A comic book nerd’s guide to the 2016 NBA Playoffs

NBA Playoffs-MarvelDuring a recent trip to Los Angeles, I did a few things that would have definitely gotten me beat up in a ’90s high school. First, I visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. It’s the greatest place on Earth and I want to live there forever. Second, I pre-ordered movie tickets on a Tuesday to see “Captain America: Civil War” opening night.

Luckily for me, as we all hang out in 2016, people are encouraged to embrace their inner nerd. I also happen to be a bit of that ’90s high school jock, not that I’m even a little bit athletic, but in that I enjoy most aspects of sports. So I’ve decided to bring the nerds and the jocks together a bit and compare characters from “Captain American: Civil War” to teams in the 2016 NBA Playoffs.

Comic Book Characters As Teams In The NBA Playoffs – Western Conference

Rules are there ain’t no rules. Let’s start from the top.

Captain America is The Golden State Warriors

With all the heroes in “Civil War” many people may think it’s just another Avengers movie, but Captain America is the title character. Steve Rodgers is the pretty face an entire country loved to root for as it fought in World War II. Cap runs the point pretty well too, as he leads the Avengers to victory over anything standing in their way and put together a pretty solid crew in “Civil War.”

If the NBA Playoffs were a movie, many people would call it “The Warriors Coronation Party”. Golden State is clearly the title character of these playoffs, and for good reason as they finished the season with a record-breaking 73 wins. They’re led by a two-time MVP point god guard in Steph Curry, who is the greatest baby-faced assassin sports has ever known. Curry led the league with 30.1 points per game in 2016, while making an NBA-record 402 threes and still finishing 10th in the league in assists.

Golden State seems unstoppable, but Curry has been hurt throughout the postseason and it’s unlikely Captain America will get through this movie without being at least bloodied by Iron Man…

Iron Man is The San Antonio Spurs

Iron Man hasn’t really been around forever, it just feels that way as Robert Downey Jr. kicked off the Marvel cinematic universe in 2008 as Tony Stark. Since then Iron Man has been ever-present in the comic book world, starring in three movies of his own and appearing in three more.

Iron Man also always has Vision by his side, who is really the brains of the whole operation no matter how many times Tony decides to change his suit and invent new gadgets.

The Spurs haven’t really been dominant in the NBA since the Reagan Administration, it just feels that way. San Antonio drafted Tim Duncan in 1997 and have been to the playoffs for NINETEEN straight years since then. They haven’t secured six championships just yet, but five Larry O’Brien trophies since 1999 work out just fine. Cleveland is playing well right now, but San Antonio is still the biggest threat to Golden State’s run at back-to-back championships.

The Spurs have also always had Greg Popovich at the helm, as he is in the middle of his 20th year as their coach. Greg Popovich is Vision. Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginoibli are fueled by infinity stones. They will never die. We’re all doomed.

Black Panther is The Oklahoma City Thunder

The Black Panther is, for my money, the breakout star of “Civil War”. His first movie won’t be released until 2018, but for him and much of the audience it can’t get here fast enough. T’Challa; played by Chadwick Boseman; is relatively young, smooth, and one of the more athletic heroes to make an appearance in the movie. He’s also playing angry for nearly the entire film, stopping at nothing to get his vengeance. Plus the costume designers did a nice job helping Black Panther look the part in a great-looking suit.


What style! (?)

The Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to break out in the 2016 NBA Playoffs, and they don’t have until 2018 to wait for their championship with free agency looming. (Championships and movies are the same things in this article. Keep up.) Between Kevin Durant’s silky jumper and Russell Westbrook’s overpoweringly-athletic style, the Thunder possess the constant advantage of having two of the three best players on the floor at any time. No matter who they’re facing. Westbrook also plays as angry as anyone in the NBA, which is obvious in the first 10 minutes of any Thunder game. Plus, if it’s style you want, the point guard showed up in this sweet little number to the right prior to his game 4 content against the Spurs.

Spiderman is The Portland Trailblazers

The last two Spiderman renditions have certainly failed, but it looks like the “Civil War” version will buck that trend. So far this edition’s Peter Parker is just a young kid looking to make a splash among giants. He even gives Captain America some problems initially, before the first Avenger feels a threat and kicks it into a higher gear. Overall Spiderman’s time hasn’t come quite yet, but by 2017 he could be a force to be reckoned with.

