Hello sports fans of the Pacific Northwest! And welcome back to the Fireside Sports lightning round. As promised we have spent another week coming up with questions for our lightning round contestants, and we’ll keep this going as long as they have the mental capacity to compete.
Look for the podcast later this week as our fearless co-hosts Bryant Knox and Casey Mabbott dive even deeper in to these topics as they try to explain themselves for their answers, or as we have come to know them, their crimes against humanity.
If you have a suggestion for questions, feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or @oregonsportsguy on twitter.
1. Damian Lillard has been playing at an elite level. Can he sustain his current scoring terror and how many of their 5 games do you expect them to win this week?
(CM) It’s just not sustainable. We’ve seen this level of output from Damian before, and he will slow down eventually. That’s not a shot at Dame, every player eventually cools off, it’s just the way it is. He is playing extremely well and that won’t go anywhere, but no he can’t keep this up. They have a tough week in front of them, and I expect them to win three out of five, but the Rockets and Lakers could be too tough in a long week.
(BK) Casey, Casey, Casey…no faith. Ahead of the 2018-19 season, my take on Lillard was that the narratives surrounding him would all be about off-court issues: trade rumors and contract talks, to be specific. But I also believed that he’d find a way to have his most efficient to date. So far, that has been the case, and Lillard is leading the NBA in scoring as a result. If Portland’s franchise point guard can keep shooting at a high percentage and he keeps getting help from the likes of Zach Collins and Co., I’ll keep the faith for the both of us and buy stock in Lillard all season long.
2. The Houston Rockets are making a big attempt to trade for Minnesota guard Jimmy Butler, regarded as one of the best two-way players in the league. Do you approve of the deal, and is this an admission that they should have retained Trevor Ariza?
(CM) If they are serious about contending while they have Paul and Harden in their primes, then I approve of this deal. Carmelo didn’t add enough and they are worse on defense without Ariza. I think this deal definitely speaks volumes about what they should have done in the offseason, and they’ll have to hope they get as good or better production from Butler given what the asking price is.
(BK) Retaining Trevor Ariza was never really an option if he was seeking straight cash, which he got plenty of from the Phoenix. But if we’re being honest—and if we know anything at all about Daryl Morey—the organization was content to let its wing walk knowing it could get a superstar in name, even if he’s far from a superstar on the court at this point in his career. But to answer your question: Yes, the Rockets should 100 percent go all in on Jimmy Butler. There’s a real-world scenario that sees the Golden State Warriors start to break up this summer, but odds are, this team will find a way to contend whether it has five All-Stars, four or three. It won’t have fewer than three for the next few seasons, which means Houston’s late-first-round picks it would be giving up would be hardly missed as the team’s challenging Golden State for West supremacy.
3. At 4-3, the Seahawks have a winning record and appear to finally have a solid group on both sides of the ball. Do you think they can keep this going and claim a playoff spot?
(CM) Man, they look solid. I have been one of their loudest detractors since they started their mini-rebuild/reload, but they look good. They could have beaten the Rams, and they looked like the better team in 8 quarters against the Raiders and Lions. Whatever happens from here, they’ve earned my respect. I don’t know if they can keep it going, but if they do, I won’t be surprised.
(BK) After an 0-2 start, this group has won four of five. And if you believe in moral victories, give em an honorary W as well for nearly taking down the league’s best team in the LA Rams. I do like what I’m seeing. But I do have my concerns, and they stem from what’s to come and what’s out of their control. According to NFLTradeRumors, Seattle has the fifth-toughest schedule remaining. It’s an imperfect calculation based on Remaining Opponents’ Super Bowl Odds and not Opponent Production So Far. But it’s still a good benchmark considering the latter is part of what goes into the former. The Seahawks have plenty of time—and plenty of momentum—to prove me wrong. But they do need to prove it before I buy in.
4. Over the weekend, the Ducks and Huskies lost while the Cougars and Beavers won. UO and UW are now officially out of the playoff picture while WSU is a long shot and OSU is just fighting for respect. What do you expect to see when these four teams go head to head in a few weeks?
(CM) Rivalry week could be very interesting. The Ducks are down their best player in Justin Herbert, and let’s face it – they didn’t look great against WSU or Arizona before the concussion. The Huskies are down just about every player that could make Jake Browning look good. The defense for UW is their heartbeat, but I’m not convinced the Ducks can win without their star QB. The Cougars look like the best team in the North and could absolutely give UW a problem in the Apple Cup. The Beavers are getting healthy and figuring some things out, they could upset UO in the Civil War and finish their season with a statement win.
(BK) For starters, the Beavers are beyond respect. It’s harsh, but yikes, it’s reality. (Their 41-34 win over Colorado was a good start in the right direction, but the Buffaloes have now lost three straight and look like they could finish below UCLA in the Pac-12 South despite starting the year 5-0.) What I’m most interested in is where the real fans will be as this season’s iteration of Rivalry Week approaches. Washington State still has meaningful football to be played as far as the national media is concerned, but the unranked trio also representing the PNW has surely lost a lot of bandwagoners at this juncture. Will Oregon State fans show up in hope of a upset? Will Washington and Oregon folks recognize that sometimes (most times, for all of us) it’s about the journey and not just the end-of-season result? Luckily, I do think we get a good on-field battle between Wazzu and UW. I just can’t say the same thing about the Civil War—so long as Justin Herbert and Dillon Mitchell make it back onto the field for the festivities.
5. The Eagles are 4-4, the Rams are 8-0, the Jaguars are 3-4, the Patriots are 5-2, and the Vikings are 4-3-1. At the midway point, what do you make of the preseason Super Bowl favorites?
(CM) The Rams and Patriots are the only two on that list I’m impressed with at the moment. We can’t mention the Chiefs because they weren’t a favorite before the season, but they are downright scary. The Eagles have a lot of issues aside from injuries, and the Vikings look like they forgot who they were. The Jaguars look like they are about three players short of being good, and they only have one coming back. If I had to bet on two of these teams going the distance, it would be the undefeated Rams and the Patriots, who are the only team to beat KC so far.
(BK) I’m with this guy ^^^^^^. It’s all about the Rams right now, and right after them, it’s all about the Patriots (assuming we’re not including the Chiefs, which we’re not). Barring a significant injury on either side, these will be the pre-season favorites still left standing near the end. It’s when we integrate those pesky Chiefs into the conversation that things get a bit more complicated—at least for the Pats, until The Big Game itself.