What a wild opening weekend for the NBA’s second season. Is it just me or have these playoffs already taken on a March Madness feel? We’ve even had Tyler Hansbrough and Shane Battier sightings!!!
We’ve already seen lower-seeded Atlanta upend Orlando, the Memphis Grizzlies knock off the Ginobili-less Spurs and Chris Paul and his merry band of Hornets shock the defending champions.
I don’t know what Grizzlies-Hornets moneyline paid but let’s just say if you were bold enough to parlay those two for $100, you could probably afford to take the week off.
In addition to those three upsets, the Pacers almost knocked off the Bulls… twice (until Derrick Rose showed why he’s the league’s MVP), the Knicks almost beat the Celtics (until Ray Allen showed us why he’s the best three-point shooter ever) and Denver almost beat Oklahoma City (until Kendrick Perkins got away with a goal tend that wasn’t called). Only one game so far has been decided by more than ten points. David Stern is currently a happy man.
In retrospect, none of these upsets were all that unfounded. The Spurs are not the same team without their free-wheeling Argentine. Chris Paul is nearly impossible to defend, especially by a 36-year old Derek Fisher. And even though the Magic embarrassed the Hawks in last year’s playoffs, these are not your same Orlando Magic. And these are definitely not the same Hawks.
What’s most concerning is not that the Magic, Lakers and Spurs all lost within a 24-hour period, it’s the manner in which they lost. Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans pretty much led those games from start to finish. After Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, the Orlando Magic shot 23%, while their opponents had five players in double-figures. Kobe scored 34 in the Lakers loss, but the rest of his teammates were equally unseen. And the Spurs had no answer for Zach Randolph.
It’s not panic time yet for the top two Western seeds. Both should still advance, but none of these three teams can afford to drop a second game at home.
It’s the NBA playoffs and championship caliber teams make adjustments. If not, it’ll be back to the drawing board, with roster changes heard from coast to coast.