MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/03 May) – Contrary to expectations, most of the top-seeded teams in the NBA are struggling to survive in the playoffs. Only the Miami Heat, the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, has managed to breeze through the first round, shutting out the Michael Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats. The long rest should give Dwyane Wade enough time to recover fully from an injury before facing the winner between the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets, which will play game 7 on Monday after the Nets survived game 6 today.
Fans are wishing for a Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers showdown in the Eastern Conference finals. However, the Pacers, the No. 1 seed in the conference, are finding it hard to clip the wings of the Atlanta Hawks. In fact, the Hawks zoomed ahead with a 3-2 lead in their best of seven series. Fortunately for the Pacers, they outlasted the Hawks in game 6 with a 16-4 run in the fourth quarter to force a deciding game 7 on Sunday. The winner will face the Washington Wizards, which beat the Chicago Bulls, playing without injured star Derrick Rose, 4-1.
In the Western Conference, the Kevin Durant-led No. 2 seed Oklahoma City Thunder also trailed behind Memphis Grizzlies, 2-3, after losing by a hair breadth, 99-100, in game 5. They came back with fury in game 6, 104-84, to arrange a game 7 back in their home court on Sunday. Whoever wins will play the survivor in the matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors, which are also tied at 3-3 with the series to be concluded at the Staples Center.
Meanwhile, league top seed San Antonio Spurs failed to wrap up their series in game 6 today with the underrated Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks, who lost to the Spurs in all their four meetings in the regular season, were given a lease on life with a cliffhanger over the other Texas team, 113-111. Now, the No. 1 team and last year’s finalist faces the pressure of having to avoid being swept away by the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The survivor of the Mavericks-Spurs matchup will play the Portland Trailblazers, which frustrated the Houston Rockets’ hopes for a game 7 with a 99-98 squeaker today. This is the second straight year that the Rockets failed to advance to the conference semi-final round.
The way the first round matches have unfolded suggests that the playoffs are an entirely different game compared to the regular season. Since the teams tend to up the level of their play a notch higher there are instances that previous statistics may become irrelevant, or at least not as significant as expected.
Moreover, there were on-court and off-court distractions, which I believe may have cost a team or two a victory.
First, you had that remarks by Clippers owner Donald Sterling which smack of racism. In a voice recording made public and which he admitted to be true, Sterling had asked his girlfriend to stop associating with black people or bringing them to Clippers games. Even his own players did not let the thing pass, and in their game 4 with the Warriors they staged a protest by wearing their shirts inside-out to hide the team name and wearing black wristbands and socks during the game. They lost the game for a 2-2 tie.
Meanwhile, in game 5 between Oklahoma and Memphis, Durant was about to release his second free throw in the dying seconds of the overtime period when one of the referees whistled for him to stop. The referee then went to the table officials and pointed out that something (not the time) was wrong with the electronic scoring board. Durant missed the free throw. Who knows he could have made it if not for the disruption?
I share the view of the game’s commentators, who are former NBA stars themselves, that the distraction may have cost Oklahoma the game. They should know. They were there long enough to know what losing focus means.
By the way, does losing focus also mean citing an existing treaty to justify that a new agreement is not a treaty but merely supplementary to it? What if the supposed supplementary agreement runs counter to the 1987 Constitution? This should prove more interesting than the NBA playoffs. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)