The Western Conference playoffs had such promise when the regular season ended. A young Oklahoma City team got an unlucky draw against the big bad Lakers, a coach Karl-less Nuggets team faced the insignificant Jazz, the ever so delicate Trail Blazers tried to finally make a splash against that old Canadian guy in Phoenix. Oh, and the Mavericks played the Spurs, but other than Texas, who really cared?
Unfortunately the West is where you go to have whatever Cinderella hopes there is in professional sports shattered (See Al Davis’ Raiders 2003-forever).
LA vs. OKC
A scrawny kid who couldn’t lift 185 pounds in a weight room three years ago all of a sudden carried an entire city and franchise to its first playoff series since Ray Allen wore the green and gold in Seattle. Where did it land him? Face to face with arguably one of the best basketball players of all time; oh dear. However, the Thunder sparked hope in NBA fans, as their team of kids who are barely old enough to drink, took two from the defending champs and tied up the series! Unfortunately all good things must come to an end; it was a shame, though, that it had to be off a Bryant miss and a Gasol last second tip in. (LAL win 4-2)
Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz
The Denver Nuggets have been the team to cheer for since their loveable coach, George Karl, took a leave of absence to fight throat cancer. Unfortunately nobody told his team they were supposed to keep playing! Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams decided to play like the last dynamic duo that laced ’em up for Jerry Sloan and send the Nuggets home. (UTH win 4-2)
PHX vs. POR
Since Brandon Roy became the face of their franchise (better him then Greg Oden and his exploratory photographs), the Portland Trail Blazers have lost their nickname of just ‘Blazers’ and become a fun team to watch over the season. However, they have not been a title contender since Kobe lobbed that ally-oop to Shaq in game 7 of the Western Conference finals in 2000. All they had to do was stop the Benjamin Button of the NBA in Steve Nash and they move on, right? Wrong. Brandon Roy gots hurt, LaMarcus Aldridge still isn’t a star big man, and Jarron Collins wons a playoff series as a starting center. Yeah that’s right, Jarron Collins. (PHX win 4-2)
Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs
A blockbuster trade, rejuvenated roster, and a prehistoric Spurs team should equal an easy opening round series, except that the basketball gods like picking on Mark Cuban because he is like a kid who never learns his lesson. Thanks to Manu Ginosebleed* and the always classy Tim Duncan, the Spurs once again bent those kids from Dallas over their knee and well, the rest is just history. A thought to keep on the back-burner - If the San Antonio Spurs continue this tough play, with a young bench and good shooting, could they upset the Lakers and once again make David Stern cry over horrific NBA finals ratings? You kind of have to hope so. (SAS win 4-2)
So far this year’s playoffs have been a bit of a disappointment, considering there was a whopping zero games that went into overtime in the West, but the 2 seed and 4 seed lost, yet no one called it an upset? When do the playoffs start getting fun again? I kind of miss the intensity, the loud fans, and the hustle the players show for the unnecessarily long playoff runs.
As for how the West was won: The Spurs beat the Suns in 6, the Lakers beat the Jazz for the third consecutive year in 6 because Kobe starts to make that snarling face and Deron Williams gets spooked. Lakers take down the Old fellas from Texas after a long 7 game series. Congrats Kobe, here is your chance to make that Jordan vs. Bryant comparison everyone loves.