Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ranking the Finals Possibilities

The NBA Finals seemed to take a pretty big hit with Derrick Rose's injury and the Lakers imploding.  Now Lakers-Celtics (the rubber match), Lakers-Heat (Kobe vs. LeBron), Bulls-Lakers (Kobe needing to beat the Bulls to tie Jordan's number of rings), and Bulls-Thunder (Durant vs. Rose) are no longer possibilities.  While it's unfortunate that some great options are off the table, there are a few intriguing matchups (emphasis on "a few"). Of the remaining playoff teams, only one (Philadelphia) seems unlikely to go to the Finals.  So what are the best matchups the other five remaining teams could produce?  Here's my ranking:

1. Oklahoma City vs. Miami- This is clearly the most marketable Finals possibility.  Other than LeBron battling Kobe, LeBron squaring off with Durant is the best option.  This is certainly the most intriguing matchup, and everything I wrote about it last year still hold's true.

2. San Antonio vs. Boston- From a pure basketball standpoint, this series would deliver.  Both teams execute like clockwork, with stars that set aside ego for the success of the team.  Parker going against Rondo and Ginobli going against Allen would be fun, but the highlight would be Garnett battling Duncan.  The two best power forwards of the last decade going at it, in what may be each one's last significant playoff series, would be great to watch.  It may lack the pizzazz of OKC-Miami, but it could be one of the most well-played Finals in history.

3. Oklahoma City vs. Indiana- This series would be a battle between two young, energetic teams that share the ball well and play in front of very lively crowds.  Basically, this would be the best version of college basketball.  Similar style and atmosphere, just with way better players and execution.

4. Miami vs. San Antonio-  This would pit the most tenured Big 3 against the least tenured one.  While one came together subtly through the draft, the other one came together through free agency with pomp and circumstance.  Other than that, it's pretty much a similar story to last year's (the well-rounded, veteran team going against the superstar top-heavy team), just without the significant occurrence of an all-time great enhancing his legacy.

5. Boston vs. Oklahoma City- There's only one thing that would make this Finals intriguing: Oklahoma City's path to a championship going through Dallas, LA, San Antonio and Boston.  To beat the reigning champion, the franchise with the best winning percentage of the last decade, and the two most storied franchises in history would be one pretty impressive feat.

6. Indiana vs. San Antonio- This is the least appealing option, and one that would potentially be the lowest rated Finals in history.  You know David Stern has his fingers crossed that this doesn't materialize.

Unlike last year, there's a 50% chance that the Finals won't be very enticing.  Let's hope that just superstardom (Durant and LeBron) or teamwork (Spurs and Celtics) prevails and we avoid any disasters.

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