—The NBA regular season, once just a prelude to the real season, the playoffs, did not disappoint in 2016.
Between the train wreck salvation taking place in New York city, to the slightly more entertaining jumpers of Steph Curry, to Kobe’s surprise ending: the NBA was captivating this season.
And for once the regular season seems a bit more intriguing than the first-round of the playoffs.
I’ve never been a proponent of the seven-game opening round. Gone are the good ol’ days of a best-of-five first-round series, where a team could sneak up on a higher seed with a quick Game 1 win or tie it up 1-1 and then make it a series. But now the seven-game format drags it on. And of course the format driven by revenue. That’s ok the NBA is, and has always been a for-profit venture. But let’s see what you have for us if you are going to make us dredge through a best-of-seven or surprise us again. Let’s see what you got.
Golden State vs Houston:
The last time these two played Houston had no chance but the Rockets tried to rough up the Warriors a bit.
Cleveland and Detroit: The one X-factor is Tyron Lue’s lack of coaching experience vs Stan Van Gundy’s
San Antonio vs Memphis: The Spurs are not the core as you would want to, move over Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, Khawi Leonard, Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge will ensure the Spurs advance past Memphis.
Toronto vs Indiana For the most part Toronto has not received the kind of attention a team who won 56 games, one game short of the Cleveland Cavs. But that’s ok with the Raptors. Meanwhile, the Pacers are used to playing the underdog role in the East now, but do have a legitimate superstar in Paul George so anything is possible. But expect the Raptors to overpower the Pacers in the course of this best of seven with lots of offense and plenty of defense.
Miami vs Charlotte Miami has a load of experience and aged talent. Charlotte is happy to be here for the first playoff appearance in two years. The Hornets have just tasted the playoffs three times in the last 15 years and haven’t won a playoff series since 2002.
Oklahoma City vs Dallas: This pairing is so evenly matched it’s as though the men’s NCAA division I committee drew it up. Still talent-wise OKC wins the battle with two greats in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. This will be head coach Billy Donovan’s first foray into postseason pro hoops.
Atlanta vs Boston: Another evenly matched best of seven which might be the best true to form pure basketball series to open the playoffs. Two classic Eastern conference teams with different but similar approaches both are trying to build something that last where the sum is greater than the individual parts. This will be Boston head coach Brad Steven’s first real playoff test.
Los Angeles vs Portland: At two different ends of the spectrum represent two franchises with different expectations. After losing LaMarcus Aldridge to free agency not everyone thought Portland could make it happen with just Damian Lillard and a few other guys not as well known like Marice Harkless and C.J. McCollum. For the Clippers its been up and down with an injury to Blake Griffin and an off the court incident to follow over shadowing which was expected to be their best run at a title.