It's time to update the standings after one of the best first rounds in playoff history and see how our perspicacious participants fared.
The playoffs have been rapturous so far, although they are no longer Raptorous, especially in the Western Conference where the lower seeds gave the favorites everything they could handle. Between 50 total games, two game (and one series) winning buzzer beaters, four consecutive overtime games in a series and five game sevens there was plenty to satiate the most ravenous of NBA fans.
If you don't care about my quips and just want to see where you ended up feel free to scroll down to the standings (for those of you who didn't already do that).
Indiana Pacers beat Atlanta Hawks 4-3
While the Suns fell victim to the tempest of the Western Conference and narrowly missed the playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks coasted to the eight seed in the East despite a 1-14 midseason swoon. Paul George helped carry a Pacers team that looked eminently beatable past the Hawks and starters (this is awesome) DeMarre Carroll and Pero Antic. It's baffling how Roy Hibbert can play entire games without being seen considering he's a freakishly large human being.
Miami Heat beat Charlotte Bobcats 4-0
The NBA should be ashamed of itself for letting the Heat drive over this speed bump while the teams out west were butchering each other. Hopefully the new commissioner, unlike the pretentious do-nothing he replaced, takes care of this competitive imbalance with a new playoff structure.
Brooklyn Nets beat Toronto Raptors 4-3
Joe Johnson, who will have
earned been paid $198,647,490 in his career by the end of the 2015-16 season, led the veteran Nets squad with 21.6 points per game and Toronto failed to advance to the second round for just the second time in the franchise's 19 year existence. Paul Pierce snuffed out the Raptors with a series clinching block to the acute vexation of the Dino devotees. That was actually pretty cool that they rallied around that team. Now Brooklyn is on to face Miami in a series between the two oldest teams in the NBA (I hope that's right since I took it off of HispanosNBA).
Washington Wizards beat Chicago Bulls 4-1
I'm going to come clean by acknowledging that I barely saw more than a few passing glimpses of this series. While I was busy watching nearly every minute of every Western Conference playoff game I deprived myself of the opportunity to watch a basketball game that ended in a score of 75-69. Sounds riveting. I've heard others claim that Washington's dynamic guard play overwhelmed the Bulls, so I guess I'll go with that even though it appears John Wall only shot 36% from the field (seems like a lot of pretty poor shooting performances across the league - we'll call it good defense).
San Antonio Spurs beat Dallas Mavericks 4-3
The Spurs dismantled Dallas in a very anticlimactic game seven after a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the first six. Monta Ellis played better (for stretches) than I ever imagined he would and Vince Carter hit a
half amazing game winner that kept the nettlesome Mavs hanging around, but the inexorable Spurs eventually triumphed in a series that was surprisingly (to me) close. If Parker, Ginobili and Duncan can't take down LeBron James this time around it is always possible they will just outlast him and win a title after he retires.
Oklahoma City Thunder beat Memphis Grizzlies 4-3
Memphis was able to ugly up this series pretty good to the point where Kevin Durant was taking serious heat for being flustered and exasperated by Tony Allen, who shadowed Durant better than, well, his shadow. The four consecutive overtime games in this series were electric, edge of your seat basketball. In the end the Thunder's superior talent and athleticism prevailed, as Durant and the volatile, enigmatic Russell Westbrook woke up and helped their team cruise to victories in the last two games. Although I'm not necessarily a fan of the "Grit and Grind" style that the Grizzlies play (sorry, I like points), watching Marc Gasol execute from the center position is a thing of beauty.
Los Angeles Clippers beat Golden St. Warriors 4-3
I wonder if the 40 point margin of victory was the biggest bloodbath ever in a series that went seven games... A shadow was cast on this series by the Sterling fiasco and there seemed to be more talk about Mark Jackson's impending doom than analysis of the play on the court, but for those of us not in the national media that actually watched the games this was another great back and forth. For my money, DeAndre Jordan was the difference as I believe he outplayed both of his megastar teammates, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and helped the Clippers survive.
Portland Trail Blazers beat Houston Rockets 4-2
LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard absolutely owned this series. Nobody played better than these guys in the first round. Lillard fittingly delivered the dagger with a series clinching buzzer beater that firmly declared his station as one of the elite players in the league (for those of us who hadn't already caught on). Not many people besides Dwight Howard could average 26 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks per game in a series and still take heat for losing, but to be fair he's earned his share of that criticism. After all the work the Blazers did to revamp their bench last offseason they still practically don't play one, as their starters combined to average over 40 minutes per game, but it would be hard for me to take their excellent starting five off the floor, too.
Make sure to check you point totals since I was
barely paying attention somewhat distracted when I was putting this together.
The pack is being led by a pair of Brightsiders whose user names mean absolutely nothing to me. I know that Oterahn is an anagram for another and that if you google it several of his fanposts pop up in the search results. I'm also guessing that Jomer's nickname is Jomerito if I've managed to stalk the right person on facebook.
Special thanks to Lionel Mandrake and Shandy Ong for playing the role of the Charlotte Bobcats. Don't feel too bad, somebody has to finish last and you are somebody.
I also want to thank everyone again (don't you love how people say that when it's really the first time they've thanked them) for participating. There were 36 entries this year, which tops last year's total... I remember seeing it was more, but I'm too lazy to go back to look for the exact number. This would have been really depressing if it was just me against Beavis25. I don't know if you guys peruse other SB Nation basketball blogs, but the Thunder's site doesn't even do gamethreads and gets like seven comments in a playoff game recap. Yeah.
Maybe next year I'll muster up the initiative to solicit some swag from Seth for the winner.