For the three teams that have already punched their tickets to the conference finals, the semifinals were quite anticlimactic.
The Lakers, with their backs to the wall in the first round against the Thunder and needing a tip-in from Pau Gasol to survive, overpowered the undermanned Jazz.
The Magic took the foibles and idiosyncrasies of the dysfunctional Hawks and routed them by an average of over 25 points per game.
And the Suns exorcised the playoff demon that was the Spurs in remarkable fashion, closing out the series in San Antonio after Goran Dragic's 23-point fourth quarter in Game Three and Steve Nash's one-eyed heroics in the clincher.
Only one semifinal matchup didn't end in a sweep—the Celtics lead the Cavs 3-2 in their series, but don't let the game tally fool you. Only one game was decided by single-digits (an eight point Cleveland win in Game One), and the average margin of victory has been 19.4 points.
Quite simply, we need the conference finals to begin. Pronto. Because if we don't start to see some competitive basketball soon, people are going to start turning on American Idol and Glee...and we really don't need that.
With Phoenix-L.A. set in stone for Monday night, and a possible Orlando-Boston soiree kicking off Sunday afternoon, there are some fascinating and intriguing matchups to look at.
In both conferences, there's somewhat of a changing of the guard at stake. In the West, the Suns get a chance at another big, bad bully that's dominated them for years. It's a polar opposite contrast of styles, with each side seemingly having the perfect x-factor to exploit the other side's primary weakness.
In the East, the Magic could get a chance to eliminate the Celtics for the second consecutive season and establish themselves as the new class of the conference. And with the nucleus of Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson locked up for the foreseeable future, there's no reason to believe the Magic won't be the preliminary favorites next year either.
While I'm sure the die-hard contingencies in L.A. and Boston would love to see their teams meet in the Finals for the 4,913th time, I'm here to tell you it won't happen. So don't get too excited, Commissioner Stern.
No, this is the year that the little guys, the two teams that were constantly overlooked all year long, will break the barrier.
An Orlando-Phoenix Finals doesn't sound sexy to the average viewer, but trust me, in terms of player matchups, contrasting styles, and a battle of two very underrated coaches, it would be one of the best deciding series that we've seen in the last 10 years.
That being said, here are 10 reasons why you can feel confident telling your bookie that you've got Phoenix and Orlando in the Finals. Take those 6-to-1 winnings and thank me later.
As usual, we'll start with No. 10...