There are few things as exciting as the beginning of things. Think about it, overall what is the most comfortable and exhilarating then when something starts. When The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, sure it sucked but we were filled with a giddy goo of excitement because we had two more movies left. When March madness starts, the games that are most universally enjoyed are the opening round games. When they end, we know we still have a long road ahead.
The same goes for the NBA Playoffs. Right now, no matter the odds or the seedings, everyone has an equal shot at winning an NBA championship. Sure the Sixers are a lot worse then the Bulls and the Thunder will probably crush the Mavericks, but we’ve seen March Madness Cinderella style runs before in the playoffs.
That’s what’s so exciting about this moment, right here and right now. No one has played a minute of the playoffs and the playing field is even — of now.
As romantic as it is to say the playing field is level now, it’s going to become the exact opposite starting tomorrow when half of the NBA playoff games start.
When you first glance at the playoff brackets in both the East and West, it becomes apparent who will come out on top. For starters, the Bulls and Spurs are not going to lose in the first round, however the Spurs are the more vulnerable of the top seeds. The difference is int he opponent. The Jazz are coming into the postseason on fire riding a five game winning streak including a win over the Suns to clinch. The Sixers on the other hand accidentally got into the playoffs it seems and don’t even themselves believe they can win.
Plus we’ve seen the Spurs struggle against teams that get hot in the postseason, just look at last season. The Spurs are perhaps the most unstable top three seed in the playoffs at them moment which is really unfortunate given what they’ve achieved this year.
The two seeds are really 1-a seeds. The Heat almost leap frogged the Bulls at the last minute but misfired horribly eventually conceding the No. 1 seed to the Bulls by resting the Big 3. The Thunder on the other hand had the top seed in the West but couldn’t maintain it, getting leapfrogged by the Spurs twice, the second time was the fatal time. Within 48 hours of passing the Thunder the Spurs had clinched.
But neither of them are unstable. There are those out there that say the Knicks will beat the Heat and if that happens it’s truly going to be the biggest upset of the opening round. The Knicks don’t have Jeremy Lin so those fans bragging about the Heat’s lack of a point guard sound stupid. If anything the series will go 7 games with the Heat winning in the end. The Thunder get a Conference Finals rematch in the first round with the Mavericks. Expect the same outcome, Oklahoma City is to fast and young and have the Mavericks number this time around. But don’t doubt the Mavericks, we did that last year and look how it ended up.
After the top two seeds the polar opposite thing stops. The Lakers and the Pacers both have tough series that may see them get upset but may also see them glide through the opening round.
The Nuggets are the team that you probably shouldn’t bet the farm on an upset but at the same time don’t count it out. Denver is riding a four game wining streak into the playoffs including wins over the Magic (the Eastern Conference’s 6th seed) and the second seeded Thunder which was on the road. The Lakers have had Denver’s number this season though winning 3 of 4 meetings.
On the other side the Pacers get the Magic which was a good matchup until the Magic lost Dwight Howard. Now Orlando will be lucky to repeat their 3-1 season series mark against Indiana who has only grown during the year. At the beginning of the season I pegged the Pacers as my sleeper team to make a run and an opening round series against the Magic sets them up very nicely to make it further then they did last year with twice the talent.
No. 4/No. 5 Seeds
Here’s your classic 8 seed meets the 9 seed opening round March Madness game. Both series could go either way as all four teams are evenly matched. In the East the Atlanta Hawks are looking for a repeat second round series with the Bulls but they’ll have to get through the Boston Celtics first, a team that has degraded and eroded from the third seed they were last year. Boston is in serious danger of getting bounced in the first round here but I would’t bet on it. Atlanta’a cute, but they won’t keep up with the Celtics. The problem with Boston is they can come out guns a’blazing now but with their age they’ll run out of gas.
In the West you have a closer matchup and probably the most entertaining matchup of the first round between the Grizzlies and the Clippers. The Grizzlies were a team a lot of people tagged as their deeper team and so far so good on that. The Clippers have rebounded in one year by trading to get Chris Paul and combining him with Blake Griffin. This will be a series that will underwhelm if it doesn’t go to at least 6 games with close games being played all the way through. I love the Bulls but I’ll be glued to this series as much as I will be the Chicago series.
Stay tuned to ‘Pippen Ain’t Easy’ all postseason long to get the best, most up to date news and analysis on not only the Chicago Bulls but the entire playoff field from here until the final game of the NBA Finals.