The NBA playoffs will be going on for the next couple months but combined with hockey, the spring gives us the best playoff period in sports. If you’re tuning in late (the prelim round is almost over) here’s what you need to know to follow the NBA playoffs.
The NBA playoffs are better than NCAA tournament:
The NCAA tournament has more pageantry and is more fun because it’s unpredictable. It’s also unpredictable because the truly great players are few and far between so some games are decided by guys who have great futures as high school gym teachers.
The NBA playoffs showcase basketball at the highest level. Every office has a guy that claims the NCAA tournament is better but even he doesn’t really believe this. All he really believes is that being a contrarian makes him interesting. Guys like that are the worst. Your job is to know more than him. You have to be the contrarian’s contrarian. Find an even more outlandish position in opposition to his, and triangulate yourself a controversy that still makes you more accurate than he is. Then keep cool while he blows his top.
That brings us to our next point. Keep in mind, no matter how wrong the both of you are combined, it will still be less wrong than the people whose job it is to make the right call.
The refs are the worst:
What do you do when you have the greatest athletes in a particular sport gathered on one court? You hire officials for that game the same ways malls hire Santas. Find some old guy who doesn’t have anything else going on and put him in charge of everything. Every old man that doesn’t enjoy fishing or golf is currently an NBA referee. When it comes to officiating NBA games, things like consistency and accuracy are inconsequential compared to overdramatic foul signals and a Napoleonic complex.
Hate the Heat:
Sports can be boring without villains. And by villains I mean teams to hate for no great reason. The NBA doesn’t need real villains, like the guys that shoot limo drivers or help their girlfriend find a shortcut to get down a flight of stairs in a hurry.
But it’s more fun when there’s a clear team to root against and that’s what the Miami Heat give us. Think of the Heat as the Evil Empire and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are the Death Star. Like the real Death Star, they also have only one tiny weakness that could allow them to explode in a glorious fashion (it’s called “LeBron James in the clutch”).
The Heat have a bye to the NBA finals, unless Boston’s ragtag team of former NBA stars conjure up a miracle to slow the two-headed monster. Their best bet is to bribe someone at the scorers table to trick LeBron James into thinking every quarter is the 4th. Otherwise, a team from the West is our only hope.
Everything is still about Michael Jordan:
The NBA has more talent now than it’s had in years. Does the league capitalize on that and move into a new era? Do fans enjoy the globalization of the game combined with the influx of great young stars?
Nope, everyone still only cares about Michael Jordan. Sure, we’ll talk about LeBron James, but only to compare him to what Jordan would be doing in the playoffs. Kobe Bryant is chasing a Jordan-tying sixth ring, which is another thing that keeps Jordan in the discussion (nobody bring up the fact that Kobe wasn’t the best player on all of his championship teams).
Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose had to deal with Jordan comparisons as the youngest player to win the NBA MVP award and the only Bull to win it besides Jordan. He couldn’t take the pressure and arranged for his knee to blow out in spectacular fashion.
Jordan has also been the cover player for the NBA 2k series the last two years. He’s not playing anymore but don’t be fooled, it’s always about Jordan. Except when it comes to the historically awful Charlotte Bobcats. If you even mention Jordan’s association with them, you get a visit from the Secret Service.
The NBA Playoffs: it’s the bees’ knees!
Bees have weak knees and so do NBA superstars. Losing Rose was the most tragic for the playoffs because the top-seeded Bulls would have defeated the Heat. The Knicks losing Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis to knee injuries during their series against the Heat was catastrophic and the Knicks also lost sensation Jeremy Lin earlier in the season due to a knee injury. All of these knee injuries sure make things easier for the Heat.
I’m not suggesting anything suspicious but if we see Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan and Kobe all tear ACLs as well, I think it’s clear one of the talents LeBron James took to South Beach was voodoo.
Oklahoma City is sexy.
That’s the only time that sentence will be written but the Thunder are like the opposite of the Heat. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook also form a two-headed monster but the OKC duo has a much stronger supporting cast. And they are infinitely more likeable. In terms of teams coming from the West, it’s looking like the Thunder or the Spurs will carry the flag. While the Spurs may have the deepest team overall, the Thunder are the easiest to root for and the most fun to watch.
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James consistently push each other to be the best
…floppers in basketball history. That’s a fun subplot to watch during every Heat game. Both are great players but perhaps even better at embellishing contact to trick the elderly men that officiate these games. I once saw LeBron zone-out during an intricate handshake and then sprawl on the ground like he was shot, trying to draw a Flagrant 1 before remembering it was a teammate. These two can sell a bump better than a professional wrestler and it’s a wonderful thing to watch.
The old guard may decide the title.
It won’t be easy for the young stars to waltz away with a title as two ageless superstars, Tim Duncan and his Spurs and Kobe and his Lakers, are both tough outs in the West. Despite all the change and the influx of talent, it still may be two of the most consistent stars in basketball history that decide who walks away with the championship this season.
Mark Chalifoux is a contributing writer to Man Cave Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com or @markchalifoux on Twitter. He recently catalogued the Five Sports for Rich People and proclaimed his love for how Boring Baseball Is.