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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"March Madness" has Nothing on "Win or Go Home"

The NBA Playoffs may never supplant the popularity of the NCAA Tournament, more commonly referred to as "March Madness"--but the NBA's "Win or Go Home" postseason tournament has produced at least as much excitement and higher quality games to boot. During the height of March Madness, I wrote a post comparing the NBA Playoffs to the NCAA Tournament; I noted that this year's Tournament included several games with low scores, low shooting percentages and high turnover totals. I acknowledged that there were some exciting moments but concluded, "I enjoy watching college basketball and look forward to next weekend's Final Four--I just don't accept the premise that NCAA basketball is in any way superior to NBA basketball."

The first three rounds of the 2006 NBA Playoffs are now in the books. We have been treated to four series that went the distance; granted, three of the seventh games were duds but the fourth--Dallas versus San Antonio--was a classic and may very well have decided this year's championship. We have seen LeBron James' breathtaking playoff initiation, eight overtime games--including two that were series clinchers--a pair of 50-point gems by Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki and several dramatic buzzer beating shots. Not all of the games have been close but the overall standard of play has been high and very entertaining to watch.

I correctly predicted the outcome of 9 of the first 12 series and batted .500 in the Conference Finals round. The Spurs were my original pick to win the championship but I said from the start that they were "just thismuch better than Dallas," so when the Mavericks eliminated San Antonio it was only natural for me to pick them to beat Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals. As for the Eastern Conference Finals, I have picked against the Miami Heat the last two rounds and been wrong both times. It is possible that I am focusing too much on the Heat's weaknesses (heavy reliance on Shaq and Wade; defending against perimeter players on dribble drives and in pick and roll plays) and not enough on how well the team has come together recently under the leadership of Pat Riley. Nevertheless, I am picking against Miami in the NBA Finals, too; I expect that Dallas will exploit Miami's weaknesses more effectively than New Jersey and Detroit did.

posted by David Friedman @ 1:25 AM



At Wednesday, June 07, 2006 1:38:00 PM, Blogger illest said...

This has nothing to do with this post but I wanted to repeat a comment that was made about great playoffs shots. I said Gus Williams in game 1 in 79. He waited for Kevin Grevey to catch up and then he dunked on his head two-handed. It wasnt a pivotal play or anything like those other plays but it was fantastic.

March madness will never be as good as the NBA. Even 15, 20 years ago when college basketball was unbelievable was March madness better than the NBA. You predicted 9 out of 12......very good. I wish the Spurs and Mavs were in game number 20 right now. That series was must see like the Kings vs. Lakers when the Kings choked. The last four games of that series were 2 one point games, a 4 point game and overtime game 7 like Spurs v Mavs.

At Wednesday, June 07, 2006 9:21:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Gus Williams was an exceptional player who is seemingly largely forgotten now. Part of that is probably because he had his best years in Seattle, which is not a major media market; compounding that is the fact that his best seasons happened before cable/satellite TV coverage of the NBA exploded. Also, he sat out a full season during his prime in a contract dispute.

I think that 15 or 20 years ago March Madness was a lot better than it is now but even then I preferred the NBA. Talented players stayed in school longer back then, so teams had more depth and I think that the game was more polished because players got experience at each level instead of completely skipping college or only going for one year. Spurs-Mavs was great and I think that it was a lot closer than Mavs-Heat will turn out to be. When NBA Entertainment makes the Finals DVD this year it should put that series in there. If it weren't for the seeding fiasco that series would have been the Western Conference Finals.

At Wednesday, June 07, 2006 11:26:00 PM, Blogger illest said...

True but at least the Mavs played the Spurs.

NBATV showed that game today thats why I commented on it. Gus was one of my favorites and definitely hurt his career for sitting out a season. People think that stuff like that didnt happen years ago but of course it did.
And what the hell is wrong with NBATV? Its garbage. But I need it. Ive had it since its inception but they dont show enough classics.

I wasnt clear. I always preferred the NBA its just that college basketball was better 15,20 years ago making March madness better then, but definitely not better than the NBA.


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