By Chris Le
I love the NBA Playoffs. Maybe more than any other season of sports. More than March Madness. More than Sunday at Augusta. More than the NFL’s championship Sunday. And definitely more than the BCS bowl season, which fails to crown a true champion. The only possible exception may be a highly-anticipated fight between the two top fighters of a particular division that lives up to the hype. But, with the politics of boxing and the sport’s dearth of talent, these are few and far between.
Yup, I’m sure of it: nothing provides consistent entertainment and drama like the NBA Playoffs.
But I don’t know how I feel about this particular postseason.
The opening round looks to be incredibly intriguing. But for a bad reason: most of the teams are tragically flawed. Compared to seasons past, it’s a weak field, with almost every team sustaining key injuries. Manu Ginobili, Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady will be in street clothes for the entire playoffs, while the likes of Tyson Chandler and Hedo Turkoglu hobble into their respective series.
Some, like the Bulls and Trail Blazers, are incredibly inexperienced. Derrick Rose is a rookie. It’s expecting a lot if you think he can lead his team past the defending champs. And Brandon Roy is a stud, a bona fide star who is a killer in the clutch. But this is also his first trip to the big dance. You can’t possibly expect him to have any success, especially with Ron Artest and Shane Battier all over him. Right? You could clump the Rockets, with their lack of postseason results, and the Magic in this group as well. But at the same time, you can’t discount their collection of talent either. These young teams are stacked. So you have to ask yourself, “When does energy and athleticism begin to beat out savvy?”
Other teams (the Spurs and Mavs) are seasoned but on old legs. No team looks as old as the Spurs heading into the first round. Check that, no team is older than the Spurs. They’re dinosaurs, and the mileage from all those long postseason runs — and short offseasons — are beginning to show. But who’s willing to bet their 401(k) that Tim Duncan and co. are completely done? Even though all signs point to their window being shut, I wouldn’t take that bet.
There are a lot of unknowns in these first few games, more so than in any other year. It should all make for some wild finishes.
However, the undeniable supremacy of the Lakers and Cavs has rendered these initial matchups pointless, robbing fans of any true drama — until the Finals. But if everything goes according to plan, I think we’re in for an epic showdown between the two preeminent players of this generation. That would make up for the predictability of the opening rounds.
Lakers in 5 over Jazz
Hornets in 6 over Nuggets
Mavericks in 6 over Spurs
Rockets in 6 over Trail Blazers
Cavaliers in 4 over Pistons
Celtics in 5 over Bulls
Magic in 7 over 76ers
Hawks in 7 over Heat
Lakers in 6 over Rockets
Hornets in 6 over Mavericks
Cavaliers in 5 over Hawks
Celtics in 6 over Magic
Lakers in 6 over Hornets
Cavaliers in 6 over Celtics
Lakers in 7 over Cavaliers