This Week In Sports

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And time for sports.

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SIMON: The Major League Baseball season is in full swing. Guess who's looking good so far - the teams who were supposed to. That's why sportswriters are so much wiser than political pundits. And some unexpected, unpredicted drama in the NBA playoffs.

We're joined now by Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. Howard,

thanks so much for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Oh, good morning, Scott. Stop sounding so happy. You sound so good right now.

SIMON: I'm always happy to talk to you, my friend.

BRYANT: It's when those Cubs are playing so well. I can hear it in your voice.

SIMON: I'm barely restraining myself from that question. But let's first ask about the Golden State Warriors. Steph Curry has missed a couple of - two straight games. Ankle injury - how worried should they be?

BRYANT: Well, I - I think that they shouldn't be overly worried because he said that he is going to play in tomorrow's game. But the stakes are so high for the Golden State Warriors. They're not just playing this season. They're playing for history.

And as you know as a sports person, the - when you're playing for history - you win 73 games, the most games ever by an NBA team - when you are defending champions, you're playing to be one of the greatest...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...Teams of all time. You cannot lose any anything. You can't lose this season. Otherwise, people are going to forget you. Let's not forget that the 1995-96 Bulls won 72 games and then ended up winning the championship. So you can be the 1973 Boston Celtics where you go out and you win 68 games. And then John Havlicek gets hurt, and the Celtics end up losing to the Knicks and don't even make the finals. You can be the 2001 Seattle Mariners. Remember that team. They went out. They won 116 games and then the Yankees beat them and they - you know, you've forgotten.

So the question is that if you have any hiccups whatsoever, you can be one of those teams that can be the greatest of all time and people talk about you, or you can be that team that gets forgotten in the postseason. And Steph Curry's injury is so important to that team's success. I think they're going to win tomorrow. And I think this is going to be a nonissue because they're that good. But boy, if that injury is real, then suddenly the entire script of the NBA postseason changes.

SIMON: And the Cavs have a chance then (laughter).

BRYANT: The Cavs have a chance. But I - once again, the Warriors - no one's beaten them twice.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: The last time any team has beaten them twice in a row was in the playoffs last year against Cleveland, so they're that good.

SIMON: All right. I've held myself back long enough.

BRYANT: (Laughter).

SIMON: The Cubs are on a blistering pace. And I was so worried with all the preseason predictions. But boy, they've come out of the - out of the blocks well - haven't they? - 13-4.

BRYANT: Well, once again, anybody can have a bad century, right? But this team was loaded from the start. Everyone said this team was going to be the team to beat, and they have started the season exactly as hot as everyone thought they were going to be.

Jake Arrieta, best pitcher in the league last year, throws a no-hitter in a 16-to-nothing victory the other day. They're 13-4.

They can hit. They can pitch. They've got that sort of swagger. They are doing everything they're supposed to be doing. And I think that's going to be really fun for Chicago because I really enjoy it in sports when teams take the pressure coming out of spring training, and then they go out and they back it up. Let's see what they do going the whole way.

I love the national league, though, because the Mets are defending pennant winners. The Nationals with Dusty Baker are playing really well. It's a stacked, stacked league. And we'll see if the Cubs can handle their business if we're having this conversation in September.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, thanks so much.

BRYANT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.