Let’s take a look at this week’s New York sports roundup
By: Marvin Azrak
With a sold-out crowd serenading the team one final time prior to the offseason, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley salvaged what has been a disappointing yet not embarrassing season with career- high performances of 42 and 34 points respectively in the Knicks 105-94 win over the Raptors. Obi also had the fans chanting his name in Washington DC on Friday, as he went for 35 points in New York’s 114-92 win over the Wizards.
The Knicks finished the season 7-3, and now look towards next season which is hopefully another step for the young core of RJ Barret, Obi, Quickly, Mitchell Robinson, Miles McBride and Quintein Grimes are all who should see more consistent playing time from coach Tom Thibodeau. As for Julius Randle, Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker, unfortunately their kind are no longer welcome here for the moment by Knicks nation, and if given another shot, is something I hope changes next year. This team has a budding foundation, but need the right pieces to maximize their full potential and this season was not it.
Onto the draft lottery!
All year we’ve been saying they’re better than their record and they showed it by closing out the regular season with resounding wins over the Rockets(118-105), Knicks(110-98), Cavaliers(118-107), and Pacers(134-126) to lock up the top seed in the play-in tournament and will have two cracks at making the playoffs beginning against a beleaguered Cavs team at the Clays Tuesday night with the winner advancing to face the #2 seeded Boston Celtics.
With that, it’s time to stick in my NBA playoff predictions:
Nets over Cavs (Get 7 seed, face Celtics)
Hornets over Hawks
Hornets > Cavs to get 8 seed and play Heat
Brooklyn is red-hot right now and the Cavs are without Jarret Allen and Dean Wade. Although the Nets don’t have Ben Simmons, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry are more than capable of leading them to victory.
As for the Hornets, I love what they’ve been doing down there and they have some experience, with them being the 10 seed last year prior to getting eliminated by the Pacers. But with another year under their belt and an overall underperforming Hawks squad, despite how hot they’re 7-3 in their last ten games still leads me to believe in the upset.
Once it’s Hornets vs Cavs, Charlotte will ride the momentum if Allen is still out by this point to victory. If he’s back , then i say Cleveland.
Spurs over Pelicans:
Yep a10 over a 9 here. Let’s go coach Popovich.
T Wolves over Clippers(7 seed)
Minnesota doesn’t usually get playoff basketball, so to have them here is refreshing. It will ultimately come down to hometown hero Karl Anthony Towns against Paul George, with my bold prediction being KAT takes the cake and the T Wolves win.
Clippers over Spurs (8 seed)
Back in LA, Paul George puts on a show and the Clips keep their season alive.
Heat(1) over Hornets(10)
Raptors(5) over 76ers(4)
Bucks(3) over Bulls(6)
Nets(7) over Celtics(2)
Miami throttles Charlotte, the underrated Raptors expose the defensive inefficiencies of James Harden and Joel Emblid with a win in game 7, the reigning champs “Buck” the Bulls out of the party and the Nets tackle the Celtics for the second straight year.
Suns(1) over Clippers(8)
Mavs (4) >Jazz(5)
Grizzlies(2) over T wolves(7)
The 64-18 suns sweep the Clippers, Denver takes care of a Curry-less Warriors team, the Mavs take out the reeling Jazz who finished the regular campaign 3-7, and Memphis vanquishes the young Timberwolves in five games.
Heat over Raptors
Nets over Bucks
The Raptors give them a battle, but the potent Heat are too much and win in six games. Meanwhile, Brooklyn avenges last years game 7 loss and defeat the Bucks en route to the final four.
Suns over Mavs
Phoenix is the better team, and adding insult to injury Luka Donic is out indefinitely with a calf strain. If he can’t go, maybe the Mavs survive a round but definitely not two.
Grizzlies over Nuggets
Memphis is too explosive and physically Denver can’t keep up. Memphis sweeps and nab their date with the Suns.
Heat over Nets
Brooklyn runs out of steam, and Miami goes away to win a tight series in seven games.
Suns over Grizzlies
Phoenix puts an end to the joyride the Grizzlies have had this year and advance in six.
Suns over Heat.. it would be a battle of the last two runner-ups, but the Suns redemption tour becomes complete with. a game six win to make up from losing last years finals with Chris Paul, Devin Booker and others acquiring their rings.
PLAYOFF BOUND! The team officially etched their spot in the sweet 16 for the first time since 2017 with a thunderous 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night at MSG. Up next is seeing where they will place with the Carolina Hurricanes(102 points) coming into town Tuesday night for a pivotal matchup between the top two seeds in the Metropolitan division. Nevertheless, I’m just personally happy to see the last few years of rebuilding finally come to fruition and see New York Rangers playoff hockey again. This has been an astronomical year and whatever happens at this point is gravy on top considering the pre-season expectations for this young squad.