The NBA playoffs are finally here and it is a wonderful thing. After a shortened season that crammed 66 games into a small window, we are now about to get two months of heated hoops with no clear championship favorite.
All we know right now is who gets to play for the next two weeks. So what should be the interest level on these eight series?
No. 1 - MIAMI VS NEW YORK: Of course this series will get the most media hype. The Knicks are relevant again and the Heat are the NBA's "it" team. But it is much, much more than that. The entire Heat season comes down to what they do in the postseason. LeBron's MVP-esque season will be laughed off with another disappointment. It is about NOW. New York, however, really has no pressure. They are just a No. 7 seed, but they have all the talent to make some noise in this tournament. Carmelo Anthony is playing outstanding and the Knicks are actually D-ing up. Oh ... and add all of that heated history (no pun intended) these two organizations have had in the past and it makes for a great series.
No. 2 - MEMPHIS VS LA CLIPPERS: I will admit, I have Clipper fatigue. Having said that, this series has everything you could ever want. Two young up and coming teams. Two franchises that have had limited success over the last 15-20 years. The Clippers came into the season as the Western team that nobody would want any part of during the postseason. The Grizzlies come into the playoffs as that team. We have seen Memphis in this spot before since they shocked the Spurs last season. We haven't seen the Clippers here. I think the physical style of the Grizz will be a nice contrast with Lob City.
No. 3 - OKLAHOMA CITY VS DALLAS: Great series. First off, it has that regional rivalry of Oklahoma-Dallas. Second, you are pairing up last season's champion against a team that has a good shot at winning this year's title. The Mavs haven't really shown well as a defending champ, but this is still a very talented team. OKC may have that talent, but they still have to work out the Durant-Westbrook dynamic and how well James Harden will recover from the wrath of World Peace.
No. 4 - LA LAKERS VS DENVER: These two had a nice postseason rivalry a few years back. While Denver isn't as star-laden as the Lakers, they are a nice team. I mean, to deal away Carmelo like they did at the deadline last year and to still be a solid team says a lot. Of course, the Lakers will get most of the pub since they have Kobe Bryant (who is coming off a shin injury), Andrew Bynum (who is in a bit of a tift with coach Mike Brown) and Pau Gasol (who we last saw in the playoffs looking like a scared school boy). They won't have Metta World Peace who was last seen throwing an elbow at Harden's jaw.
No. 5 - BOSTON VS ATLANTA: Well, there is the added bonus of the 4th-seeded Celtics not having the home court advantage over the 5th-seeded Hawks. Atlanta is that team no one is talking about because they've basically been the same 2nd-level team for the past four years. Boston has the same nucleus over the same period of time. We know we will get that intensity from the Celtics we expect ... but what will Atlanta bring? This has a wait-and-see feel to it. Maybe it will get good? Maybe not.
No. 6 - SAN ANTONIO VS UTAH: Boooorrrrring. Nothing against either team, but they aren't big time markets. The Spurs are the same Spurs we've been watching for years in many people's eyes (it isn't true, since this offense has been dazzling this year). Most of you didn't know the Jazz were in the postseason until you read this paragraph and probably couldn't name three guys on that team. Again, nothing against these two teams but this doesn't crank up the interest meter.
No. 7 - INDIANA VS ORLANDO: This will probably be the series that people will not choose to watch. The game that you will give up when your wife complains you are ignoring her by watching all this basketball. The Pacers are a very good team that lacks stars. Orlando's only star will be watching the postseason from his home with his "Fire SVG" shirt on. Two jump shooting teams facing off with one at a huge disadvantage. Pass.
No. 8 - CHICAGO VS PHILADELPHIA: This won't be high on my radar just because I feel the Bulls will win this series pretty handily. After a strong start, the 76ers kind of limped to the playoffs. The Bulls have spent this year watching Derrick Rose going in and out of the lineup. Nothing to see here.