Every year the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs is a mixed bag full of treats.
For instance, good or exciting series are like mini Snickers or Twix bars in a trick-or-treater’s bag, while bad or boring series (also known as the NBA TV series, NBA fans know what I am talking about) are like Good and Plenty’s or Bit-O-Honey’s or any form of hard candy (seriously, does anyone under the age of 60 enjoy these?).
An example of a mini form of a delicious and exciting candy bar type of first round series would be the Spurs and Clippers in 2015. An example of an underwhelming candy item would be akin to the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls in 2014.
While many playoff seedings are not set until about a week left in the season, here is some wishful thinking for three series that are possible or even likely at the moment.
3. Cavaliers vs. Bulls
You could argue Cavaliers-Pacers would provide some intrigue here as well with another LeBron and PG-13 showdown and the possibility of some chicanery from Lance Stephenson to attempt to get in King James head (wouldn’t work), but I will opt for this match-up.
I think it would be pretty interesting to see LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, one of the greatest duos in NBA history and the two greatest players in the eastern conference as a whole the past 14 years face off in a playoff series.
I realize Wade is coming off of an elbow surgery and is a shell of the player he was even three years ago, but the fact that these two hall of famers and legends have never faced off in the playoffs is still kind of crazy. Imagine what it would have been like for Jordan and Pippen to have squared off against one another in the playoffs, it would have been interesting right?
Add in the 10% (maybe lower) chance that Rajon Rondo can affect the series with his hatred for LeBron, and with superstar Jimmy Butler in the mix to make things interesting, and even though this has five games written all over it, I would be interested.
2. Jazz vs. Clippers
This series is happening, and although there is no history between these two franchises, this series feels like a seven game slobber knocker. The Jazz have clearly been better this season and are deeper and much better defensively, but you would have a very experienced Clippers team with their first real opportunity of being healthy in the playoffs since blowing a 3-1 lead to the Rockets in the 2015 2nd round. You also have a desperate Clippers squad with huge decisions to make and a highly motivated Chris Paul to show that he should still be considered among the elite point guards.
This series is a bit of a contrast of styles and could be low-scoring, but it seems like it could be a classic, physical and hotly contested series that could be 7 games. Sign me up.
1. Rockets vs. Thunder
This is the first round series the world deserves, the two guys having two of the greater seasons in recent memory, both an easy MVP choice in almost every year, battling to see who can out shine the other one in the final weeks before the decision is announced (it will already have been made) as to who is actually crowned the MVP of the 2016-17 season.
These games could be in the 110 to 120s and would include endless highlights and showmanship from Westbrook and Harden, former teammates turned foe in their battle for supremacy over the season.
Any NBA fan with a pulse wants to see this one.