Reputations. Banners. Rings. Legacies.
The NBA playoffs have arrived, and everything is at stake.
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant—we're looking at you. These are the weeks when your old friends turn into archenemies. The weeks when your press conferences become fashion runways, your sound bites become bumper stickers and your finest moments become stitched in our memories for a lifetime (now we're looking at you, Mr. Jordan).
Bleacher Report writers and editors have conspired to bring you everything you need to know about the NBA playoffs—past, present and future. We'll examine the trends transforming the NBA postseason and show you a side of NBA playoff history rarely told.
We'll look ahead and answer the questions every diehard considers: Whether or not the New York Knicks' obsession with the three-point shot is sustainable and, beyond that, which playoff teams are adapting to the new trifecta paradigm.
We'll examine which go-to players have been lethal in the clutch this year, and what that might mean for the postseason. When the clock's winding down and a nation's holding its breath, which NBA stars will take the shot with confidence? More to the point, what will the Lakers do without Kobe?
We'll also take a look at the nobodies who became somebodies in playoffs past, only to become nobodies again. Single shining moments, it turns out, aren't just a college thing, which begs the question: Which 2013 playoff role player's name will we be Google searching five years from now?
And, of course, we present the playoff moments that will never require a reference check. Jordan's shot over Craig Ehlo. Big Shot Bob's miracle over Chris Webber. Magic Johnson's hook shot that's still floating through the Boston Garden. What became of the participants of these classic moments? Were post-career lives defined by one postseason play?
Playoff lore never gets old.
But who will make a name for themselves in the 2013 NBA playoffs? Does any team other than the Miami Heat have the gumption to raise a banner? Will Carmelo or KD ever get fitted for an NBA championship ring as long as LeBron is around? And whose legacy will reach new heights when it's all said and done?
Let's see what the experts have to say.
To get a real sense of how far these NBA stars have come, we also took a trip down memory lane to see where the NBA's finest first connected with their peers. In other words, how many degrees of separation were they from their future superstar brethren?
To make sense of it all, we collected stories of NBA stars' first meet-ups with their peers and put it in a handy flowchart:
Now, it's time to look ahead. Here's how the NBA playoff matchups break down:
EASTERN CONFERENCE - FIRST ROUND
Regular-season series W-L: Heat lead 3-1
Regular-season series W-L: Knicks lead 3-1
Regular-season series W-L: series tied 2-2
Regular-season series W-L: Bulls lead 3-1
WESTERN CONFERENCE - FIRST ROUND
Regular-season series W-L: Thunder lead, 2-1
Regular-season series W-L: Spurs lead, 2-1
Regular-season series W-L: Nuggets, 3-1
Regular-season series W-L: Clippers lead, 3-1