It’s a good time to be part of the NBA; whether you’re an owner (no more Sterling), staff member, player or fan. We’re in the midst of a big and wonderful time in the National Basketball Association. Soak it in and enjoy every minute of it. Not only is the league going through some great changes, thanks to Mr. Silver, but the NBA is in the middle of it’s best opening round of the playoffs. Just when it seems like a series might get a bit stale, the teams come out and provide another classic. We’ll go Thunder-Grizzlies in the next paragraph. First, we must congratulate the Washington Wizards on their series victory over the Bulls. In case you weren’t aware, the nation’s capital hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to postseason basketball. The last time the Wizards won a playoff series was nearly a decade ago, in 2005 and coincidentally enough, it was also against Chicago. This time around Washington only needed 5 games to defeat the Bulls and did so with superior basketball. I know, that sounds like a complete “talking head” answer but take a closer look. Last night the Bulls only managed to score 75 points in their victory. That’s the type of score the Bulls would’ve wanted if asked prior to the game but the Wizards were superior in a defensive-minded game that their opponents usually thrive in. For Chicago, there are tons and tons of off-season questions to be answered, no doubt it all start with Derrick Rose. Washington, on the hand, gets to hang out and wait for the winner of Pacers-Hawks. A Wizards-Hawks second round series is in play. A month ago, I don’t think anyone would’ve bet on that.
Let’s head to Oklahoma City where the Thunder and Grizzlies and Thunder can’t seem to beat each other in 4 quarters. For the fourth time in a row, the Grizzlies and Thunder went into overtime with Memphis winning this round and taking a big 3-2 lead in the series. I understand when there are a couple of overtimes throughout a 7-game series but when it’s four times in a row? Well, that’s just astonishing. So astonishing that it’s downright unprecedented in the NBA in playoff history. Just another reason that this year’s first round, in all likelihood, will go down as the best of all time. Memphis was able to use excellent team-style basketball to absorb massive games from the Durant/Westbrook combo and take the victory on the road. What impressed me the most about the Grizzlies is their ability to adjust to anything the Thunder threw at them. Z-Bo continues to own the paint with Marc Gasol and the deadly dribbling of Mike Conley continues to be effective. Sprinkle in some Mike Miller 3-point threat and we could see Memphis make some real noise. The one thing that worries me about this series is that because of these extended games, the next game(s) aren’t going to be as entertaining due to fatigue. We’ll have to see how the Thunder (title-favorites all season) respond when they’re on the ropes. Right now, lots of criticism is being thrown their way and if they don’t manage to send this to a 7th games, things could get ugly for OKC.
Out west, things were still settling down after Donald Sterling’s punishment. It was the perfect time for a bad Clippers game. Instead, the Clippers used the outside chaos to fuel themselves to a big win over the Warriors and a 3-2 series lead. It was easy for the LA team to have that excuse in their back pocket but it showed that they don’t need an owner present to win their games. But enough of the Sterling stories because frankly, he doesn’t deserve all this attention that he’s receiving. DeAndre Jordan led the way for LA, who continues to be a massive presence in the paint for the Clippers. He also made most of his free throws, particularly when the Warriors decided to go with the “hack-a-” strategy on Jordan. I understand the move but it still annoys when teams resort to doing so. Anyways, the Warriors have more to worry about. Their offense is starting to become a bit too predictable as the series goes on. Right now, when they really need a basket, it’s just Stephen Curry running around screens near the 3-point line until he gets enough of a look. When Curry is on fire, he’s impossible to defend but Chris Paul has played defense on him about as well as anyone could ask of him. I’m hoping this series goes down to the wire but at the very least, we’re going to get what should be an excellent game 6.
Big night in the NBA tonight. Things get started early for the Mavs and Spurs in San Antonio. The Texas duel is knotted at 2 and it’s a complete toss-up at this point. Same goes the Nets and Raptors, who are in Toronto tonight to decide who takes a big 3-2 lead. As we all know the winner of game 5, when the series is tied at 2, usually wins the series so it’s a big night for those four teams. The night cap is in Houston with the Rockets on the brink of elimination. Can the Blazers close the door on the Rockets’ postseason hopes? Or will Houston force the series back to Portland? I expect plenty of fireworks tonight.