It was almost too good to be true wasn't it?
Looking for their first Playoff series win in 13 years, the New York Knicks appeared to be in cruise control. After all, no team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit and emerged victorious in a seven game series.
However, as every Knicks fan knows, nothing is ever quite that simple.
The Boston Celtics are a team of savvy veterans who realise they don't have many more chances at glory. Their aging stars have perhaps this year and next to add to their ring collection and being 3-0 down in the series was not part of the script. They felt that they had a legitimate chance of taking this Playoff series into it's twilight and it was surprising to see them down down and deflated. With big characters like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce leading the way, that atmosphere was never going to stay around for long. They are born winners, future hall-of-fame inductees and their will to win is legendary. They knew that the odds were stacked against them at 3-0 and that's just the way they like it.
Slowly but surely, they fought their way back.
The Chicago Bulls have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series as they host the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. After an ugly defensive win in Game 3, Tom Thibodeau’s team would be happy with more of the same as they try to outslug Brook Lopez and company.
These four players will have huge roles in determining which team comes out on top at the United Center in Game 4:
MarShon Brooks, Nets
Jerry Stackhouse was useless off the bench on Thursday, and P.J. Carlesimo absolutely must have some offensive weapons to throw out there when Lopez or Deron Williams sits. Brooks is a pure scorer, and while he didn’t cover himself with glory in Game 3, he didn’t look as lost as Stackhouse, either.
At 6’5”, Brooks has the size and athleticism to make Chicago’s Jimmy Butler work on defense. The less Butler can drift around double-teaming and jumping into passing lanes, the better off Brooklyn will be.
Nazr Mohammed, Bulls
It's that time of year again. We are at the business end of the NBA season, the Playoffs. Here we will take a look at the match ups in the Eastern Conference, where the defending champions the Miami Heat look primed for another deep run in the post season.
- Miami Heat (1) vs Milwaukee Bucks (8)
LeBron James and the Heat begin their post season quest to repeat with a first round matchup against the Bucks, who scraped into the final Playoff place despite underachieving for much of the season. With their 38-44 record much more was expected of the Bucks this year and they can count themselves very fortunate that the bottom of the East is very weak.
Kevin Durant just cannot catch a break. The league's most prolific scorer is about to complete a historic 50-40-90 shooting season, one of the most amazing in NBA history. Yet LeBron James from the Miami Heat is considered to be the unanimous choice for MVP.
At least Durant was locked in to win the league's scoring title for a fourth consecutive season. It would serve as a nice consolation prize for the league's most dangerous scorer, who had led the NBA in that category for most of the regular season.
However, a late-season surge from New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has threatened to take the title away from the Oklahoma City superstar. Durant's scoring average of 28.3 points per game as of April 9, 2013 has been eclipsed by Anthony, who holds a narrow lead at 28.6 points per game.
LeBron James has been drawing a lot of comparisons to the all-time greats as of late. His recent six-game streak of scoring 30 points while shooting 60 percent from the field is one piece of evidence that we are witnessing an all-time great entering his prime. "King James" has raised his level of play to such a level of excellence that his NBA peers simply cannot match.
If he is above comparison to most current NBA superstars, then the next logical place to weigh and compare his greatness to is the past. After finally winning that elusive first championship ring last season, he is drawing more comparisons to all-time greats Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson instead of current rivals Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.
James has a long way to go before matching Jordan or Magic, but there is one all-time great that he could legitimately surpass in the next couple of seasons: Larry Bird. This should be the primary target for LeBron as overtaking Bird would elevate the "King" to a new title: the greatest small forward to ever play the game.