The Second Season


What is more entertaining? March Madness or the NBA playoffs? The main difference?  No one and done upsets. The favorite is far more likely to win a best of five or best of seven series than the single elimination NCAA format. I don’t think a “best of” would work in the college game, but that’s an argument for another time.

The NBA playoffs, often referred to as the Second Season, begin in less than a week. This is one of the most anticipated post season’s in recent memory. We have showtime looking for a three-peat, the South Beach trio, the Hall of Fame Boston vets and much more. Lets take a look at what we have to look forward to, who has helped themselves and how.

We know more detail in the Eastern Conference, as the first round matchups are close to final. The Western Conference is another story, with San Antonio, the top dog, the only certainty among the seedings. More on the West in our next edition, lets focus on the East….

Chicago and Indiana may be the biggest mismatch of the post season. The Bulls are on a roll and Derek Rose is on a MVP mission. Rose will get plenty of help from a deep and talented front court. Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng are a complete group and fueled by solid bench play from Taj Gibson. The Bulls achilles heel may be deep shooting (or lack thereof), but that’s why they got Kyle Korver, right? If I’m up against Chicago, I try and make them beat me from the perimeter. The Pacers are also buyoued by an emerging front court with Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough and Josh McRoberts all taking a big step forward this season. I’ll tune in just to see Danny Granger, Indiana’s small forward may be the most underrated star in the game.

I am really looking forward to Miami and Philadelphia. The Sixers have some of the most athletic, talented young players in the Association. Philly continues to stockpile lottery caliber talent like Jrue Holiday, Thadues Young and Evan Turner. Sixers coach Doug Collins has done an excellent job with the raw talent, meshing it with superstar Andre Iguodala and the oft injured Elton Brand. Turner, the 2nd overall pick in the 2010 draft hasn’t had the impact some expected (yet) and I am certain much more was expected when they traded for center Spencer Hawes. What can you say about the Heat? Philly is just the kind of opponent that Miami beats up on. Do not expect the unexpected from  Leron and company. With three of the most aggressive slashers in the league, the Heat identified perimeter shooting as a major need. Mike Miller was the first target, he has been hurt and shooting has been off target. Most recently, Mike Bibby was addded. Another shooter to spread the floor, another Miami player that can’t/won’t play defense. Well documented, and surprising has been Miami’s inability to score with the game on the line.

You want a Garden party? How about Boston and New York in the first round. Talk about some great opening round television ratings. The Knicks bouunce back into prime time with Amare Stoudamire and more recently Carmelo Anthony putting Big back in the Apple. The problem with the Knicks are the other guys. Those other guys were all sent packing to Denver to get Melo and Chauncey Billups. In a way, New York is a mini Miami, the Knicks sacraficing depth for the star power. The burning question… is the concentrated star power what it takes to win a series, or will a lack of depth be the pitfal. The Celtics may have pulled the biggest surprise at the trade deadline. Boston giving up their enforcer Kendrick Perkins for the versatility of Jeff Green. Boston did add some nice pieces in Nenad Kristic and Troy Murphy who will both play large roles in the playoffs. Will we see O’Neal’s Shaquille and Jermaine? They appear to be a luxury needed only come playoff time.

Orlando and Atlanta round out the first round matchups in the East.  The Magic have been aggressively adding pieces all season long, just not certain if the pieces are from the same puzzle. The Magic made a huge move early, taking a chance of guard Gilbert Arenas,formerly of Washington. The possibilities seemed exciting, but Gilbert isn’t close to the player many remember. Rashard Lewis was the price to get Arenas, more a balancing act of cap room, that (former) talent on the court. Orlando followed that up with a blockbuster, reacquiring point forward Hedo Turkoglu from Phoenix. Hedo was magical during the  ’09 playoffs, before taking his talents to Canada. Jason Richardson came along with Torkoglu from the Valley of the Sun, providing yet another player that has to have the ball to be effective. The good news is Vince Carter was given a one way ticket to the desert from the Magic Kingdom. As for Atlanta, a 32 point loss the other night to  a CBA team known as the Wizards says it all. The Hawks have some incredible raw talent, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford could hold their own in a three on  three  tournament on the playground against anyone.  Seems par for the course in the ATL, which brought us Pistol Pete and  Dominique the Human Highlight Film. Atlanta did make a valiant effort to bring coherence to it all, but not even Kirk Hinrich can get it done.

Next time, we’ll try to make some sense of the Western Conference matchups.

Author: Tom Blaz

Tom is our featured columnist on FantasySP with more than 25 years of media experience in Radio and TV. You may know his work as a beat reporter for the Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland. He also reported LIVE from the Summer Olympics in Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta. He is an avid Auburn fan, and writes for The Recruiting Eagle, a website focusing on Auburn athletics.

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