As the NBA playoff race nears the finish, we see many teams step up, buckle under the pressure and battle through criticism. What really highlights all this is the trade talks that have really jumbled up the NBA and the playoff picture. Lets start with the two most obvious teams, the Miami Heat and New York Knicks.
Over the past off-season, the Heat seemed to solidify a deep playoff run with the acquisition of both LeBron James and Chris Bosh to compliment the incredibly talented Dwyane Wade.
In the 2009- 2010 Season the Heat had finished with a record of 48- 39, but now under the Big 3, are about to pass last season with a current record of 46- 22.
One question: Will they be a strong playoff team? In my opinion, yes, but they really have no chance to beat the Boston Celtics. Boston has been to the Final twice in the last 3 seasons, with a championship in 2008. I have to choose experience over a scoring lineup any day. Should the Celts and Heat match up in the postseason, It will be an exciting series, but I see Boston taking it in 5 games.
Now on to the New York Knicks, who beat the trade deadline and obtained Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups from the Denver Nuggets in a three team trade. Since the trade, the reinvigorated Knicks had become a definite threat in the Eastern Conference even though they only posted a 7- 6 record in the first 13 games since the deal. Stepping up to become a contender in the East is one thing, but it doesn’t seem that New York will be an intimidator in the playoffs yet, especially with teams like Orlando, Miami, and Boston.
This is just a little taste of the trade fever, but I feel the real strength lies with those teams that stood pat. The San Antonio Spurs are posting amazing numbers and through 67 games, have a remarkable record of 54-13, this coming from a team whom many have classified as “getting too old” (to contend). I again emphasize the power of a team that has experience over scoring lineups. The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers have been steam rolling any team that steps in their path with the depth of their bench, the power inside and scoring ability of Kobe Bryant. After the All-star break the Lakers set the standard by winning 10 of 11 games. They have 3 consecuative years of playoff experience and 2 rings to show for it. So if you think for a second that these teams that are trading players left and right are only getting better, remember the Western Conference powers and the desire for the Three-peat.
Numbers don’t lie, but that doesn’t mean the playoffs are all predetermined. I can ensure you that there will be remarkable upsets, players stepping up, and maybe a new World Champion. No outcome is certain, but what is certain is that the 2011 Playoff series will be one of the most exhilarating of all time and that Cam’s Corner has got you every step of the way.
This is the first column from Cameron Dalton. Mr. Dalton will be a regular contributing writer for INSIDE SPORTS.
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