After what seems like an eternity, the NBA playoffs are finally getting interesting. The first round brought us a multitude of mismatches, but now the cat is truly among the pigeons.You have Larry Brown sniping at the Nets, and their coach Lawrence Frank. This after the Pistons had taken a 2-0 lead in the series. What happened next?
The Nets blew out the Pistons in both games in New Jersey, and evened the series to 2-2. Not only is the series now competitive, but there is also a genuine bad blood between the teams, making for an even more compelling contest.
That said, even though the New Jersey has shown that it can hang with Detroit, Detroit still has the home court, and so I’m going with Detroit in seven.
The other match-up in the East features Indiana and Miami. Indiana blew out Miami in the opening two games, then promptly lost game three at Miami, where the Heat have won their last 17 games.
Still, it’s hard to see Miami beating Indiana in a seven game series. I’ll take the Pacers in five or six games.
Out in the West, the Timberwolves and the Kings have a good old-fashioned scrap going. The Kings won game one, blew a double-digit lead late in game two, then came back from a double-digit deficit in game three, only to lose the game in overtime. So far the three games have been decided by a grand total of 12 points.
Though Minnesota took back home court by winning at Arco Arena in game three, I like the Kings in this series. They’ve been here before, and they know their time is running out. Then again, I wouldn’t count out KG or Sam I Am just yet. So while I look for the Kings to run out winners in six or seven games, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Timberwolves advanced to the Conference Finals.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the Lakers and the Spurs. We’ve been here, done this before, but not in quite the same circumstances.
There’s no David Robinson this time, but there is Karl Malone and Gary Payton. There is also the specter of Kobe’s rape trial, but that only seems to spur him to play better, as evidenced by his 42 point performance Tuesday night.
The Spurs looked unstoppable in games one and two. The Lakers looked unstoppable in game three, and did enough to win in game four. More importantly Shaq looks hungry and willing again.
The bottom line is that if the Lakers can maintain the energy and effort they showed in games three and four, they will win the series. If they can’t, then the Spurs will march on while the Lakers will be left to reflect on what might have been.