The Boston Celtics' championship window may be officially shut.
The wait is over, NBA fans. The 2013 postseason is officially upon us.
The 82-game regular season has concluded, and 16 teams are fortunate enough to have made the playoffs. Not all 16, however, are primed for a deep run, as some have disappointment waiting around the corner.
There’s no science to predicting the future, but there are certainly ways of gauging which teams will excel. Some simply aren’t destined for greatness, which is why a handful will flop with a championship on the line.
The New York Knicks haven’t won a playoff series in 13 years. That streak may come to an end in 2013, and if it does, it will be at the expense of the Boston Celtics.
When Rajon Rondo went out with a torn ACL, there was a brief moment where the team looked as if it would rally and be even better than before. A seven-game winning streak before All-Star Weekend gave fans hope, but that optimism began to fizzle when the losing returned.
Heading into the postseason, Boston has lost three of its last four contests—11 of its last 16 dating back to March 18. A matchup with the surging Knicks doesn’t help its cause, especially considering it went just 1-3 against them all year.
It seems as if we’ve been saying that the Celtics’ championship window is closing—yet not closed—for years. The time has come to admit that the window is shut, and it’s time to see what Danny Ainge’s next move is during the offseason.
The Milwaukee Bucks are trending the wrong direction heading into the playoffs, and it’s possible that their matchup against the Miami Heat gets out of control right out of the gate.
The Bucks enter the postseason having lost five of their last six games. They’re one of only two squads in the group of 16 with a negative point margin on the year—they score just 98.9 points compared to the 100.4 they allow—and they’re the only ones with a record below .500.
To say that Milwaukee is facing a potential collapse is a bit unfair, as most reasonable fans expect the Heat to win the series. However, Brandon Jennings set the goal high when he declared back in March that he wanted the Heat in the first round (according to Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel).
Jennings has gotten what he asked for, and unless he’s able to shock the world, you’ll have to look elsewhere for a Cinderella story.
The Golden State Warriors began the 2012-13 season as one of the league’s biggest surprises. Anybody who looked at their roster knew they’d be improved, but a 30-17 start was better than most could have asked for.
Following the great start, Golden State went just 17-18, and in total, they were just 1-4 against the Denver Nuggets—their first opponent.
The Nuggets have been the best home team in the Association, as they boast a 38-3 record at Pepsi Center. Home-court advantage gives them a huge edge, but it’s their offense that will put them over the top.
While Golden State is known for its scoring—it finished the year with a 101.2 points-per-game average—Denver is first with 106.1. Even with Danilo Gallinari out, the Nuggets are the ones who closed out the season winning eight of their last nine games.
This series will be entertaining to say the least, but fans in Golden State will have to consider the playoffs a moral victory heading into 2014.
It wasn’t easy, but the Los Angeles Lakers managed to grab the seventh spot out West. Now they have the unpleasant privilege of taking on the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.
Sans Kobe Bryant, L.A. has its hands full. The Spurs have been banged up, but they fail in comparison when it comes to the injury-riddled season the Lakers have endured.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears, Steve Nash may be ready to make his return by the first game of the series. The question is, will he be healthy enough to produce on offense, and can he stay in front of Tony Parker on the defensive side of the floor?
Nash aside, the entire roster is one big question mark. Pau Gasol, despite coming off one of his best games of the year, has been plagued with inconsistency. Metta World Peace can’t hit a shot coming back from injury, and the bench gets shallower with every injury that takes place.
Even Dwight Howard, the undisputed star of the team without Bryant, can’t be fully trusted late because of his foul shooting.
For all we know, the Lakers may shock the world. But in the more likely scenario where they fall to San Antonio, the 2012-13 season will end in truly disappointing fashion.
If the San Antonio Spurs go on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, how could their playoff appearance be considered a collapse?
By not reaching the Western Conference Finals—that’s how.
The Spurs are a championship-or-bust team. In the six times that they’ve met the Lakers in the playoffs (in the Tim Duncan/Kobe Bryant era), the winner has gone on to reach the NBA championship (according to ESPN).
If all goes according to plan, the Spurs should take down L.A. in the first round. But a first-round victory won’t please this group, and Gregg Popovich must get the most from his depth with both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili recovering from injuries.
There are no moral victories for San Antonio, and unless it can do better than it did a year ago, there won’t be much celebrating for this crew.