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.
[adinserter block=”2″]The most exciting opening round series has to be the showdown between two of the biggest cities in the east, a rivalry that transcends the sport. Whether it is the New York Yankees battling the Boston Red Sox, or the New York Jets clashing with the New England Patriots, the rivalry between Boston and New York sports is huge. Another element will be added to that bitterness when the Knicks and Celtics meet in the first round, a matchup that features rising contender against defending conference champion.
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.
[adinserter block=”1″]That gives us two exciting series’ to look forward to in the opening round, with the potential for a third with a surging Memphis Grizzlies’ team that will have a tough task against the team that finished with the best sports betting bonus record in the association. Memphis looked incredible down the stretch and if they play as a team they could compete with San Antonio and make the series interesting. Regardless, this year’s opening round will provide plenty of intrigue with a couple of key series’, and the postseason play of the revitalized Heat and two-time defending NBA champion Lakers