Posts Tagged ‘mavericks spurs’

NBA Playoff Preview: Western Conference First Round

For over a decade, the Western Conference has been home to almost all of the NBA’s classic playoff series and rivalries. Outside of last season’s first-round series between Boston and Chicago, it’s hard to think of a really memorable Eastern Conference playoff series on par with the showdowns between the Kings and Lakers, the Lakers and Spurs, the Spurs and Suns, the Spurs and Mavericks, and the Mavericks and Warriors. The West has been the province of exciting and meaningful playoff basketball, where first-round series have more than once included teams with legitimate chances to win it all.

This year is no different. All eight teams in the West won between 50 and 60 games, meaning the conference’s playoffs are deep and wide-open. The two-time defending conference champs in LA have skidded to the finish. The old guards in San Antonio, Dallas, and Phoenix have shown they still have something left. The Northwest duo of Denver and Utah have been alternately fantastic and woeful at points this season. And There’s fresh blood in Portland and fresher blood in Oklahoma City. The West may not have the favorite to win it all, but it’s certainly the conference worth watching at this point in the playoffs.

Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: Top 10 Games — NBA

I’ll start with some brutal honesty: This was not a good decade for the NBA. It saw Michael Jordan in a Wizards uniform, severe conference imbalance, the collapse of the Knicks as a viable franchise, and more than its share of forgettable championships.

But this isn’t the time to dwell on that; this is the time to remember the best that the NBA had to offer in the aughts. The following are what I consider the 10 best games the NBA gave us this decade, with the caveat that I am a Nets fan, and so the team that has this season returned to its long-held status as the Eastern Conference’s answer to the Clippers is perhaps overrepresented. Before we get to the top 10–you want a criteria? Well, overtime helps, folks–the only Finals game to garner serious consideration was Game 5 of the 2005 Finals between San Antonio and Detroit, and the worst series of the decade was the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, in which the Pistons and Pacers played six games without either team surpassing 85 points.

10. Game 3 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals: Boston Celtics 94, New Jersey Nets 90

A personal recollection: I was over the house of a Celtics fan. At halftime, with New Jersey up by 20, he turned the TV off and demanded we do something else. After I dominated him (NJ-Boston style) in basketball in the street, we went back inside to check the score. It was one of those TVs where you hear the sound well before the picture comes back, and I was immediately struck by how loud it was in Boston. Why is it this loud? Aren’t we killing them? Boston was already back within a half-dozen, and Byron Scott was in the midst of one of the worst coaching jobs ever with his inexperienced team (seriously, Scott pulled the whole “I’m gonna call timeout and stay outside of the huddle while you guys realize what you’re doing wrong” in A PLAYOFF GAME! WITH HIS TEAM COLLAPSING!) A Paul Pierce Parade to the free-throw line helped the Celtics outscore New Jersey 41-16 for the largest fourth-quarter comeback in NBA playoff history and a 2-1 series lead. My Nets would get the last laugh, winning the next three to advance to the Finals.

Note: This was also the game that propelled Mike Breen to NBA announcing stardom.

Continue reading