It is that time of the year again when the National Basketball Association drops from 30 teams in the league to only 16. It is the NBA Playoffs and it is already off to an intense start with multiple split series and individuals playing games like never before.
The eight teams from the Western Conference consist of the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies. The eight teams from the Eastern Conference are the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Charlotte Bobcats.
All of the NBA Playoff matchups are played out in a series of seven games. Whichever team has four wins first advances to the next round and faces a new opponent from its conference.
The Eastern Conference bracket has been filled with good games and buzzer beaters. Not many people expected the Hawks to put up such a strong fight against the number one seeded Pacers. It was expected that the Heat would be playing as well as it did against the Bobcats.
The Heat is the only team to win the first three games of the series leaving the Bobcats winless in the first round. Being back-to-back NBA Champions, the Heat are expected to be doing this well early in the NBA Playoffs.
California Lutheran University senior and shooting guard for the Kingsmen basketball team Michael Palmer believes the Heat will three-peat in the NBA.
“If the Heat were to three-peat, it would be huge,” Palmer said. “They would solidify themselves as a dynasty.”
For the Western side of the playoff bracket, teams are fighting to play in the Conference Semifinals with many of the series splitting even.
The Thunder and Grizzlies split the series after four games to break even at 2-2. The Clippers and Warriors are a good matchup as well since they also found themselves even after four games.
Palmer understands the level of intensity during a playoff game. He finished his collegiate basketball career as a runner-up in the SCIAC postseason tournament in March.
“The playoff intensity is a feeling you just can’t describe. The intensity is twice more than a normal game, but once you step onto the court, you need to be prepared for anything,” Palmer said.
The Rockets and Trail Blazers series has been the most intense matchup of the playoffs so far. Three of the games have been decided through overtime and not many people expected the Trail Blazers to do as well as it is doing.
Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge totaled 89 points in the opening two games of the series. After four games, Aldridge helped carry the Trail Blazers to a 3-1 lead in the series.
CLU junior Matthew Garvin is a die-hard Lakers fan and although his team did not make the playoffs, he is still watching most of the games. Garvin believes Aldridge has been the standout player in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
“LaMarcus Aldridge is definitely playing the best,” Garvin said. “Because he carried the [Trail Blazers] with a lot of points and not many people expected them to beat the Rockets.”
Portland native Josh Summers has been a Trail Blazer fan since he was a kid. Summers is excited for the success of his hometown team.
“It’s nice being able to see your team competing in the playoffs because it’s been a few years since the Trail Blazers have been in this position,” Summers said. “If they win it all, I’d be really stoked and I might run around and cheer in the streets.”
It is only the first round of the playoffs and the intensity is just getting started. Regardless of the outcomes of the first round, it’ll be one of the best first round matchups in a long time and teams that advance need to prepare for their new opponents. But, whichever team ends up making it to the NBA Finals, expect a hard fought battle between the East and the West.
Published April 30, 2014