There are times in which the gravity of a situation is overstated. There are equally as many times that it’s under-appreciated.
The harsh reality is, there’s a thin line between prisoners of the moment and objective observers. This has long resulted in the need to step back and temporarily remove ourselves to develop a greater understanding.
As members of the often overzealous NBA community, there have been moments in which we’ve jumped to conclusions in this very postseason. But we’re not wrong to do it. Not this time.
This isn’t a normal experience in the world of basketball. It’s a statistical anomaly that will live on in lore.
The first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs truly have been one of the greatest periods in league history.
Friday did nothing but further establish the legendary nature of the 2014 postseason. It was a day that featured three elimination games, two survivals and an awe-inspiring finish to a rare series win.
What it all resulted in can only be described as historic.
The Portland Trail Blazers closed out the night by using a Damian Lillard buzzer-beater to defeat the Houston Rockets 4-2. With its series win, Portland advances to the Western Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2000.
Fourteen years passed. Slowly. In this wild round of basketball, the drought finally ended.
In the other two games, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Toronto Raptors and the Dallas Mavericks took down the San Antonio Spurs. It was yet another instance of a lower-seed winning against favored counterparts.
With the Brooklyn and Dallas wins, the two squads forced a Game 7 in their respective series. The Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder did the very same on May 1.
In turn, there will be an NBA-record five Game 7s in a single round of playoff basketball. That also ties the league record for Game 7s in a full postseason.
That’s right, the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs has produced as many Game 7s as any previous postseason in its entirety.
The way the Game 7s have come about are just as impressive as the number itself.
Lower-seeded teams are currently 23-22 during the opening round of the playoffs. This has resulted in the virtual elimination of home court advantage.
Road teams are 23-22 in the 2014 NBA Playoffs. If you’re stunned, you’re right to be.
Road teams only won 15 games during the first round of the 2013 postseason.
This level of unpredictability is unlike anything that I’ve seen in my lifetime. It’s unlikely that I’m alone in that regard.
Surefire contenders are now viewed as exposed squads with unrealistic title hopes. Underdogs are viewed as party spoilers without divide.
Rather than condemning the teams that are losing, however, we should embrace the competitive nature of the first round. The perceived contenders remain just that.
The fact is, the separation between good and great by today’s standards is closing.
Rather than downplaying your excitement, it’s time to let your emotions run freely. It’s time to embrace that this truly is one of the most incredible times in the history of professional basketball.
There’s no telling if the succeeding rounds will hold up against the opening slate of games, but that’s of little importance. This is a display of the, “Anything can happen,” motto that runs wild throughout athletics.
It’s a time in which young stars are being made. Bradley Beal and John Wall of the Washington Wizards, DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers have all emerged as prime-time performers.
It’s a time in which underrated veterans are finally receiving the respect they deserve. Monta Ellis of the Dallas Mavericks, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors, Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks and Nene Hilario of the Washington Wizards have all played critical roles in the success of their respective teams..
It’s a time in which LaMarcus Aldridge has made the leap from a great player on a small-market team to a truly elite talent. It’s a time in which one of the greatest duels has come between 38-year-old Tim Duncan and 35-year-old Dirk Nowitzki.
It’s a time of uplifting upsets and heartbreaking losses. One that forces us to question what we know about the sport that we love so dearly.
Most importantly, it’s a time that no one will soon forget.
Rather than worrying about the historical impact of this postseason, enjoy it while you can. The weeks are passing quickly and the heart-racing action will come to a close as soon as mid-June.
Drop the nonchalant attitude. Stop worrying if your Tweets or Facebook statuses are too over-the-top. They aren’t.
This is a once-in-a-generation experience. And in less than 48 hours, this legendary first round will come to a close.
Tags: 2014 NBA Playoffs