The marathon that is the NBA's 82-game season is over. Sixteen teams are now 16 steps away from championship bliss.
It's fun to imagine that, isn't it? A mythical test of wills where 16 teams enter and all have potential to exit on top?
But we can't imagine that, can we? We know better.
The playoff pageantry doesn't feel the same across all 16 markets holding a postseason ticket. For some, this is the end of a journey. For others, this is only the beginning.
As good as the on-court action has been, is and will continue to be, it's the off-court narratives keeping hoop heads dialed in from day one. It's the pursuit of history, the realization of a dream, the determination to slow down a ticking clock. It's building on an overstocked jewelry collection or planning that first championship parade.
The 2014 playoff field is littered with compelling storylines: some new, some recycled, all packed with potential.
When will Father Time catch up to the San Antonio Spurs? Is Kevin Durant ready to snatch the baton away from LeBron James? Does Doc Rivers have the Los Angeles Clippers ready to face the rigors of a title run?
The answers will reveal themselves in time. Our intrigue will make sure we're around when they do.