Are you excited? You should be—the NBA playoffs are here!
And if they're anything like last year's version, things are about to become fun. Who could forget LeBron James finally getting the monkey off his back, or the Oklahoma City Thunder coming of age? How about the Boston Celtics coming this close to defeating the Heat?
Ah, the memories. Here's to hoping a few more are created this spring.
Starting Dates (via NBA.com)
April 20: 2013 NBA playoffs begin
May 7: Conference Semifinals begin (possible move-up to May 6)
May 22: Conference Finals begin (possible move-up to May 21)
June 6: NBA Finals begin (possible move-up to June 4)
Here are a few predictions for this year's postseason. Some are random. Others are more traditional predictions, such as who will win the title. Here goes:
- Carmelo Anthony will score 50 points at least twice in the postseason, but it won't be enough for the New York Knicks to advance past the Indiana Pacers in the conference semifinals.
- Speaking of the Knicks, the Boston Celtics will force a seven-game series in the first round, but the Knicks will survive. It will be most compelling first-round matchup.
- We'll still be talking about Derrick Rose. Just accept it.
- The Miami Heat will sweep the first two rounds of the playoffs.
- At some point in the playoffs we'll be discussing Russell Westbrook's shot selection. We'll also be talking about his role in getting the Oklahoma City Thunder to another NBA Finals.
And now for the big one. The Heat will repeat as NBA champions, defeating the Thunder in seven wonderful, extremely competitive games. This is going to go down as an all-time classic.
Remember how fantastic the Finals were last year? Sure, the Heat ultimately won in five, but it was much closer than that. Remember this moment?
You've got LeBron James squaring off against Kevin Durant. Dwyane Wade staring down Russell Westbrook. Chris Bosh battling on the block against Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins. Ray Allen gunning for another title.
The Heat are the defending champions, went 2-0 against the Thunder this season and have the best player on the planet in James, so I have to give Miami the advantage in this series. But it will be a battle, and the NBA's newest rivalry will be born with this rematch.
Think the Lakers taking on the Celtics in the 1980s—that's what this rivalry will become. And man, it's gonna be fun to watch.