Top 5 Games of Last Week (1/13-1/19)
How good were those NFL Championship Games? I’ve heard it said before, and I think I agree: the Conference Championships weekend is the best weekend of the whole NFL season. Still, let’s not forget about the rest of the jaw-dropping action in sports this week.
#5. Roger Federer vs Joe Wilfred Tsonga
Threw you a curveball there, didn’t I? Or, to keep it in tennis terms: “Served you a slice there, didn’t I?” That’s better. Well, for those of you who didn’t get up at 3:30 in the morning to watch this game, you missed out. I may have missed out on sleep – but you missed out on vintage Federer, and unfortunately that is in short supply. After a tough six months on tour, I don’t think many people expected much from the 17-time Grand Slam Champion and former world number one, who hasn’t won a title since last June. And yet, maybe we should have, with Federer thumping the favored Tsonga 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Can he keep it going vs Andy Murray?
#4. Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic
Adapting to life without Luol Deng can’t be fun for the Chicago Bulls as he undoubtedly made the team better. But don’t make the mistake of thinking their heart and soul walked out the door on trade day, because that’s Joakim Noah. And Noah showed up in a big way on Wednesday, recording 26 points, 19 rebounds, and six assists in the triple OT win over the Magic. Noah’s final contribution? Snatching that last defensive rebound to seal the Bulls’ victory, 128-125.
#3. Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder
Fifty-four points? 54 POINTS?! There’s a lot of great things Kevin Durant adds to the Thunder, and there’s no doubt he worked on other parts of his game in the offseason, but is there anything as pretty as watching him score? Nah. With the ball in his hands, he’s a painter with a brush, and woe unto you if you’re going to try and stop him. Now, across the floor is that other uber-talented guy, Stephen Curry. He’s great too, especially at scoring three-pointers. But while Curry’s swoosh sounds like music to your ears, Durant moves you with his moves – his step back jumper, his nimble penetration in the paint, it doesn’t matter. He can do it. And when he’s on like he was Friday night, there’s little you can do to stop him.
#2. New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
Some Patriots fans insist their team never showed up to play on Sunday. Maybe so, but here’s what I observed: first, Manning and the Denver offensive line were brilliant, leading multiple drives that didn’t always end in points but seemed to always kill the clock. Second: for much of the game, the Patriots offense was stifled and stuffed by the Denver front four. Yes, it’s a tough call whether the Patriots played poorly or the Broncos played well, but I point to this as the reason the Broncos played well: one doesn’t simply stuff LaGarette Blount on four rushes for six yards, a week after he rushed for 166 yards. That’s good play by a motivated Denver team.