After watching the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs, I’ve determined nothing. I have never seen a year when so many teams have a legitimate shot at winning a title. Nor have I seen more teams that got written off before the playoffs rise to the occasion and win games.
Memphis has obviously played the role of Cinderella, but they don’t have the likeable characters of a typical Cinderella team. Think about the key players on the Grizzlies: Randolph=Jail Blazer, Mayo= suspension for PED/benched/cheated in college, Gay=overrated/paid, Conley=underperformed as a top-five draft pick, Gasol=the other Gasol. They’re unquestionably the most unlikable NBA underdog since the Baron Davis led 2006-2007 Warriors. Memphis has one thing going for them: they and their fan base have full-on “us against the world” energy. They have great crowd, no expectations to live up to, and they’re playing a team, Oklahoma City, in uncharted waters themselves. With that combination, the Griz could find themselves in uncharted waters yet again.
How about the Hawks? No one gave them a chance to topple Dwight and the Magic. They did. Then no one gave them a chance to defeat Derrick Rose and the Bulls. So what’d they do? Stole one at the United Center! Rose, the NBA MVP by the way, can’t hit the broad side of the barn. All of the sudden the top-seeded Bulls, a young team with no previous postseason success, look very ordinary. Meanwhile, the Hawks, after bailing on their coach last year and looking dead in the water to finish the regular season this year, have home court advantage the rest of the series. Atlanta has always had the talent, but maybe this year they’ll finally make the leap.
Does any team look better than the Heat? All year, critics pointed to their lack of depth and size and said, “Once they run into Boston, they’ll be overwhelmed by their size inside.” Well guess what: they’re not. The combination of LeBron and Wade looks unstoppable. They have the unmatched ability to get hot and flat-out dominate their opponents. Now the Celtics look overwhelmed by the speed and talent of Miami Thrice. They don’t have an answer on either end of the court and they dropped the first two in Miami. If they can’t defend their home court and win both games in the Garden, they’re done.
Finally, the biggest shocker of the second round: the implosion of the Lakers. A week or so ago I wrote that I didn’t like the “we can turn it on and off whenever we want” mentality of this year’s Lakers. Now they have to prove me wrong. Their effort in the first two games leaned toward laughable. No one’s ever mistaken Staples Center for Fog Allen Fieldhouse, but they lost both games! For a two-time defending champ, that’s inexcusable. Personally, I think the Lakers have put themselves in too big of a hole, but if one team can choke away a 2-0 series lead, the Mavs can. We’ve seen it before.