Well, four teams are left in the NBA playoffs. Are they the best four teams in the league? Certainly not, but this NBA season has been a war of attrition, almost like a “Survivor” show. Teams are losing major players seemingly every other day this postseason in a year that Klay Thompson also missed entirely, which goes forgotten when assessing the wreckage regarding absent superstars. Trae Young was the latest in the long line of key injuries, as his foot and referee Sean Wright’s foot tried to occupy the same space, resulting in a sprained ankle. It has been a bit of a bummer, but I’m here to cheer you up: We have to endure only 10 more Sundays without the NFL, and the preseason is right around the corner. On that positive note, let’s find some winners ...
Steelers Under 9 Wins
The team that went undefeated the longest last season just has to be above .500 for me not to lose this bet? Must be a steal. No, I like the Under, and I think the train has left the station for the Steelers. Their once-great offensive line is under major reconstruction, and while their future Hall of Fame quarterback is the only man left standing from that great QB class of 2004, he’s not far from joining Eli Manning and Philip Rivers in retirement. Yes, the Steelers were undefeated until December. But a closer look at whom they beat and how they finished the season tells a different story. Their lone victory in December came against the Colts after trailing 24-7 in the second half. They were throttled by the Bengals and Washington, and they rested starters the final week, letting in a Browns team that blew the Steelers’ doors off in the wild-card round the next week. Let’s also look at the quarterbacks the Steelers faced to compile that gaudy undefeated record. Daniel Jones, Carson Wentz, Jeff Driskel, Garrett Gilbert, Jake Luton and Robert Griffin III were the opposing quarterbacks in half the Steelers’ wins last year. The Browns and Ravens are in the same division and both won playoff games, the Bengals should be more competitive with Joe Burrow at quarterback for a full year and I think the Steelers are positioned to take a huge step backward against a first-place schedule. Under 9 is the play.
Clippers (PK) Game 6 over Suns
The two best words in sports: Game 7. I think we’re headed for one Friday night. The Clippers have outscored the Suns in aggregate in this series and must reflect on Deandre Ayton’s dunk in Game 2 thinking it’s the Clippers who should own a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6. The Clippers’ small-ball unit has saved their season, made Reggie Jackson millions of dollars and created a floor with tons of spacing and shooting against a Suns squad that has really struggled to score. Devin Booker has a broken nose and has looked uncomfortable at times, Chris Paul has been rusty after being sidelined for 10 days and Cam Payne tweaked his ankle in Game 3 and has struggled since. I still think Phoenix will squeak out the series, but it won’t be easy and I don’t think it will be Wednesday night in L.A. The Suns will probably win a close Game 7, as they are difficult to beat three times in a row, but I think the Clippers will force Game 7 with a win Wednesday night.