2012 NBA Playoffs: 6 Matchups Everyone Wants to See
Let's all be honest with ourselves: There are clearly some potential playoff series in the NBA that we would prefer more than others.
Sure, we would love to see our favorite team take home the Larry O'Brien trophy when all is said and done. But short of that, most NBA fans want nothing more than exciting, entertaining basketball, and there are a number of teams that can give that to us.
The Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder are, of course, two of those franchises, but there are plenty of other teams that can—and will—provide plenty of drama this postseason. So with the second season just beyond the horizon, let's take a look at six playoff matchups that everyone wants to see.
Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks
South Beach vs. The Big Apple. LeBron vs. Carmelo. If the seeds hold up, then this highly-anticipated battle between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks could potentially be one for the ages.
The Heat won all three contests against New York this year, but the Knicks have been a much better team since Mike Woodson assumed head coaching duties in March.
First-round matchups rarely have this much star power. Four of the top five picks in the 2003 NBA Draft will be on the court at the same time and New York's depth could make this a much more competitive series than many people expect.
Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat
Many people are under the impression that a Bulls vs. Heat series in the conference finals is a foregone conclusion. While several other teams have a say in the matter, it's clearly one of the premier matchups that most fans want to see.
The two teams split their four meetings this season, and none of the games were decided until late in the fourth quarter. Thanks to James Jones, Rip Hamilton and Dwyane Wade, there's no love lost between Miami and Chicago, who also squared off in the Eastern Conference Finals last year.
If Derrick Rose is healthy, expect this one to be a barn-burner.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies
If the NBA gave each of its playoff series a boxing-like tagline, this one would be called "Unfinished Business."
The San Antonio Spurs, owners of the best record in the West for a second straight season, still have a bitter taste in their mouth after their first-round loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last year.
Not only did the eighth-seeded Grizzlies take the series in six games, they deliberately positioned themselves (read: tanked games at the end of the year) to avoid the Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason.
If the Spurs and Grizzlies meet this year, it would be in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs. Even so, it would still be one of the NBA's more intense battles.
As former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens would say, "get your popcorn ready."
Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
These two teams gave us a fantastic five-game Western Conference Finals series last year. This season, they could very well square off in the first round of the playoffs.
The loss to the Mavs only served to strengthen the resolve of the Thunder, who ran through the league this season in the hopes of securing the franchise's first trip to the NBA Finals since 1996.
Dallas, meanwhile, is the team that simply won't go away. Many of its top players are over 30 (Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion), but with that age comes invaluable playoff experience—experience that will be put to the test against a rolling Thunder team.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs
With all of the buzz surrounding the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs are possibly the two most underrated teams in the NBA. Strange, considering that the two franchises have captured nine of the past 13 NBA titles.
Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are both closer to the end of their respective careers than they are to the beginning, but both men have at least one more NBA title run left in them. A theoretical second-round matchup between their two teams would be nothing short of fantastic.
For obvious reasons, NBA Commissioner David Stern doesn't have a rooting interest in the playoffs, but it's safe to say that he would like to see two of the most dominant players of their generation face off one more time.
Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
If the NBA decided to have a fundraiser for a Heat vs. Thunder series, the league would be flush with cash by the end of the day. The April 5th game between these teams was easily one of the best in the NBA this season—seven games like that would be epic.
This is the showdown atop the wish lists of most NBA fans. It's almost as if it's a competition between the next generation (Oklahoma City) vs. the old guard (Miami), despite the fact that the current iteration of the Heat has yet to win a title.
A Heat win would get the proverbial monkey off of the back of LeBron James, while a Thunder triumph would establish Kevin Durant as the Once and Future King of the NBA.