So far, the NBA playoffs have not been a disappointment. The 1st round was one of the most exciting in recent memory with 5 out of the 8 match-ups going to 7 games and featured several games that went to overtime There are only 8 teams now battling it out to reach the NBA Finals. Here are the more notable storylines in the 2nd round:
1) Heat going for 3 straight—Defending champions Miami Heat are still the team to beat as they go for their 3rd straight championship. Their highly-touted match-up with the Brooklyn Nets is a bust. The Nets were the only team to beat the Heat 4 times in the regular season and pundits proclaimed they can pull an upset. However, the Heat have a commanding 2-0 lead and look like they are peaking at the right time. This series won’t go the distance.
2) Durant is MVP—Undoubtedly, Durant was the best player in the regular season and it’s not a stretch to say that he has surpassed LeBron James as the best player on the planet. Durant was knocked in the 1st round when his team almost lost to the Memphis Grizzlies. There were headlines of “Mr. Unreliable” after a Game 5 loss and his team down in the series. Durant used this as fuel carrying his team in the next two games to clinch the series. With an MVP under his belt, the only thing lacking in his resume is an NBA title.
3) San Antonio, again—Year in and year out, the Spurs have been left out of the conversation when it comes to contenders yet they continue to amaze. Despite an ancient core and a relatively small team salary, the Spurs are the epitome of success. This team has 4 championships, 5 conference titles and 11 division titles since 1999. This season, they clinched the NBA’s best regular season record. They just keep coming. They are headed for a collision course against the Heat, which beat them in the NBA Finals last year.
4) Pacers fakers—After a spectacular first half of the season, the Pacers are struggling to regain their identity. Lingering chemistry issues have all but doomed the team’s shot at a championship. Despite arguably having the best starting unit, the No. 1 seed Pacers almost lost to the N0. 8 seed Atlanta Hawks, which had a losing record. The Pacers need to win this series versus the Washington Wizards and do it in a convincing fashion to get their confidence back. I still haven’t given up on this team but time is running out.
5) Clippers still in the hunt—After an emotional series with the Golden State Warriors, the Clippers have taken away the Thunder’s home court advantage. The team, still embroiled in the Sterling controversy, is in flux but so far coach Doc Rivers have kept them focused. This is the most successful season (57-25) since the franchise started in 1970. This is likewise the first time that the team has reached the 2nd round of the playoffs since being renamed to the Los Angeles Clippers in 1984. It would be great if the Clippers can go all the way.