Forty years from now, I will tell my grandchildren with extreme pleasure that I was alive to witness the NBA 2007-2008 season. How I saw the Diesel run up and down the court for the Suns. How I saw the Miami Heat totally implode. How I saw Mr. Triple Double get traded to the Mavs. How I saw Superman make a cameo appearance at the dunk contest. How I saw Gasol get traded to the Lake Show in one of the most ludicrous deals of the decade. How Houston cruised to 22 straight. And how I was alive to see Golden State, with a 48-33 record, robbed of a playoff spot.
I can’t possibly try to describe every event and aspect of the 2008 NBA season, but the competitiveness of the NBA Western Conference stands out the most. Never in the history of the league has there been such an imbalance of power between the East and the West, but nonetheless, this imbalance has brought magic to the NBA once again.
The 2008 playoffs in the Western Conference will end up being like a bad Academy Awards Show. Where every actor is deserving of winning that Oscar, but there aren’t enough trophies to go around.
So who’s name is in the white envelope for the 1st round?
#1 L.A. Lakers vs. #8 Denver Nuggets
There’s a lot of concern about the return of Andrew Bynum, and if he and Pau Gasol can be friends. With that in mind, this series will be a lot closer than it should be. The Nuggets have had some harrowing events to close the postseason, mainly Carmelo's legal problems. But Denver sports a very talented team, and they match up very well with the Lakers. However, the Nuggets face two very daunting tasks, winning at the Staples Center, and guarding the ring-hungry Kobe Bryant. The Nuggets are in no way a #8 seed, so don’t let the rankings fool you. Expect a close series, maybe even 7 games.
And the Oscar goes to … L.A. in 6
#2 New Orleans Hornets vs. #7 Dallas Mavericks
This series looks to be the most intriguing in the West. The Hornets looked unstoppable at times during the regular season, having an efficient, balanced offence, striking from both long range and having a solid inside game as well, with both getting set up by the robust CP3. However, this is New Orlean's first playoff appearance for this unit, and will that get in their heads? On the other end, Dallas has many hardened playoff veterans, and I believe that their 1st round exit to the Warriors last season has helped them grow as a team tremendously. The key for Dallas is to get their big scorers going very early in games, namely Dirk, and I think with the Mav's key addition of Jason Kidd, it will happen. No doubt this will be the most entertaining series to watch of the 1st round.
And the Oscar goes to … Dallas in 7
#3 San Antonio Spurs vs. #6 Phoenix Suns
The Suns won 2 out of 3 meetings with the dynasty during the regular season. With the presence of the Diesel in the paint, the Suns have a much better shield against Tim Duncan than they did last postseason. San Antonio still lacks a bench, and they will need to rely more than ever on their offensive attack of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli. But the Suns will still run and shoot fireworks from the perimeter, so I expect to see an exhausted San Antonio sideline and almost a triple digit score for the Suns at the end of each game.
And the Oscar goes to … Phoenix in 6
#4 Utah Jazz vs. #5 Houston Rockets
Yao’s still hurt, and that will bring another whole world of hurt to the rest of the Rockets team. They face one of the best frontcourts in the NBA, who will be getting the ball from newly busted out point guard Deron Williams. Utah also boasts an improved bench than last season, with the young gun Paul Millsap, sharpshooter Kyle Korver, and the veteran Matt Harpring all coming off the bench firing off on all cylinders. As for matchups, Utah is counting the mismatches like free money. Mismatches like Dikembe trying to defend Okur on the perimeter, Rafer guarding the much stronger Deron Williams, rookie Luis Scola having to deal with the explosive Boozer, and AK-47’s lockdown of T-Mac, Houston’s only weapon. And Utah has Jerry Sloan, so they get even more brownie points.
And the Oscar goes to … Utah in 5