Things are heating up as we are finally down to the NBA conference finals were the boys from the East and the West are battling for the honor of playing in the NBA Championship Finals in hopes of taking home the coveted Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
The past two months have been chalked full of exciting sporting events from a couple of great upsets in boxing and MMA to the start of baseball season, and let’s not forget the Kentucky Derby was only over a week ago. I could name more sporting events than I have room, but the point is, there’s a ton! So In case you have been a little busy like the rest of the world, and haven’t even been able to keep one eye on the games, I have broken down the NBA race to the Finals to keep you in the know,
Starting in mid April, right after the excitement of March Madness, the first round match-ups of the NBA were full of intrigue as we kicked off the first round.
So block out a few minutes, come with me and let’s get started so you can get back to your busy schedule. Once you’re caught up, you can then relax and enjoy the race to the finish. No worries, if you’re late, you’re just in time for the part that gets everyone’s blood pumping.
I have made a few comments from the 2010/2011 season for each time that made it the first round, and I’ve listed the winners of the series. As I continue into the conference semi-finals, I will shorten the buzz down and give you the winners.
San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (8) –The Spurs finished with the West’s best record. Some penned them as a playoff team before the season, and some doubted the Texas team would make it to the playoffs. In spite of the babble, the Spurs packed their bags, and faced the Grizzlies. At the end of the day, Michigan State’s Alum, Zach Randolph ripped through the Spurs by making the paint his personal domain; in game 6 of the playoffs, the Grizzlies’ won their first playoff series. The San Antonio Spurs were eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons after their loss to Memphis.
Los Angeles Lakers (2) vs. New Orleans Hornets (7) –The Lakers are usually the fan favorite to come out of the West. They have always seemed to get the job done. As far as New Orleans, once you look past the first-year with Head Coach Monty Williams, who did a nice job with the bad news bears of basketball, the history and talent, except for Paul and West hasn’t been present to beat the Lakers, as predicted. The series went to game 6 where the Lakers eliminated the Hornets.
Dallas Mavericks (3) vs. Portland Trailblazers (6) – The Dallas Mavericks finished second in the West for the season equaling the Lakers 57 wins. The Blazers are a good defensive team that doesn’t turn the ball over; a dominant home team that shot well 80% from the stripe. Dallas has been known for fading in the playoffs; eliminated in the first round in three of the last four seasons. Some predicted that the victory would go to Portland especially owning impressive wins down the stretch, including one over the Mavericks. However, in game six, Nowitzki had 33 points and 11 rebounds, and the Dallas Mavericks withstood a furious Portland comeback to beat the Trail Blazers 103-96 and claimed their spot to advance to the conference finals by eliminating Portland in six games.
Oklahoma City Thunder (4) vs .Denver Nuggets (5) –The Thunder led by former Houston Rocket, Scott Brooks knows what it takes to win, not one, but two NBA Finals back to back, as the Rockets did in 93/94 – 94/95 seasons. This team seems to have a strong fan base, as well. The addition of Kendrick Perkins for the Thunder was thought to pay off in the postseason. Between Perkins and Ibaka, the Thunder has an a good defensive front court, add in the killer duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and offensively they make the Thunder nearly unstoppable The Denver Nuggets were the top scoring team in the league this season, but their defense wasn’t good enough to facing the likes of the Thunder. The Thunder had the best offensive weapon in the league on their side this season and all things that work together for good has put the Thunder on top so far. Oklahoma won the series over Denver in seven games.
Chicago Bulls (1) vs Indiana Pacers (8) – The Pacers are considered the mediocre team of the Eastern conference, donning a 37-45 record; yes, they made the playoffs as the lowly 8 seed. The Bulls, on the other hand, finished the season with the NBA’s best record. The Bulls lived up to their reputation this season with MVP Derrick Rose and the smothering defense the Bulls play under Tom Thibodeau. From the beginning I thought that this series was just a great tune-up for the Bulls to get ready for the other bad boys of the NBA. I’m almost sure that I wasn’t alone in my though process here. The Bulls eliminated the Pacers in game five, but it wasn’t as easy as fans hoped…
Miami Heat (2) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (7) – I can’t resist saying, if you can’t take the heat, then you probably shouldn’t get on the court. Hard to believe anyone that has watched the magic of the Big 3 in Miami would predict that the Sixers could pose a threat. A few positive critics stated that it may not be as easy for Miami to beat the guys from up north as thought. On the flip side, props to the Sixers for being athletic with good defense, but we all know it takes more than athleticism and one of those rubber energy bracelets all of the players wear, to be donned beast. At the end of the day the three superstars, LeBron, Wade, Bosh working in harmony with their teammate are too talented and work beautifully together to not get the crowns they deserve. The Miami Heat eliminated the 76ers in game five of the series.
Boston Celtics (3) vs. New York Knicks (6) – Boston and New York has a fan base that is forever present; the face off between the two were expected to be the most intriguing first round series of the NBA Playoffs. After the Celtics traded Kenneth Perkins they haven’t seemed to get their groove back. The end of their regular season was a tough one to watch. The Knicks played well down the stretch; winning seven of their last nine games even though they were that were not their toughest competition. In 2010 the Celtics landed a spot in the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers and in sports history, the past is a factor. That coveted position led many to believe that the Celtics would be able to pull off a win off against the Knicks, and the Celtics fourth quarter defense would lead the way in hopes of repeating 2010. The men in green eliminated the Knicks in game four.
Orlando Magic (4) vs. Atlanta Hawks (5) –Atlanta entered the series coming off a six game losing streak. The Knicks, Dwight Howard usually controls the court as he has in the past against the Hawks, which was predicted to be a threat, landing the Hawks back in the losers circle. Many critics did not believe the Atlanta Hawks had a win left in them since they were viewed not any better than the Sixers or the Knicks, and undeserving of a 5 seed. In the Magic vs. Hawks, fans witnessed an upset in game five when the Hawks eliminated the Magic to advance to the Eastern semifinals.
Western Conference Semi-Finals:
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma Thunder – Thunder Wins
Dallas Mavericks vs. the Los Angeles Lakers – Mavericks Wins
Eastern Conference Semi-Finals:
Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks – Bulls Wins
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat – Heat Wins
On May 17, 2011 the East and the West began their race to be the best as they compete in the Eastern and Western Finals to see who will advance to the NBA Finals.
In game one of the Western finals, Mavericks beat the Thunder 121-112 and will play again May 19, 2011.
Last night in the Eastern Finals the Bulls faced the Heat. The Bulls dominated the Heat 103-82 and play tonight, May 18, 2011.
Check back to read my commentary on the Eastern and Western Conference Finals.
Consider yourself officially caught up!
Hope you’re picking up what I’m putting down
- Charlene May