Big news NBA fans. Very big news. In fact, the 2014 NBA Playoffs have been nothing but big news. Although some fans, mainly of some of the favorite teams who are struggling, might feel disappointed, the NBA has managed to keep the attention level really high up to now, and we are still not past the first round. So, let’s break down some of the latest stories around the league.
Donald Sterling saga
It seems that the NBA will feature a saga almost every season. After the LeBron James and the Dwight Howard sagas, we have now started watching the Donald Sterling saga. This one features a billionaire who is opposing against millionaires, a team owner who is now clobbered by almost the entire NBA world, after getting caught on tape making racist comments.
The NBA’s new commissioner, Adam Silver, who was took over at the position a few months ago, had to take one of the toughest decisions ever taken by any commissioner in the NBA. Silver announced that he banned Donald Sterling for lifetime from all NBA activities and that he will try to force him to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to another owner.
This period will be one of the toughest ones for the Clipper Nation. The Clips are in the middle of a strong playoff run and they do stand good chances to even make it to the NBA Finals and they team will now have to pass a very difficult test. Thankfully, the Clippers have the support of almost the entire NBA world, several teams and players around the league but also its fans as well as some team owners.
Indiana Pacers struggles
This could be described as the “Atlanta Hawks surprise”, too. The Indiana Pacers entered the 2014 NBA Playoffs with one target only, to win the NBA Championship. At the moment, they are standing with their backs against the wall and they will fight to avoid a totally disappointing first round exit from the playoffs on Thursday night. The Atlanta Hawks have somehow managed to win three out of the first five games during this first round playoff series. Thanks to their lethal three point shooting, the Hawks have disrupted the Pacers’ defense, which is still considered to be one of the best ones in the entire NBA.
The truth is that if the Indiana Pacers don’t at least advance to the next round, this will be a huge letdown to the entire Pacers Nation. It will also most probably mean the end of the team’s cooperation with Frank Vogel and we should also expect to see a few changes during the offseason. No matter the result, the one thing about the Pacers that is for sure is this. They don’t seem to be ready to truly contend for the championship. They don’t seem to be capable of beating the Miami Heat in a seven – game series. It’s harsh for Pacers fans, but this is the ugly truth.
Another big surprise in the NBA came last night in the OKC – Grizzlies matchup. The Grizzlies won yet another overtime game in the fifth matchup of the series to now get a commanding 3 – 2 lead. The series will now be taken back to Memphis, where the Grizzlies will have a unique chance to achieve a glorious victory and get the ticket to the next round. At the same time, if the Thunder get eliminated from the first round, that will be one of the biggest disappointments in the recent franchise history. Last year, when the Thunder exited the postseason in the second round, they did have the excuse that the second best player of the team, Russell Westbrook was sidelined with an injury. This year, though, there will be no excuses if OKC fails to advance. In fact, a first round exit might trigger some serious discussions about big changes within the team. Some critics have already started discussing the possibility of a potential trade for Westbrook or Kevin Durant, if the Thunder fail to do well this year. Look for those critics’ voices to grow bigger and bigger if OKC gets eliminated in one of the next couple of games.
Washington Wizards advance to the Eastern Semis
After the Miami Heat, the Washington Wizards became the second team in the NBA to secure a ticket to the Conference Semis. The Wizards managed to eliminate the Chicago Bulls, who entered this first round series as the favorites. The Wizards entered the series with home court disadvantage, as they finished at the fifth seed in the East. On the contrary, the Chicago Bulls entered the series as the favorites, after finishing at the fourth spot and after playing exceptionally good basketball during the last month of the season. Joakim Noah, who was named the Defensive Player of the Year this season is also in the discussion for the MVP award and he was projected to be a big factor in this series.
However, Washington managed to take the victory in a very low scoring Game 5, with the final score 75 – 69. This advance to the Conference Semis is a huge success for the Wizards, who have been struggling in the East during the last few years. In fact, this is the third time since 1979 that the franchise will participate in the second round of the playoffs. The Wizards will now face the winner of the Indiana Pacers – Atlanta Hawks matchup and if Atlanta is the team to advance, Washington stands good odds to record an even better course. The Wizards’ presence in the second round of the playoffs came as a surprise for lots of people around the league. I am pretty sure that when the 2013 – 2014 regular season was about to start, none of you imagined that Washington would be able to make it to the Conference Semis.