Lakers favored, Celtics questionable
Published: Thursday, April 30, 2009
Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2009 01:04
Spring has come bearing a few gifts. For basketball fans: the playoffs.
Overtime thrills and shocking upsets are the calling of this year's NBA playoffs. Luckily, the first round is a seven-game set.
Looking at the Denver Nuggets, one word comes to mind: Iffy. Chauncey Billups is an astounding point guard and a great leader. The West-Coast style of play has brought great success to the Nuggets. All Carmelo Anthony has to do now is make his presence known with his revamped squad from last season.
The Mavericks are the biggest surprise so far. In past years, Dallas has made the playoffs but has come out on the short end of the stick. Bench scoring was their primary issue.
This year, Jason Terry was the answer. Winning the Sixth Man Award this season, Terry is only the third Maverick to attain this honor. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, it doesn't matter. He's that good.
Terry, while only starting 11 of his 74 games in the regular season, averaged 19.6 points and 3.4 assists. He has scored 20 points or more in 40 games this season, 33 times when coming off the bench.
Behind Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, the Mavs have shown some promising sparks. Dallas handled the Spurs efficiently in the first round. Without Manu Ginobli, San Antonio had to rely on Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, which they did. Too bad for them it wasn't enough.
The team with the most questions: the Boston Celtics. Derek Rose of the Chicago Bulls has proven that one prolific scorer alone can exploit Boston's true weakness on defense.
The Celtics seem almost lost without Kevin Garnett in the middle. Boston's ability to score is there, but it just doesn't resemble the team play that earned a championship last season. After the first round, I don't see the Celtics making any sort of impact.
But can Dwayne Wade really carry the Miami Heat through the playoffs? He's one of the most skilled and focused players in the league. Pressure is nothing for Wade. Lets see how his supporting cast will help. If they don't, see ya later Miami.
The most entertaining team to watch is Cleveland. The LeBron show will keep running, for now.
The Lakers are still my choice for the team to beat. Kobe Bryant is still as good as he's ever been. Los Angeles' defense has also stepped up drastically. Western Conference champs again? I think so.
Most disappointing team so far: the Portland Trailblazers. Showing strength and determination throughout the entire season wasn't enough. The Trailblazers' inability to take care of the Tracy McGrady-less Rockets calls into question their ability to win the big game – let alone a series.
The least respected team with the most confidence has to be the Sixers. Philadelphia really has nothing to lose. This makes Andre Iguadala and his boys an even bigger threat. The Sixers lack more than a few things as a team, leading them to their own defeat.
So, with the second round approaching, we will gain a better insight into what is to come in the NBA playoffs. All in all, every team left is seemingly worthy of championship status. It all depends on how many bumps on the road one team can overcome