Much has changed over the years in the National Basketball Association and some of the greatest players who played while I was growing up (Shaq, Allen Iverson, the inimitable Yao Ming) were recently inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Time flies, dunkers dunk and shooters shoot, but records are indeed meant to be broken. In a historic year in which one of the greatest players of all time, Kobe Bryant, ended his career by dropping 60 points an on unsuspecting Utah Jazz team and the 95-96 Bulls record for wins a year was beaten by this year's incredible Golden State Warriors team, the NBA is thriving and more exciting than ever before.
Here at The Beer Connoissuer, we always try to pair terrific craft brews with anything and everything that's going on in the world, so we decided to pick a few beers that represent each team that's made it into this year's playoffs.
Some will perform better than others, and there might even be a few upsets. Sit back, grab a brew and enjoy; these are our Craft Beer Pairings for the 2016 NBA Playoffs.
At this point, it’s all about rings for Lebron James. Sure, he’s got two NBA championships, but it’s taken him six trips to the Finals to accrue those accolades. For Bron-Bron, a sixth straight Finals appearance (and seventh overall) is all but guaranteed, but now the unstoppable juggernaut that is the Warriors might derail Bronto’s plans to shore up his legacy. Still though, the games must be played and The King’s first series is against the Detroit Pistons and their beast of a Center, Andre Drummond. With pistons a-pumpin’, double-double machine Drummond led the league in rebounding during the season, and with the addition of talented scorer Tobias Harris before the trade deadline helping to shore up the team’s offense, these Motor City monsters will be looking for a huge upset.
Toast to Lebron’s legacy with Matt Brewing’s Saranac Legacy IPA, a solid and well-made American IPA, and then enjoy The Pike Brewing's Doubble Hopulus to represent Andre Drummond's expertise in the paint.
PREDICTION: Cavaliers in 4
The Raptors came out smelling blood this year, seeking out victories like beer hunters snag whales. Led by key offensive maulers DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry in the backcourt, the carnivorous Canucks hope to disfigure their mild-mannered Midwestern adversaries with ceaseless, high-speed offense. For the Pacers to have a chance to pop some bottles of champagne (or Champagne Velvet), superstar shooting guard Paul George and the pride of Indiana will have to set the bar high, just as Upland, the pride of the Indiana brewing scene, has done with their impressively well-crafted ales.
PREDICTION: Raptors in 5
With four teams finishing the season with identical records in the Eastern Conference, one of them had to be the third seed. It ended up being the Miami Heat, led by the Flash, Dwyane Wade and Center Chris Bosh, a craft beer lover. As the team’s name would suggest it does tend to get hot on South Beach, so Green Flash’s imperial stout with serrano peppers would certainly heat it up for the home team.
On the other side of the court, the Charlotte Hornets unexpectedly took home the 6-seed, and one more win would have (shockingly) assured the 3-seed! This team has a lot of upside and scoring talent in Kemba Walker, long-range bombers in Marvin Williams and Jeremy Lamb, and Linsanity himself, Jeremy Lin waiting in the wings. The Heat better watch out or the streaky Hornets will make it rain (much like NC brewery Green Man’s The Rainmaker) on Miami’s fiery parade.
PREDICTION: Heat in 6
Though Georgia’s state bird is the brown thrasher, Atlanta prefers more predatory avian icons, namely Falcons and Hawks. These streaky raptors, led by Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and the sneaky, scurrying Dennis Schröder can go ice cold at a moment’s notice, but when they’re on, they function with an effortless grace – draining buckets with laser-like precision and moving the ball more swiftly than a dormouse clutched in the talons of the aforementioned hawkeyed killer, hence the beer choice, Eye of the Hawk from Mendocino Brewing Company, beloved as much for its bird-themed brews as its delicious and affordable offerings.
The Hawks face the iconic Celtics, a fresh-faced and style-savvy squad led by point guard Isaiah Thomas and a battery of long and athletic wing players similarly capable of catching fire. Backed by a proud city with a lot of history, it’s only fitting they’re represented by a quintessentially Bostonian beer and brewery.
PREDICTION: Hawks in 7