2010 NBA Playoffs: 10 Undeniable Truths Regarding the Postseason
Just because a person refuses to accept truth when it is presented in a manner which renders it evident and obvious doesn't mean their denial changes the facts of the matter. The truth is the truth.
The NBA is a breeding ground for people who eschew truth, and the evidence is found in the unrealistic faith fans place in their favorite teams.
Most people are well aware before the first dribble of the regular season if their team of choice is a legitimate championship contender, a playoff threat, or headed for the NBA lottery.
This is usually true with a few exceptions, and the irony is found when fans form wishful expectations in their minds and are fully aware their favorite teams will never reach those lofty goals.
In the postseason every nuance of the game becomes significant and people who refuse to recognize the merits of truth are multiplied.
Teams who reach the postseason become victims to the pressure of expectations, and in reality some are just happy to have qualified for the playoffs in the first place.
The postseason of 2010 contains various inherent truths and I have attempted to compile a list which exposes some of the more obvious.
I welcome any respectful debate, as I am sure not all will agree, and I hope you will submit your own versions of truth that I may have overlooked.
In the end the truth is all we have, and in order to recognize a situation for what it is, we have to open our eyes and see. Please enjoy!
10. No eight seed will upset a one seed
I just felt that little issue needed to be addressed right from the start.
Few observers are giving the Chicago Bulls a chance to win one game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, let alone the series, but the winds have been blowing in a different direction in Los Angeles.
There are people who not only think the Oklahoma City Thunder will provide a stern first round challenge for the Lakers, but some even go as far to say it will be a likely upset.
Some have even gone as far to compare the Thunder to the Golden State Warriors' team which upset the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of 2007, but that is a true stretch of the imagination.
For one thing that Mavericks team was coming off an epic collapse in the NBA Finals the previous season, while this Lakers team is the defending NBA champion.
Golden State also dominated Dallas in the regular season of 2007, and their playoff series was dictated by matchups which mostly favored the Warriors.
The 2010 Lakers won three out of four games against the Thunder, and Oklahoma City only won that single game near the end of the second half of the season.
Furthermore, the only matchup the Thunder wins on paper is the point guard battle, even though Kevin Durant will surely make the series interesting.
The Lakers are more talented, experienced, and seasoned than the Thunder, and they will ensure that Oklahoma City's stay in the playoffs will be brief.
9. The fourth and fifth seed pairing will be the most competitive
The series between the fourth and fifth seed in the playoffs is usually the first round's most competitive because the teams are evenly matched, and this year it could be exceptional in each conference.
An aging Boston team will host a surging Miami team in the East, while an under-achieving Denver team will host the Utah Jazz in the West.
The Celtics couldn't have finished the season on a more sour note than they did, even on purpose, and the Heat may have been one of the better teams in the league the last month of the season.
It should add up to a very interesting series, and if the Celtics are unable to figure out how to win at home, it could end on a losing note for the once-proud Boston team.
Denver was seen as a legitimate threat to the Lakers in the West, but the final weeks of the season saw the Nuggets beset by injuries and complacency, and they must now play the hand they were dealt.
Utah is in a similar situation, because all they had to do in order to clinch the West's second seed was win their last game against the Phoenix Suns, but were instead blown out at home.
The loss dropped the Jazz to the fifth seed in the West, and that means even if Utah can somehow beat the Nuggets in the first round, they may be forced to play the Lakers in the second, a scenario they were trying to avoid.
8. The Celtics will show their age early
Could the regular season have ended any worse for the Boston Celtics?
Boston lost seven out of their last ten games and finished in the fourth position in the East, after starting the season as a legitimate title contender.
What a difference 82 games makes, because few observers now feel that the Celtics will get past the second round and the Cleveland Cavaliers, if they even make it that far.
Boston won more games on the road than they did at home, and in a cruel twist of fate, they will be forced to stop a hot Miami team in a series that begins in Beantown.
I'm not quite ready to write the Celtics off just yet, because they do still have their pride, but as the saying goes, pride is the last thing to go before a fall.
7. The San Antonio Spurs will not go quietly into the night
Imagine the joy the Mavericks must feel in knowing their reward for clinching the second seed in the west is a first round matchup with the San Antonio Spurs.
Of course I'm being sarcastic, because the Spurs look like anything but a seventh seed, and few will be terribly surprised if San Antonio wins this series.
