March is always an exciting time for sports fans. Spring is in the air and baseball is started to rise from its annual sleep to take part in its annual slumber. The NCAA tournament brings excitement unlike any other event, and has lived up to its reputation again this year. While half of NBA fans are disappointed that their team is flailing, and most of the remaining teams have only a small chance at a championship run, the playoffs nevertheless loom and the stars are angling for each other. Ditto hockey, the red-headed step-child of the big four that nevertheless enjoys a reputation as perhaps the best postseason of any professional sport.
So with all that promise in the air, what’s there to watch? After all, the NCAA tournament is slowing down, and this is the first open Thursday night in a few weeks. Glad you asked!
1. An NBA Game with Playoff and MVP Implications
The new-look Portland Trailblazers host the Houston Rockets this evening, with a broadcast at 9:30 on TNT (all times CDST). The Rockets are nearly penned in as the third seed in the west, but the Blazers, who have been hot since signing surprisingly nimble big and large man Jusuf Nurkic, are up just one game on the foe they recently vanquished, the Denver Nuggets (who sent the Blazers Nurkic in what looks more and more like an ill-fated trade) for the final spot in the west. The Blazers are considered favorites to hold onto that lead, given that the Nuggets play six of their final ten games on the road, but the Blazers still need to put in the work to seal up the spot. Houston presents a challenge.
Meanwhile, after Russell Westbrook out-Westbrooked himself with a ridiculous 57 point, 13 rebound, 11 assist triple double (the most points scored in NBA history in a triple double performance), James Harden, erstwhile MVP favorite, also has an incentive to keep performing well and winning games. One of the main arguments made against Westbrook’s candidacy is the relative success of the Rockets, a team without much more talent than their counterparts in Oklahoma City. The Blazers should expect a motivated, bearded millennial wonder this evening, one who is accounting for a ridiculous number of his team’s offensive output by scoring over 29 points a game, and leading the league in assisted points because many of his 11.5 assists per game lead to three point shots. Should be a good one.
2. The Great one Continues his Charge
Meanwhile, in the wild world of tennis, Roger Federer has a new, larger racket giving him access to easier power, and is enjoying a career resurgence. With titles in a Grand Slam (the Australian Open) and Masters 1000 event (Indian Wells) already notched this year, Federer is enjoying an unforeseen career resurgence. At 35 he is the oldest Grand Slam winner since 1972, and has already twice trounced his career nemesis Rafa Nadal this season.
Federer is back in action today in another Masters 1000, this one in Miami (start time scheduled for 2:00). He is set to play Tomas Berdych in a quarterfinal match in which Federer is heavily favored, but Berdych is a big hitter and therefore always dangerous. If you happen to be a FYSTer that lives in Florida and can get away for the day, you might consider making the trek to see the GOAT in action.
3. Filling the Gap
Honestly, unless you are on ice hockey fanatic or enjoy lesser NBA matchups featuring teams that are dead inside, there’s not much to watch between these two top events of the day. I suggest getting drunk.