It seems like the epic nature of the Chicago/Boston first rounder has made it difficult to even contemplate the other match ups that have taken place.
But that is over, the Bulls have gone, and the Conference Semi Finals are upon us. All 4 are intriguing and difficult to call with any degree of certainty given the way that most teams have decided to play either really good or really bad on any given night.
The only team who hasn’t experienced any worrying fluctuations in form are the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have been solid.
The biggest worry for LeBron and Co was that they took their foot off the pedal when they were up 20 in a series against Detroit that they won 4 to zero.
It almost felt that LeBron felt the need to fake annoyance because everything had gone so well: ‘Those other teams have problems right? Maybe we need some too… Hey! We only won by 20. That is not good enough Cleveland!’
If that is their only worry, they have to be pretty confident going into a series against the least fancied of any of the Semi Final occupants.
The Atlanta Hawks may have just dispatched the Wade-reliant Miami Heat in 7 ‘schizophrenic’ games but in Cleveland they face a team who have just destroyed and stamped all over a Detroit Pistons team who, on paper, were not far removed from the team that had challenged for all the marbles the last 6 years.
4 games. Cleveland has had enough time off to go fishing with Detroit AND come back in time to play the Hawks.
Despite the fact that this series has been written off already as a Cavaliers white wash, Atlanta has a lot more going for them than people are crediting.
For example, there is no other team in the League which is better equipped to deal with LeBron James than the Hawks who are as long and as athletic as is necessary to have a chance against King James.
Josh Smith may not have the measured and polished jump shot game of LeBron, but he is his equal athletically. The Hawks will be safe in the knowledge that they have a guy on their team who can run and jump with the Best in the Game.
It is also worth looking at the Atlanta front court which is one of the most slept on in the NBA. The tandem of Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia is mobile and long, giving the Hawks an imposing paint presence to combat Zydrunas Ilgauskus and Anderson Varejao down low.
One of the keys to this series will be how the Hawks deal with the Cavalier backcourt pairing of Delonte West and Mo Williams.
Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson have the size and athleticism to tie up Cleveland’s guards and if they can successfully put pressure on them the Cavs will starve offensively.
Joe Johnson should be able to take a nervy Mo Williams out of the game with his mix of size and speed.
The major problem for Atlanta is that they cannot rely on their bench the way that Cleveland can. Ben Wallace, Boobie Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, Pavlovic, Joe Smith. All guys that can be brought into the game when the starters need some rest.
The burden will rest solely on the Atlanta Hawks starting 5 to do anything in this series, making fatigue a real issue.
Regardless of the magic that has been sprinkled this post season, barring a miracle, the Cavaliers will beat the Hawks. Cleveland are just too deep and they have the King.
But. It wont be the blow out that has been predicted.
Cavs in 6.