2011 NBA Playoffs: The Biggest Surprises That Brought Us to the Finals

J FCorrespondent IMay 27, 2011

2011 NBA Playoffs: The Biggest Surprises That Brought Us to the Finals

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    We have finally reached the Finals after a postseason filled with excitement and great competition generated by both superstars and the emergence of underdogs.

    Some have said this year's edition of the NBA playoffs has had the best games seen for a long time. Some have even dared to say the professional postseason has competed with the NCAA's March Madness.

    It certainly has been quite the spectacle for fans, and the result has been a renewed interest in the NBA.

    The team that everyone loves to hate, the Miami Heat, is now set for a 2006 Finals rematch against the Dallas Mavericks, who will be out to grab the title that they let slip through their fingers after going up 2-0 the last time.

    More surprises are sure to come as a champion will soon be crowned, but let's take a look at a few of the moments the 2011 NBA playoffs have produced so far. 

     

    All stats and scores from ESPN.com.

Knicks Couldn't Steal a Single Game

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    The New York Knicks were expected to at least compete after they finally brought in Carmelo, but they quickly found themselves back at home after only four playoff games.

    The Knicks gave the Celtics two good games on the road; however, they were blown out in the next two in front of their home fans as Boston completed the sweep.

    I'm sure most people expected them to at least win one for the Big Apple, but it's no surprise this team is going to need another piece to advance further into the postseason.

First-Round Failures

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    There were several shockers in the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs, but none were greater than the colossal fall of the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs.

    The old and injured Spurs may not have been the Western Conference favorites even with the best record, but I'm sure not a single soul picked the Grizzlies to oust them in six games.

    At least most of the games were close and Memphis did go on to prove it wasn't just a fluke after taking the Thunder to seven games.

    Orlando, on the other hand, was equally disappointing. The Magic also lost in six games to the Hawks in the first round, and Dwight Howard is unlikely to stick around for much longer.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Absolutely no one predicted the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies to make such an impressive run in the playoffs, especially without their injured star scorer Rudy Gay.

    They were the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the postseason as big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol led the way to the franchise's first playoff victory.

    Randolph, who has had a steady but not spectacular NBA career thus far, finally seemed to prove his full potential as he averaged a double-double throughout the Grizzlies' two series.

    The fans in Memphis should not mourn over a Game 7 loss in the second round. They weren't even supposed to be there, and that should give them a glimmer of hope for the years to come.

    They probably would have been mauled by the Mavs anyway, but if not, the biggest surprise could have grown much bigger.

Marc Was Better Than Pau

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    It was almost as if the siblings from Spain switched roles for this year's playoffs.

    If you tried to tell me you knew the Grizzlies would be playing longer than the Lakers in the postseason, I would've patiently waited in the expectation that your nose was about to grow three feet longer.

    I would've also nicknamed you Pinocchio if you said you weren't surprised Marc Gasol outplayed his big bro Pau.

    Pau averaged only 13.1 PPG and 7.8 RPG—hardly superstar statistics. Marc, who has never been regarded as one of the league's top big men, averaged 15 and 11.2.

    Maybe Pau really did have girl issues that affected his game, but to me that is an extremely poor excuse.

Lakers Swept in Second Round

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    The Los Angeles Lakers' bid for a three-peat ended in an embarrassing second-round sweep by Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.

    While the Lakers had been up and down all season long, no one in Hollywood expected to see the brooms coming for their team. Even the lowly Sixers stole a game from the Miami Heat in their lopsided matchup.

    It was an unfitting end to the legendary coaching career of Phil Jackson and now Kobe may never get that sixth ring he so deeply desires.

    The Lakers wasted no time in bringing in former Cavs coach Mike Brown, and L.A. fans hope that his arrival will turn out to be a pleasant surprise.

    All in all, perhaps the biggest shocker of L.A.'s series with the Mavs was the shadow of internal issues among the team. Andrew Bynum claimed it was trust issues, but whatever it was, something was going on.

    Bynum's brutal blow to Barea in Game 4 and his subsequent shirtless exit was also somewhat unexpected in a series full of surprises for the defending champs.