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Thursday, October 30, 2014

The 2014 NBA playoffs are as good as it gets

I’m not only interested in the playoffs this year just because Brad Beal fouled me in high school.

April 30, 2014

I pity the many people who say they hate the NBA.

Their reasons can be as varied as the tattoos running up and down Chris “Birdman” Andersen's body. “They don't play defense!” “The players are too selfish!” “Tyler Hansbrough doesn't get enough touches!”

But to an experienced NBA fan such as myself, the NBA, to quote Jack Nicholson from the movie “As Good As It Gets,” is “as good as it gets.”

While the NCAA tournament is and always will be the greatest postseason tournament of any sport, the NBA playoffs also provide plenty of must-watch basketball.

This year's playoffs are no different. Yes, as I'm writing this the Heatles have a 3-0 lead over the Charlotte Bobcats and my beloved Kemba Walker.

Outside of that matchup, no other series has a chance of ending in a sweep. Four of the other seven series are tied at 2-2. The Wizards, led by Bradley “I fouled Daniel Schmidt in high school” Beal, have a commanding 3-1 lead over the Bulls, but every game has been decided by nine points or fewer.

Similarly, the Blazers have a 3-1 lead over the Rockets, but three of the four have gone into overtime.

Game Four on Sunday night was one of the best playoffs games I've seen in a long time. The Blazers pulled out the win behind another amazing game from LaMarcus Aldridge (29 points, 10 boards) and unbelievable hustle from Wesley Matthews (four steals), as well as the Rockets’ Jeremy Lin (four points, three turnovers), who made the game six-on-four the 21 minutes he was on the floor.

There aren't two more compelling matchups in a first round series than the Blazers' Damian Lillard and Aldridge going up against the Rockets' James Harden and Dwight Howard. Every game in the series has featured stellar performances from at least three of the four guys, and Lillard is challenging Kyrie Irving for the best young guard in the league.

Staying on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Clippers-Golden State Warriors series also has a great guard-big man matchup, with the Warriors' Stephen Curry and David Lee taking on the Clippers' Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

This is what the experts would call the most “fun” series of the first round. Two California teams, one with the best shooter in the league (Curry), the other with best dunker (Griffin). It's not a surprise that the series is currently tied at two games apiece.

The Indiana Pacers are my favorite team in the league, so the collapse that they have experienced over the past few weeks has been rather brutal to watch. Their offense is stagnant and their defensive rotations look like a game of musical chairs at a retirement home. Again, it's not surprising to see their series against the Atlanta Hawks tied at 2-2.

The Toronto Raptors-Brooklyn Nets series has had moments of its own, but let's be honest — they're playing for the right to lose to the Heat in five games in the second round.

The Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs series wouldn't surprise me if it went to seven games, but when the playoffs are over, we will look back at this series as a cute road bump on the Spurs’ way to the championship.

That leaves us with the Thunder-Grizzlies series. This was the series I was most excited for because the Grizzlies are a terrible matchup for the Thunder. This is the final series deadlocked at 2-2 and I personally guarantee you the series will come down to Game Seven in Oklahoma City, 10 seconds to go with Durant with the ball in his hands.

Get your popcorn ready.

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