All game 1 contests are in the books, and as expected, it looks like it is going to be a wild playoff run for the NBA title in 2012. The Los Angeles Clippers formally put the league on notice of how dangerous they can be, Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs look ready to make another run at a title, and as predicted here, the Atlanta Hawks took it to the Boston Celtics, outgunning the aging former championship nucleus. Granted a lot can change with game 2, but the race is on!
The Clippers were 21 points down heading into the fourth quarter, and honestly, coach Vinny Del Negro was looking every bit the buffoon that he gets made out to be. It was Chris Paul who asked to be put back in the game, it was the superstar delivering on what was expected. The rally was against a rugged Memphis Grizzly team that had a lot of hype and has all star Zach Randolph back in the lineup. Winning by one point, the Clippers and Paul showed they are focused and ready for a playoff run, not just a decent showing. I think eventually it will be a Del Negro bonehead move that takes them out of it this year.
The Spurs looked very dangerous in their opening game. Tony Parker is clearly the leader of this team now, and he showed in the game why many people have him as high as 3rd on their MVP ballots. The Spurs have made a habit of digging a hole for themselves and dropping the opening game, but they took the Jazz out with ease and will be a tough out for everyone out West from here on in.
The Atlanta Hawks looked strong, and they made the Celtics look bad. At this point, the Celtics best player is clearly Rajon Rondo, but Rondo earned two technicals and a potential suspension by getting too emotional at the end of the game. Josh Smith played excellent, and what makes the team a threat is the potential to get Al Horford, their all star center, back from injury.
The Los Angeles Lakers deserve mention as they start their playoff run. Center Andrew Bynum pulled off a 10 block game against a Denver Nuggets team that has no answers for the size of the Lakers.
It is still hard to prognosticate, but the champion in the NBA this year will come from among 6 teams – The Bulls, Heat or Hawks (not as likely) from the east, or the Lakers, Spurs or Thunder in the West.