By Stefan Anderson
After the NBA’s scandal, lifetime bans, Floyd Mayweather winning again (Is He Ever Going to Lose?), the NBA playoffs continued. Returning to a first round, that has been more competitive than any in the years past. This year’s opening round of the playoffs is a great introduction to what could be a legendary postseason, which could be discussed centuries from now.
Aside from the Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards, every team had a very competive series leading to a record 5 game 7’s. One of the most intriguing series that didn’t lead to a game 7 was the Rockets vs. Blazers series, which nearly went to a deciding but was ended after a cold blooded dagger by Damian Lillard. These playoffs have had fans on the edge of their seats and reaching near heart attack but a joy to watch.
Throughout these game 7’s two things remained supreme, Star Power and Experience.
• In the Eastern Conference:
The #1 seed Indiana Pacers where on the ropes and were almost knocked by young, hungry Atlanta Hawks team. Down 3-2 in their series Indiana went on the road to fight for championship aspirations. After a lineup change that helped the Pacers downsize they were able to compete with the undersized Hawks teams that continued to spread their defense out and knock down 3’s. Including two tremendous games by their star Paul George and their leader David West.
The Toronto Raptors already had defied the odds this season they went on to win the Atlantic Division and earn 3 seed this season. The task of knocking off the veteran Brooklyn Nets seemed like a tough task but they were close to making it look easy. Putting the Nets in an uncomfortable position after 3-2 defeat, they looked to close out the series in game 6. But Brooklyn responded quickly by returning the favor in a 97-83 blowout to send the series into a game 7. In a game 7 where Brooklyn looked like the team everyone predicted them to be, the young Raptors made a final run to save their playoff hopes and show what they made of. Down 1 with a few seconds left, the Raptors lacked a prime go-to scorer or big shot maker and left the game in Kyle Lowry’s hands where he seen his last second floater get returned by the Veteran Paul Pierce. Aint that The Truth.
• In The Western Conference
The Spurs have had so many tough battles between them and the Dallas Mavericks, that you knew this year’s matchup would give you the same. The Mavericks different from those teams that once featured Dirk, Nash, Finley, etc. now have a new cast but still possess the same great talent with Monta Ellis, Vince Carter, Devin Harris, and of Dirk . But the Spurs have never lost core of stars and show that chemistry does mean something in this league. After watching Vince Carter hit the time machine and hit game winning shots, Manu Ginobli turn back the clock and show vintage Manu, this series reminded me of the early 2000’s. After former Spur now Mavericks Dejuan Blair come out and make clutch plays against his former team in 6, the series would be decided in Game 7. The Spurs proved once again why they had the best record this season and trampled the Mavs 119-69, led by Tony Parker’s 32 point performance.
Oklahoma City has had a great amount of trouble dealing with Memphis and their grind out style play in the past few years, especially in the playoffs. This postseason was no different. After 4 straight overtime games between the two, Memphis put OKC in a tough position once again. Down 3-2 facing elimination, who could the Thunder rely on to help guide to the promise land, Kevin Durant. The MVP Candidate went off for 36 and 10 to help force a game 7. After losing their star Zach Randolph due to an altercation, Memphis lacked their star power to compete for a final game where Kevin Durant chipped in 33 points and Russell Westbrook put in a triple double himself.
The Warriors and Clippers series went as planned as both teams were poised for a heavyweight bout in the first round. After facing so much attention of the court and it affecting the play on the court, The Clippers looked to be down and out for this series. But after their big man duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan put their team on their back the Clips stayed alive to continue championship dreams. Not that Warriors, do not hold star power in this time, they just need some extra help from a big man which they lost in the unhealthy Andrew Bogut.
For this to be the first round of the playoffs, shows exactly why the NBA playoffs are what they are for a reason. The Win or Go Home attitude gives the players that extra enthusiasm need and gives up fans the great show that we love to see. I cannot wait to see what happens in the second round.