NBA Finals

1. Houston Rockets vs. 3. Philadelphia 76ers

Boiling a playoff series down to a single stat is reductive.

Let’s do it anyway.

During the second half of the season, when they no longer faced a murderers’ row, the 76ers emerged as one of the league’s best defensive teams. No squad was better at depressing its foes’ shooting percentages, and Philly also forces a fair number of turnovers while cleaning the glass to avoid allowing too many second-chance opportunities. cheap custom nfl jerseys

But the Sixers do have a major weakness that plays right into Houston’s hands:nfl custom jerseys cheap  fouls. 710325ebebaca22e8429447d188f26bc_crop_exact

Only the Memphis Grizzlies (0.333) allow more free throws per field-goal attempt than Philadelphia (0.293), which spells trouble against a team that makes a living at the charity stripe. Led by Harden’s endless parade, the Rockets rank third leaguewide in the offensive version of the same statistic. And they’re going to exploit that advantage, which could only be magnified if Philly’s youngsters get slightly shaken by playing on the Finals stage.cheap customized nfl jerseys

Even if they don’t, that’s bad news for a foul-prone centerpiece such as nike nfl jerseys cheap Joel Embiid. Despite improving substantially upon his rookie efforts, the big man is still averaging 3.9 whistles per 36 minutes.

We’re projecting this as the first opportunity for Simmons and Embiid to hold up the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but it won’t be their last. And when they inevitably return to this final battle for the NBA’s ultimate reward, they’ll get to grow from this initial experience.

But they aren’t there quite yet.

Even during a season in which the Eastern Conference features the better-than-ever nfl jerseys cheap nike Raptors and the James-led Cavaliers, it remains the weaker half of the league. The Rockets, on the other hand, are the toast of the Association.
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They’ll prove it when Harden and Paul finally get those pesky playoff monkeys off their backs.

Cincinnati Bengals

A Cincinnati Bengals team coming off back-to-back losing seasons looks rather stale after another quiet March.
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Sure, they upgraded at left tackle by trading for Cordy Glenn, but that acquisition—plus the addition of steady linebacker Preston Brown—isn’t enough. The Bengals still lack game-changing players and are putting too much on the shoulders of quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver A.J. Green and defensive linemen Geno Atkins, nfl custom jerseys cheap Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson. 164f1f645d6fdff8dc504a390bacf1ea_crop_exact

Dalton has regressed, trouble-making linebacker Vontaze Burfict does more harm than good (and faces another suspension to start the season), the defense lacks teeth altogether (it ranked 30th with just 14 takeaways in 2017) and Glenn’s presence won’t fix a mediocre offensive line.

The Bengals have a better chance at falling to the AFC North basement than slaying the Steelers or Ravens. cheap customized nfl jerseys

In 2017, the Seattle Seahawks were a nine-win team that ranked in the middle of the pack (14th) at Football Outsiders in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) and weren’t hit particularly hard by injuries in what was an injury-filled season across the NFL. Remove Richard Sherman, Jimmy Graham, Sheldon Richardson, Paul Richardson and DeShawn Shead from that roster and what do you get?

Trouble, even with a magician at quarterback. cheap nfl custom jerseys

In addition to lacking talent along the offensive line, nfl jerseys cheap nike in the offensive backfield and in the receiving corps, the Seahawks now lack depth on both sides of the ball. Without Russell Wilson, they’d be a bad team. With Wilson, they’re still probably kicking off a miniature rebuild.