract, got engaged, acquired part ownership in the Kansas City Royals and piloted the Kansas City Chiefs to a 3-0 season start.

His quarterback (QB) counterpart on Monday, Lamar Jackson did not quite match up to his 2019 MVP billing and the writing was on the wall as early as the end of the first half.

The numbers for Mahomes at the end of 30 minutes was 260 passing yards, with three touchdowns (plus a rushing touchdown) while Jackson's numbers paled in comparison (35 passing yards with no touchdowns).

Safe to say, Mahomes and the Chiefs continue to be Jackson's nemesis as he is 21-1 versus the rest of the League but 0-3 versus Kansas City following the 34-20 Monday night defeat.

This Sunday afternoon, the Chiefs (3-0) will welcome the New England Patriots (2-1) into Arrowhead Stadium in what is expected to be the week 4 feature game. Following on their statement game on Monday where Kansas City's underrated defence held Lamar Jackson to under 100 yards passing, the Chiefs are set to frustrate Patriot QB Cam Newton this weekend.

The Patriots won the last meeting between the teams in October 2018 in a 43-40 shootout but that was with Tom Brady at the helm. The Chiefs have not tasted defeat since November 2019 and, from all appearances, do not look ready to end that streak any time soon.

The only meeting of undefeated teams this weekend will see the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) visiting the Tennessee Titans (3-0) on Sunday afternoon. They last met in November 2017 with the Steelers walking away with a 40-17 victory and, now with the NFL's second ranked defence, a similar result is expected this time around.

Considering also that the Titans could only muster a 31-30 win last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings with the help of six field goals from kicker Stephen Gostkowski, a Steelers win is almost guaranteed.

However, eight people associated with the Titans (three players, five staff members) tested positive for COVID early this week and the League is looking at several scenarios surrounding the game. The game may or may not be played this Sunday but, the feared running game of the Titans has not been evident this season, and the Steelers have demonstrated that they can generate a win in so many ways — if played, the Titans are a longshot.

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NBA Winner
Team Odds
Los Angeles Lakers 1.27
Miami Heat 3.90
*Odds are subject to change
Super Bowl Winner
Team Odds
Kansas City Chiefs 4.80
Baltimore Ravens 7.40
Seattle Seahawks 11.00
Green Bay Packers 13.00
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14.00
*Only Top 5 odds shown (see website for full list)
*Odds are subject to change


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