May 2, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) makes a three pointer at the buzzer over Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (25) to win the game during the fourth quarter in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Part of the greatness that is the NBA playoffs is getting to see rivalries develop, along with intriguing matchups. What are some desirables this season?
LeBron James vs. the Miami Heat
Everybody with eyes knew that when LeBron James left Cleveland in 2010, there was virtually no chance he would see them in the playoffs as a member of the Miami Heat. That is not likely to be the case in his second team switch. Even as he returned home to the Cavs, Heat president Pat Riley was able to make a series of moves in order to solidify his roster. While not the formidable unit it was the past four years, Miami is a very real threat to reach the postseason. Anybody whom at that point doesn’t want to see them get a crack at James would be lying.
Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls with Derrick Rose
Many NBA fans saw it as a coming-of-age tale for the Washington Wizards. The Chicago Bulls saw their premature five-game exit from the playoffs as another teeth-gritting reminder that they were playing handcuffed without their best player in Derrick Rose. With 2014-2015 fast approaching, Chicago is a completely different team from the one that looked so helpless in May. Not only do they have more shooting prowess on their bench, but Rose is also fully healthy. If it should stay that way, the Bulls would love nothing better than another crack at the upstart Wizards.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets
The only issue with the previous series that went down between the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers was that it went six games instead of seven. Three of the games went into overtime and the sixth game ended on a thrilling buzzer beater by Damian Lillard. A big problem in that series for Houston was their defense. They gave up at least 104 points in four of the six tilts. Hopes are high that the addition of Trevor Ariza will help solve that problem. Hopefully Portland will be the team to put that to the test.
Dirk Nowitzki and new Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs
Arguably the most exciting series of the NBA playoffs last season was an unexpected one. In it the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs were dealt an early scare when veteran star Dirk Nowitzki and his Dallas Mavericks pushed them to the brink in seven games. Five of them were decided by six points or less. In the end the Spurs’ depth and experience got them out of it. They may not be so lucky a second time. Dallas has added some interesting pieces during the off-season including Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons. There is no doubt the series would still be close, but it will be interesting to see how San Antonio responds to what should be a better Mavericks team.