NFL SEASON/NBA PLAY-OFFS

Basketball

NFL SEASON/NBA PLAY-OFFS

BY MARK ARCHER
Contributor

Friday, October 16, 2020

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The Los Angeles Lakers made history on Sunday night (October 11) by demolishing the Miami Heat in Game 6 and winning the franchise's 17th National Basketball Association (NBA) title, thereby tying the Boston Celtics for the most in NBA history.

Lebron James secured his fourth NBA title and fourth NBA finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, after a game that was basically over before the end of the second quarter. And with all his accolades, the only number LeBron may now be eyeing is six - the number of championships that Michael Jordan boasts.

There is a lot to be said of the three-month hiatus where international sports were brought to a screeching halt and the bubble that facilitated a successful Lakers' conclusion to the NBA season.

The break slowed the momentum of the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks, the bubble disrupted the Los Angeles Clippers' chemistry and the Heat lost two of their three best players to injury in game 1 of the finals.

Conversely, Lakers' guard Avery Bradley opted out of the season restart, affecting an already shallow rotation and the Lakers were one of only two teams to vote in favour of a season-ending strike during the play-offs – to think this almost didn't happen.

LeBron and Anthony Davis led the Lakers to a title in their first season together, fulfilling the expectation of their star-studded partnership. LeBron added to his legacy and Davis got exactly what he desired after requesting a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans.

Though LeBron won finals MVP, Davis (25.0 points, 10 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.3 steals per game) left an indelible mark. Davis's game score (22.8) is among the best on record in the NBA finals by someone who didn't win the finals MVP. He looked world-class in New Orleans, but never had an opportunity to prove himself at the highest level.

NBA fans are familiar with the exploits of LeBron, but he had also gone three straight seasons without a ring (his longest drought since joining the Miami Heat) and missing the play-offs last year. The drought has ended and there is a high possibility of him getting to six - thanks in large part to Davis.

The National Football League (NFL) had its fair share of drama last weekend, none more than what happened with the Dallas Cowboys. They have made a habit of creating cliffhangers this season by falling into early double-digit deficits and Sunday was no different but with a more significant twist.

They fell behind 3-14 in the first quarter against the New York Giants, but the heroics of quarterback (QB) Dak Prescott took them into half-time, leading 24-20. However, things took a dramatic turn when Prescott was tackled in the third quarter by New York Giants cornerback Logan Ryan.

The QB suffered a catastrophic injury during the tackle and momentarily sat alone on the turf with his graphic compound fracture injury on full display. The 2016 NFL offensive Rookie of the Year is expected to be out for at least six months, but before his season-ending ankle injury, he was leading the league in passing yards, attempts and completions this season.

The Cowboys managed to eke out a narrow 37-34 victory with a field goal as time elapsed, leaving the Giants winless (0-5), but the brutal injury to Prescott puts their entire season in jeopardy.

Two other dramatic comeback victories were skillfully conducted by QBs Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) and Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) on Sunday and Monday nights, respectively.

Wilson, who must surely be the MVP front runner at this time, was masterful in his execution of the two-minute drill and threw a precise touchdown pass, leaving the Minnesota Vikings with only 15 seconds on the clock – the Seattle defence did the rest to seal the 27-26 victory.

Brees was without his main targets (receivers Michael Thomas and Deonte Harris) which may have contributed to a sluggish start, but the finish was the stuff dreams are made of. The second half was a mirror image of the first and the Saint QB proved why he holds almost every record for the position; following a fourth quarter comeback to tie the game 27-27 at the end of regulation, he did enough to set up the game-winning field goal in extra time.

The week 6 feature games will see the Green Bay Packers take their 4-0 unbeaten record to Raymond James Stadium to take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the Kansas City Chiefs (3-1), fresh off their first defeat since November 2019, will visit the Buffalo Bills (4-1), who were mauled by the Tennessee Titans this past Tuesday.

Both games should be entertaining, but age is possibly taking a toll on Brady and getting past the Packers may prove a little too steep of a hurdle. And the Bills, despite playing above expectations, will face the defending champions, with their sights set on getting back to winning ways – expect a Kansas City win.

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Super Bowl Winner
Team Odds
Kansas City Chiefs 5.20
Baltimore Ravens 6.40
Seattle Seahawks 8.60
Green Bay Packers 9.80
New Orleans Saints 13.00
Pittsburgh Steelers 14.00
Los Angeles Rams 17.00
Tennessee Titans 18.00
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19.00
Buffalo Bills 20.00
*Only Top 10 odds shown (see website for full list)
*Odds are subject to change


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