As I wrote about the NFL back in January, predicting playoff outcomes is pretty much guesswork. So rather than pore over stats, prognosticators might be served well by just picking winners based on which team's mascot is more badass. And at least when applied to the NFL playoffs, that methodology held up well.
So how well will it hold up when used to predict the outcome of the NBA playoffs, which tip off Saturday? It will prove flawless, I'm sure. To the predictions:
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Indiana Pacers v. Atlanta Hawks
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images, Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
The Indiana Pacers' mascot, Boomer, is a big blue cat with coifed whiskers and spaghetti hair. He does not look tough, or fast. Check out the eyes. He looks petrified, like someone just took a huge cat cage out of the closet and he thinks he's going to the vet.
Still, Boomer has a natural edge over Harry the Hawk who, despite being a bird of prey, looks like a puny cardinal that sprouted spandex legs. Harry even has concerned eyebrows, like he knows he's in for a mauling.
Miami Heat v. Charlotte Bobcats
(Doug Benc/Getty Images, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Miami's Burnie is the Philly Phanatic of the NBA. He is a Sesame Street character who wandered off set one day and never returned. He is a personified question mark, covered in thick, bright shag.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats' Rufus looks like a cat version of Top Gun-era Val Kilmer. Yeah, he loves to preen, but when there's a competition, he's all business. And given that Burnie looks like an oversized squeaky toy, Rufus takes this one with little difficulty. Throw some catnip on Burnie and it becomes a bloodbath.
Toronto Raptors v. Brooklyn Nets
(BrooklynKnight Instagram, Robert Skeoch /Allsport)
This is the Raptors' mascot falling down on rollerblades.
It is a fantastic gif, but does not bode well for his pugilistic prowess. The BrooklynKnight (get it?) moves on by default.
Chicago Bulls v. Washington Wizards
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images, Rob Carr / Getty Images)
I love Benny the Bull. He's got the perfect mix of machismo and whimsy. Plus, dude has some decent dance moves and Rodman hair.
But this isn't about which mascot is the best, but rather which would tear the others' faces to fuzzy felt scraps.
Meet G-Man, one of the Wizards' two mascots. From G-Man's real bio:
Objective: To keep flying high with super dunks
Hobbies: Gymnastics, Dunking, Working out, Staying healthy and reading.
Motto: "Bring it"
"Bring it." No way the friendliest bull since Ferdinand wins this one.
Western Conference Quarterfinals
San Antonio Spurs v. Dallas Mavericks
The Spurs' mascot, The Coyote, would make for a great Looney Tunes anti-drug PSA because of his chemical-green eyes. "I used to have a regular job chasing that danged Road Runner. Then I got hopped up on who knows what and, poof, I'm doing stunts for Texans and tripping over Tim Duncan."
On the other side, Champ the horse is terrifying. He's got a rabid visage and, despite being a horse, fingers. Horses are already formidable fighters because of their powerful legs, but adding opposable thumbs to the mix is unfair. Champ drops an anvil on The Coyote and moves on.
Oklahoma City Thunder v. Memphis Grizzlies
Oklahoma City stole Seattle's basketball team, and they stole its mascot. The SuperSonic's Sasquatch, "Squatch," is infinitely better and more fearsome than Rumble the Bison, who is a cheap copy and probably an energy company shill to boot. Plus, Rumble faces an athletic bear, which is the stuff of nightmares. Grizz wins, pleasing jilted Seattle fans for just a little bit until they remember they're still without a pro hoops teams.
Los Angeles Clippers v. Golden State Warriors
The Clippers have no mascot. The Warriors have no mascot, though they used to have a spandex-clad crusader who carried thunderbolts around with him. Sheesh, that guy would have been a favorite to go all the way.
But alas, the Warriors ditched him, so this matchup ends in a duel forfeiture. So for fun, let's bring back affable Burnie to fill the empty slot. Welcome back, Burnie!
Winner: Burnie (Rules, shmules)
Houston Rockets v. Portland Trailblazers
Most bears are great, but Houston's Clutch is not one of them. He's an oversized doofus with a complacent, vacuous stare. Yet the Trail Blazers' Blaze is equally doofy, though with complacent, earnest eyes. In a battle of timidity, I'll take the bear over the cat every time.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Pacers v. Wizards
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images, Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Again, Boomer is a pushover. Were this a "Nap in the sun while holding your mouth agape" contest, he would win. But it's not. G-Man will destroy him with "super dunks" performed to the tune of Van Halen's Jump.
Nets v. Bobcats
(BrooklynKnight Instagram, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
After one round, Rufus, being a cat, needs a nap to recharge. But the BrooklynKnight, being a typical Brooklyn transplant, is preoccupied with a bottomless brunch, and he has to catch a Vampire Weekend show after that. By the time they finally get together to square off, Rufus has lost interest, instead fancying a piece of string he found by the trash. BrooklynKnight blows him away with a T-shirt cannon to the face and advances.
Western Conference Semifinals
Mavericks v. Rockets
Clutch won the Bumble in the Jungle in the last round, but his run ends here. Champ has such a mean glint in his eye, like he's been dying for any excuse to wail on Clutch's flabby bear belly. Do not beg Champ to go easy on you, Clutch. Champ does not go easy. Begging him to go easy only makes him mad, and a mad horse is a dangerous horse.
Heat v. Grizzlies
Burnie is back from the dustbin, somehow in the Western Conference, and all fired up (sorry). Grizz looks mean though, and yeah, he's a bear. Not much a puffball with a basketball nose can do against that — or is there? Burnie is so ridiculous he must be hiding some secret power. Maybe he can shoot lasers out of his stomach? Or maybe he's an alien and his blood is toxic to Earthlings? I don't know.
What I do know is that Grizz is way, way undersized for a grizzly bear, and he's wearing shoes and gloves, essentially declawing himself. Nope, that bear can't fight half as good as a real grizzly bear. Burnie wins, somehow, and advances.
Eastern Conference Finals
Nets v. Wizards
(BrooklynKnight Instagram, Rob Carr/Getty Images)
The BrooklyKnight is depicted as a superhero. He has a cape, rippling muscles, and an honest-to-goodness comic book that discusses his backstory.
Thus, G-Man is a perfect counter to the Knight's antihero vigilantism. He is quite literally The Man. Which is to say, he hates the BrooklynKnight and his law-flouting ways, dreams of the day he can punch that stupid knight in his stupid shiny face. Yet when he finally gets his chance to do so, he'll forget that punching metal hurts. So with a broken hand, he'll return to Washington and resume his life of acrobatic dunks, working out, and asking court side spectators if they even lift, bro.
Western Conference Finals
Heat v. Mavericks
A rematch of the 2011 Finals, except this time with mascots and somehow in the Western Conference Finals. Can Bernie's mystical mascot powers save him yet again? Sadly, no. Champ is too ruthless. Champ looks like the kind of person who would pants you and everyone you care about, then wait a few days and do it again, just for laughs. Champ is mean. Champ is a jerk. Champ will win. Condolences to the Burnie family.
Nets v. Mavericks
The BrooklynKnight is still a superhero. There's really no way around that. He's got bulging arms straight out of Marvel, plus the armor, plus that T-shirt cannon. Champ is vicious, but, as the old saying goes: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him beat a superhero in a fictional faceoff because, come on, the superhero is too strong so a horse beating him up just wouldn't make sense."
So there you have it. The BrooklynKnight wins, at which point Brooklyn fans disown him for "selling out" and move on to a non-bandwagon team, like the Heat.