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May 20, 2010 - Seth Staskey
The NBA regular season and playoffs are almost two different sports. Heck, the playoffs takes about as long as the regular season, but when I say they're different sports, I mean they just look totally different.
It's a simple analysis. The energy and effort from the players is multiplied during the postseason. I think the same can be said for hockey and probably even baseball, but I am a huge baseball fan, so I struggle to admit that. However, the NBA players actually play defense and challenge almost every shot during the postseason.
During the regular season, guys are in the midst of an 82-game grind. They realize that eight teams make the playoffs, so they do what's needed to be done to qualify and then they absolutely take games to another notch. The Celtics and Lakers are prime examples. The Lakers ran out to a crazy-good record in the middle of the season and then kind of tailed off and the national media had a field day talking how the Lakers weren't invincible and were extremely vulnerable once the postseason arrived and after they dropped back-to-back games to Oklahoma City in the first round, the doubters were really out in force.
However, since that point, the Lakers have won eight games in a row and are within two games of making their third straight trip to the NBA Finals where they'll be an unquestioned favorite to bring home the gold trophy. The Cavaliers ran roughshod through the regular season and were bounced with relative ease in six games by an aging Celtics team. It comes down to players and Boston and L.A. have better players than the other teams.
Prediction for the remainder of the conference finals: Both L.A. and Boston will win in five and L.A. will win the title in six avenging the 2008 NBA Finals loss.
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