Last summer this longtime NBA observer predicted that this June the NBA Finals would be a rematch of last year’s Championship round with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers going toe to toe for the third time in the last four years. After two games have passed in the Association’s second round match-ups that is looking rather unlikely as both the Lakers and the Celtics find themselves down 2-0 in their respective series. Although both teams could turn their fortunes around there is a strong possibility that neither club will get to the Finals this season.
There are no fence sitters when it comes to the Celtics and Lakers; you love them or you despise them if you are even a casual NBA fan. Hence the NBA Finals in 2008 and 2010 pulled in great Television ratings and would do the same thing this year if the two clubs do advance. However what will the TV ratings be like if neither team does make it? Will fans of the Association flock to see the Miami Heat take on the Dallas Mavericks or the Chicago Bulls go up against the Oklahoma City Thunder? Would a Memphis/Atlanta series keep NBA fans glued to their sets?
Although none of these match-ups have the mystique of the Boston/Los Angeles rivalry all of the above mentioned teams are exciting teams with bonafide stars on each squad. Memphis has been a great Cinderella story as they knocked off the number one seed San Antonio Spurs led by Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Atlanta took the first game of the second round series against the Chicago Bulls and they have a talented roster including Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford and Al Horford.
Oklahoma City is a team that may be on the verge of being special with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. The Chicago Bulls have the NBA MVP in Derrick Rose and the NBA Coach Of The Year in Tom Thibodeau along with Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer. Then of course there is the Miami Heat with their big three of Bosh, James and Wade.
All of these teams could make for an exciting Championship round but will they have the draw that a Celtics/Lakers rivalry has shown to attract? Although it would be nice to see some fresh faces on ABC this June, I was truly looking forward to Boston and Los Angeles getting back for the rubber match this year. It remains to be seen if a pair of the remaining teams could match the ratings that Los Angeles and Boston have shown they are capable of drawing.