Just over a week into the playoffs and the gargantuans have given us gems of games.
The Trail Blazers upset the Suns on the road. The Celtics and Heat got into a heated brawl. And the Spurs could actually take Round One from the Mavericks—the mainstream’s pick for second-best in the West.
Through all the confounding contests some questions have been answered—and many more have sprung up.
Are the Spurs actually for real once again?
How good would the Blazers be with one of their injured players, let alone all nine?
These are a few of the questions we have in store, (read of course, comment and discuss) and join us for more!
To be the champion, you have to beat the champion.
The Lakers are still the defending champs but they are showing many signs of aging.
Kobe doesn’t have the lift in his legs and his hand is still injured. Both Lamar Odom and Ron Artest are struggling to keep up with the younger players on OKC.
Still, the Lakers held court at home in the first two games, even with the Thunder hanging tough and only losing by three (95-92).
Then Oklahoma City took Games Three and Four, blowing out LA by 21 points on Sunday. The Thunder were dynamic as Kevin Durant only had to score 22 as they had five players score in double digits.
Tuesday night, Los Angeles took back control with the 24-point (111-87) blowout win of their own. Before the game, J.A. Adande tweeted, “Phil Jax on team attitude: ‘I hope it's not desperation.’” Apparently, the Lakers found their way, but will they win the series?
The series is now 3-2 in LA’s favor, but it has all the makings of going seven games. If so, will the long-lived Lakers be too worn out to make the Finals?
The Nuggets are the biggest no-show of the 2010 NBA playoffs.
Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups have been carrying a team that looks more like the Denver teams of Melo and A.I. than the Western Finals contenders of a year ago.
The Nuggets have lost, and cannot find, their identity—partly due to the cancer ravaging head coach George Karl’s body.
Kenyon Martin, the quarterback of Denver’s defense, fought hard to get back to the court after receiving platelet-rich plasma therapy a mere month ago, but he’s only about 70-80 percent at best.
Center Nene isn’t dominant enough and Chris “Birdman” Andersen isn’t big enough to be forceful in the front court against Paul Milsap and Carlos Boozer.
Denver dominated in Game One of the series, but then were outworked in their Game Two loss to the Utah Jazz (114-111).
Utah has commanded since then, winning by 11.5 points per game in the next two contests, taking an assertive 3-1 lead in the series.
The Nuggets must now win three straight games to advance, and only 8 of 129 teams in NBA history have done so.
With Karl out and Denver’s title dreams crumbling, can they come back to defeat the Jazz?
The Blazers came out in their first playoff game and shocked the world with the 105-100 upset of the Suns at home.
Andre Miller was unconscious, scoring a playoff career-high 34 points and plain willing his team to victory in Phoenix.
The Suns didn’t take the loss lightly, fighting back and asserting their dominance with back-to-back blowout wins (119-90, 108-89).
But Portland didn’t just roll over and die, it took Game Four (96-87) on the shoulders of LaMarcus Aldridge (31 pts, 11 reb) as five players scored 10+ points.
On Tuesday night, the Suns struck back with yet another smash-up victory (107-88), and took back the series lead 3-2.
Still, how good would the Blazers be with Greg Oden and others?
San Antonio is the franchise that refuses to listen to critics.
They’re too old, too slow, too boring the mainstream says—still they compete once again.
Along with the Nuggets, the Mavericks emerged as a favorite to upset the Lakers in the West and many thought they would walk all over the Spurs.
San Antonio and Tim Duncan said, “Not so fast.”
Dallas won Game One, but the Spurs took the next three games and the domineering 3-1 lead.
The Mavericks now have their backs against the wall.
After making the blockbuster deal that landed Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood mid-season, and with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd on the decline, the window for that ever elusive championship is closing quickly.
Dallas made a massive statement in Game Five, smashing the Spurs by 22 points (103-81), allowing only 35 points post halftime.
The Mavs now have to beat the Spurs in San Antonio for the first time in the series to take it the distance and seven games.
Can Dallas push the series to seven or are the Spurs just too tough?
Dwyane Wade is one of the top players in the NBA today.
He’s a human highlight film, highly explosive, and able to take over a game at any time.
But even Wade can’t do it all alone.
The Heat are a decent team, but no contender to be sure.
Michael Beasley is mediocre at best (14.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG) and Jermaine O’Neal is way overpaid for his pedestrian numbers (13.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG).
Miami has shown they either can’t or won’t build around Wade, so why should he stay?
There’s no doubt many teams will have the money to take the superstar and only one franchise can land LeBron.
So the question really is, where will Wade land in 2011?
Rich Kurtzman is a Colorado State University Alumnus and a freelance journalist. Along with being the Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist here on B/R, Kurtzman is the Denver Broncos FC on NFLTouchdown.com, the CSU Rams Examiner on examiner.com and a contributor to coloradosportsdesk.com.
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