Don’t worry, Top Five Live did not forget about Super Bowl Sunday in Houston. The magnitude of that game deserves its own blog post, and TicketNetwork has all aspects of it covered.
However, the focus for this blog post shifts to other professional sports. NBA teams will look to snap out of their January slumber while Canadian hockey teams are readying for a rivalry. A prolific golf tournament makes the cut this week and finally the Super Bowl is not the only event taking place in Houston this weekend.
Waste Management Phoenix Open – TPC Scottsdale – 2/2-2/5
Known as, “The Greatest Show on Grass,” the Waste Management Phoenix Open is a huge event early on in the golf season. The tournament attracts big name players who need a sufficient tune up before their season schedule amps up.
Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed are the headliners heading in to this week. All are fan favorites and could take home the trophy this weekend. Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama will like his chances as well. A strong Sunday performance and a win in a playoff against Fowler boosted Matsuyama’s confidence in 2016.
The TPC Scottsdale in Arizona is also one of the best environments on the PGA Tour. The tournament is especially known for one hole that abandons all the rules of golf. Known for precision, patience and a gentlemen’s attitude, the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale embodies none of the above.
The crowd is not just allowed to get rowdy and cheer while a player is preparing and taking their shot, it is encouraged. A good shot at the par-3 16th hole is accompanied with a wave of cheers while a bad shot is always booed.
Waste Management Phoenix Open has a little bit of everything, and the 16th hole is an experience worth seeing or being a part of.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors @ Staples Center – 2/2
The Clippers and Warriors were picked by most analysts to represent the West in the Western Conference Finals. The two teams are currently heading in opposite directions and the match up now seems unlikely.
The Warriors are right where we thought they’d be. Winners of 9 of their last 10, the Warriors are 41-7 this season. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are assimilating nicely, and that spells disaster for the rest of the league. The two are averaging a combined 51.3 points per game, making them the highest scoring duo in the league.
The Spurs are the closest competition for the Warriors, but with a 4.5 game lead the Warriors will be comfortable heading in to the All-Star break.
In Los Angeles, a once promising season is slipping away. Point guard Chris Paul suffered a thumb injury that required surgery, and his season is on hold for the time being. Blake Griffin is now controlling the reigns of the Clippers’ offense, and results may vary. Griffin is one of the most talented forwards in the league, but Paul’s reputation as the game’s best floor general was not just given to him.
The Clippers are desperate for a signature win, and a hard-fought battle against the league’s best is just what the doctor ordered.
New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers @ Madison Square Garden – 2/4
Old pals square off once again in New York. Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are best friends off the court, but rivals on it. It all started back in high school, when a nationally televised high school basketball game featured the two facing one another.
Since joining the NBA, their trajectories differed, but the two have crossed paths numerous times. Anthony has become one of the game’s best scorers, but for unsuccessful teams. On the other hand, LeBron James’ consistency has helped him become one of the greatest players of all-time on some of the best teams ever.
The Knicks’ season started with a lot of promise, but an early season slump thwarted their momentum and led to trade rumors and dysfunction. The Knicks are still in the running for a playoff spot, but the team and fans figured they would be much farther along at this point in the season. With Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis, the future is bright in New York, but something is still a little off in the Big Apple.
Speaking of something being a little off, the Cavaliers have a had a rough start to 2017. Their 7-8 record was the first time King James had a losing record for an entire month since 2006. With trade and free agent rumors swirling, the Cavs have the look of an insecure team despite winning the NBA title in dramatic fashion last season.
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love need to avoid the media bait and focus on strengthening the team during this difficult stretch leading up to the All-Star break. A dominant performance on national TV will do just that.
UFC Fight Night – Bermudez vs. Korean Zombie @ Toyota Center – 2/4
The Super Bowl is hoarding the headlines in Houston, and deservedly so, but the night before that Houston will host another wild night. There is a full card of exciting fights, and fans will be looking for action on the eve of the Super Bowl. The Toyota Center is usually home to the Houston Rockets, but the UFC will be a welcome guest on February 4th.
A fighter making long-awaited comeback verses a veteran in a groove is the main event. On top of that, the card is filled with up-and-comers looking to challenge an established fighter in the UFC.
Chan Sung Jung, AKA “The Korean Zombie,” was a rising star in the UFC before the brand skyrocketed. No stranger to winning, “Knockout of the Night,” Jung earned a title shot in 2013.
He lost to UFC legend Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title, and then had to put his career on hold. A native of South Korea, he had to serve two years in the nation’s military. He was released in late 2016, and his mind immediately shifted back to fighting.
His opponent, Dennis Bermudez, is having none of this sentimental return. Currently on a two-fight win streak, Bermudez had a productive year in 2016. He has risen to the ninth ranked contender in the Featherweight division, and another win against a past star will only raise his stock in the UFC. Bermudez is at a slight disadvantage due to the fact he has no idea what to expect from Chan Sung Jung. However, his confidence due to his recent success could be a deciding factor.
Other fights garnering a lot of attention include Alexa Grasso against Felice Herrig and Ovince Saint Preux verses Volkan Oezdemir.
Edmonton Oilers vs. Montreal Canadiens @ Centre Bell – 2/5
On a global scale, no country dominates the sport of hockey like Canada. However, the NHL has been recently been dominated by markets such as Pittsburgh, Chicago and Boston. This season the Canadian clubs are making a comeback in a big way. Last year, no hockey teams from Canada made the playoffs, but thanks to a crop of young talent being drafted by Canadian teams that will change this season.
The Montreal Canadiens are historically one of the best teams in the NHL. However, their last Stanley Cup title came in 1993, and there is a new wave of fans becoming impatient with the lack of winning it all in Montreal. Montreal is in the middle of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, currently holding on to the fourth seed. Led by Max Pacioretty and Shea Weber, the Canadiens are a dangerous team this season.
The Edmonton Oilers have been starving for a playoff appearance. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, a year in which they made the Stanley Cup Finals. In the 80s, Wayne Gretzky built a dynasty in Edmonton before he was traded away to the Los Angeles Kings. The decision is still known as one of the most puzzling in the history of the sport, as Gretzky is the best hockey player the world has ever seen.
It is much too early to tell, but the Oilers have another player on their roster that could have a special career. 20-year old Connor McDavid is already the team captain in Edmonton, and is one of the best young players in the NHL.
The Canadian was the first overall draft pick in 2015. He has lived up to the hype by becoming the fourth fastest player to record 100 points in the NHL.