(USA TODAY Sports)
Today’s big winner: The NFL.
Spoiler alert: The Heat are going to win the NBA title.
How they will do it is just details. Maybe they go 16-0. Maybe they are pushed in a handful of games on the road.
But let’s call it what it is, a
fait accompli “Heat Accompli.”
This year’s NBA Playoffs lacks last year’s “Will LeBron finally win a title?” urgency, let alone 2010’s thrilling “PLEASE SOMEONE ANYONE BEAT THE HEAT.” The notion of LeBron fulfilling the post-“Decision” prophecy (“Not one…”) just doesn’t have the same oomph.
Neither does the notion of two months watching everyone else play for second, which is the best the reigning runner-up Thunder can do. I suppose it is intriguing to see if the Spurs have one last run left in them, but didn’t we get snookered by that storyline last year?
If you appreciate managed expectations, there are several teams — most notably the Knicks — for whom anything less than making the conference finals is a failure, so it would be entertaining to watch New York fall short.
Blame Kobe: Right up until his season-ending injury, the Lakers’ desperate clutching was going to be the playoffs’ most compelling storyline; L.A. without Kobe is irrelevant.
In the end, the eve of the NBA Playoffs — and I write all of this as an NBA fan who will tune in nightly, mind you — is dominated and defined by a single true winner:
The NBA Playoffs: Where Miami playing whoever in NFL Week 6 trumps Miami playing whoever in the NBA Finals.
More of today’s winners:
ICYMI, 10 essential NFL schedule links:
*Baltimore Orioles: Meanwhile, that’s 17 straight extra-inning wins, going back to last season.
*NBA Playoffs: Here’s a handy guide to the first round, whose most intriguing series is the high-flying Clippers vs the grind-it-out Grizzlies. (Hey, I said I was a fan!)
*London Marathon: Proceeding as planned. Check out SportsOnEarth.com’s Chuck Culpepper writing about the event.
*EJ Manuel: The hottest QB name heading into next week’s NFL Draft.
*Derek Jeter: “The truth is that Jeter will never be back.” (Bob Nightengale, on Jeter’s three-month delay until he returns — and, even then, his diminished capacity to contribute.)
Meanwhile, what does Jeter’s long(er)-term on-field replacement situation look like? (Hint: Not great.)
*Seattle Mariners: Just a few hours after their marathon game, Justin Verlander pitched great, but the Mariners pitched even better.
*Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III: NBA Draft Lottery…