Strong Conference Finals Match-ups Make for Good Year for NBA
This year’s version of the NBA Playoffs has brought in strong match-ups in the conference finals. The playoffs have been nice considering that neither the Spurs nor the Lakers will be in the final, although the winner of the East will once again be between the Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat. No offense to San Antonio fans, but it’s nice for a change not to see them in the Western Conference Finals. The same goes for Kobe and his supporting cast, as the Suns knocked the Lakers out in the opening round after being down three games to one.
It has also been nice to see other teams make it to the second round. Remember not too long ago when the Cavaliers were considered doubtful to already win their series with the Washington Wizards. It was seen as a toss-up, but many thought the Wizards would win. The wonderful consequence of that barn-burning series was that the Cavs pulled it out and finally gave the hapless city of Cleveland something to cheer for, which is great when one realizes that Cleveland is a major sports town that has fallen on hard times.
Another surprise was the Clippers, who gave the Phoenix Suns a dogfight before being blown out in Game 7. Clippers fans like Billy Crystal finally have something to cheer about, and it’s amazing that the Staples Center was a sea of red, instead of the perennial gold and purple.
Phoenix has been a surprise in addition, considering the injuries they have had to deal with. Steve Nash and Shawn Marion have been warriors, despite nagging injuries. Without their stud Amari Stoudemire, the Suns are within three wins of the NBA Finals.
The Mavericks had their own doubters after they lost Game 1 to Phoenix in the final second. With Dallas evening the series with Phoenix up at one all last night after a great fourth-quarter reappearance, however, the nay-sayers and drum-beaters who were calling for the death of the Mavericks if they went down 0-2 may just have to wait longer for the clouds of doom to arrive.
There is plenty of offense in the Eastern Conference Finals in addition, but both the Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat play better team defense than either the Mavericks or the Suns. The Pistons are a fun team to watch as they are one of the few teams in the NBA that nevertheless plays as a team, both on the offensive end and the defensive end. in spite of of the veterans on the Heat, including Gary Payton and Antoine Walker, Miami will only go as far as Dwayne Wade and Shaq take them. The Pistons–when they truly show up and play with some effort–can limit the effectiveness of the other players for Miami. For anyone that wants to nevertheless doubt the Pistons, despite the fact that they evened the series on Thursday night at one all, don’t forget that this is the same Pistons team that was down 3-2 to New Jersey last year and beat them convincingly in the deciding seventh game. When the doubters came back once again after the Pistons fell behind 3-2 to the Cavs, Detroit came from behind and beat a red-hot Cleveland squad led by that Air Jordan-Magic hybrid known as LeBron James.
The best part of the playoffs has been watching players like Boris Diaw and Devin Harris come into their own, and already rule many games during the playoffs. To win a championship, it sometimes takes the efforts of unsung idols or those who haven’t been major pieces in the past. Many playoff foes only need to ingemination the name Robert Horry, which will likely make them sick.
The bottom line is that no matter who wins in the conference finals, the results will most likely rule to an intriguing match-up in the finals.