Sunday, May 1, 2016

NBA playoffs and dejavu

You just know how it's going to play out and dejavu will be a major part of it.

In the East, the Atlanta Hawks dispatched the Boston Celtics. Their reward? A date with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. Chances of Atlanta winning that series? Zero. It would be surprising if the Cavs didn't broom them in 4 straight.

In the other match-up, the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Miami Heat. Toronto just won their first playoff series in 15 years by getting past the Indiana Pacers in seven games. Plus, they will have home court advantage. Chris Bosh used to play for Toronto before he "took his talents" to Miami few years back. This will be a dejavu reunion of sorts.

Hey, no Canadian team even made the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs this year. What are the Raptors still doing around in hoopland? Miami in six. Maybe less.

That would set up another dejavu situation for the Eastern Conference Finals. Lebron James would go up against his former Heat team. Most everybody has penciled in the Cavs to win the East. Short of a slew of injuries to key players or an unforeseen tragedy with a team plane or bus, there's little reason to doubt what appears almost inevitable will happen indeed. The Cavs are just better than everybody else in the East, and it's not even a close call.

Out in the wild, wild, West, there is no shortage of irony either. The Houston Rockets were easily dispatched by the Golden State Warriors in the first round. This surprised absolutely nobody. With or without the service of Steph Curry, this wasn't a close call either. Nor was the Okla City Thunder making easy work of the Dallas Mavs.

But then the plot thickens. James Hardin, super-star guard of the Rockets and the younger clone of Grady from the Sanford and Son TV show, used to play for the Thunder. Alas, Grady, oops, James decided to take HIS talents to Houston. Evidently, several million bucks a year for playing basketball wasn't enough. He wanted more. How many millions are enough? Now he and his team be gone.

His former Okla City team just got trashed by 32 points in their opening contest against the San Antonio Spurs. If Hardin had stayed on the Thunder, they'd be light years better and have a legitimate shot against Coach Pop's relentless machine in Alamoland. But he didn't, and they don't. The pundits can talk up the phenomenal talents of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook all they want, but those two guys alone with a suspect supporting cast have little chance of derailing the Spurs.

There are two match-ups NBA fans want to see that have been highly anticipated for months. The Spurs and the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. It certainly appears as if they're on a collision course. Sure, GS would have home court advantage, and might even have Steph Curry back by then. But who knows how effective he would be coming back from an injury? And how quick could he shake off the "rust" even if fully healthy? Unknown.

The other would certainly be the NBA Finals. If we can assume Cleveland will emerge from the East, and further assume either GS or SA will represent the West, then dejavu all over again in the world of Lebron James.

Last year, after he and the Cavs took a 2-1 lead in the Finals, the Warriors roared back to claim the championship.

The year before, while still with the Miami Heat, Lebron James saw his team taken to the woodshed by the San Antonio Spurs. It's entirely likely that played a large part in his decision to go back to Cleveland.

Summing up......  James Hardin could have been a contender if not for greed. As would his former team in Okie land if he was still there. But it ain't happening this year, or likely any year soon for either of them.

And if things go according to how they should, Lebron Raymone James is going to get another shot at avenging his teams' last two swan songs in the NBA Finals at the hands of the Spurs and Warriors.

Can Lebron finally pull off what he so desperately wanted to do in his early years, and now -- with a hiatus in between -- finally bring a championship to Cleveland?

The ultimate dejavu?

Maybe. Maybe not. Those guys out west are really good too. Whoever survives that shoot-out -- both teams with championship pedigrees -- isn't going to go down easy.

We'll see.......

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