Its mid-April and that can only mean one thing. The NBA Playoffs are here! The perfect remedy for your basketball withdrawal since the end of another great NCAA tournament. In what could be the best playoffs we have seen in years, there are no clear cut favorites in the Western conference like the Boston Celtics in the East. The West had many story lines going back to the very beginning of the season and ended the season with too many teams fighting for the select top eight spots. Stories such as:
1. Kobe’s preseason trade demands with all the drama that accompanied in LA, and Chicago (most talked about destination)
2. The sudden surge of the New Orleans Hornets and the emergence of Chris Paul as a legitimate superstar, the (re)emergence of Peja Stojakovic, David West’s continued improvement, and Byron Scott showing that he still has it. (first the Saints in the NFL, now the Hornets, must be nice to be in NO right now!)
3. The Houston Rockets pulling off 22 straight victories, the second longest in NBA history. 10 of which were without All Star center Yao Ming (season ending injury), with the every young Dikembe Mutombo and great bench production filling in the hole left by Ming.
4. The trade deadline brought the Lakers a great post player to replace the injured Andrew Bynum in the form of Pau Gasol, who was pretty much given away by the Grizzlies. The Suns traded their do-it-all forward Shawn Marion to the Heat for the self-proclaimed MDE (most dominant ever) Shaquille O’Neal. The third deadline blockbuster was orchestrated the Mavericks taking a chance by trading an up and coming Devin Harris and others for the triple double machine that is Jason Kidd.
5. Probably the most amazing thing about the Western Conference is the fact that the top 9 seeds were separatedby a mere 9 games and all eight playoff teams won 50 games, a first in NBA history. To put it into perspective, the Eastern Conference has three 50+ win teams with the top nine being seperated by 30 games. Staggering? Quite.
6. And just to throw it in, what happened to the Heat?
Now with the playoffs upon us, will those trades help their respective teams? How far can a lower seed go in the talented west? which one? In the East, the playoffs are pretty much predictable. But will the Celtics be able to continue their dream season through the playoffs and be able to knock the likes of Detroit and Cleveland? These and many more questions will be answered in the next few weeks as we see a champion crowned in what has been an unforgettable season. All you have to do is tune into ABC, ESPN, and TNT with plenty of snacks at your side and stay glued to the screen. And if the first game of the Suns-Spurs first round series is any indication of how the rest of the series’ games will go, or even how the rest of the playoffs will go, we are in for a very nice treat!
oh by the way! GO SUNS!!!!