Sports Brothers: The NBA playoffs are upon us
The Sports Brothers | 4/17/2014, 9 a.m.
Well, here we are once again. The NBA playoffs are upon us this weekend as your Miami Heat go after not one, not two, but three championships in a row. South Florida's favorite team is also seeking a fourth consecutive NBA finals appearance. Something the NBA has not seen since the Celtics of the ‘80s. Currently the four top dogs in this year's race to
the crown are the two-time defending champion Heat, the San Antonio Spurs, the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Based on what we have seen in the season's second half, clearly the San Antonio Spurs have proven themselves to be early front runners in the chase to the ring.
The Spurs have included an impressive 19-game winning streak among their many noteworthy performances this season. Coach Greg Popovich and his group are still painfully reliving coming up just short against the Miami Heat in last year's finals. This is a dangerous and driven team, spurred on by the failure of not completing the job a year ago. Heat fans will not like this but doing the eye test right now, the Spurs are in my opinion the team to beat in this year's NBA playoffs. They have dominated the NBA this season except for one team, the Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC). OKC is the Spurs kryptonite to their Superman. At the moment one would have to favor San Antonio against anyone except the Thunder because it is simply a matchup nightmare for the Spurs who are 0-4 against OKC. In fact it was OKC that ended San Antonio's record setting 19-game winning streak.
The big question surrounding the Miami Heat is the health of Dwyane Wade. If there is no Dwyane Wade in the lineup for the majority of these playoff games, there will be no parade down beautiful Biscayne Boulevard. Yes Lebron James is indeed the best basketball player in the world but even the greatest player needs a top-notch assistant.
Dwyane Wade is that key necessity for the Miami Heat. Throw in the on-and-off Chris Bosh and it is tough for anyone to top Miami. Factor in that the Heat have not been impressive down the stretch this season. They have been jostling with the Indiana Pacers as both teams try to beat each other at being "mediocre" as we channel our inner Richard Sherman. Something is amiss in Indiana, maybe those guys put too much pressure on themselves. Whatever it is head coach Frank Vogel had better figure it out really quick because the Pacers have been sinking fast.
The Western Conference appears to be a dogfight from top to bottom. The only teams that have mattered in the east the majority of the season have been Indiana and Miami. Others have improved steadily as the Brooklyn Nets and head coach Jason Kidd have steadied the ship after a rocky start to the season. The Nets somehow managed to go 4-0 against Miami this season, marking the first time the big 3 have been swept by anyone since their much ballyhooed arrival on South Beach. Also, keep an eye on the pesky Chicago Bulls, one of those teams could ruin what everyone eventually thinks will be an Eastern Conference showdown between the Heat and Pacers.
My conclusion is if we get Miami vs. San Antonio again, I reluctantly lean towards the Spurs, who appear to be hellbent on revenge. The problem is as I stated earlier the Spurs have yet to figure out OKC and the reason I don't favor OKC to win it all is simply that OKC cannot figure out Miami. Confused? You should be. It all comes down to match-ups when it comes to these top teams as we head into the playoffs. Let the drama begin. Win or go home.