NBA TALK: PLAYOFF 2014 ANALYSIS

After nearly six full months and 82 games for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, the regular season now gives way to the postseason. With no clear favorite, a massively competitive Western Conference, and two big rivals atop the Eastern Conference, this year’s playoffs figure to be worth the wait.
The effective Spurs bounced back from last June’s heartbreaking NBA Finals loss to finish with the league’s best record, due in large part to the strengths of head coach Gregg Popovich and the mainstay trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili. The Mavericks return to the playoffs after a one-year absence and boast Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis as offensive leaders. San Antonio swept the season series 4-0 and looks like the favorite this year, as well.
With All-Stars Dwight Howard and James Harden, plus a strong supporting cast that includes the multi-talented Chandler Parsons, the Rockets have a solid chance at representing the West in the NBA Finals. The Blazers cooled down after a scintillating start to the season, but All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard present a formidable challenge for any opponent. Expect a high-scoring series from two of the NBA’s most efficient offenses.
New head coach Doc Rivers guided the Clippers to their second-consecutive division title as Chris Paul provided his usual peerless point guard play and Blake Griffin elevated from All-Star to genuine MVP candidate. Known for their offensive firepower and the outside shooting of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors struggled to score efficiently at times this season and now face the absence of center Andrew Bogut, out indefinitely with a serious broken rib injury. These teams do not like each other, having engaged in several scuffles this regular season, and figure to get into a few more regardless of the series result.
The Thunder have been without star point guard Russell Westbrook for several long stretches of the season due to knee trouble, but Kevin Durant has made up for his teammate’s absence with performances that should earn him his first MVP award. After early injuries, including a serious one to linchpin Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies returned to their typical grit-n-grind ways to get back into the playoff picture. This series represents a rematch of last spring’s conference semifinals, in which the Grizzlies pushed around the Westbrook-less Thunder.
The Pacers tailed off considerably with a 10-13 record since March 2, but this team, led by All-Stars Roy Hibbert and Paul George, remains dangerous and stands very good odds of supplanting the Miami Heat as conference champions. Meanwhile, the Hawks made the playoffs largely by default in a top-heavy East and didn’t consider the accomplishment especially relevant to their long-term goals. Despite Indiana’s recent struggles, it would be downright shocking for this series to go Atlanta’s way.
Despite losing star point guard Derrick Rose to yet another season-ending knee injury, the Bulls bounced back with their trademark tenacity and an MVP-type season from center Joakim Noah. The Wizards have rebounded from several years of franchise-wide malaise, primarily due to the emergence of star point guard John Wall. The battle-tested Bulls and upstart Wizards provide an interesting contrast.
The Raptors went from lottery participants to one of the East’s best teams after a December trade of highly paid forward Rudy Gay, with All-Star DeMar DeRozan and point guard Kyle Lowry having breakout seasons. The Nets were one of the league’s biggest disappointments until the calendar turned to 2014, when their considerable talent meshed and first-year head coach Jason Kidd began to get more of a handle on his squad. This series could be one of the most competitive of the first round.
The two-time defending champion Heat will attempt to become the first team to win three titles in a row since the Los Angeles Lakers of 2000 through 2002. The Bobcats were one of the league’s surprise teams after two historically bad seasons, with offseason pickup Al Jefferson playing well enough to earn All-NBA consideration and the defense improving considerably. Nevertheless, the Heat are an overwhelming favorite to make this a short series.
Who’s your pick?

Share

BALLING PRESIDENTS

(Photo by Ronald Martinez)

What else do we have to look forward to outside of this wonderful Presidents’ Day Weekend which offers up 3 days of rest and relaxation? Why it’s also the NBA ALL STAR weekend!

V-Day is over and the men can now cozy up to the sound of screeching sneakers as they watch the very best of the Leagues’ East and West Coast players battle it out in the yearly rivalry. The action will begin today…Feb 15th with the Rising Stars Challenge to start things off, the Hall of Fame announcement and the ALL-Star Celebrity Game later on tonight. Saturday’s action on Feb. 16 will feature four events that make up a large-scale competition between players from each conference including the Sears Shooting Stars, the Skills Challenge, the Three Point  Contest and one of the most anticipated weekend event…the Slam Dunk Contest. If you think this weekend is just about showing the athletic prowess of the Leagues’ best…think again! These events are actually for a good cause…with the winning conference taking home money for a pre-determined charity. Sunday Feb 17th is the only day outside of the super bowl that you will not be able to get his eyes off the screen as the NBA All-Star Game kicks off at 8PM(ET) capping off the weekend with lots and lots of celebrity parties sprinkled in between.  Will you be watching?

Check out the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest Roster below:

2013 Slam Dunk Participants

 

 

Share