I’ve written about sports for four years now. I joined the Daily’s sports section as a freshman, first taking on game recaps as most early writers do. Eventually I edited, wrote features and started this column. I spent a year as a podcaster. Every year at Tufts, through thick and thin, I have always returned to my desk to write about sports. I’ve approached organized sports from every angle. I’ve broken down trades, given fantasy advice, previewed playoffs and even tried my hand at power rankings.
Sometimes when you’re watching basketball playoffs, you have to question if what you just saw was real. We, as humans, seek out compelling stories in every sporting event we watch, and the NBA is absolutely brimming with the types of moments that start, end and intensify those stories. No matter what outcome happens, a narrative always emerges or becomes validated as the playoffs march on. So today, I’m looking at and ranking the most compelling stories of the NBA’s remaining squads to see which potential finals winner could create the perfect cap to this wild season of basketball.
Momentum in basketball is everything. Teams that are playing their best basketball in the crunch months of March and April are often more likely to succeed than higher-seeded counterparts who did all their winning in November and December. This creates final standings that can mislead the casual or even seasoned fan when bracket-filling time comes. Ultimately, my favorite picks for the NBA Finals are the teams that win the most games after lineups have been tweaked, film has been analyzed and chemistry has been built.
This past week has been one the NFL’s absolute craziest. We’ve seen multiple earth-shaking moves come to fruition for the offseason’s quarterback carousel, and there’s still plenty of dominos to fall as free agency kicks off.
As the MLB owners and players association have repeatedly clashed over the past several months, going back and forth hashing out a new collective bargaining agreement, a painful truth has become increasingly clear: baseball is in deep trouble.
Ever since LeBron James aired “The Decision” live on ESPN in 2010, the NBA’s structure has been radically changed. The past decade has been defined by a new wave of player empowerment and mobility, whether it’s through strategically timing free agency, mutually working through trades with team general managers or dramatically forcing themselves out of their organizations.
This weekend, millions of people across America will sit down to watch one of the most exciting-on-paper Super Bowl matchups in history. Why? Because nobody saw it coming. On one side is the Cincinnati Bengals — who entered the 2022 season boasting similar Super Bowl odds to the likes of the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets — and on the other, the Los Angeles Rams, who bet a boatload of draft picks on a flashy quarterback who had never won a playoff game.
When NFL teams face off in the divisional games this weekend, it can be tempting to evaluate the matchups in a black-and-white manner. But the NFL has taught us repeatedly that the Super Bowl puzzle is nebulous and complex. With that in mind, I’m diving into the narrative-driven arguments for every remaining team to go all the way.
Like it or not, injuries play a major role in the power balance of the NBA. The super teams of the league know this well. The Lakers and Nets have kept their superstars off the court more often than on it, nursing their injuries to ensure full health by the playoffs. In this COVID-compressed season, injuries have been even more impactful than usual as players take on more games with less rest, a combo that can often lead to devastating outcomes. With that in mind, I’ve highlighted a few of the most impactful recent injury situations to watch as we gear up for the NBA playoffs.
The play-in has made playoff basketball more than feasible for a number of teams. Twenty teams will play meaningful, do-or-die basketball in May. It’s the exact wrinkle we needed to counteract the weirdness of a season shortened by COVID-19. It means the number of teams waving the white flag and opting to tank is incredibly small, amounting to only three or so per conference. It will make this final stretch of the season as entertaining, if not more so, than the playoffs themselves.