The NBA Playoffs kicked off this past weekend and it's safe to say that things are not going to be as cut and dry as in years past. This opening flurry of game 1's gave us a glimpse into the current reality of the NBA, which is that despite the hype of the 'super-teams', this year is more about parity than anything else.
Don't believe it, then just look at the games played over the past two days.
In the West, the top seeded San Antonio Spurs gave up home court to the Memphis Grizzlies while the number 2 seed Los Angeles Lakers followed suit with a loss to the New Orleans Hornets. The highly touted Oklahoma City Thunder barely edged out the deeper Denver Nuggets in their game 1 matchup while the Dallas Mavericks needed a late run to edge out the Portland Trailblazers.
In the East the top seeded East nearly started off the playoffs with a crushing home defeat only to have Derrick Rose pull the game out of the fire late with a last minute flourish to beat the Indiana Pacers. The Miami Heat survived an early deficit and a late rally by the Philadelphia 76ers to start off their title run. The Boston Celtics needed a last second Ray Allen 3 to edge out the New York Knicks in a game that showed that these two teams are closer than anyone anticipated. In the one Eastern Conference upset, the Atlanta Hawks rolled over the Orlando Magic despite a huge day from Dwight Howard that featured him go for 46 points and 19 boards.
Pretty crazy start to the playoffs!
For an NBA season that was touted as being the year the stars reign supreme, I find it healthily ironic that teams that rely more on team basketball was able to hold their own in game 1. I'm not overly convinced that this trend will continue on into the rest of the playoffs but for now, a healthy dose of parity makes for some pretty captivating basketball, something that everyone can get behind.
Weekend MVP: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets (33 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 steals)
Paul, once touted as the greatest point guard in the game, has suffered this season coming back from knee surgery. To everyone watching him this year, he appeared to have lost a step and some of the explosiveness that defined his past greatness. This weekend, however, he defied the injury and he defied a lackluster season to spark his Hornets team to a game one win against the defending Champion Los Angeles Lakers.
"I've struggled all season long, trying to figure out where to pick my spots," said Paul "It's the playoffs. It's a whole other energy."