The NBA Playoffs: Upsets Unwanted

One of the most suspenseful and upset-filled March Madnesses of all time is now complete.  And now, like every April, the NBA tries to get us to watch “40 games in 40 nights,” the games where “amazing happens,” and the games where stars are born. But come on, this isn’t the NCAA tournament; home court teams win 65.6% of the time even when they lose the regular season series to their opponent, and only three #8 seeds have ever beaten a #1 seed in the NBA history.  There’s no “madness” here. Then why is John Hollinger picking the #7 Spurs to beat the #2 Mavs in 6?  Why was “Upstart Thunder Eye Upset” the headline on NBA.com last Friday?   More importantly, why did the photo for the article show league icon and leader of the #1 seed Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant defending up-and-comer Kevin Durant?   Why are many experts picking the Suns to reach the finals when they give up the 26th most points in the league?

This year’s Western Conference Champion is more uncertain than ever before.  With Kobe Bryant’s recent struggles, Jordan Farmer's injury, Derek Fisher’s lackluster play, and the surging Mavs and Suns, the Lakers are not expected to reach the Finals.  Looking down the bracket, the second-seeded Mavs only finished 2 games ahead of the 5th place Jazz, and only 5 games ahead of the 8th place Thunder.

Chaos, late game heroics, and new stars will be found in this year’s Western Conference Finals, but unlike the NCAA tournament, are we really looking for that?

The NBA’s superstar glamour and a lack of defense and teamwork has made fans from across the country pull for possibly one of the most highly talented and anticipated individual matchups in Finals history. Not to mention, the most frequently debated question in the NBA will be answered: “Who’s better, Kobe or Lebron?”

Sure, everyone wants to see a back-and-forth 7-game series like the one between the Celtics and Bulls a few years ago, but unlike March Madness, fans want to see the superstars play like superstars.

When you think of great NCAA tournament moments, you think of George Mason’s run to the Final Four and Butler’s push to the Finals. But when you think of great playoff moments in the NBA you think of Jordan’s shot over Bryon Russell, AI’s 48 points in Game 1 of the 2001 Finals against the Lakers, and Kobe’s elbow-jumper against the Suns in the 2006 playoffs to give the #7 Lakers a 3-1 series lead.

While sleeper teams like the #7 Spurs, #3 Suns, and #5 Jazz all have a realistic shot at making the finals, everyone will be hoping that the best two players in the league will square off in the Finals.

Editor’s Note: This sports column is a regular feature from “The Nightcap” crew,  made up of Ari Zyskind, Nathan Barnett, Dan Campbell, and Kevin Shuai, a group of 5Cers who air a weekly radio sports talk show on KSPC. You can listen in online at KSPCstream.com or KSPC.org (click “Hear us Online via Live365”) every Monday from 8-10 PM.