As the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight get whittled down to the Final Four this weekend, the NBA is a little over a month from the beginning of the postseason. Or, as rest days and scheduling are considered, “normalcy.” College basketball’s playoff system crams so many games into about a month’s time that, after this weekend leaves only four teams standing, it’s hard to differentiate from what you forgot and didn’t even know in the first place. As rapidly as it starts, the tournament feels to be somewhat rushing towards being almost over already.
Even with the ridiculousness of the NBA’s regular season this year, it still feels like there’s a ways to go before playoff qualifiers are solidified. In terms of the amount of time left, there remains miles to travel and games to play — not to mention the even-more methodical playoffs themselves; it’s just that the interval of time between now and then isn’t what we’re accustomed to. March Madness drops into our lives like a sudden downpour and is gone before everything can soak in, while the NBA, although currently sped up, maintains a pace that doesn’t leave one wondering where it all went. Maybe this speaks more to my personal preferences than anything else, but given the choice I’m all about absorption, I suppose.
Celtics at 76ers.
After that salute of sorts to the NBA above, this contest between Eastern seaboard foes will be competitive and interesting, but with the strong likelihood for vast periods of ugliness — you know, kind of like a NCAA tournament game!
Mavericks at Spurs.
A nice piece here from Ball Don’t Lie’s Kelly Dwyer on the pointlessness of booing a struggling Lamar Odom; especially a struggling Lamar Odom, to be exact.
Nuggets at Jazz.
Very different, young teams jostling for a playoff spot while being built on distinct visions for what a team ideally looks and plays like: This is what the second game of an ESPN back-to-back should be at this point.
Grizzlies at Clippers.
Yup, this pretty much sums up the Clippers right now. They’re like one of those plastic easter eggs, all shiny and bright on the outside, only when opened it’s found to be completely sans awesome prize in the middle — or I guess for effect, it could be filled with fool’s gold, too.
Pistons at Knicks.
Ben Gordon was out of his mind on Wednesday night, and if the Knicks can survive in Toronto on Friday, their winning streak will be up to six. If this scenario is in play, here’s a fearless, inane prediction: The Pistons win, and Gordon goes 2-for-17.
Pacers at Bucks.
Or as it’s better known nowhere, the Mike Dunleavy Bowl. Still: Is it possible for one guy to simultaneously be a perfect fit for two teams playing each other at the same time?
Heat at Thunder.
Now this is a game with some feeling behind it. Yes, it’s a possible and the widely predicted Finals pairing, but for the time being it’s also a chance to watch the Heat, better adjusted and suited to their workings as a well-oiled machine than a season ago, test Oklahoma City’s improvement in the same area.
Grizzlies at Lakers.
Gilbert Arenas back in the Staples Center, site of one of his most Hibachi moments ever. That and these teams usually seem to play awesomely tight games, plus: Tony Allen V. Kobe Bryant. Not bad at all.
Mad Men Season Premiere.
If you’ve been on any Web site on any of the Internets at all this week, or so it seems, you’ve likely noted that the fifth season of AMC’s drama kicks off Sunday night. Don Draper and Roger Sterling, master of the quips and one-liners, return for more drinking, quiet conversations, and signs of the times. I’m greatly excited for this.
Enjoy a good old fashioned weekend, everyone.
Griffin Gotta contributes to The Hoop Doctors and is a co-managing editor of Straight Outta Vancouver. The story arcs and infinite weirdness of the NBA are addictions he deals with every day. Email him at griffingotta at gmail dot com.