With the Spring semester's end creeping up, some students choose to frantically stress over the finals that are just around the corner. However, basketball fans have their minds on another kind of finals where books and exams are not involved. It is a whole other world filled with belligerent fanaticism, sports bars, pizza, and nail biting moments – that's right, the 2011 NBA playoff season has officially arrived.
Having kicked off on Saturday April 16 in Chicago, the Bulls defeated the Indiana Pacers in a 104-99 game. The Bulls' presence in this year's playoffs is beyond relevant considering the team's list of acquired firsts since the 1997-1998 season. For instance, Chicago held the best record in the Eastern Conference, a Central Division title, and racked up more than 60 wins. Many of the Bulls' season accomplishments were led by Derrick Rose, the third player in the last 30 years to record 2,000 points and 600 assists in a single season along with Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
This year's Eastern Conference was initially made up of not only the Bulls and Pacers, but the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, and Philadelphia 76ers. However, the Celtics took out the Knicks in a sweep on Easter Day, a team who had not seen the playoffs since 2004. The Hawks defeated the Magic while both the Heat (against the 76ers) and the Bulls progressed to round 2 with a 4-1 win.
Despite what appears to be a stacked playoff season with players like Rose, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James, the lingering question on the minds of many NBA fans is whether or not the Los Angeles Lakers will 3-peat this year.
The Lakers are the second seed in the Western Conference, which also includes the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Hornets, and Memphis Grizzlies. After a 4-1 win, the Thunder left the Nuggets behind and moved forward to round 2. Also progressing forward are the Lakers against the Hornets despite Kobe Bryant's ankle injury in game 4.
So what is the second round looking like? At this point, for the Eastern Conference, the Bulls and the Hawks will face each other while the Celtics and the Heat duke it out in another best-out-of-7 series. On the left coast, the Thunder will be up against the Grizzlies while the Lakers face the Mavericks.
Ultimately, this year's NBA playoff season is upon and it's about to get insane; the first round was nothing compared to what's in store for fans. While the NBA's slogan is something along the lines of where amazing happens, both the playoffs and finals are more or less where ruthlessness and full on pandemonium occurs. Have you got your jersey on?