A little over a week into the NBA playoffs, and the excitement has surely been everything sports fans hope for. Overtime thrillers, high running emotions, and as impressive slam dunks as we have seen all season. If you are a general basketball fan, odds are your happy with what you have seen.
Entering the 2013-2014 season, the NBA had its select front runners which have been common in years past.
First, the Miami Heat, obviously. Between their two consecutive championship wins and the big three thriving, the Heat seemed a clear front runner.
The San Antonio Spurs are always strong, along with the young and edgey Indiana Pacers, a team who many think will give the Heat their greatest challenge yet. The Los Angeles “Lob City” Clippers have climbed the charts as one of the best teams in the game, while Dwight Howard and James Harden continue to grow with the Houston Rockets.
Despite all these great teams, there is one great thing about the NBA playoffs. Any given team can win on any given night.
As the 2013-2014 playoffs began just over a week ago, we saw the familiar names, but also were lucky to see some more new rising stars. The playoffs are known as a time to make a name for yourself, and players like Damian Lilliard and Lamarcus Aldridge from the Portland Trailblazers are certainly taking advatage.
The Trailblazers were faced with a tough matchup in the first round, Dwight Hoawrd and the fast paced Houston Rockets. Despite the excellent season we saw from the Trailblazers, they still were seen as the “under dog”. Apparently this didnt sit well with Lilliard or Aldridge, as they exploded through the first two games.
Aldridge average 44 points and 11 rebounds in the first two meetings, while Lillard has average just over 26 a game. These two young rising stars have taken the series by storm and that has not went unnoticed around the league.
The playoffs have also shown the emergence of the Washington Wizards and a stealth back court of point guard John Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal. The two have night in and night outcontinued to produce for the Wizards, who in their series with the Bulls, have surprised many with their play.
Entering the playoffs, any normal fan would probably think the Heat, Pacers or maybe the Spurs were a clear front runner to win the prized possesion of NBA Champion, but just a week in and things have taken a surprising turn.
The Heat showed their dominance as they aproach a sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats, but throughout the series we have seen some struggles. A normally high power defensive team, the Heat have allowed Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker to play extremely well, and have had trouble controlling him in crunch time. An unhealthy Dwayne Wade always leaves the Heat with questions of just how succesful the “big three” can stay.
The Pacers were another team that many thought entering the playoffs would be completely dominant. Earning the one seed and home court advantage in the last week of the regular season certainly gave Indiana the upper hand.
We are now four games in to the Pacers’ series with the Atlanta Hawks, and we have seen an unexpected outcome.
Knotted at two games a piece, the Pacers have struggled extremely on the offensive and defensive glass, which they usually are exceptional on, and Indians superstar Paul George has not been able to find his rythm.
Veteran small forward Kyle Korver and point guard Jeff Teague have boosted to another level, both playing some of the best basketball of their careers for the Atlanta Hawks. This series will be an interesting one to watch unfold if the Pacers offensive struggles continue to affect them.
As the playoffs continue, we cant really know what we are in store for. Will George find his stroke for the Pacers and help them get back on track? Will Wade’s health stay strong and help bring the Heat back to the top? Or will the young guns like Wall, Aldridge and Lilliard rise to the occasion? If we have learned one thing in the past week, it’s that anything is possible when it comes to the NBA playoffs.
AJ Arcaini is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at AA788494@wcupa.