The funny thing is, I am neither a fan of the Lakers or Celtics, quite the opposite, as a lifelong Chicago Bulls fan I grew up hating both those teams, particularly those 'dreaded' Boston Celtics teams of the 70's & 80's, come to think of it, most people outside of New England felt that way.
The reason I am happy with the way the playoffs have turned out is that after what threatened to be one of the most predictable & boring offseasons in recent memory, form & predictions were turned upside down when the Celtics & to a lesser extent, the San Antonio Spurs decided they didn't give a damn about popular opinion or what 90 percent of media "experts" were predicting.
San Antonio went straight for the throats of the Dallas mavericks, the 'anointed' western conference finalists, hailed by most experts as the 'only team capable of challenging the mighty & all conquering armada that are the LA Lakers' for the western conference title.
Boy, did they ever get that one wrong.
Dallas were eliminated in a six game series, six games in which they failed to show any fight, grit or determination and instead displayed a consistent lack of imagination as well as a terminal inability to find a plan B when plan A was obviously not working.
This is the third time in four years that the Mavericks have been emphatically eliminated in the first round, twice against lower ranked opposition, when many expected them to appear in the NBA finals, or at the very least, the conference finals, in my opinion, Dallas's failures come down to the simple fact that this isn't Dirk Nowitki's team, sure he is their undisputed star & franchise player, however, to be a successful & dominating force in Basketball it's been proven time & time again that a team should play in the image of their leader, just as Chicago did with Jordan & Pippen, LA with Magic & Kareem, Boston with Russell & Cousy, I could go on & on.
The Dallas Mavericks biggest problem & the reason they continually fail at the highest level is because when their backs are to the wall & it's time to stand up & be counted as well as playing above & beyond their comfort zones & demanding nothing less than 110 percent of yourself & your teammates & refusing to lose as well as having the ability to win ugly, all prerequisites of postseason success, in any sport, never mind Basketball.
That said, the bottom line is that Dallas are not Nowitzki's team, not when it really matter's anyway, they are Jason Terry's team, they are Eric Dampier's team & DeShawn Stevenson's 'gang', before you call for the men in white coats to haul my sorry ass to the madhouse let me explain; The three players I have just mentioned all have something in common, they are the ultimate 'bandwagon' teammates, they always talk a good game, are usually very talented (in Eric's case I use the term talent very loosely indeed) & are great to have around when things are going great, particularly in the regular season when their team in the midst of an inspiring 10 game winning streak, however, put these guys on the wrong end of a raging 'blood & guts' playoff battle, or God forbid, the wrong end of a humiliating loss, and watch them wilt like a delicate flower in the middle of the Sahara desert, they disappear so effectively you would think they were never there in the first place, like a mirage.
That's why I say it's their team & not Dirk's, the Maverick's have played every career defining game in the image of those three underachieving players, they went missing in action & ultimately disappeared.
As far as the Boston Celtic's are concerned, they went after everybody's collective throats and are now licking their lips at the prospect of having another shot at the defending NBA champions the LA Lakers and more importantly, a second title in three years.
In stark contrast to the heavily favored Cleveland Cavaliers & the aforementioned Dallas Mavericks, these veteran Celtics played with pride, commitment, intelligence, skill and a ferocity we had not seen since their stunning triumph two years ago, they literally took all the negative headlines written about them this past season, all the taunts about them being banged up as well too old & past their sell by date and used it as motivation, and then unleashed all their pent up rage & frustrations on the unsuspecting Cavaliers & Orlando Magic, one thing the Cavs & Magic had in common at the end of their respective playoff runs was the looks on many off their players & coaches faces, they had the look of men who had been taken to the very edge & didn't enjoy it one bit.
That's what champions do, they will push you to the very limit both physically & mentally, daring you to try and beat them and then they will push you even further.
I really am looking forward to watching these two evenly matched teams go head to head, as opposed to last year's underwhelming finals matchup featuring the disappointing Orland Magic, these two legendary teams will go to war, in every sense of the word, they will fight to the bitter end and whoever ends up losing will go down fighting & cursing.