This is my first blog post in nearly two weeks. After a frantic week of prepping for a TV broadcast, and then enjoying my spring break, I have returned.
I’ll skip the baseball stuff for now and go right to everything that has been good about the NBA playoffs – which pretty much has been everything except the New York Knicks. I’ve been watching the NBA playoffs with an March Madness-type intensity. I think I can credit nearly all of my hype to the infusion of young talent that has dominated the playoffs. And that starts with the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose is one of the top three players in the game. I’d take him over Kobe, over Wade and over LeBron.
If you haven’t watched Rose’s heroics in this series, you are missing one of the top performances in recent memory. And we should be used to this! Two years ago in the first round against the Celtics, Rose put on one of the best displays a rookie has ever done in the playoffs, pushing the Celtics to a decisive 7th game, with Rose being the star of the series. In Game 1, he led the Bulls back from a double-digit deficit, and his dish to Kyle Korver’s game-winning three pointer was the dagger in the game, and the series. Again in Game 2, he was dominant. The Pacers have been able to contain Rose in games three and four, but even from the free throw line, Rose has been able to put his stamp on a series. He made only 1 second half field goal in the Bulls’ Game 3 win, but still scored over 20 points by grinding it out and getting to the foul line. He has been the best player in the playoffs. Hopefully his tweaked ankle does not affect him going forward.
Chris Paul has been another money player. Over 30 points in Game 1 against the Lakers and a triple-double with 27 points in last night’s series tying win. Again, Paul’s performance in 2008 led him to be in the NBA spotlight, and he has returned in full-force in 2011. Chris Paul has to be a dominant player for the Hornets to succeed, and he has been in the playoffs. When he is on, he is one of the best points in the game.
Brandon Roy is a player that has been injury-plagued for a few years. At times, it has kept him off the court, and at times it has poorly affected him even when he is on the court. In Game 2, he watched helplessly from the bench as the Blazers fell into an 0-2 hole to the Mavericks. Roy played only 8 minutes and did not score a point. He erased all doubt with his Game 4 performance and the stunning 4th quarter comeback that he single-handedly orchestrated. He did it all, driving, pulling up, knocking down clutch 3’s. 18 of his 24 points came in the 4th quarter. It evened up the series at 2 games a piece and sent Portland into a frenzy. I hope Brandon keeps up his incredible play for the remainder of the series.
Let’s also not forget the OKC Thunder and the entire team of young, talented players, led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They lead their series 3-0 over the Denver Nuggets (or is it Knuggets?).
To me, watching players and teams like this is so much better than watching the Celtics, Lakers, or Spurs, teams that have won before. It’s better than watching the Heat, who are just a conglomeration of overrated players (with the exception of Wade, who I still admire). I think watching players like Rose, Durant, Paul and Roy are making the NBA relevant again. After the past 15 years when many players fit a “thug” type of attitude, these players have been a lot more mature, and frankly, a whole lot more exciting.