The NBA Playoffs

If you’re going to be going on any dates this weekend you’ll want to make sure you can talk about the NBA Playoffs.  Before moving onto the individual series, you should probably know some playoff basics.

The NBA is divided into two conferences, Eastern and Western, with eight teams from each conference making the playoffs.  These teams are seeded from high to low, and play each other in seven game series.   Winning four of those seven games allows a team to move on to the next round.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks

The Lakers, featuring NBA star Kobe Bryant and coaching legend Phil Jackson, have won the past two NBA Championships and are going for a “three-peat”.  Though they’re currently down 2-0 to the Mavericks, Phil Jackson likely has a plan to get his team back in the series.  You can definitely show some knowledge of Jackson if you know the following:

  1. His longtime girlfriend is the Lakers’ owner’s daughter.
  2. He was the coach of the Chicago Bulls for two different “three-peats”.
  3. He has coached the Lakers to one “three-peat” in the early 2000s.
  4. He is the all time leader in NBA Championships won.
  5. Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban referred to Jackson as a “boy toy”.

Dirk Nowitzki, a 7’ forward with a knack for making shots while falling down, leads the Dallas Mavericks.  The Mavericks have a history of being terrible in the playoffs, at least since 2006, when they went to the NBA Finals and suffered a total meltdown against the Miami Heat.  A lot of the NBA experts and media doubted the Mavericks’ ability to beat the Lakers, but so far they have badgered their opponent while winning the first two games of the series.

Having a 2-0 lead in a best of seven playoff series is a big deal.  Historically the team that takes a 2-0 lead, especially when those games are won on the opponent’s home court, wins the series about 80% of the time.  The series has been a lot of fun to watch with each game being extremely competitive and physical.  You should definitely know that Lakers’ forward Ron Artest will be suspended by the NBA for Game 3 (Friday night) for his clothesline move on Maverick’s guard JJ Barea.  That chippy play was not the first though, as a late season Mavericks/Lakers game ended with four player ejections for an under the basket tussle.

Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks

One of the Eastern Conference semifinals features the Bulls and Hawks.  Both teams are relatively young, but have gained significant playoff experience over the past few seasons.  The Chicago Bulls had the top record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference in addition to having the NBA Coach of the Year and NBA MVP (Most Valuable Player) in Derrick Rose.  This series is tied 1-1 after the first two games, but the main talking point for this series revolve around the left ankle of Derrick Rose.  Rose sprained his ankle near the end of Chicago’s first round series with the Indiana Pacers, and though he is able to play, rolled it during Monday night’s Game 1 against Atlanta.  The affect this injury has on Rose, a player who thrives on driving to the basket and shooting free throws should be something to watch and talk about.  For example, if the game starts with Rose shooting a lot of jump shots, you will have a great opportunity to broach the question as to whether or not his shot selection is being caused by his bum ankle.

There will be an additional post on the other two games going up either tomorrow night or Saturday morning.  Until then,  enjoy the two games tomorrow night.  I will be traveling during the early game, but should be able to catch pieces of it at the airport.  Follow the @second_base_man twitter feed for in-game talking points as well.

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