The Spurs got Tony Parker back from injury, Manu Ginobili has been one of the league's best players the last month, and Tim Duncan has been his usual consistent self.
The Spurs have championship experience and will not be fazed by the raucous atmosphere they will encounter in Dallas, which should lead to a very competitive series.
The Mavericks can find some solace in the fact they have defeated the Spurs in each of the past two playoffs, and they should use that as motivation going forward.
6. Lack of defense will still doom the Phoenix Suns
I will be the first to admit the Phoenix Suns defied all expectations by rising up and clinching the third seed in the West, but that feat hardly establishes them as contenders to the conference throne.
The Suns may play the most exciting brand of basketball in the conference, but it doesn't translate to the postseason, where the game slows down and every possession becomes critical.
Opponents will likely force the Suns to slow their tempo, and when Phoenix is placed in half court situations where they must defend, they will lose.
No team in recent history has won a championship without the ability to at least offer token resistance, and I hardly expect the Suns to buck that trend.
5. The Charlotte Bobcats will win at least one game
the Charlotte Bobcats made history by clinching their first playoff berth, and they will do it again when they garner their first playoff victory against the Orlando Magic.
Of course that doesn't mean the Bobcats could possibly upset the Magic, but they are the league's best defensive team, are well-coached, and play with too much discipline to be swept in the first round.
The only glaring advantage the Magic have is Dwight Howard in the post, but he is the type of singular talent that can dictate the entire series, and Charlotte has no answer for him in the paint.
Still, it will be fun to watch the Bobcats compete with the Magic, and you can be sure they will play with intensity and energy in each game.
Who knows? Charlotte can even make it interesting if they can avoid the deer-in-the-headlight syndrome, and not be satisfied just to have reached the postseason.
4. Utah will suffer dearly for losing their last regular season game
As I previously mentioned, all the Utah Jazz had to do to claim the second seed in the west was win their final home game of the season, but now they don't even have the benefit of a home playoff series.
It must be a bittersweet moment to be a Jazz fan, because I'm sure they are happy to have qualified for the postseason, but they must be sick because of the missed opportunities.
Now Utah must travel to Denver, who they dropped three out of four games against, and the second round could include a third straight playoff pairing with the Lakers.
If they had won last night the jazz would have opened at home against San Antonio, a team they dominated in the regular season, and wouldn't have had to face the Lakers until the Western Finals.
Do you think Utah recognizes the importance of playoff seeding now?
3. Cleveland and Orlando will reprise their grudge match in the ECF
No real surprise here. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic have been the best teams in the Eastern Conference for the majority of the year, and it's only right they should meet again with a shot at the NBA Finals on the line.
There are few people who think it will be any other way, and it will be a monumental disappointment if the Magic or the Cavaliers fail on the path to their epic collision.
Lebron James has the motivation of last year's loss in the ECF to drive him, and Dwight Howard has the memory of watching the Lakers celebrate on his home court to do the same.
One thing is certain, if the matchup does happen, it will likely be the most viewed series of the postseason, unless the Cavaliers win and meet the Lakers in this year's Finals.
2. The Lakers will win the West
You didn't mis-read the words, and no one should act surprised when the Los Angeles Lakers capture their third consecutive Western crown; after all, they are the defending champions and the top seed in the est.
For some reason that fact gets lost when the conversation shifts to the Lakers, as people are far more inclined to point out the various reason Los Angeles will lose in the first or second round.
For all of their issues the Lakers did finish with the best record in the West, and when motivated they still have the most talented team in the conference.
The opportunity to win a repeat championship is motivation enough, and with a healthy Andrew Bynum in the fold, few opponents can match the Lakers size and strength in the post.
Throw in Kobe Bryant's killer instinct in the playoffs and you have the recipe for a third straight NBA Finals appearance for the Lakers.
1. It's championship or bust for the Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers have gone a long way towards erasing the nasty taste left by last season's loss to the Orlando Magic, but it doesn't mean anything unless the Cavaliers win the title.
Cleveland has improved their roster by adding depth, athleticism, and scoring and look every bit the part of a legitimate contender, but another playoff defeat could have disastrous implications.
It's no secret LeBron James is a free agent this year, and if he fails to win a title in Cleveland this season, he may seek his fortune with another team, which would destroy the fabric of the franchise.
For his part, James appears to be clearly focused on the task at hand, and he seems to welcome the chance to redeem himself and add to the chapters of his legacy. Will his teammates cooperate?