What a great first week of NBA playoff basketball! This is the best and most exciting time of the year for any and all basketball fans. March Madness and the Final Four are great, but my college team was awful and I never made it to the NCAA Tournament, so I don’t know what’s the feeling of that atmosphere. But I do know the NBA playoffs atmosphere and it’s like nothing you can imagine. The lights are brighter, the fans are meaner and the competition level jumps to the next level. So teams better bring their “A” games.Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the Western Conference series. Now I will just focus on the East…
DETROIT vs. ORLANDO
What did you expect to happen in this series? I thought the Magic would win at least one game at home. It was your typical 1 vs. 8 scenario. Experience vs. Youth. On a mission vs. Mission Impossible. When our key players – Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Darko Milicic and Grant Hill (remember Hill hasn’t played in the playoffs since he left Detroit and he’s never been out of first round) – are that inexperienced, this is just a learning process for them. Detroit is a well-oiled machine and now is the clear-cut favorite to get the NBA Finals.
CLEVELAND vs. WASHINGTON
The best thing that happened for Cleveland was Chicago losing the last game of the season and dropping to the fifth seed. Cleveland didn’t match up well with Miami. Against Washington (without Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler) this series has been close at times, but Cleveland is not worried. King James has been great, although the key is his supporting cast stepping up. One night it’s Larry Hughes, next Drew Gooden. They will need these guys to continue to play well to go deep into the playoffs. They have best route of any team to get Conference Finals if they continue to improve defensively during the playoffs.
TORONTO vs. NEW JERSEY
This series is the tale of two Carters. Bad Vince, who couldn’t hit the Skydome in Games 1 and 2 even if he was standing next to it. Good Vince, who looks absolutely unstoppable since the series went back to New Jersey. The Raptors don’t have one guy on their roster who can guard Good Vince. Jason Kidd is controlling the tempo and pace and is playing great with that knee injury (wink-wink). Chris Bosh can’t have subpar games for the Raptors. They have no chance when he struggles. Looks like a future matchup between two of the most dynamic players – Carter vs. James. That should be awesome to watch.
MIAMI vs. CHICAGO
How the mighty has fallen! This was the team that the Heat did not want to see at all – especially in the first round. The Bulls was a matchup nightmare for the Heat. They could guard none of the Bulls perimeter players. Deng, Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich just carved up the Heat defense. Then add the Ben Wallace factor and that’s the recipe for sweeping the world champs. Shaq and Wade looked very vulnerable and the entire roster looked old and slow. The Bulls can make some noise next round vs. Detroit. Who is not excited to see Big Ben go against his old team? You couldn’t script it any better. But in the Bulls case, if you live by the jump shot, you will die by the jump shot.