"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