If it's April, it must be playoffs
This one was reputed to be the best ever even before it started.. It is definitely proving to be close. It definitely is the closest race I have seen. I am talking about the NBA playoffs.
For a few years now, we have seen the usual suspects fighting it out in the conference semis. The Kings-Lakers-Spurs rivalry around the turn of the century was all that mattered. Trailblazers and T'wolves in the early 2000s and Mavericks and Suns in the last few years were the other teams which would occasionaly feature in the semis. You could almost always pencil in the first 3 seeds in the conference semis, even before the season started. There would be a small fight amongst the 4th and 5th seed.
Similarly, in the East, you could pencil in New Jersey, Indiana, Detroit as the teams which will be there in the Conference semis. Last year, with the addition of Shaq there was Miami. Everything worked to a plan.
There were no upsets. It was the Wimbledon rather than the French Open.
This year, it is refreshingly different. Although my favourite Heat is in difficult waters against the Bulls, I am loving it. At the half-way stage in the first round, any of the teams have a decent chance of making the conference semis, except maybe the Grizzlies. Every other team has got a win at least. 4 out of 8 matchups are tied. Lakers are 3-1 up against the second-seeded Suns. Hell, even Bucks have managed a victory against the Pistons - by 20 points. Kobe's last second shot today was poetry. Now, in the second round, we just might get to see Clippers vs. Lakers in LA, though Steve Nash would want to spoil that party. It is great drama.
Are you watching?
Cross-posted at Welcome to the Ballgame.