I can’t stress enough how much of a music person I am not. I’m the same with most things related to popular culture, which includes music and fashion and whatever the latest trends are. I just don’t pay that much attention. I have always been a little envious of the people who do know what to look for, and who are good at writing about music and movies and art. Me, I’m a simpleton as far as those scenes go. I like what I like, but beyond the surface I don’t really know how to explain why.

All ignorance aside, the album I’ve listened to more than anything over the last year is, without a doubt, The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy. It’s only six tracks long and has a runtime of exactly 21 minutes and 51 seconds — meaning it’s really easy to blow through — and its incredibly emo content meshes well with my incredibly emo music leanings.

Apparently it’s about a breakup (because of course), but it’s definitely the most honest The Weeknd has been since at least 2013 when he made Kiss Land. His two prior full-length albums — 2015’s Beauty Behind The Madness and 2016’s Starboy — were much more bent on pop-friendly singles and party jams.

I enjoyed My Dear Melancholy because it brought back a little heart… something I didn’t know still existed after The Weeknd completely blew up over the last half decade. At this point it seems like he understands what the people — or more specifically women — are most interested in, and that tends to be closer to “I Can’t Feel My Face” and “I Feel It Coming” than virtually anything off the very un-mainstream Trilogy (2012).

My Dear Melancholy is strong if for nothing else that it isn’t what I expected. The realest track on the EP, and subsequently my favorite, is titled “I Was Never There,” where he drones on about the relationship struggle, and closes with:

Ooh, and now I know what love is
And I know it ain’t you for sure
You’d rather something toxic
So, I’ll poison myself again, again
‘Til I feel nothing
In my soul (in my soul)
I’m on the edge of something breaking
I feel my mind is slowly fadin’
If I keep going, I won’t make it
If I keep going, I won’t make it

And it’s all because of you
It’s all because of you
It’s all because of you
It’s all because of you
Woah, woah
Don’t you, baby, hey
It won’t matter, baby
Don’t you know?
Don’t you know?
Ooh, no

Anyway, I dig it.

The NBA Playoffs start on Saturday, meaning my sports gambling season can finally get started. If truth be told I haven’t placed a bet on sports since Week 2 of the 2018-’19 NFL season last September. I believe I went 0 for my first 4 games and called it quits right then and there. That’s mildly unfortunate, since the Chiefs had a really good season and I felt like I had a pretty good grasp of the league by season’s end. Even at that, less gambling is probably a good thing.

NBA Playoffs, though. That’s the shit right there. Once the regular season officially ends I will write a separate blog picking each first round matchup, and probably declare a couple parlays, but for this one I just want to give an overview about how I think things will play out.

It isn’t a secret that the Golden State Warriors are the overwhelming favorites to win the title. According to Bovada they are -220 — a shade more than 1-to-2 — to win the championship, while the next-best odds are the Milwaukee Bucks at a whopping +675 (6.75-to-1). Following behind them are the Raptors (+1000) and Rockets (+1100) and 76ers (+1500) and Celtics (+1600).

The Western Conference is fucking loaded, per usual. I’m not a hundred percent on how the first couple rounds are going to play out on a per-matchup basis, but I am fairly confident that for the third year in a row it’s going to wind up Warriors vs. Rockets. That isn’t a controversial prediction, especially since Vegas values #3-seed Houston (+600) as more of a favorite than the #2-seeded Denver Nuggets (+900) to win the West. It just happens that basketball is less of a team sport than, say, football or baseball, and James Harden is the best individual player on any Western Conference team not named the Warriors.

The Eastern Conference is significantly more wide open. In my mind any of the top four seeds, the Bucks (+160), Raptors (+230), 76ers (+350) or Celtics (+390) could conceivably punch their ticket to the NBA Finals. While Milwaukee has the league MVP and home court advantage, I am banking on the Boston Celtics — a team mired in drama seemingly all season long — to circle the wagons and upset them in the second round.

A potential Raptors-76ers conference semifinal tilt figures to be just as entertaining as a presumed Bucks-Celtics matchup. But just as I think Boston will upset Milwaukee, I too believe the 76ers will be able to take down the Raptors — who will likely be something in the range of a -150 favorite. There is something to be said for home-court advantage, and the fact that the Bucks and Raptors will both have it against the Celtics and 76ers, respectively, but my intuition tells me that the next half-decade in the Eastern conference will be a slugfest between two teams. And those guys happen to be Boston and Philly.

Right this second I am taking Golden State (-375) to come out of the West and Boston (+390) to come out of the East. Presently that parlay is +522, meaning $100 pays out $522. To get there Boston will have to upset the Bucks in the Conference Semifinals — where they will be something in the range of a +225 underdog — and have to upset either the Raptors or 76ers in the Conference Finals — where they will be something in the range of a +150 underdog.

I’m not saying this is smart betting, but it’s worthy of a shot. Especially considering you aren’t getting very good value betting on either the Bucks or Raptors. If we concede that the Warriors are probably going to win the championship, then your best bet is getting them right now at -220. Because it won’t be very long before that number goes up, and once they are in the finals it will probably cost you about triple that.

Update (4-11-19): Because of a bunch of shit that wasn’t supposed to happen it turns out that the Houston Rockets are now the #4 seed in the Western Conference, meaning they are lined up to play Golden State in the second round instead of the Conference Finals. This doesn’t change how I think it plays out with the Warriors, but it does open a lane for Denver or, who knows, maybe a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder, to make it into the Conference Finals.

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