Wednesday, April 13, 2011

playoffs seeded. battles still to be fought.

On the last day of the NBA regular season, all 30 teams in the league were in action, something that hasn't happened since 1957. It was an action-packed night.

With the Eastern Conference all taken care of insofar as seeding, the Bulls were still fighting for the overall first seed, should they make it to the Finals. The only team they were battling, the San Antonio Spurs, lost while Chicago won, avoiding the potential for a tie-breaking random draw. The Boston Celtics beat the New York Knicks in a game that was at least partially a preview of the series they'll start this weekend. It could (and probably should) be argued their neither team brought their A Team (the starting line up for the Celtics consisted of Jeff Green, Glen Davis, Nenad Krstic, Carlos Arroyo and Von Wafer. I promise this is the only time you will ever see those names together as a starting line up. For anyone. Ever.) but that also didn't matter; both teams had been locked into their spots for more than 24 hours. New York is a trendy pick to upset Boston, who appear to be struggling right now, but that's far from a sure bet, especially given the way Boston's left-for-dead corpse roared back to life like Frankenstein propelled by the lightning during last year's post-season. The aforementioned Bulls will face the Pacers in the first round and the Miami Heat will go up against the Philadelphia 76ers. The only asterisk is left for the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks series, with Atlanta leading the regular season campaign at 3-1. That stat conveys to some that the Magic are ripe for downfall.

Meanwhile, over in the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies tanked so hard people were disgusted in their last regular-season game against the Clippers. The Clips had no chance at the playoffs and were more than happy to play the role of spoiler. The Spurs had been clinched as the top seed for almost a week and it appears as though the Grizzlies, in control of their own destiny, chose to play against that top seed. With the loss from Memphis, the New Orleans Hornets were cemented as the 7 seed, but their opponent took some work to be determined: after taking an 18-point lead into the beginning of the 4th quarter, the Lakers needed a 3 point shot by Kobe Bryant just to make it to overtime. A commanding 17-9 performance in the extra period gave Los Angeles the win, giving the Lakers a date with the Hornets. The Dallas Mavericks cliched the 4th seed for the Oklahoma City Thunder with their win, ensuring that the Thunder will be playing the Nuggets, who rest in the 5 spot. That left only the Portland Trailblazers, locked at the sixth seed, to play the third-seeded Dallas Mavericks, thanks to the magic of their win, combined with the Laker win and the Thunder loss.

It was a rare night from the get go, but most of the teams did their best to spice up the drama. The playoffs start on Saturday, with first rounds that promise to be exciting in the East, where it seems as though all the top seeds should win out (but nothing is guaranteed) and especially scintillating in the West where anything could happen. Tune in.

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