While the Miami Heat entered the playoffs as a betting favorite to win it all again, they have not been THE story of the NBA playoffs. This year, we’ve seen a couple of good stories develop with (1) breakout stars and (2) scrappy underdogs.
For any fans who weren’t familiar with the Golden State Warriors, say hello to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. This dynamic backcourt has the range to hit 3 point shots from anywhere on the court, and the team has really bought into Mark Jackson’s coaching philosophy. As a #6 seed, the Warriors ran right through the Denver Nuggets (who had the best home record in the NBA) to upset the #3 seed and advance to the second round. They are now in a toe to toe battle with Tim Duncan and the #2 seeded San Antonio Spurs.
In the Eastern Conference, Paul George’s star is rising quickly for the Indianapolis Pacers. He’s proven to be a big time defender, and a more than capable offensive player. The Pacers look to be in good shape to get past the New York Knicks and advance to the conference finals. You may think they are no match for the Heat, but they were up 2-1 against Miami in last year’s conference semifinals, and won two out of three games during the regular season this year. I’m not convinced they will beat the Heat, but it certainly looks like they aren’t afraid of LeBron’s team.
I also have to give a shout out to the Chicago Bulls. Playing all season without the 2011 NBA MVP, Derrick Rose, and further shorthanded in the conference semis without Luol Deng and Kirk Heinrich, this team is giving everything they have to try and compete. In their first playoff series, they went into Brooklyn and won game 7 on the road. Now, against the mighty Heat, they won game 1 in Miami, and are making new fans all over the league with their “heart, hustle & muscle” (credit to Stacey King).
You can follow the remaining playoff action on our NBA playoff page, where eliminated teams are updated daily.