Getting up to speed with the NBA playoffs
|04.30.10 at 2:42 pm ET|
The times of the games were finally announced for the Celtics-Cavaliers series, and now we know when the world will stop turning in the NBA. This will be the series to watch in the second round, not just for Boston and Cleveland fans, but for the rest of the NBA.
Why you ask? Other than the intense rivalry, LeBron James has a banged up elbow, and everyone will want to know what his status will be in this series and maybe beyond. The Celts might have a hand in that, though.
Doc Rivers sure thinks he’s fine, and the rest of the Celtics have to feel that way. This will be the story to watch, because LeBron is the center of the universe for the NBA and Cleveland’s title hopes depend on him.
This series is for the NBA championship. … Wait a minute. There is NBA life outside of the Celtics-Cavaliers series? This isn’t the NBA Finals? Other teams are still playing?
Dallas just got upended by San Antonio? You’re kidding. Mark Cuban is going to have a field day, and he may just lose a little more hair off of the top of that head of his.
Milwaukee is leading the Hawks? No way. You’re pulling our legs. Not the Hawks team that went 4-0 against the Celtics in the regular season. The high-flying, loud-dunking, trash-talking Atlanta Hawks are down to the Bucks? Come on.
Oklahoma City is going toe-to-toe with the defending champions? Wait, there is a team in Oklahoma City?
These are just some of the questions that new NBA fans outside of the Celtics-Cavs spectrum might have, and we are here to answer them for you. Let’s get everyone caught up to speed on what’s going down in the NBA Playoffs.
LAKERS [DEFENDING CHAMPS] VS. THUNDER
This edition of the Lakers was supposed to be unbeatable. Teams were clawing to climb out of the eighth seed so their trips to LA could be postponed a round or two — just ask Gregg Popovich.
But the golden-haired Ron Artest and a few other teammates didn’t take into account the young, athletic team that plays in Oklahoma City. A road team has not won a game to this point in the series, but who would have thought that the Thunder would trump the Lakers like they did in Game 4.
The Thunder’s 110-89 win called into question some of the characters in LA. Is Kobe Bryant hurt? Are the Lakers too arrogant? Was Ron Artest really the right move? There also was the story of an alleged fight involving some of the Lakers and a person at a Waffle House.
The saga was just building until, of course, the Lakers regrouped and put a beating on the Thunder in Game 5.
The Lakers can close the series out with a win in Oklahoma City on Friday night, but which Lakers team shows up: the focused champion or the Hollywood drama?
BUCKS VS. HAWKS
The Bucks were going to be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs. Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut would combine for one of the better inside-outside combinations in the NBA’s second season, and this would be the start of a nice future together.
Until this happened.
The Bucks lost Bogut for the rest of the season with that nasty fall and are without the big man who was averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds a night.
Milwaukee dropped the first two games in Atlanta — Celtics fans can remember how difficult it is playing in Atlanta — but have surged to three straight wins and a chance to wrap up the series on Friday night at the Bradley Center.
A columnist actually went on to call this an upset for the ages, if the Bucks can clinch.
Oh, the day-in and day-out drama of the playoffs.
SPURS VS. MAVERICKS
Just like Johnson, the future of Dirk Nowitzki isn’t set in stone anymore. The Spurs displaced the Mavericks in the first round after their 97-87 Game 6 win on Thursday night, and now one might have to wonder if Cuban can get the job done with his superstar.
The Spurs look like a team to be reckoned with, and some think they are poised to make a deeper run than they were expected to.
With George Hill stepping up to join the “Big Three” of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the Spurs should have enough to make a run. Celtics fans might be looking at a mirror image in this Spurs team: a veteran team with an up-and-down season now looking to make a long run in the postseason.
SUNS VS. BLAZERS
The Blazers took Game 1 in Phoenix and they were getting back their best player in Brandon Roy. Everything was looking good for the young Blazers, but the veteran-savvy Suns showed up the rest of the series and now move on to play San Antonio.
The Suns-Spurs series should be another classic. They have battled over the Steve Nash-Duncan eras, and without Shaq, the Suns have gotten back to their run-and-gun show. Not at the level they were at four or five years ago, but they definitely have opened up the court a little bit without the “Big Cactus.”
MAGIC VS. BOBCATS
We’ll make this short and sweet, because that is just how the series went. Dwight Howard and Vince Carter had a tough time in the series, but the rest of the team picked up the slack.
The most telling stat out of this series: $35,000. That’s the amount of money Howard was fined for arguing about the refs.
They wait for the winner of the Bucks-Hawks series.
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