It could well be the hope of the powers-that-be in the NBA and the TV networks that the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers could wind up meeting in the NBA Finals. Let's face it - both teams have superstars that can be featured and are located in the two biggest media markets.
Not all the performers will be on the "set" on Thursday night, when these squads clash on TNT. But maybe that makes it a more interesting game to handicap.
At the moment, these teams are in second place in their respective conferences - Brooklyn is a game and a half behind Philadelphia in the East, while the Lakers are down two games to the Utah Jazz in the West. So the expectation on the part of many is that these clubs may have a home court advantage all the way through their half of the playoff bracket.
The Nets come into this game on a high note, having come back from a 21-point halftime deficit to beat Phoenix, closing things out on a 12-0 run. Of course, they are not completely healthy; Kevin Durant is sitting out his third straight game because of a left hamstring injury. Kyrie Irving's back got a little too stiff and he sat out against the Suns, but after a day off he should be ready to go.
The Lakers are going to be without Anthony Davis for a couple of weeks because of a calf injury. Without him, the defending champions are vulnerable on the inside. Will LeBron James be able to compensate for that in a big way?
Because of the absences, this can not really be billed as an "NBA Finals preview." But the matchup may be more intriguing for this particular night.
James Harden was not happy at all in Houston any more, and he wanted out of a situation that he felt was deteriorating. So you can judge him if you must, but out of this "Big Three" of the Nets, he is the guy who has the ability to make the other players better. He is averaging 11.8 assists, leading the league, and that is something they aren't going to get from Irving. In fact, Harden's presence allows Irving to be what he really is - a shooting guard.
What's interesting to see is that Brooklyn's role players are starting to fill things out a little. There was naturally a lot of concern, with the superstars and the big salaries, that there was nothing left over to populate the bench. And considering that a guy like Spencer Dinwiddie is out for the season, that's a problem that they will continue working on (Hmmm, maybe Blake Griffin?).
Reserves like Jeff Green and Tyler Johnson have stepped up; they combined for 35 points against Phoenix, as both Irving and Durant were out. Joe Harris had 22 in that game; the three-point artist from the U.of Virginia could probably be a bigger scorer on a team that would afford him more shots. Recently they signed free agent forward Andre Roberson, who will eventually provide a defensive stopper off the bench.
This is a game that matches teams with the #1 Offensive Rating (Brooklyn) and the #1 Defensive Rating (Lakers). The feeling here is that the Lakers lose quite a bit in the way of their defensive prowess with Davis, while Harden can make things work in a number of ways with the ball in his hands, even if Durant is not out there.
Charles Jay is unlike most analysts associated with
handicapping and the gaming industry, in that he also has had extensive
experience in the so-called "mainstream" media as well.
He has been involved with professional sports industry for
almost two decades, working in all capacities, as a matchmaker, booking agent,
manager, and also as an editorial consultant on USA Network's "Tuesday Night
Fights," which, for a time, carried "Charles Jay's Line" on
upcoming fights. As a broadcaster, he has called world title fights around the
world for various outlets, and has served as a color commentator for Sunshine
Network and Prime Network.
His radio experience includes being the host of numerous
programs, including "Sportswatch with Charles Jay" on KDWN in Las
Vegas, "Total Action" on WAXY 790 in Miami, and "Charles Jay's
Winning Edge", syndicated into 55 markets by the American Radio Networks,
and he's done podcasts on all subjects related to sports, gaming and popular
Working within the casino industry, he has a special events
consultant for Casino Magic in Mississippi, as that venue established itself in
the early 1990s as a hotbed of boxing activity in particular. Prior to this, he
had been engaged as a casino gaming columnist for, among others, Casino Player,
Card Player and Sports Form (now known as Gaming Today), specializing in
blackjack. And later on, his investigative series on boxing, entitled
"Operation Cleanup," won him much critical acclaim, including the
2003 "Dignity" Award, in the category of "Best Sports
Writer," as bestowed by the Retired Boxers Foundation, a non-profit
organization dedicated to rendering assistance to ex-fighters in need.
In 2006 he established a content services division of his
company, which has eventually evolved in JayWords, and he is arguably the
world's most prolific sports & gaming writer, with over 20,000 articles to
his credit, the vast majority of which have been sports handicapping pieces. So
you might say he has analyzed as many sporting events as anyone alive during
this period. He has also brought some interest with his so-called
"gimmick" odds on special events, including the Academy Awards, the
NFL Draft, and the Super Bowl, for which he posted dozens and dozens of
different odds propositions with various sportsbooks.
This renaissance man is a winner of the Retired Boxers Foundation's "Dignity Award" and a member of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame; graduate of the University of
Miami (Florida) who currently resides in the South Florida area.