The battle of NBA MVP candidates went the way of Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday as he posted 47 points and 18 rebounds to power his team past Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, 126-119, at home on Saturday afternoon.
If the playoffs were to start today in MLB, the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics would be facing off in the one game Wild Card playoff. These are the two teams that have each held the top record in baseball at one point or another this season. They have two of the best starting rotations in all of baseball, and they both made big time trades around the trade deadline to bolster those rotations. When the question "who will represent the AL in the World Series?" came up, it was a choice between the Athletics and the Tigers. They have faced off in the playoffs 3 times since 2006, with Detroit winning all 3. Both were favorites to dominate their respective divisions, so the thought of them playing a 1-game playoff because there was a team better than them in their division is astonishing to think about. Both teams currently sit in second place, within 2 games of the first place team. They both have struggled tremendously post All-Star break, dealing with a few injuries, and having a hard time trying to muster up some offense to support their pitchers. Scoring runs has been a problem for the A's all season, especially when they traded away Yoenis Cespedes to pick up another starter in Jon Lester. But the Tigers are one of the best hitting teams in all of baseball, including having the best hitter in baseball in their lineup, that being Miguel Cabrera. They are in the top 5 in the majors in team average, so to think of them having a hard time putting runs on the board doesn't make much sense. Both teams have picked the wrong time to struggle, as the teams that were once right behind them have heated up. The Royals have been the hottest team in baseball since the All-Star break, and now leads the division by 2 games. The Angels have been contending with the A's in the AL West for most of the season, making little room for error for Oakland, but with their recent slump the Angels have leapfrogged them in the standings. Despite the recent struggles, and sitting in second place, the Tigers and the Athletics still seem to be the favorites in the American League. Both the Angels and the Royals are young, with little postseason experience recently, and both have holes in their rotation. The Angels do not have a proven ace this season that they can depend on in October, while the Royals have almost nothing outside of James Shields. Offense can only take you so far in baseball, so the Angels are bound to reach a slump sooner rather than later without starting pitching. The Royals on the other hand have nearly no offense to lean on. Meanwhile the Tigers and the A's have each been to the postseason the past 2 years, (Tigers-3), and knows what it takes to win. The two October favorites have proven rotations to lead their club in a playoff race, and despite both having glaring holes on their team, they clearly have the upper-hand as we make our way down the stretch.