Top 10 NBA Playoff storylines
Finally, the 2013-2014 NBA playoffs are here! And with this year’s playoffs come something the NBA has NEVER seen. The three NBA mecca cities of Boston, New York and Los Angeles (Lakers) will not be representing their squads this spring for the first time ever. But lets get real, this isn’t 1987, thus the NBA has grown to the point where nobody will blink an eye that these three teams aren’t playing. With that said, lets get to the top 10 NBA storylines heading into Saturday’s opening tip.
10.) Will Dwight Howard sit during crunch time?
It’s no secret that Dwight Howard struggles with his free throws. But now the real test comes. Coach Kevin McHale will have a big decision to make coming down the stretch of games. Howard shot 57 percent from the line during the regular season, but now with the pressure being intensified, it will be interesting to see how Dwight responds. Howard says that all he wants to do is win, well that might mean sitting on the pine the last few minutes of games.
9.) The Clippers/Warriors series will be the best first round matchup
Get ready for a plethora of fast break dunks, two-on-one pull up threes, half court alley oops and listening to Doc Rivers and Mark Jackson go head-to-head for who can give the best pregame, in-game and post game speech. This series has seven games written all over it.
8.) Can Doc Rivers get the Clippers past the second round?
Since the arrival of Chris Paul the Los Angeles Clippers haven’t been able to get past the second round of the playoffs. Enter Doc Rivers, who has the championship pedigree the Clippers brass hoped could lead them to the promise land. However, getting past their first round Golden State Warriors opponent may not be an easy task. The West is loaded and the Clippers are going to need Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to play like two of the top 10 players in the league if they’re going to advance in the competitive Western Conference playoff bracket.
7.) Will this be the year Kevin Durant leads his Thunder to a championship?
Last season Kevin Durant got a pass for losing his sidekick Russell Westbrook to injury. This season, Westbrook is back along with the emergence of Reggie Jackson, making the Oklahoma City Thunder a dangerous contender. Durant very well could win this season’s MVP and rightfully so. He’s won his fourth scoring title in five years and carried his Thunder while Westbrook was out various times this season with injuries. For KD, it’s time to put up or shut up.
6.) Can the Indiana Pacers put an end to the Miami Heat’s three year Eastern Conference dominant run?
The Miami Heat have represented the Eastern Conference for three straight seasons, ending with two championships. The Pacers on the other hand have advanced one step further each of the past three seasons. The last two ending in defeat by the hands of the Heat. With the number one seed belonging to the Pacers, will this be the year they break through?
5.) Dwyane Wade’s health
Wade’s injury problems are well documented. He’s declined over the last few seasons. At 32 years old, Wade still put up good numbers, but played only 54 games. The playoffs are usually a grinding road and if Wade isn’t at 100 percent, the Heat could have trouble getting to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals.
4.) Is this Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce’s last hurrah?
Kevin Garnett is a warrior that leaves every last ounce of blood sweat and tears on the court. But the soon-to-be 38 year old has a ton of of miles on his NBA speedometer and averaged career lows across the board this season. However, the regular season doesn’t mean much to KG anymore, it’s about the playoffs, which KG has thrived in recent years. For Paul Pierce, he might have another year or two left in his old legs, but will this be the last time he plays a prominent role?
3.) Can the San Antonio Spurs avenge last year’s heartbreaking NBA Finals loss?
Every year the San Antonio Spurs get counted out. It’s usually something along the lines of “They’re too old.” Yet every year the Spurs win 60 games and are usually a number one or two seed. Last year they were one Ray Allen shot away from winning their fifth NBA title during the Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan era. The road ahead is certainly a tough one, but is anyone counting out the Spurs anymore?
2.) Is this the last time we see LeBron James in a Miami Heat uniform?
LeBron James during the summer of 2011 was labeled many bad things. “The Decision” certainly hurt his popularity and turned the once loved “King James” into a polarizing figure. Smash cut to his fourth season in Miami and James has two titles and a plethora of awards attached to his name. Now rumors are flying that James could land up anywhere from Cleveland to the Lakers. Enjoy greatness South Beach, your turn of having LeBron might be nearing its end.
1.) Will the Miami Heat three-peat?
The Miami Heat have represented the Eastern Conference in the last three NBA Finals appearances. Winning two of the three, the Heat have controlled the conference despite teams like the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers giving them a serious run for their money. This season the Heat are the two-seed and might finally have met their match with the Indiana Pacers having home court advantage for a potential Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. However, with the way LeBron James has played in big games the last couple of seasons, is there any reason to think James couldn’t put together another epic game and push the Heat back to the Finals? We’ll know in about six weeks.