NBA Round Up
So the regular season is over and after Chicago’s Game 7 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday so is the first round of the Playoffs. We’ve had an exciting 2012-13 season with records being broken left right and centre.
The only teams to sweep their opponents in the first round were the current champions Miami Heat and Western Conference hopefuls San Antonio Spurs. For reasons I still don’t understand, at the end of the regular season Stephen Jackson was waived from the San Antonio Spurs in favour of recruiting former Houston Rockets star Tracy McGrady as a replacement. As a shadow of his former self I doubt T-Mac will be getting much minutes on the floor but at least he will know what it feels like to advance in a Playoff series.
Boston’s veteran outfit put up a strong fight in Game 4 and 5 but overall Carmelo and his Knicks had what it took to overcome the Celtics’ obstacles. Whilst listening to Steven A. Smith he presented an interesting fact that the Knicks defence held the Boston Celtics to their lowest ever points per game average of 80.5 in the franchise’s Playoff history.
Out of the three California teams in the first round it seemed that Golden State would have been the least likely to be the sole representatives advancing to the semis. Once David Lee got injured it was the man who was snubbed his first All-Star call, Stephen Curry, who stepped up and produced the most memorable moments of the post season thus far. Steph Curry has been executing Mark Jackson’s game plan flawlessly, just the way he has needed to without the aid of All-Star forward.
With the Clippers 17 game winning streak in the regular season, setting a new franchise record, I anticipated a deep Playoff run with a possible battle of the Point Guards showdown against the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Finals. My predictions were wrong.
For me the biggest story to come from this first round was Russell Westbrook, who I thought was invincible, being injured by Patrick Beverly. Westbrook hasn’t missed a game dating back to his high school days so when he initially got the knock I assumed he would shrug it off as always but he didn’t manage to make it back after Game 3. With him out there was a distinct lack of his offensive and defensive pressure. Reggie Jackson has slotted in nicely but the void that Westbrook leaves is clear as day.
Oklahoma City managed to advance with a 4-2 lead in the series but the likelihood of a repeat final against LeBron James’ Miami Heat is diminishing by every game. The OKC/Heat rivalry is becoming as important as Celtics/Lakers. Although, Kevin Durant and LeBron James aren’t Magic & Bird and their history doesn’t go as deep it still has what it takes to become the most significant rivalry in recent times. The former fierce rivalry dated back to collegiate days. But, Durant & James are friends off the court – working out together and Olympic teammates.
Both in their prime is as intriguing and entertaining as its gets in today’s game. The Heat won the Playoff Games two through four by a margin no greater than six points. That was when OKC had the services of then Sixth Man Of The Year, James Harden.
We all know names of the great, established point guards in the league. The Chris Paul’s, Rajon Rondo’s and Tony Parker’s of the game but there are two young point guards who I love to watch right now. Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard, who should hopefully be around for a while. Lillard was my shout for Rookie Of The Year near enough as soon as the season started. Coming into the league at 22 gives him a maturity about his game that other 19/20-year-old rookie won’t possess. He’s playing with the assurance of a Deron Williams and the energy of a Russell Westbrook. I hope I see much more brilliance from these two in the 2013/14 season.
Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)