Monday, April 21, 2008

NBA Playoffs Better Than Expected

Those of us who cover the NBA on a regular basis have believed for quite some time that this season's NBA Playoffs could be the best in recent memory--especially the Western Conference showdowns. And thankfully, the play through the first weekend lived up to the hype.

Starting Saturday afternoon, the NBA's best and brightest produced the drama, excitement and unbelievable plays that make the league what it is. Whether it was LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant, superstars did what superstars are supposed to do: lead their team to victory.

Here's a list of some of my personal favorites from the weekend:

1) Spurs/Suns Double Overtime Thriller
This classic was the best game I have seen all season long, period. I won't quite go as far as some are suggesting that it was the best playoff game ever, but it would definitely be in the conversation. Down the stretch, the best players made the best plays. Tim Duncan's overtime-forcing 3-pointer. Steve Nash's fallaway game-tying 3-pointer. Manu Ginobili's game-winning drive and layup. The game had everything a great game requires: drama, superstars, and unbelievable plays. The only drawback was the foul situation. As a fan of the game, you would have liked to have seen Amare Stoudemire, Shaquille O'Neal and Tony Parker in there for all of the action at end.

2) Chris Paul Taking Over
Since he first entered the league a couple of years ago, CP3 has been one of my favs. Not so much because he's one of the game's elite point guards, but mostly because he's such a good dude. He's always cordial, respectful and sincere. He's a player that all players like. But it was his game that will make him a future Hall of Famer. What he did to the Mavs in the third quarter of Game One, was one of the best single game performances I've seen in a while. He could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. And there was nothing anyone could do about it-- not even future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. As dominating a performance as it was, his immediate comments after the game tell you more about the character of this young man. He wasn't fully aware of his stats, because he was so focused on winning the game. And if winning the game meant he had to take upon the scoring burden of his team, then that's what he had to do. And it did it very well.

3) Cavs/Wizards Game Within The Game
It still baffles me why the media gets so wrapped up in players making guarantees and/or talking trash. I personally love it when players make such comments in public. For me, it just adds to the intrigue of the game. So as a member of the media, I don't try to discourage such talk. Instead, I welcome it! And so do you! Think about it. Would the mini-scuffle that started with LeBron James and Brendan Haywood have been as interesting if not for all the trash talking leading up to the game? I know some of you might be sports purists, who believe your play between the lines should speak for itself. And to be fair, I was the same way when I was playing sports growing up. But I don't play anymore. I'm a fan. And as a fan, I like to be entertained. I only hope that someone says something else before Game Two.

1 comment:

Chris Iafolla said...

Thanks for your post Michael, keep up the good work. Leading up to the playoffs, it almost seemed as though there was no way the games could live up to the overwhelming hype. But if the early returns are any indication, we are in for quite a show.

Of course, the game with the most intrigue was the Suns and Spurs. Great teams finish their opponents when they have them against the ropes, and the Suns failed to do that.