A year ago it seemed as though the first round of the NBA playoffs was a mere formality, with the favorites taking their respective places in the conference semi-finals with little to report in terms of potential upsets.That will change in 2011 however, as the association that lacks parity beyond any other of the four major professional sports in North America takes a step forward in terms of postseason matchups that will have fans at the edge of their seats.
Boston looked awful down the final stretch and conceded the top two pay per head seeds in the East to the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, and if they can get through the opening round will have to win two more series’ without home court advantage just to get back to the NBA finals. The Knicks will have a lot less pressure on them after some mixed results since the addition of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups at the deadline, and if they can push this series to six or seven games then the game’s popularity will be automatically reborn under the bright lights of Broadway.
With Anthony and Billups in New York, the Denver Nuggets thrived down the stretch to finish fifth in the Eastern conference and earn an opening sports betting round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. These teams are considered the next in line to join the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs as perennial contenders in the west, and this series will go a long way to revealing which franchise is closer to hitting that mark. The Thunder finally have their big man to compete with the Nuggets, Lakers, and Spurs in Kendrick Perkins, who was acquired at the trade deadline. Meanwhile, Denver has mastered the concept of team chemistry and looked even better without their biggest superstar since the trade with New York.