It’s not hard to figure out who the NBA is pulling for in the 2014 playoffs. All you need is take one look at the TV schedule and you’ll find the answer.
ABC showcased the Clippers-Warriors opening game on Saturday, and Game 1 of the Heat-Bobcats matchup on Sunday. It’s a clear indication the league considers the Clippers and Heat as the two sexiest teams in the postseason, and potential showdown in the NBA Finals could generate major buzz.
Who wouldn’t want to see the Heat and the Clippers? The Heat are the two-time NBA champs and they have the best player in the world in LeBron James. And If Dwyane Wade’s knees are right, Miami has two of the most dynamic players in the league.
The Clippers don’t have history on their side but, between Chris Paul’s State Farm commercials and Blake Griffin’s Kia Optima and GameFly ads, they lead the league in most air times off the court.
And that whole Lob City thing isn’t too bad to watch either.
The league won’t admit it but it would be a major blow to Commissioner Adam Silver’s gut if the Heat don’t make The Finals.
No disrespect to the Indiana Pacers, who are a good team but not box office, the Eastern Conference playoffs are far more interesting with the Heat in it. Let’s not even waste time talking about the early rounds of the East playoffs because Miami is booked for the conference finals.
It would be a shame if Miami and Indiana didn’t play each other in the conference finals, but LeBron and Co. could care less who they play. The goal is to reach The Finals for the fourth consecutive year. Ratings would take a nosedive if the Heat are not playing in June.
Silver would prefer not to explain the NHL-type ratings should The Finals include the Pacers and the Spurs, or Pacers and Clippers, or Pacers and Thunder.
Unfortunately for the new commish, the Spurs will have a major say in the whole playoff picture. San Antonio should get by Dallas in the first round and should beat the upstart Blazers in the semifinals. Tim Duncan and Co. will most likely avoid their playoff nemesis in Oklahoma City because the Clippers — assuming they take care of business against the Warriors, which won’t be easy — will knock off the Thunder, setting up a Spurs-Clippers Western Conference finals.
The playoffs are all about matchups and the Clippers do not match up well with the Spurs, who have owned the Clips going all the way back to their San Diego roots.
The Clippers under Doc Rivers are a far better team than they were last year, but they’re still not in the Spurs’ class in terms of defense and discipline.
The Spurs have proven during the course of the regular season that they’ve rebounded from last year’s stunning loss in The Finals and are ready to retake the throne from King James.