Orlando, Phoenix and Los Angeles: There and Waiting.

by Jack Maidment

4 Conference semi finals and 3 sweeps.

Does this mean that 3 teams in the NBA have collected groups of players so talented that they demolish all other teams they face, or is it more that the calibre of their opponents wasn’t up to scratch?

Either way, people might argue that it can’t be good for the League.

The first round match ups for all the teams bar Orlando were tougher than their semi final slogs. Or should that be sorties.

The Los Angles Lakers, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns took the sword to their second round match ups and dispatched them with savage aplomb.

4-0.

So are these three teams much better than everyone else in the respective conferences?

Yes and no.

For Orlando the case must be yes.

Since the All Star break the number of losses that the Magic have suffered can be counted on 1 hand. Simply, they have dominated.

In four games against the Atlanta Hawks they outscored Georgia’s finest by a grand total of one hundred plus points. In a conference semi final.

There is only one team in the East at this moment who could give them a game and they are entirely reliant on the output of LeBron James.

And given the woeful performance of the Cleveland Cavaliers backcourt, any prospective East Finals match up between the two would seem to be a formality at this stage.

There is no way LeBron beats the Magic and the reigning defensive player of the year Dwight Howard on his own.

In contrast, the Lakers and the Suns have not run roughshod over the West. In fact they have had their struggles until very recently.

For Los Angeles, the Oklahoma City Thunder presented them with enough problems to really test the defending champs giving the Lakeshow the ultimate realisation that playoff basketball was real and that there was no performance switch that could be flipped on and off.

They battled and the came through and they warmed up, playing like the team trhat won it all last June.

Meanwhile their second round opponents, the Utah Jazz, were far from a poor adversary, but a combination of hard luck injuries to Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur (their 3rd and 4th best players) and undersized frontcourt that was dwarfed by three seven footers the Jazz were always fighting the heavyweight champ with one arm tied behind their back.

As for the Suns, nobody at the end of last year and for most of this past season would have picked them to appear in the Western conference finals.

But through sheer force of will and The Best Pick and Roll Pair in Basketball they have proved that scoring points does win games, as long as you get a little stauncher on the defensive end, which they have.

Their bench, a fine mix of misfits and veterans, has given them the boost they needed at all the most vital times.

Whether it be Goran Dragic’s explosion against the San Antonio Spurs, or the sharp shooting of Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye, the Suns have had just enough this playoffs.

Amare Stoudemire has been superb and he has shown a return to ferocity that will guarantee him plenty of suitors in the summer. He is the best big man dunker in basketball.

Steve Nash. There can be nothing said to describe just how good this man is. Simply, he is a warrior.

So, 3 of 4 places have been filled with only the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers battling it out in anything resembling an actual playoff series between two closely matched times.

The other 3 will just have to wait patiently and hope that the fire and drive that has gotten them this far remains intact for next week.

The playoffs really do start next week.    

4 Conference semi finals and 3 sweeps.

 

Does this mean that 3 teams in the NBA have collected groups of players so talented that they demolish all other teams they face, or is it more that the calibre of their opponents wasn’t up to scratch?

 

Either way, people might argue that it can’t be good for the League.

 

The first round match ups for all the teams bar Orlando were tougher than their semi final slogs. Or should that be sorties.

 

The Los Angles Lakers, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns took the sword to their second round match ups and dispatched them with savage aplomb.

 

4-0.

 

So are these three teams much better than everyone else in the respective conferences?

 

Yes and no.

 

For Orlando the case must be yes.

 

Since the All Star break the number of losses that the Magic have suffered can be counted on 1 hand. Simply, they have dominated.

 

In four games against the Atlanta Hawks they outscored Georgia’s finest by a grand total of one hundred plus points. In a conference semi final.

 

There is only one team in the East at this moment who could give them a game and they are entirely reliant on the output of LeBron James.

 

And given the woeful performance of the Cleveland Cavaliers backcourt, any prospective East Finals match up between the two would seem to be a formality at this stage.

 

There is no way LeBron beats the Magic and the reigning defensive player of the year Dwight Howard on his own.

 

In contrast, the Lakers and the Suns have not run roughshod over the West. In fact they have had their struggles until very recently.

 

For Los Angeles, the Oklahoma City Thunder presented them with enough problems to really test the defending champs giving the Lakeshow the ultimate realisation that playoff basketball was real and that there was no performance switch that could be flipped on and off.

 

They battled and the came through and they warmed up, playing like the team trhat won it all last June.

 

Meanwhile their second round opponents, the Utah Jazz, were far from a poor adversary, but a combination of hard luck injuries to Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur (their 3rd and 4th best players) and undersized frontcourt that was dwarfed by three seven footers the Jazz were always fighting the heavyweight champ with one arm tied behind their back.

 

As for the Suns, nobody at the end of last year and for most of this past season would have picked them to appear in the Western conference finals.

 

But through sheer force of will and The Best Pick and Roll Pair in Basketball they have proved that scoring points does win games, as long as you get a little stauncher on the defensive end, which they have.

 

Their bench, a fine mix of misfits and veterans, has given them the boost they needed at all the most vital times.

 

Whether it be Goran Dragic’s explosion against the San Antonio Spurs, or the sharp shooting of Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye, the Suns have had just enough this playoffs.

 

Amare Stoudemire has been superb and he has shown a return to ferocity that will guarantee him plenty of suitors in the summer. He is the best big man dunker in basketball.

 

Steve Nash. There can be nothing said to describe just how good this man is. Simply, he is a warrior.

 

So, 3 of 4 places have been filled with only the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers battling it out in anything resembling an actual playoff series between two closely matched times.

 

The other 3 will just have to wait patiently and hope that the fire and drive that has gotten them this far remains intact for next week.

The playoffs really do start next week.   

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