NBA Playoffs Challenge
The National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs got going over the weekend which only meant jacked up excitement for every hoops aficionado in the next two months. And as if the games are not enough to keep fans glued to the postseason, the NBA introduced the Playoffs Challenge to keep the level of fan engagement at a high.
The Playoffs Challenge is another platform where fans can throw their take on the goings-on in the NBA, in this case the playoffs which in the end determine the world champion.
In the challenge, which can be played in groups under a customized league, fans select who they think will win a particular series. But instead of just choosing the winner, they also have to select the number of games each series will go (e.g. Golden State Warriors win series four games to two). Points will be awarded on accuracy and results.
There is also a chance to revise picks after each round for reduced points.
To play, one just has to log on to the NBA Playoff Challenge website ( www.nba.com/playoffs/ bracketchallenge/intl), register and fill out the brackets.
This writer was fortunate to have been invited last week by NBA Philippines for the Playoff Challenge along with other members of media. Below is how my bracket goes.
For the first round, I do not see any upsets happening with the victors winning their respective series, 4-2, save for the ClevelandIndiana series which I think the Cavaliers will win in five games.
I went such route in my selection for I see the top half teams in each conference just more steady in more ways than one and deep enough to survive the initial phase of the playoffs.
My picks of Philadelphia over Miami and Oklahoma City over Utah raised some eyebrows from friends and family members but I am sticking with them.
The Sixers, young as they may be, are a talented bunch and their “inexperience” in the playoffs actually I think will serve them well because they can go out there and play with less pressure since not many are expecting them to go deep in the first place.
As for OKC, three big-time players in their fold in Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony is a huge advantage in the opening round. Mind you, I like the Jazz. But for me the playoffs are also about the stars rising up and making the big plays and the Thunder have such players that can do that.
In the second round, I picked the top two teams in the West — Houston and Golden State — advancing to the conference finals, and in the East — Cleveland and Philadelphia.
Houston is going to be a whole new opponent for OKC in the conference semifinals compared to Utah. The Rockets are deeper, exposing the shallow bench of the Thunder, and they have MVPfavorite James Harden. So it is Houston, 4-2.
Golden State, meanwhile, should have its way over Portland, more so if as expected currently injured Stephen Curry is back in harness by this time. The Warriors just have more firepower and big-game poise for the Blazers and should move on, 4-1.
Cleveland against East top seed Toronto was tough to call because the Raptors have been solid all year long and this could well be their year in the conference. But I am just a believer in LeBron James and his ability to carry a team so I am going their way, 4- 2.
Then Philadelphia which I saw initially as falling at this point until I realized it will be up against Boston sans All- Star Kyrie Irving. The Celtics are well-coached and disciplined but up against Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the rolling and confident Sixers they may have their hands full, 4-2.
In the conference finals, I see the Warriors and Cavaliers over their opponents, 4-2, and setting up another NBA Finals encounter.
As good as Harden and Houston have been, the Warriors collectively are more battle-tested in addition to having the top-class personnel to get the job done.
Over at the East, I could have gone crazy and say Sixers all the way but James and the Cavaliers are standing in the way which is going to be a tough hurdle even for talented Philadelphia.
Then in the finals, it’s the Warriors over the Cavaliers, 4-2, for having more to give in the end. James And Co. undoubtedly will battle and give their all but the Warriors, with KD, Steph, Klay and Draymond leading the way, one just has to love their chances.
There you go, my bracket. What’s yours?