(Image courtesy of Getty Images)
Over the last few years, the NBA playoffs were a bore. Everybody knew LeBron and the Heat would overpower anyone in the East. Then It was up to the Spurs or the Thunder to come into the Finals from the West. Everybody knew what was going to happen and it started getting predictable. There is nothing worse than predictability in the playoffs. This years playoffs in my opinion brought back the excitement when it came to the NBA.
Let’s talk about the story lines. For starters, when the Spurs got knocked out by the Clippers it was the end of an era: For the first time since 1999 this years version of the finals will not include Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, or Dwyane Wade. That is what we call and end of an era, 16 years of dominance by a group of guys. It also seems like it is the end of an era for the Spurs and their incredibly long and successful run. The days of Tim Duncan bringing home 5 championships as the leader of this Spurs squad seems to be over. With Duncan saying he is willing to step down and take a bench role if the Spurs get other pieces to compliment Kawhi Leonard, a new era is upon the Spurs.
Another story line that I believe made these playoffs great was the return of Derrick Rose to boost the Bulls and give Lebron and the Heat a scare in the second round. Starting with Chicago starting the series stealing game one on the road in Cleveland, it looked like the Bulls could actually do it. With a strong return by Rose, and the Cavaliers getting used to life without Kevin Love, it seemed that maybe they could have slipped enough for Chicago to take it. In my opinion the Bulls were the only team in the East that had enough parts to actually challenge the Cavs. The Hawks were the #1 seed, but in my opinion probably the weakest #1 seed we have seen in years. Anyway, that was the most exciting series for me in the East, I expected it to go a full 7, but us basketball fans weren’t that lucky and the Cavaliers took it in 6.
Now let’s talk about our NBA MVP. Steph Curry and the Warriors finally got over the hump and have gone deep into the playoffs and they haven’t missed a step. And what a fun team to watch! I can’t get enough of watching Curry dribble around everybody on that court to then just put up an impossible shot that then sinks like its nothing. I truly marvel at his craft. I think when its all said and done Steph Curry has the potential to be the best shooter we have seen. Having said that, he’s much more than a shooter. He’s that teams leader, and I think he’s a type of leader that this league needs. He won’t go to the media making excuses and talking about how great he is (cough, cough, LBJ, cough) he is calm, cool, and collected. He goes out, wins, goes home, does it all again. I was wondering how he would handle getting deep into the playoffs with all the pressure and what not but he seems to be taking it in stride. The only time he has been flustered was when he went flying over Trevor Ariza and almost suffered a big time injury. I can’t wait to see him agains the Cavaliers and to see what they will try to do to defend him.
And of course, we have Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Knocking out my beloved Celtics first round was no problem. Losing Kevin Love in the process but everybody knew all along that wasn’t going to impact them as much as you would expect. Love already playing a role he wasn’t used to nor comfortable in, it didn’t really affect them that much when he went out. Then there was that somewhat close-call with the Bulls, then of course the sweep of the weak Hawks in Eastern Conference Finals everybody’s predictions were right and Lebron is back for his 5th straight finals. The biggest story line with these guys has been all the injuries. Kyrie missed a few games and Lebron has let us know all about how “hurt” he’s been all postseason so we should truly be humbled by his greatness, right? But with the finals coming up the only real injury that seems like it is going to affect the Cavs is K-Love’s, but they have already worked around that.
So basically what this series is about is can the “King” be dethroned (again, for the fourth time)? Will this be the beginning of the Steph Curry era? Or will it be another notch in Lebron’s belt as he tries to chase Jordan (yeah, right). All there is to do is wait and see. Will Curry be able to sink those unreal shots we all know he can hit to keep that Warriors offense alive. or will Lebron and Kyrie take over games like they’ve been doing, and then give the ball to JR Smith or Iman Shumpert who have been providing a spark ever since they were traded to Cleveland earlier in the season. To me, the most exciting match-up is how Draymond Green is going to defend Lebron. I think he’s the only one physical enough to be able to stop him driving the lane. Having said that, it usually doesnt matter who is covering Lebron, he will change his game somehow and yet again be the best player on the court,no matter how much it hurts me to say that. But strap in NBA fans because we don’t know how this series is going to play out, but we do know it is going to be exciting.
Realistic Prediction: Cavs in 7 (Ouch, I know)
What I really want to happen: Warriors in 7
Happy NBA Finals everybody!