Quantcast 2011 NBA Western Conference Playoffs: Playoff Update

 

Lakers’ demise latest installment of exhilarating Western Conference playoffs

 

After the Dallas Mavericks upended the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals on May 8, the message finally became clear: all the intrigue in the 2011 playoffs is out West.

The Mavericks swept the Lakers in four games, handing Lakers coach Phil Jackson his first-ever sweep in his last-ever playoff series. Dallas did it by unleashing a barrage of three-pointers on Los Angeles, nailing 11 in the first half (tying an NBA playoff record) and 20 in the game (also tying an NBA playoff record). Jason Terry also entered the record books by downing a playoff record-tying nine three-pointers in just 10 attempts. Terry is tied with Ray Allen (twice), Vince Carter, and Rex Chapman as the only players to achieve that feat.

The rout of the Lakers led to a few cheap shots by Lakers players in the fourth quarter. First, Lamar Odom charged through a Dirk Nowitzki screen, earning himself an ejection. That was followed shortly thereafter by Andrew Bynum throwing a forearm shiver into the midsection of a driving J.J. Barea, sending him to the floor and sending Bynum to the showers.

The cheap shots, the finality of coach Jackson’s coaching career, the end of the Lakers’ quest for a three-peat — and all that drama came in one game.

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The playoffs in the Western Conference have been far more entertaining than those in the Eastern Conference this go-around. Whereas in the East there has been only one upset thus far (No. 5 Atlanta beating No. 4 Orlando in what barely qualifies as an upset), the West has seen two and may be bracing for a third.

Already the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs have fallen to the No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, and the No. 3 Mavericks swept the No. 2 Lakers. Meanwhile, those same Grizzlies are threatening the No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder, leading the series 2-1 and shocking the world in the process.

Looking back at the Eastern Conference picture, The No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls have battled the Hawks to a 2-2 tie in their series, and the No. 2 Miami Heat have a 2-1 series lead over the No. 3 Boston Celtics with Game 4 in Boston May 9.

 

 

The most interesting thing about either of these series is the injury situations for the Bulls and Celtics. Rajon Rondo dislocated his left elbow in Game 3, but doctors popped it back in place, allowing him to return and finish the game. However, his status is questionable for Game 4. For the Bulls, Carlos Boozer is battling turf toe and likely won’t be 100 percent for the rest of the playoffs, threatening the playoff hopes of a Bulls team already dealing with Derrick Rose’s balky left ankle.

Maybe if one of these series goes to seven games the drama will kick up a notch, but for now, it has been a snooze fest.

No series in the East has been as exciting as those in the West. Whether it is the surprising run of the underdog Grizzlies or Dallas’ sweep of the crumbling Lakers dynasty, all eyes have to be on the West. Maybe the NBA should even consider adopting a new slogan for these playoffs: The Western Conference. Where two months of agonizingly drawn-out playoff basketball actually becoming watchable happens.

 

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By: Eric Lorenz
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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