The playoffs are closer than you'd think and we're about ready to see the league's elite step their games up to a whole other level.
The playoffs are what truly makes or breaks a player. Players like Steve Nash and LeBron James have played their best basketball in the regular season, but they'd trade the timing of their performances in a heartbeat if given the chance.
One of the most exciting aspects of the playoffs is seeing star players go head-to-head against each other. With that said, here are a few matchups that, if we get to see in this year's playoffs, will be a real treat.
Let's start this list off with a bang.
A Carmelo Anthony vs. LeBron James matchup is not only potentially exciting, but also extremely possible. The Knicks and Heat are poised to play each other in the first round of the NBA playoffs and that would be the most exciting first round matchup the NBA has to offer.
Carmelo Anthony always steps up his game when he plays against LeBron. The two have been rivals (although friends) ever since they were drafted in the same year. Carmelo Anthony is always out to prove that he is just as good, if not better, than LeBron despite being drafted after him.
LeBron, on the other hand, will be playing his heart out to ensure that his decision to go to the Heat wasn't a mistake. Getting knocked out in the first round, or even losing before the championship, would be an embarrassment after his one-hour television special where he decided to form the super team with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
This battle of two of the league's best small forwards would be a gift to watch.
Another matchup that we actually might see in the first round is Dirk Nowitzki vs. LaMarcus Aldridge. With Amar'e Stoudemire in the conversation, these two have been the best power forwards in the league this season.
LaMarcus Aldridge has been carrying an injured and depleted Portland team all year and has shocked the NBA world by emerging as a dark horse MVP candidate. His offensive game is absolutely unstoppable and he does everything efficiently. Rarely will you hear anybody call him a ball-stopper on offense because he isn't selfish at all. His mid-range jump shot, along with his length, make him one of the toughest covers in the league.
Dirk Nowitzki, on the other hand, has surprised nobody by showing up as an MVP candidate yet again in his NBA career. Nowitzki has his Mavericks in the second position in the Western Conference playoffs as of now, and that was even after their horrible play when he got injured. He's just as good as he has always been and his outside game for a big man is just as effective as always.
Watching these two big men go at it could be a great thing for the NBA, which has turned into a guard-oriented league.
A battle that I really hope to see again will be Derrick Rose vs. Rajon Rondo. This year's MVP front runner vs. the guy who turned in last year's best playoff performance.
This summer, Rajon Rondo had to have developed some sort of hatred towards Derrick Rose when Coach K made it clear that Rose was his guy for Team USA. Rondo came back this season with another brilliant year as the quarterback of the Celtics' offense. The older Big Three has looked like new because of the way Rondo is able to find them in their hot spots on the court.
Derrick Rose has taken a liking to Coach Thibodeau in the best year of his career. Rose has the Bulls in position to take the No. 1 seed in the East and he hasn't had his two big men, Boozer and Noah, together at the same time for all that much. Rose has been making good decisions with the basketball and can't be stopped once he gets into the paint.
Rose vs. Rondo could be a playoff matchup that is talked about for years if we get a chance to see it.
Another battle of the point guards that could be extremely exciting to watch is Russell Westbrook vs. Chris Paul.
Russell Westbrook's play this season has pretty much taken Kevin Durant out of MVP discussions, because he's simply been too much of a part of the Thunder success this year. Westbrook has made himself almost equally as important as Durant for Oklahoma City and is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor. Westbrook is a speedy guard whose game is very similar to Derrick Rose and he is very exciting to watch.
Like Westbrook, Chris Paul is also a fast point guard who is exciting to watch. Paul is one of the best passers in the league and has made a lot out of a rather decent roster in New Orleans. Paul lost some explosion because of his knee injury a couple of years ago, but he has made up for it in basketball skill. Paul has improved his fundamentals and is ready to put on a show in the playoffs.
Watching these two speedsters go at it could be a nice series for NBA fans to get their eyes on.
Possibly the best straight up basketball you could ever see would come from a Manu Ginobili and Kobe Bryant matchup.
Two of the most fundamentally sound basketball players going against one another would be beautiful basketball that all parents should make sure their kids are watching. These two play the type of basketball you'd want to teach to basketball youth.
Manu Ginobili is the best player on the best team in the league right now and he knows what it takes to get it done in the playoffs. Ginobili is a great shooter with one of the quickest first steps in the league right now. His use of the "Euro step" makes him incredibly difficult to guard and he is going to give opposing coaches nightmares throughout the playoffs.
Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, is one of the best basketball players to ever step on a court. "The Black Mamba" will be vicious on the quest for his sixth NBA championship as he tries to cement himself as the best basketball player of all-time.
Last year in the playoffs, Kobe shot down the assumptions that he is getting older with incredible performances against the Thunder and Suns. His fade-away jumpers were causing defenses fits and it's unlikely that that changes this year.
The two most fundamentally sound shooting guards in the league going at it will be great for basketball in general and will be entertaining to watch no matter how many games the series ends in.