So a few weeks ago on “TheSportskraze,” I said that the NBA Playoffs would be exciting and full of gut it out, down to the wire series. The type of basketball we love to watch. The type of atmosphere that defines memories. Well thus far..I have been wrong. I mean just look at this Conference Semifinals round. Two of the four series have already ended in sweeps. And a third sweep looks to be well on its way as the Lakers look to finish the Jazz off already holding a commanding 17 point lead at the half. So after tonight, the only Conference Semifinals series will likely be the Celtics vs Cavs. And though this series is tied at 2 to 2, the games have not been all that competitive or exciting. Only one of the first four games in this series have been decided by a single digits margin (8 point margin in Game 1). The main talk of the series has not been the on the court play, but that of Lebron’s “alleged” elbow injury.
Where is the excitement as I asked a few days ago? I am not quite sure, and just like every other fan in the world, I am hoping that the Celtics vs Cavs goes down to the wire and provides some breathtaking finishes followed by some hopefully very competitive Conference Finals series, and an exciting Finals. Will these things happen? I am honestly not sure. I can say with some confidence though that none of the Conference Finals matchups or the Finals will be decided by a sweep. All four of the teams left will be too good to be swept out of this year’s crop in my eyes.
I am going to sum up these playoffs in a nutshell. Teams have been vastly overmatched in the first couple of rounds. But what is really sticking out? Length is a big time differentiating factor in the League now. Look at the teams that are excelling. The Lakers, the Magic, the Suns. What do they have in common? Extraordinary length. Especially on the Lakers and Magic. In today’s game, there are guys like Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Dirk Nowitzki, Rashard Lewis, and I could go on, that are very long and tall, but possess the skills and athleticism of a guard. It is frightening how athletic and agile these guys have become. Today’s game is far different from the game of the Magic and Bird days and even the mid 90s.
Compare a guy like Lebron to a player like Magic. Both phenomenal players. Magic was an enigma and a phenomenon all in one with his amazing size and ability to run the point. You want to compare his size and athleticism to a guy like Lebron? Lebron can handle the ball pretty well himself. Now I am not saying that a guy like Lebron is way better than Magic. I am just saying that times have changed. The mold of players in the game have changed. Length is the determining factor.
Two of the teams that have looked the best in this year’s postseason are the Magic and Lakers. Look at the Magic’s lineup. They have Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and how many sharpshooters off the bench. They are long, athletic, can score, and boy can they defend. The Magic will be tough to beat. Then you look at the Lake show. They have Pau, Bynum, Odom, Artest, just to name a few. Talk about some amazing size on guys that possess great agility and athleticism. They are extremely tough to match up with.
So can the Celtics or Cavs defeat the Magic in the next round? It is definitely possible, but will be very tough. The pick up of Antawn Jamison will help the Cavs match up with the length of the Magic if they advance. But the Magic are playing so well, it is hard to pick against them. I am still going with my original pick of the Cavaliers representing the East though.
Then if the Lakers close out the Jazz, will they defend their Western Conference Crown against the Suns for a 3rd straight year? I would have to say yes. The Suns are playing outstanding and did sweep the always tough Spurs. But the Lakers are not the Spurs. They are long, deep, and experienced. Not to mention they have an invaluable winning combination in Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant. So I am sticking with my pick of the Lakers to take the crown.
Hopefully the excitement will come around soon. Because in a nutshell, these playoffs have not been all that entertaining. But the key to take from this post. Look for the teams that possess great length across the largest spectrum of the positions to win.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.