I really didn’t know what to write about this week. I have some big things happening on other sites, and last week I spent the week telling you what I wanted and didn’t want in Cleveland sports. Today, however, I figured I’d pick the most high-profile happening in sports at the moment: the NBA Playoffs.
First, I would like to comment on the imbecile that didn’t vote LeBron James as the NBA MVP. You sir, or ma’am, should have your vote taken immediately. Either you had a grudge, don’t take your vote seriously, or are flat-out unequipped for such responsibilities. I don’t think there has ever been a player more deserving of the NBA MVP than LeBron James this season, and that is evident by the historic number of votes LeBron received.
Unanimous or not, LeBron won the MVP by the most votes in the history of the award and garnered his fourth career NBA MVP Trophy. With that being said, here are some thoughts on LeBron and the Heat.
People believe it is a foregone conclusion that the Heat will win the NBA Title and I believe that they are essentially correct. I truly don’t see any team beating the Heat four times in a series, (or maybe even once for that matter.) Rather than watching to see whether or not the Heat will make it, we should be focused on who will give the Heat the best run, who will take a stab at shutting down the league’s best player, and who can stop the Heat from sliding through the postseason undefeated.
I know the Bulls ended the Heat’s winning streak, but the Cavs almost did too. It’s hard for me to see Chicago winning a game in this upcoming series. With Hinrich on the mend, Deng fighting a horrible flu, and Derrick Rose trolling the free world, I just don’t see Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer beating the Heat. It’s too hard to fathom. We’ll see if they can squeak a game out, but I find it doubtful.
When it comes to the other NBA Playoff series, the matchups are MUCH more interesting.
I am absolutely intruiged by the Pacers and the Knicks series. The Knicks have struggled through the first round and the first game of the second round, but I can still see them putting up a fight and making this series against the Pacers a close one. I wasn’t old enough to remember, but back in the day, the games between Reggie Miller and the Pacers and John Starks, Patrick Ewing and the Knicks were incredible. It was a rivalry like any other, with Reggie’s constant chirping and his incredible shooting backing up his talking. I think this Pacers and Knicks rivalry is starting to heat up again, as I believe these two teams will be facing each other in the playoffs for a few years to come.
In the Western Conference, you have two great matchups as well.
First of all, in what I find to be the lesser of the two series, you have the Grizzlies and the Thunder. While I said it was the lesser series, it is a phenomenal series nonetheless. In last night’s game, Kevin Durant and the Thunder were able to squeak by Memphis, thanks to a few missed free throws by Quincy Pondexter, but I could see Memphis squeaking by and winning games like that at home as well. The only thing I don’t like about this series involves Russell Westbrook.
As we all know, Westbrook went down with a torn muscle in his knee and could be out for the remainder of the playoffs. This is a TREMENDOUS blow to the Thunder and the chances of any team beating the Miami Heat. Many Clevelanders, and NBA fans alike, are comparing Durant’s Westbrook-less Thunder to the Cavaliers team LeBron James took to the Finals. It’s a fair comparison and it doesn’t bode well for the Thunder. LeBron played the most dominant playoff series of his career to get to the Finals, and once he got there, he was swept by a tremendously better San Antonio team.
If Durant can get his team to the Finals, I don’t see how they would compete against Miami without Westbrook. If Memphis wins this series, Miami will have a cakewalk to another ring.
The most intruiging matchup of the playoffs, thus far, is the Spurs and the Golden State Warriors. It’s a matchup of two teams with the opposites in terms of mantra. For Golden State, it’s shoot, shoot, shoot. For San Antonio, it’s rely on fundamental, defensive basketball. Golden State has a great young coach trying to prove himself. San Antonio has one of the best ever trying to add to his collection. The Warriors are a bunch of young guns. The Spurs are bunch of old veterans who know the game better than anyone. The opposite styles of each team will create a great matchup. San Antonio has the edge, just in terms of experience and coaching, but Golden State has the athleticism and the best player on either team in Steph Curry. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in this series. Can Golden State shoot their way to an appearance in the Western Conference Finals? Can San Antonio defend the perimeter and wear down the Warriors with their experience? It’s a matchup more than worthy of watching.
Here’s my prediction as to what will go down in the semi-final round:
Heat beat the Bulls 4-0.
Pacers beat the Knicks 4-2.
Memphis beats Oklahoma City 4-3.
Golden State beats San Antonio 4-3.
This is the worst case scenario in terms of a battle against the Heat, as neither Golden State nor Memphis have a chance in the NBA Finals, but it would create a tremendous opportunity for a Finals run for the three great fan bases in Memphis, Oakland, and Indianapolis.
Obviously, anything can happen. LeBron could tweak an ankle and be ill-fit to play the rest of the way. Steph Curry could have a playoff run, worthy of legendary status. The Spurs could drink from the fountain of youth and take home another NBA Title. You just never know
I’m just hoping that the Playoffs are more exciting than they should be.