After not getting the results it wanted in the past, Portland management decided to blow up the team and say goodbye to the likes of Nik Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge. The result is a much younger team who has overperformed in the 2015-16 season. Led by the stellar play of young guards Damian Lillard (25 years old) and CJ McCollum (24), the Blazers find themselves sitting pretty. They’ve even given Golden State a scare in the Western Conference semifinals, taking a game from the Warriors and holding a halftime lead in games two, three, and four. Portland is making its mark in the NBA, and should be a Western Conference player in the years to come.

Comic Book Characters As Teams In The NBA Playoffs – Eastern Conference

Thanks to Cleveland we only have three teams remaining in the Eastern Conference bracket. Here we go.

Ant-Man is The Cleveland Cavaliers

Ant-Man does most of his damage as a smaller version of himself, but that certainly doesn’t mean he should be taken lightly. In fact, he’s a bit of a wild card in that he can do some serious damage to any hero, including Iron Man. Going big may be what’s necessary to get a victory for his side, but it’s also way out of his comfort zone and may actually lead to his demise. He also relishes in his role as the comic relief character in “Civil War”.

space-jam-2The Cleveland Cavaliers have been terrorizing the Eastern Conference in the 2016 playoffs with small ball. The Cavs have made 134 threes in eight games so far in the postseason, good for an average of 16.8 makes per game (Golden State averaged 13.1 threes made per game in the regular season). They’ve already made the 34th-most long balls in playoff history, and no team above them played less than 14 games (Journalistic stat credit!). All this makes Cleveland the biggest unknown right now, because no one has any idea if they can keep up this pace. One thing that is known is LeBron has experience beating San Antonio in the Finals. He can also fill the comic relief role well; apparently he was good in “Trainwreck” and an oddly-timed leak has him linked to “Space Jam 2”.

All that said, there’s a reason I made Cleveland a secondary Marvel character. I still don’t see them as a threat to Golden State or San Antonio in the Finals.

Winter Soldier is The Toronto Raptors

No one has a split personality like the Winter Soldier. One moment he’s whoopin’ ass for you and you’re loving him, and the next moment some guy whispers a few words in his ear that don’t really make sense and he’s sabotaging all his work for the good guys. He can also be really dangerous when he gets on a roll, so I would advise against letting him do that.

Shoutout to everyone who thought I was just gonna put Black Widow or Scarlet Witch here because they’re the remaining foreign characters. You had it right in the first draft. Still — no one has a split personality in the 2016 NBA Playoffs like the Toronto Raptors, making them more of a Winter Soldier. The Raptors two best players, DeMar DeRozen and Kyle Lowry, averaged a combined 45 points per game in the regular season. In the postseason, they’re averaging just 32 points per game together on 33% shooting (including a dismal 6-28 in game 4). Still, Toronto won 56 games in the regular season — if they can get it going they’re dangerous moving forward.

Also, Drake. Drake is the one whispering in ears and ruining everything.

Falcon is The Miami Heat

So Falcon can actually be a lot of fun to watch, flying around and defying the laws of gravity, but I also tend to forget about him unless he’s in front of my face. At his core, Falcon is simply a secondary character — and if we’re being honest with ourselves he’ll never get his own movie. He also brings out a new toy during “Civil War” in Red Hawk, but it’s still unclear how big of a difference it actually makes. Falcon also wants you to believe he’s rivals with Ant-Man since he’s been beaten by him before, but in the end they’re boys and on the same team.

While I would consider Heat fans more of a Hawkeye, retiring for most of the year only to come out when something important is happening, Dwayne Wade is a ringer for Falcon. Wade is still a lot of fun to watch, even at 34 years old, and he can certainly defy gravity. The problem is he also can’t realistically expect to win a championship as his career winds down unless he’s a lesser part of a big three. The Heat acquired Joe Johnson mid-season, and he’s playing well. But with the loss of Chris Bosh, Johnson’s talents may not be enough. Finally, Wade may have to face LeBron in the Eastern Conference Finals but no matter what happens they’re best friends and all Heat fans are hoping James comes back to them.

Dont forget to tell me how wrong I am! Leave a comment below or contact me right here


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About Steve Richards

First and foremost, I love anything Philly sports; that includes the Phillies, Sixers, Eagles, Flyers and Union (that’s a soccer team). I’m also a fan of the English Premier League squad Manchester City. In the college ranks, I follow the football, basketball, and baseball teams of both Penn State and the University of Texas. I work for SportsNetworker.com, where I am the COO. I also cover a variety of high school sports for The Reporter and PaPrepLive.com as a freelance writer. On the broadcast journalism side of things I'm a co-host of the Prime Time Fantasy Football and Showcast podcasts on Next Level Radio. You can check that out right here. You'll also find me on Twitter discussing a multitude of things. Feel free to give me a follow over there.

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