Ladies and gentlemen, we’re 20 minutes away from the best post season system in the world, the NBA playoffs. The amount of story lines this year’s playoffs have is going to make the next two months seem like an expanded Christmas.
The Chicago Bulls have the best record in the NBA and have championship contentions for the first time since Michael Jordan left after the 1998-99 season. The Indiana Pacers, who are playing the Bulls in the first round, haven’t made it to the playoffs since the 2005-06 season. Welcome back, but the ride is going to over soon.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat have been a continuous story line and it will change throughout the playoffs. The Heat have been tearing up lately and want to prove the pickups of James and Chris Bosh were worth it.
The Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks is the best first round match up of this year’s playoffs. Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni have a lot to prove including, can they play defense when they need to. New York can put up 150 points a game, but they can’t stop opponents from scoring 180 (exaggeration). This year could be the last legitimate chance the “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have of returning to the NBA Finals.
The end of this season has seen the Celtics look worn out and tired. We all know Pierce and Garnett are warriors and will not go without a fight. The Kendrick Perkins trade has ruffled some of the Celtics because they think he was a main piece of the winning puzzle in Boston. Rajon Rondo has played absolutely horrible as of late because of lack of motivation. Will the motivation return before it’s too late? Remember last season when Boston looked down and out but then made it to the playoffs? We might see the green on top…
The Lakers are the most dominant team in the league but they’re also getting older and Andrew Bynum’s knees are a constant worry. Lamar Odom has had a great season and is my pick for the 6th Man of the Year award and Matt Barnes gives them the tough edge they have been lacking for years.
Oklahoma City could shock the world and represent the west in the finals because of the high level of play from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Also, the Thunder finally have a big defensive presence in their lineup with Perkins. It’s going to be extremely interesting to see how the Thunder’s first round series with the Denver Nuggets works out. Both teams are young and dynamic, but the Nuggets have a go to guy committee instead of the star, Durant, OKC has.
San Antonio had the best record in the league for most of the season and enter the playoffs as the one seed in the west, but no one thinks they can win it all, including me. Tim Duncan is running out of gas and Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker can’t win seven game series against the western elite by themselves. Could they pull a Boston from last year and surprise us all by making it to the finals?
There are tons of story lines and excitement surrounding the NBA playoffs, which will make the next two months seem like an everyday Christmas. Each game will deliver gifts whether it’s Derrick Rose dashing through the lane to make an amazing layup, James with an amazing block followed with a monster throw down or the Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki hitting a dagger three to win the first round series with the Portland Trailblazers.
No one knows how it will unfold, but it’s guaranteed we’ll enjoy watching while the iron settles over the bracket.
Here are my first round playoff picks:
1 Chicago Bulls Bulls 4-0
8 Indiana Pacers
4 Orlando Magic Magic win 4-2
5 Atlanta Hawks
3 Boston Celtics Celtics 4-2
6 New York Knicks
2 Miami Heat Heat 4-1
7 Philadelphia 76ers
1) San Antonio Spurs Spurs 4-2
8) Memphis Grizzlies
4) Oklahoma City Thunder Thunder 4-3
5) Denver Nuggets
3) Dallas Mavericks Trail Blazers 4-3
6) Portland Trail Blazers
2) Los Angeles Lakers Lakers 4-1
7) New Orleans Hornets