Saturday, April 18, 2009

Zahid: NBA playoffs could be déjà vu all over again

Rizwaan Zahid, a Carleton student who been a contributor to, and The Fight Network, also loves him some roundball, so he's shared some thoughts on the NBA playoffs, which tip off today.

We could very well see the same finals this year as we did last year, between the Celtics and the Lakers.

Usually in most sports when we see the same finals or finalists it could get quite tedious and just a formality, but there’s something intriguing about these Lakers, as opposed to the Shaq-Kobe era earlier in this decade. The Celtics' big question, of course, is whether losing Kevin Garnett to a right knee injury takes them out of the equation, but they still have depth.

Sometimes this hockey-loving nation of Canada forgets basketball and sure there may only be one Canadian team, which had a terrible year to say the least, but it’s not as if the six Canadian NHL teams are doing great. Only three made the playoffs and there's little likelihood of them going too far. Anyway .... back on subject.

You can’t count out the best team in the league, LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers. They continue to find ways to win and nearly pulled off the incredible upset against the Celtics in the playoffs last year, losing in Game 7 of the second round, since Paul Pierce's 41 points cancelled out LeBron's 45. A few more shooter's rolls could have seen James make the NBA Finals and perhaps wearing his first championship ring.

Such is the nature of sports. There's no time like the present. LeBron is averaging more than 28 points and seven assists and — sorry for stating the obvious — looks more ready than ever for an NBA Championship. LeBron has a remarkable seven triple-doubles this season.

They may be able to beat the Celtics who have battled injury problems over the season. Garnett is out and Ray Allen isn’t getting any younger (then again, neither are any of us).

The West has a bit of a different scenario. It is Kobe Bryant territory. The 30-year-old (can you believe he's still only 30!?), might have had his numbers drop slightly this season, but it's hard to argue that he’s not the best player in the league. Sometimes it's hard to think that he was drafted 13th overall and that the-then Charlotte Hornets traded his rights for Vlade Divac back in 1996.

The East seems to have a bit of competition but for the West, it’s the Lakers and the rest. The 2-8 seeds are not separated by a lot, but there seems to be little doubt that the Lakers will come out of the West.

Many writers predicted the finals would be between the Lakers and Boston in a rematch from last year, but the Cavaliers have a good chance and could very well be the ones to knock out Boston. Let's not forget how much Boston struggled last year against the Cavaliers and even the Atlanta Hawks.

My prediction? One helluva NBA Finals.

No comments: