It is that time of year where fans get all crazy about March Madness.
The NBA might finally have something to say about that.
Yeah, Tyler Hansbrough is a tearing up the ACC and Beasley is having a better all around season than Durant last year, but the NBA is where the action is at.
Better players, better coaching, and finally better team play.
With that groundwork, I'll lay out the top five things to watch as the NBA season winds down...
1. Kobe Bryant's Pinkie
Make no mistake about it. The NBA championship goes through Kobe. There's nobody on the face of the Earth that wants to win more now than Kobe. Pau down? No problem. Kobe can give you a couple 50 point games.
Andrew won't be back till April? So what? The Mamba led a team of Smush Parker and Kwame Brown to the playoffs in the West. After Kobe picks up his most deserved NBA MVP trophy, it will all be resting on his health and pinkie to see if he gets finals MVP as well.
2. The Second Round in the East
Let's be honest, whoever meets Cleveland in the second round is going to have to bring their A game every single night. Sure the Cavs stink, but they got LeBron James.
And for four games, LeBron James can be the best player who's ever played the game. He can play at that level for four games. He's done it before and he can do it again. If I'm Boston or Detroit, I don't want to play Cleveland at all. The rub here is that even if Boston or Detroit beats LBJ's Cavs, the winner will have to expend so much energy doing it that the other team will coast to victory.
3. Shaquille O'Neal and the Phoenix Suns
I watched the game against Golden State and the best thing that happened to Phoenix was that Shaq was in foul trouble. Methinks Phoenix stinks, but would love for the two teams that mortgaged their future to meet in the first round. Dallas in six.
4. Manu Ginobli
With apologies to D-Wade, Ginobli is by far the second best shooting guard in the league. It's a damn shame he doesn't have t-mobile commercials. Still, Manu is prone to erratic turnovers, terrible shots, and costly fouls in key moments of the game. Don't get me wrong, Manu is a champion, but for the first time he's the best player on the San Antonio Spurs. Can a Ginobli led team win the championship? If they do, will it be the first time a bench player is the Finals MVP?
5. The Houston Rockets
Methinks the Houston Rockets streak ends today against Los Angeles, but they are the classic inspirational tale. Everyone counted them out and now they are challenging for the best record in the West. Can they keep streaking and make this a Cinderella story? If so, is it time to get rid of Yao and his continuous injuries? Oh, and it's good to see Tracy McGrady on top of his game. You think LeBron is a beast. Remember what Tracy did in '02? Yeah. He was that good.