Have you seen those NBA commercials? The NBA always has good marketing campaigns that do justice to the quality of play in the league, but then you have those “events” that ruin all the good will for the NBA. (Cue video of Ron Artest going into the stands to fight fans.) This time next year, I wonder how many of those commercials will be snapshots from the Celtics-Bulls series of this playoffs?
While I do believe this series is an instant classic, I don’t think you can say this is the best NBA playoff series ever as we head into Game Seven tonight. First of all, it is a first round series and both teams are not at full strength. For the Celtics, Kevin Garnett has missed every game and Leon Powe was injured in Game Two and has missed the rest of the series. For the Bulls, Luol Deng has been out. You are missing one of the greats of this generation of players and two key players. You don’t think that would make a difference? I think it is safe to say if both teams were healthy, this series would be over by now and Boston would be prepping for the second round.
The series has provided a litany of great moments already, but still what does it provide the ultimate winner of the series? A berth in the second round. It’s like with March Madness, we all remember great moments from the first weekend of the tournament, but rarely do we say one of those games was the best ever.
That being said, this series is a classic. With Boston, you have the NBA standard-bearer and current champ going up against Chicago, a past great that is trying to reclaim its relevancy again. (Two marquee teams helps in making the series great.) Four overtime games, five games decided by three points or less, players playing to the seemingly best of their abilities. With Boston, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have firmly established themselves as greats in their generation with every clutch shot they make, while Rajon Rondo has laid claim to being one of the best point guards in the league. (And if Chris Paul or Deron Williams are the best right now, don’t you now say Rondo is the best?) With Chicago, Ben Gordon’s stock has jumped with his offensive prowess and Derrick Rose is showing why he could be one of the dominant players in the league for the next decade.
The series has been phenomenal. If the Celtics lose tonight, I will be proud they fought to the end having given everything they could possibly give to defend a championship they weren’t going to win.
Classic series, but I’d rather my team take an easy path to an NBA Championship. Because I did thoroughly enjoy watching the Celtics take it to the Lakers last year.
And, I think the 1984 NBA Finals, Celtics vs. Lakers, is the standard for greatest NBA playoff series ever.