Posted by sasilverandblack on 28th September 2010
The 2010-11 NBA Finals matchup will be the Miami Heat against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. What’s this you tell me? It’s only September? That doesn’t matter, these teams are locks to face each other. Just cut the regular season short and get to the inevitable. Kobe vs. Lebron will finally happen this year!
This is what the consensus seems to be from experts and fans alike for the upcoming NBA season. The super trio of James, Wade, and Bosh will face off against Kobe and the defending champs. Put it in the books. Let’s take a step back and consider the alternatives.
Despite the assumption of there being two teams in this league (Lakers and Heat), there are 28 others. There will be 14 other playoff teams that will be vying for a chance to represent their conference. Although there will be 16 teams in the playoffs, only a handful are considered of championship caliber, or in many people’s opinions, there are only two. I know it sounds like I’m beating a dead horse, but every year there are knuckleheads who pronounce a team the champs only to fall flat on their face once the time comes to prove themselves. Let’s take a look at some specific instances:
The 2004 Los Angeles Lakers had added two hall of famers in Karl Malone and Gary Payton to an already formidable squad with two surefire future hall of famers in Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Four straight titles was surely in the cards. The rest is history. The Lakers made the finals, but were absolutely overpowered and demolished by a more cohesive, focused team in the Pistons. The Lakers were embarrassed, losing in five games.
The 2007 Dallas Mavericks were coming off of an NBA Finals defeat against the Miami Heat in which they lost four straight games after winning the first two. They started out the season 0-4. People were wondering what was wrong with them. Suddenly, they finished the season with 67 wins, losing only 11 more times. The Mavs were poised to make a run for another Finals appearance, then the Warriors happened. Baron Davis led an inspired, young bunch to upset the Mavs in the first round 4-2. To this day I have a hard time believing the Warriors actually pulled it off. I liken it to seeing Superman flying in the sky as I walk down the street. I asked myself: “Did that just happen?” Sure enough, it did.
The 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers breezed through the regular season with the best record in the league at 66-16. Lebron James had won his first MVP award. The Cavs had a second All-Star in Mo Williams because the team had played so well (How else did Mo make the roster?). Everyone was certain Lebron vs. Kobe would happen. The Magic had other ideas. Dwight Howard and Co. taught Lebron and Co. a thing or two about teamwork. They simply outplayed the Cavs, winning the series 4-2, which set up a Lakers vs. Magic Finals matchup.
The 2010 Cleveland Cavaliers zipped through the regular season with the best record in the NBA once more, finishing 61-21. Lebron had won his second consecutive MVP, putting him in elite company. The Cavs looked poised to atone for their shortcomings a year prior. People were saying that Lebron would not let last year happen again. But it did. The upstart Boston Celtics, a team everyone left for dead, took them out in six games in the second round.
These are just some of the modern examples of teams expected to win it all but failed miserably. Let’s flip it now. There have been countless examples of teams that were dead in the water rise up and annihilate everyone around them. Let me point out a few examples:
The 1999 New York Knicks finished a lockout shortened year as the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference. The NBA’s first and only eighth seed to reach the Finals knocked off two rivals and favorites to win the East in the Heat and Pacers.
The 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers, with a young and still developing Lebron James, defeated Eastern Conference Finals mainstays in the Pistons and Nets to reach the NBA Finals. The Pistons were believed to make the Finals as they had in two straight seasons (04-05). They returned with the same roster in tact, but the Cavaliers upended them.
The 2010 Boston Celtics started the regular season at a blazing 23-5. They were considered by many to be back among the East elites with a relatively healthy Kevin Garnett back in the lineup. Then they finished the last 54 games at an utterly mediocre 27-27. People were wondering what they had left. Then came the playoffs. They defeated the top 2 teams in the Cavaliers and Magic successively and came within a second half spurt in Game 7 of the Finals of nabbing their second title in three years.
Of course, the team worth mentioning, and the reason I am writing this article, is the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were considered to be too old in 2007 to make another run at their fourth title. Lo and behold, number four came to fruition to everyone’s disbelief, including mine. Don’t forget about 2008 when the Spurs upended their rival Suns, followed by a gritty seven game series against the Hornets to get to the Western Conference Finals. No one thought they had it in them.
In short, what I am trying to prove in all of this is that nothing is set in stone. I’ll throw a cliche in as well: That’s why they play the game. In a league that is considered rather top heavy, there is still parity. I’m looking forward to the parity that will occur this year. So go ahead and put the Lakers and Heat in the Finals in September, but make sure that’s written in pencil and not pen. Just saying…
Tags: celtics, heat, knicks, lakers, mavericks, NBA, pistons, Spurs
Posted in Basketball Stuff, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, LeBron James, Miami Heat, NBA, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Original Content, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs | 1 Comment »