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SportsMonday: The NBA Saves The Day

The playoffs are here! Tra la, tra la. The playoffs are here! Tra la, tra la. I refer, of course, to the NBA playoffs. And they began with quadruple headers on Saturday and Sunday. There is postseason hockey as well, but I think I have established previously that I am always a basketball guy first.

Have I mentioned lately how cool it is to be a sports fan in this day and age? The weekend was a total washout in terms of baseball (although nice comeback on Saturday, Cubs - never has a team made so much of so little production at the plate with nine runs in the eighth on just three hits) but that just cleared things out so we could focus on the winter sports postseasons.

That little Cubs comment is all I have this week in terms of local sports content. That was the only Chicago baseball over the weekend, a terrible weather game that never should have been played.

Yes, yes, Zlatan was in Bridgeview on Saturday and, yes, he headed in a goal. But from the local perspective that was just another disappointing loss for a home side that appears to be going backward.

So we look to the national scene and we find . . . all sorts of cool stuff. In fact, we start by looking to the international scene, where there was again the opportunity to begin both Saturday and Sunday with live, late-morning Premiership soccer (on the telly of course). On Saturday, my soccer-playing daughter and I watched a big bounce-back win for Manchester City over Tottenham Hotspur.

And the next morning it was Manchester United taking the pitch versus the worst team in the league - West Brom-Albion. So what happened? WBA pulled out the unlikeliest of 1-0 victories. That "bottom team" (English for last place) is still doomed to relegation, but what a day it was for West Brom in an otherwise completely lost season.

Then it was on to the NBA playoffs, where the first game of the day was Milwaukee visiting Boston. The Celtics are a dead team walking with star point guard Kyrie Irving sidelined until next season after knee surgery. But they still have enough to beat the Bucks and they eked out an overtime win in the most exciting game of the day.

Next up was Cleveland hosting the Pacers, and it was not close. To all those who have grown tired of LeBron James dominating the Eastern Conference playoffs year after year after year - I mean, it has been a decade-and-a-half, man! A decade-and-a-half! - take heart. Victor Oladipo's 32 points led the Pacers to a shockingly easy 98-80 victory.

That broke LeBron's personal win streak of 21 consecutive first-round playoff wins. His Cavaliers and Heat teams had swept through the first round of the playoffs for five consecutive years since a loss in a Game 4 match-up with New York in 2012. So that result was slightly refreshing.

Eventually I capped off the day watching the Timberwolves battle the Rockets hard for 48 minutes before succumbing 104-101. Jimmy Butler's team couldn't quite finish off a shocking upset, but they were right there until the end and this series could be considerably more competitive than people thought.

Baseball will be back tonight. Thank goodness the Sox get to leave town and head west, where they will take on the Oakland Athletics at 9:05 Central Daylight Savings time. The Cubs are scheduled for a night game with the Cardinals at Wrigley, but given the controversy after they played in terrible weather on Saturday, can they really take the field tonight in wind chills that might dip below 20 degrees?

Oh, and there will be a basketball doubleheader starting at about 7 p.m. It will begin with the crazy 76ers, who finished the season with 16 consecutive wins and blew out Miami in their playoff opener Saturday. Philadelphia has been doing this for the last couple weeks with superstar Joel Embiid sidelined due to a facial fracture. And then San Antonio plays at Golden State after that.

Bring it on.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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