Well, it's officially NBA Playoffs (and Live In Concert) Eve and there's no turning back now. With the second season comes animosity, divided friendships, nervousness and likely an increased amount of drinking due to the inevitable amount of stress spring basketball produces. Thankfully, for you, we've already got the outcome.
See, our friends at high places already put us on game what to expect throughout certain nights of the playoffs. And because we're all fam here, we figured why hold the amazing news to ourselves. You deserve to know, too!
Ok, let's cut the bullsh*t. We have no clue what's about to happen and that's what makes this ride to June so hellacious and heaven-sent at the same damn as Future Pendergrass once told us. Instead of the generic "(insert team) wins (insert series) in (insert amount of games)," we decided to flip the scrip. The following 10 slides represent brief game recaps of handpicked contests we either know are on the horizon or expect to happen.
If our words actually come to fruition, we'll look like geniuses. If they don't, well, there's always the Nightcap. Right?
Game: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers, Game 1
Storyline: The Baptism Of Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol should be one of the top choices for Defensive Player of the Year. He's one of the reasons the Grizzlies have been able to put clamps on teams across the league. And the Grizzlies/Clippers battle was as nasty as last year's. The powder keg exploded in the third quarter of Game 1 when Blake Griffin had an uncharacteristically open lane and put in a dunk of the year candidate over Gasol (joining teammate DeAndre Jordan). This is where the playoffs began.
Game: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets, Game 2
Storyline: James Harden Brings The Thunder
James Harden's arrival has been one of the most enjoyable storylines of the NBA season, so we shouldn't be surprised that he took another opportunity to remind the Thunder exactly who they traded away last summer. The shooting guard dropped 47 points in front of a fan-base that once donned fake beards and wore blue number 13 jerseys on a regular basis. The Rockets would need every bucket, too; Kevin Durant almost matched his former running mate (45 points on 18-24 shooting), in a performance that has to go down as one of the NBA's great losing efforts. Does Houston have a shot to win the series? All signs point to 'no,' but stranger things have happened in the NBA.
Game: New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics, Game 5
Storyline: Pierce's MSG Statement
The first four games between the Celtics and Knicks were as physical as they were nostalgic. Highlighted by an unusual verbal sparring match between Kevin Garnett and Spike Lee in Game 2, the tension between the two iconic franchises seem to have picked up where a midseason near-altercation between Garnett and Carmelo Anthony left off. Game 5 was more of the same with with trash talk equaling made baskets. And in the world's most famous arena, it was Paul Pierce - as he has done so many times in his future Hall of Fame career - stepping up to the occasion.
The Celtics pulled ahead in the series 3-2 following The Truth's 32-point gauntlet as well as the continued impressive defensive performances from Avery Bradley and Jeff Green. Asked about the series, Carmelo Anthony simply replied, "We'll be ready for Game 6."
Game: Denver Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors, Game 6
Storyline: Curry's Playoff Coming Out Party
It was only a matter of time before Steph Curry (39 points on 12-19 shooting, including 6-8 from three) and Klay Thompson (33 points, 15-22) broke Denver's stout defense. Forcing Game 7 in Denver, the Warriors used a deafening home crowd to blow a punchless Nuggets squad out of the water. When firing on all cylanders, the Curry-Thompson backcourt is damn-near impossible for even the best offenses in basketball to hang with. And, no offense to Ty Lawson (19 points on 7-17 shooting) and Andre Iguodala, but Denver's vaunted depth just doesn't feature the kind of singular talent that can match a Steph Curry blow-for-blow.
Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 3
Game: Miami Heat Vs. Brooklyn Nets
Storyline: Reggie Evans Extacts Revenge On Miami
Remember earlier in the season when Kimbo Slice's half brother, Reggie Evans, pissed on the Heat's championship and said LeBron was "no different" from Andray Blatche? And remember how everyone had the same reaction as the detective from Menace II Society, "You know you done fucked up, don't you? You know it, don't you? You know you done fucked up." And remember how Miami dump trucked the Nets afterwards? Well, Evans redeemed himself in a must-win game for Brooklyn snagging 18 rebounds and a critical block on Dwyane Wade late in Game 3.* The series, however, still ended in five.
* - This was originally intended to be something about Kris Humphries attending a divorce settlement hearing in Los Angeles with Kim. The kicker is he damn near gets into an altercation with Kanye outside the courtroom which shuts down the Internet for a good 24 hours. But Kris and Kim came to a settlement today, so we went with Plan G.
Round: Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers, Game 4
Storyline: J.R Smith Bails Out The Knicks
Down one with 5.6 seconds left and Carmelo double-teamed, J.R. Smith curled off a Tyson Chandler pick to nail the game winning fadeaway jumper. The 89-88 victory ties the series 2-2 with a now mega-important Game 5 looming in New York. And naturally, Spike Lee was in attendance. It's becoming more and more clear Smith in 2013 is to Spike what John Starks was in 1993.
Have at that how you will.
Round: Western Conference Finals
Game: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Game 4
Storyline: The Lakers Put Out Of Their Misery
Who saw this coming? The Lakers had a lucky draw by beating banged up San Antonio and young Golden State squads. Then by the time they made it to the Western Conference Finals, Laker Land was in full celebration mode thinking a championship was possible. But reality came rearing its ugly head as the Thunder made easy work of Gasol and Howard culminating in a Game 4 bloodbath. This was the most boring conference finals in a very long time.
Round: Eastern Conference Finals
Game: Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks, Game 6
Storyline: Carmelo Anthony Unchained
Nobody gave the Knicks a shot against Miami. Carmelo and co.'s championship was just making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. So when Game 6 rolled around and the Knicks faced a 3-2 deficit it was a foregone conclusion that they'd bow out and let Miami take their rightful spot in the Finals. Carmelo didn't get that memo. In an eerie replay of LeBron's elimination game against the Celtics last year, Melo put together a game for the ages - 45 points and 13 rebounds. Including 18 fourth quarter points to single-handedly keep his Knicks alive and crown him as the next Knicks icon in MSG. Too bad there was a Game 7.
Game: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Miami Heat, Game 1
Storyline: The Duel
Last year's NBA Finals was by most accounts a disappointment from an objective fan standpoint. By about midway through Game 3 you knew what was going to happen. And this year's Finals felt like an inevitable Heat victory, but it didn't stop us from letting our imaginations run wild as Kevin Durant and LeBron James combined for 32 fourth quarter points in a duel for the ages. Yep. This is Magic/Bird, the remix.
Game: Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 5
Storyline: Ray Allen's Miami Moment
Sure, LeBron's second straight triple double in a NBA Finals Game 5 (29-13-12 this year) was something to witness. Pun intended. Yet, when Pat Riley brought Ray Allen to Miami last summer, it was moments like these he envisioned. The 37-year-old Allen morphed into Jesus Shuttlesworth pouring in 23 points of his own including five three pointers in the final frame (on the road!) giving Miami the 3-2 series edge heading back to South Florida.
What happens in Game 6? We'll find out in roughly six weeks.