Despite only one game seven so far in this year's NBA Playoffs, this year's playoffs have shown many thrills and many things that teams revealed about themselves, both good and bad.
First off, the Golden State Warriors just may be contenders some day, with or without head coach Don Nelson. Small ball is the way that a lot of teams go with the lack of big men and the quickness that leads to high scoring and exciting teams and the Warriors have been the latest to prove its affect it has on a team like the Dallas Mavericks. Of course, they beat those Mavs in six games and put on a competitive series against the Utah Jazz in the second round. Some defense could be just what the Warriors need to get over the hump.
Another great thing about this year's playoffs is that the "Baby Bulls" might be growing up. After ousting the defending champion Miami Heat in a four game sweep, the Chicago Bulls also put on a competitive series against the Detroit Pistons, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to lose in a hard fought six game series. This experience will come useful to the young Bulls in their quest to win a championship without NBA legend Michael Jordan.
The Houston Rockets need a supporting cast for and some offense for all-stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. I'm sure that they could have gotten a higher seed in the playoffs if Yao didn't spend all that time injured, but throughout their series against the Jazz, the Rockets just could not put together enough support for their stars to advance. In fact, in one game, only four Rockets scored. No wonder why Jeff Van Gundy got fired. What the Rockets should do during the offseason is get a good perimeter player like Jason Kapono, a free agent, to sign on so he can hit open threes when teams double-team McGrady and Yao.
The New Jersey Nets may have a winning formula after all. During the season, the Nets suffered injuries to starters Richard Jefferson and Nenad Kristic. They were able to pull together and earned the sixth seed in the playoffs and a win against the Toronto Raptors in the first round, although with Jefferson back in the lineup. They were then able to push the Cleveland Cavaliers to six games in the next round behind brilliant play by ageless wonder Jason Kidd. Vince Carter is a free agent this summer, so the Nets will need to make sure to either resign him or trade him for a good big man. Needless to say, the Nets' playoff run made trade rumors surrounding Kidd and Carter totally dumb for the Nets.
Perhaps the biggest thriller in the 2007 playoffs was the Phoenix Suns vs. the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals. It proved that the Spurs are in fact a dirty team and they are somehow able, and in this series rewarded, for their dirty play. During game two, Bruce Bowen kicked Amare Stoudemire on the foot while Stoudemire was going in for a dunk. No penalty. During game three, Bowen knees Steve Nash in the groin. No suspension, but there was a flagrant foul. During game four Robert Horry checked Nash into the scorer's table. Horry was suspended for two games, but the Suns were hit harder. Stoudemire and his backup Boris Diaw were each suspended a game for leaving the bench during an altercation that broke out after the hit. In my opinion, the Spurs were definitely rewarded for Horry's cheap shot by ultimately winning the series against the Suns.
Because of these plays, the Suns were able to shed their image of being a "soft" team. In addition to these cheap shots the Spurs game them, there was also an incident in game one where Nash and Tony Parker of the Spurs banged heads. Nash was bleeding from the nose and the trainers just couldn't stop the bleeding. Nash tried to play anyway and was able to briefly before having to leave the game in order to stop the bleeding. This showed the warrior in Nash because he needed to have stitches after the game and refused to have them before the game was over.
However, perhaps the most dramatic moment in this year's playoff season may not involve a basketball, but ping pong balls. The NBA's draft lottery may provide many things. If the Boston Celtics win the lottery, their tanking might prove to be worth it with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant being in this year's draft along with a bunch of other potentially productive players. If the Memphis Grizzlies win, they might not have as much trouble needing to trade star forward Pau Gasol. If the Bulls win, they might have that missing piece to produce another dynasty. If the Atlanta Hawks don't get one of the top three picks, they will need to give that pick to the Suns, which could vault the Suns to becoming the favorites in the West. If the Minnesota Timberwolves win, they could finally give Kevin Garnett the help he deserves to win a championship with the Timberwolves. This year's lottery could make or break the futures of many teams.