Even with a playoff-set-up and approach meant to squeeze out as much drama and entertainment as possible, the NBA is truly over-achieving this year. In a first round that would have been dramatic even without the Donald Sterling’s racism rollercoaster (the latest news has him battling prostate cancer), they are now ‘blessed with the advent of three Game 7’s in one day today, with the distinct possibility of another three on Sunday. Pundits such as TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal were quick to jump on the ‘May Madness’ bandwagon, saying this tops the March NCAA tournament (especially this year’s, with its lackluster paucity of Cinderellas).
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Today’s NBA feast of sevens begins with a pretty genuine Cinderella story, as the Eastern eighth-seed Atlanta Hawks head to Indianapolis to steal the series from the first-seed Indiana Pacers after not quite being able to get it done on their home court yesterday. The Pacers are formidable, yet thrashing in disarray, rumors swirling about the imminent firing of their coach Frank Vogel should they not advance. Playing at home in front of their coldly expectant fans may actually be worse for them.
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The second seven finds the Western seven-seed Memphis Grizzlies also heading to the enemy court to try to steal a series after failing to clinch at home. The Western second-seed Oklahoma City Thunder are also trying to silence murmurs of dissent, mostly centered around the always mercurial working relationship between the superstar Russell Westbrook and the super-superstar Kevin Durant.
Of course the prime-time, marquee matchup is the Los Angeles Clippers at home to the Golden State Warriors. The Clippers are attempting to lay claim to the ‘America’s Team’ title, using the potent combination of (triumphing over) adversity and advertisements (ESPN, TNT and the NBA hope to see Blake Griffin and Chris Paul’s spots for Kia and State Farm soon return) to carry them on to the finals, likely with the Miami Heat and LeBron. ‘Splash Brothers’ Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and rest of the Warriors, surviving Game 6 on grit and determination, are hoping to benefit from a bit of the perverse luck that cost them their centers Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O’Neal, in the form of finally getting hot from the three point line, perhaps with a helpful referee’s call or two thrown in.
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Sunday’s potential Game 7’s could feature another 1-8 seed match-up as the Dallas Mavericks travel across Texas to San Antonio, the Brooklyn Nets heading north of the border to take on rookie sensation DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors, and this season’s surprise powerhouse, the Portland Trail Blazers, heading South by Southwest take on the multi-culti Houston Rockets of James Harden and Jeremy Lin. Just what the late ‘Dr. Jack Ramsey’ (former Blazers’ 1977 Championship Series-winning coach who lost his battle with cancer Monday) might have ordered to take the bad taste of institutionalized racism of the Spring palate.
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