Over the past couple of weeks, it has become very easy to forget about all other sports outside of NCAA Basketball. This year’s version of March Madness has been absolutely phenomenal, and we are all extremely excited to see what happens in Houston this weekend. Today though, Major League Baseball has opened up in a big way. 6 games will be played when all is said and done. Granted the weather is still in the 30s in Cincinnati, where the Reds are currently taking on the Brewers.
People need to realize though that College Basketball is not the only game in town. The NBA season is coming down to the final stretch before the playoffs, with much left to be decided. Plus, tonight features two mega matchups. So after you watch your respective MLB teams open up the season, tune in to one of the two insanely good matchups the NBA has this evening. Sorry to my Giants and Dodgers fans. As the only night game, you will have to make a decision, but for the rest of the country, watching the NBA Action is a no brainer.
Boston at San Antonio: Many are proclaiming this matchup a possible preview of the NBA Finals. Both of these elite squads have looked somewhat vulnerable as of late though. Granted they both have easily secured home court advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs, but both would like to end up with the overall number 1 seed in their respective conferences. In the East, the 1 seed has not meant much in recent years. Just ask King James about that. But in the West, the Lakers have secured the number 1 seed 3 consecutive years (this year is much in question though). They have also represented the West in the NBA Finals 3 consecutive years. Home court matters no matter how you spin it in playoff basketball.
Both of these teams have over 50 wins on the year. San Antonio is close to 60 (57 right now). But each of these teams have played just 500 ball over the past couple of weeks, sporting 5 and 5 records in their last 10. Could fatigue be setting in? Could pressure be mounting? I am not sure to be honest, but both of these teams need to get their acts together or they could be looking at a short-lived stay in this year’s playoffs. Boston has won the East 2 of the past 3 years. They realize that a 1 seed is not mandatory for a deep playoff run, but they would have loved home court in last year’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals. San Antonio on the other hand is struggling without the rock of their organization, Tim Duncan, as I said would happen on this very blog back on March 22nd in my “Food for Thought” (http://sportskraze.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/food-for-thought-3-22-11/). So what if the man’s stats have been at record lows in all of the major categories. You cannot under value the intangibles and what his presence brings to this Spur’s team night in and night out.
In regards to tonight’s game though. I realize the game is being played in San Antonio, where the Spurs sport an astonishing 33 and 4 record. But they did drop a game at home to Portland on Monday. Expect tonight to end in the Spur’s 2nd consecutive home loss. The Lakers are coming, and could even catch this struggling team. San Antonio needs Duncan back, or the playoff run will end in Round 2. Though these teams are both major contenders in their respective conferences, even with a healthy Duncan, I do not see the Spurs overtaking the Lakers in a 7 game series. This game is in no way a preview of the NBA Finals that we will see in June in my eyes.
Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers: These are two teams that are both on the upswing, unlike the 1st matchup of the evening. LA and Dallas are arguably the 2 hottest squads in the entire NBA. The Lakers have won 7 straight games, while the Mavericks have won 5 in a row. Not coincidentally, only a half game separates these 2 Western Conference powers as we head into the final 8/9 game stretch.
Currently the Mavs sport a 1 and 1 record versus the Lake Show on the year. Dallas has not had the pleasure of venturing to the Staples Center yet this season though, where the Lakers sport a record of 28 and 8. Luckily for the Mavs, they do have a road warrior mentality and are 27 and 10 on the year when traveling away from Dallas. This is the best mark in the entire League.
Dirk Nowitzki is putting up another MVP type of year. And even though he is a heavy dark horse at this point, it does not mean that he is not leading this team towards an inevitable deep playoff run. When looking at the West, it’s a 4 team race in my eyes. You have the 2 time defending NBA Champion Lakers, the Spurs who sport the best record in the game, the Mavs, and the very young and exciting Thunder. And I will admit, as I predicted in the preseason, I still see the conference finals pitting the Thunder versus the Lakers at this point.
In regards to this evening though, it is hard to pick a clear-cut favorite. Both teams are really gelling and looked poised to make deep runs in the rapidly approaching playoffs. The difference though is the venue on this evening. Dallas is a very good home team. But it is hard to beat the 2 time defending NBA Champions in their backyard with so much riding on this game. The winner of this game takes hold of the driver’s seat for the 2 seed, and maybe even the 1 in the West if the Spurs continue on their downward spiral. I cannot pick against Kobe, Phil, and the Lake Show. The Lakers will win a thriller that comes down to the final possession.
So as you can tell, tonight will be a very exciting night in the NBA. Do not feel bad for taking your eyes off of the College Game for one evening. The Final Four will still be as good as ever this weekend.
Tonight is an “NBA Night” though.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.