It's that time of year again. We are at the business end of the NBA season, the Play-offs. Here we will take a look at the match ups in the Western Conference, where the Oklahoma City Thunder will once again look to assert their dominance and make a return trip to the finals.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (1) vs Houston Rockets (8):
It just had to be, didn't it?
Only a few months removed from the blockbuster trade, James Harden must now come up against his former team in the environment that matters most, the Playoffs. The Rockets were demoted to the eighth seed on the final day of the season and they now have the unenviable task of trying to overcome last seasons Western Conference Champions, The Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder have picked up right where they left off last season. Most people thought that with the loss of the sixth man of the year they would struggle somewhat when Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook are out of the game. This has not been the case, Kevin Martin has stepped in and the Thunder has not missed a beat. Martin has always been an efficient scorer and with more open looks playing with better players he has thrived.
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.
With another dramatic NBA season drawing to a close, this column takes a look at the main contenders for the big awards that are on offer:
Most Valuable Player:
- LeBron James, Miami Heat.
- 26.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.3 APG.
There isn't much doubt about this award. LeBron has been nothing short of mind blowing this season. He is the best player in the NBA by some margin and has demonstrated it again this season. Many thought LeBron may become a bit complacent this season, having won everything there was to win in the game last season. That has been far from the case. James has led by example for this talented Heat team that narrowly missed out on the all-time winning streak, finally being defeated with the streak at 27. James has been wrapped in cotton wool towards the latter stages of the season as they clinched the number one Playoff seed in the Eastern Conference a long time ago. It will take a monumental effort for anyone to prize the NBA trophy from James and the Heat as they look to repeat.
2. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks.
- 28.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.6 APG.
After so long watching the 'Black Mamba', is anybody surprised?
When the business end of the season comes along, Kobe Bryant can always be counted on for match-winning performances when it matters most. Last night was no exception. With the Lakers just half a game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final Play off place in the Western Conference, it was critical that they continued their good form on the road against an inexperienced Portland side.
Thanks to Bryant, the Lakers were able to do just that.
The Lakers emerged from a close fought encounter with a vital 113-106 victory. Bryant was nothing short of sensational. His stat line was off the charts. 47 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks. What was more impressive though was that Bryant played all 48 minutes of the game, refusing to rest as he drove the Lakers past the winning post. Everybody watching Basketball over the last few years has been waiting for Bryant to slow down and for his considerable talent to fade as his age and minutes increased.
In the end, the result will be meaningless.
Well, to the red half of Manchester anyway.
It was widely acknowledged that Monday night's Manchester Derby between United and City had no significance whatsoever to the title race. United were already 15 points clear and looking to make it 18 and stick the final nail in the coffin of City's title defence. City, on the other hand, were looking to bridge the gap to a more respectable 12 points and avenge the defeat they suffered at the hands of United at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the season.