Posted by: abake23 | April 12, 2009

It’s About That Time.

It’s about that time of year.

The time when sixteen cities ooze with jubilation and a sense of hope.

The time when actions, decisions, and emotions are put under a magnifying glass.

The time where what was started, is finished.

Of course I am talking about the NBA playoffs which kick off on April 18th. For many fans the playoffs represent a few more games for their teams season, which they may or may not watch, and nothing more. For the basketball purists, this time of year is the time to sit back and enjoy every one of the series’, regardless of who you may like or dislike. Whether the game seems like a slugfest or a track meet, all have an exciting and unique aura about them….

…Recent memory….?(Winner in Bold):

  •  ’08 Atlanta Hawks(8) vs. Boston Celtics(1) (The young Hawks pushed the eventual champs to a thrilling 7 game series… WET!!!!)
  • ’07 Golden State Warriors(8) vs. Dallas Mavericks(1) (The Warriors and their blistering pace completed the biggest upset in playoff history ) 
  •  ’08 San Antonio Spurs(3) vs. New Orleans Hornets(2) (Very heated series; Spurs win game 7 on the road 91-82)
  • ’06 Los Angeles Lakers(7) vs. Phoenix Suns(2) (Phoenix comes back from down 3-1 in the series against the hated Lakers)

Games and series as a whole are usually intriguing but sometimes they become something else entirely. On these rare nights, we witness a player taking his game to its absolute zenith, to the point where everyone knows where the ball is going, but nobody can stop it. Here are a few of the best performances in the last few years:

  • Dwayne Wade’s performance in the 2006 finals: Who could forget “flash” willing his team to victory against the Dallas Mavericks? Already down 2-0 in the series with game three and the title lookiing like a dream and not reality, Wade tied his career playoff high with 42 points and cleaned up 13 boards. 15 of his 42 points came in the fourth quarter, where he led Miami’s comeback in the fourth to end up winning 98-96. D-Wade scored 42, 36, and 43 points in games 3, 4, and 5 respectively in what was the best performance in a while. Wade ended up averaging 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals in the series. Surprising to most, John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating actually ranked his performance in that series at 33.8, highest since the NBA and the ABA merged in 1976. Yes, that means better than Jordan.

 

  • Lebron James’ game 5 takeover: The Detroit Pistons are probably still having nightmares about the night of “The Chosen One”.  Lebron cooked up 48 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in the Cavaliers 109-107 double-OT win in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals. Lebron absolutely took over late in the game, scoring Cleveland’s final 25 points and 29 of its last 30. Whether it was the raining fadeaway threes over the outstretched arms of the Pistons defenders or the seemingly frantic yet calm game winning layup, anyone who had their TV’s tuned on to TNT that night was a witness. The scary part is The King hasnt even touched his potential and we could see many a night like this one.
  • The big fundamental’s quiet dominationAs usual, an underrated Tim Duncan performance. The ’03 Finals against the New Jersey Nets was one of the lowest rated finals series ever, which made it even less noted in fans’ memories. In the title clinching game 6, Timmy was a couple blocks short of getting a quadruple-double. He also Held Kenyon Martin to 3-23 shooting that game. Duncan was going up against two stellar defenders in Martin and Dikembe Mutombo, but averaged 24.2 points, 17 boards, 5.3 assists, and 5.3 blocks nevertheless. He ended up with the 2nd highest PER(32.0) in a finals series behind the before mentioned Dwayne Wade.
  • Vinsanity answers The Answer:  Allen Iverson kicked things off in this intense playoff series with a electric 54 point barrage in Game 2 of the eastern conference semi’s, hitting shots from every angle imaginable and dominating the Raptors in way only AI could. However, Carter didn’t fade into the night. In game 3, as each three point shot rang home, it was clear as day that Vince Carter was having one of those trancendentdal nights. Carter put on a performance that rivaled what Allen Iverson did in game 2, making his first 8 threes and finishing with 50 points as Toronto beat Philadelphia 102-78. The third-year forward from North Carolina was absolutely unconscious in that game and became only the 16th NBA player to reach 50 in the playoffs. He walked off the court to a standing ovation after a two handed breakaway dunk that counted as his 50th point of the night.        

Once again, the western conference  standings are so close that the seeding wont be decided until the last game of the season. At this time of year, that home court advantage and higher seed can mean everything in helping a team gain momentum. So don’t expect Byron Scott to rest Chris Paul (45 minutes vs. Mavs on 4/12), or teams to take anybody lightly. The Spurs barely squeaked out a win in Sacramento last night, thanks to Michael Finley’s three with less than two seconds on the clock. The shot was controversial however, being that the shot clock was at 00 when he released it, but according to NBA rules they can’t review a play unless there is no time left on the GAME clock. But this year looks grim for the Spurs after it was announced that Manu Ginobili would be out for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs. Only the stellar play of Drew Gooden and Roger Mason could save SA Town, but I just don’t see that happening. George Karl has the Nuggets playing an exciting brand of ball, but in the playoffs if you cant play defense, you can’t win. And lets just say that defense is not Karl’s forte. Yao’s foot is bothering him but if he is able to play at full strength I can see them making the second round, nothing more. Portland, New Orleans, and Dallas all look like they could make runs, but the Hornets are only on that list if Tyson Chandler is 100% healthy. The Lakers are looking even more like a repeat finals team now that the young Andrew Bynum is back, one could only hope that his knee holds up and he is the dominant force he was before the injury this year. Last year it was “We didn’t have Bynum, we would have beaten Boston with him!” so it will be fun to see what happens. If seeding ends like i see it, I think the Jazz will play the Lakers in the first round, which could be an upset. Mark my words on that one. I know, call me crazy because the Jazz are horrendous on the road against above .500 teams, but coach Sloan will hae them ready and D-Will is capable of being better than anyone on the court at anytime.

In the east, It’s looking like a Cavs/Celtics showdown again…and thats only if Garnett is Healthy. I would venture to say that Cleveland is a lock to go to the finals this year, but Boston has a slim chance of knocking them off. Orlando will crumble and the Hawks just don’t have the team to take down Lebron and Co. If you want a surprise, I guess Dwayne Wade could go beastmode on and make a run, but chances are if they win their first round battle they will have to face Cleveland in the second. “Insert PacMan Game over music here.” Anyways, not much for story lines in the eastern conference because of the little amount of competition there is. However, some of us will still watch anyways because every game is its own story and you never know when you are going to see something unfathomable that will make your blood rush and make you jump out of your chair.

 And by the way, The Cavs should have won an oscar for the intro. See below.

With that, I wish all the players luck, I wish that everyone stays healthy, I pray that we will be blessed with at least one of those epic and unforgettable games or performances, and i hope that there are no ridiculous fires in the middle of the game that take 20 minutes to extinguish and completely break the other teams momentum.

Like the commercials say, “Where will amazing happen this year?”

And with that, Im out.

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Responses

  1. I can honestly say, I think Utah gives the Lakers the best fight. I just hope it isn’t in the 1st round, because after that, I don’t think anyone gives them a challenge…maybe Houston, but that’s a huge maybe.


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