After a second round that was much less captivating than the first chalk prevailed, meaning that those of us who lacked the intrepidness to pick upsets vaulted to the top of the standings.
This was kind of a weird series in that the pace stalled to the point of absolute zero (82.2), but the scoring efficiency was still white hot (ORtg of 118.9 for victor Miami). The last two games ultimately came down to late game execution and Miami took care of business.
The unceremonious dispatching of Brooklyn adumbrates favorably for fans of teams who can't afford monopoly money rosters. Despite spending themselves into oblivion and mortgaging their future the Nets' simpleton strategy of botched bufoonery barely saw them advance past the first round in an awful Eastern Conference. The Nets join the New York Knicks and LA Lakers as proof that money and market are still secondary to having a well managed franchise.
It must be frustrating to be a fan of the Indiana Pacers. Not Sacramento Kings frustrating, but vexing nonetheless. After getting taken to the brink in seven games by an Atlanta Hawks team that stumbled into the playoffs, they appeared to have gained traction in the second round before being boat raced on their own floor in a close out game five against the Wizards. The Pacers then woke up to close out the series in game six at Washington and beat the Heat in very convincing fashion in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The mercurial Pacers would have likely been eliminated in the first round if they played in the Western Conference, but might end up making the NBA Finals out of the East just based on a favorable matchup against the Heat. If they do I'll have to rack my brain to remember another team that managed that feat while playing through such embarrassingly bad stretches of poor play and effort.
The Spurs absolutely steamrolled the Blazers in a 4-1 series that wasn't even that close. In their four wins the margins of victory were 24, 17, 15 and 22. Not too much to write about here except that the Spurs are really, really good.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your rooting interests, Serge Ibaka will be sidelined for the upcoming Western Conference Finals series. That's great news if you're cheering for the Spurs... but not so much if you're a fan of watching the best possible basketball.
The ugliness of Donald Sterling and controversial officiating overshadowed the most entertaining/competitive second round series. New commissioner Adam Silver definitely needs to work on the league's officiating image, as fans of the NBA might have a bigger chip on their collective shoulder about the referees than the other three major sports combined.
The closing moments of game five will likely be something that is still alluded to years down the line as a prime example of referees unjustly influencing the outcomes of games. Ironically, though, Clippers fans were outraged that they got screwed because they didn't reap the rewards of the officials missing the call in the first place. Is it fair that the Clippers get the ball there when it is just as obvious that Jackson was fouled as that the ball went out of bounds off of him? Interesting that the issue of what's fair and what's right are murky under the current rules... The replay system in that situation is terribly flawed and needs to be corrected. I could write a lot more about this, but that's not what this article is about.
Incidentally, Chris Paul (he of the late game five heroics) is now 29 years old and has never advanced to the Conference Finals.
Fight Club is now in a tie for the lead with our staff's very own Kris Habbas. Everyone at the bottlenecked top of the standings still has their Finals contestants in the mix, so this promises to be a very competitive race to the finish.
Even if the rest of the playoffs isn't.
After calling out the people who didn't perform so well in the last update I decided not to draw attention to anyone this time around... except for Lionel Mandrake, who is dead last.