The NBA Playoffs have reached the conference semifinals and the dirty little secret about the first round was that there was not a bad first round series. We had an 8 seed (Memphis) knock out the top seed in the West and just take the first game against the Thunder in the semis. The only sweep in the first round was the Celtics-Knicks and two of those games came down to the last possession. The Bulls, Heat, Lakers, and Mavs all played tough hard series and had dogfights to advance. The Thunder and Nuggets were back and forth from the opening tip in Game 1 until Game 5 when Kevin Durant vanquished the Nuggets with his surge. Even the Hawks and Magic provided an upset with the Hawks beating Dwight Howard and his merry boys from Orlando.
As for the conference semis, I am licking my chops to see what will happen. We have already had three road teams win Game 1 on the home team floors to take the early 1-0 lead (aforementioned Grizzlies over Thunder, Hawks over Bulls, and Mavs over Lakers). The Heat were the only team to hold serve at home and the experts all believe this will be a long drawn out series that could go the distance and go to either the Celtics or Knicks.
Before getting to the second round, I’d like to give props to Dwight Howard (every game but especially G1), CP3 (G1 & G4), and Melo (G2) for their superstar performances in the playoffs. They played great but their team came up short against their opponents.
Thunder in 6
Durant and Westbrook on offense and Ibaka on defense overwhelm Z Bo and the Grizzlies
Mavs in 7
Dirk wills his team over the 2 time defending world champions in a classic Game 7
Bulls in 7
Bulls youth causes series to go 7 with Hawks
Celtics in 7
Fantastic 4 (Garnett, Allen, Pierce, and Rondo) defeat the Big 3 (LBJ, Wade, Bosh) with the bench deciding series for Cs
Updated 42 Club
Kevin Durant: 6, 42.5
LeBron James: 6, 42.5
Dirk Nowitzki: 7, 39.1
Derrick Rose: 6, 38.3
Russell Westbrook: 6, 37.2
Dwyane Wade: 6, 37.2
Zach Randolph: 7, 35.7
Rajon Rondo: 5, 35.0
Departures: Howard, Paul
Arrivals: Wade, Randolph
Basketball truly is the only mainstream sport that relies on the superstar to carry their team. The only two teams in the last 50 years that didn’t win a title without a superstar were the 70s Knicks and the 2004 Pistons. Every other team has had at least one superstar if not two. As for the 42 Club, each of these guys have had at least one kick butt game where they willed their team to victory as a superstar. A few things stand out: Kevin Durant seems to have taken a ginormous step in the playoffs with his effort in Game 5 against the Nuggets. Dirk is so consistent with his big games that we tend to take it for granted. Z Bo has transformed from black hole and head case to a superstar in these playoffs showing his playoff chops finishing off the Spurs in the last two games and the opening game against the Thunder.