For the NBA, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish

Last night after the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls went into overtime, a friend of mine tweeted that he was very impressed with the NBA (and NHL, but I won’t get into that). He said that the league has to be very happy with the product they are putting out right now. I can’t help but to agree and think it’s amazing how far we’ve come in a few short months.

Remember before the season started when it was just arguing and litigation and millionaires arguing with billionaires over money? The NBA seemed doomed. It was NFL season and basketball fans just said, “screw it, I’m done with the NBA, there’s plenty of other sports to watch.”

It came down to the wire, but finally we were lucky enough to salvage a season. The super-condensed schedule was churned out and it was time to start playing. NBA fans were hesitant at first, kind of like an ex-girlfriend who you cheated on but she decided to give you another chance. She won’t trust you right away, but if you behave yourself, you can build it back.

Over the past few months, the NBA has definitely behaved, and the relationship with the fans is flourishing again. I’m sure tons of people, myself included, have forgotten about the whole lockout mess by now. Aside from playing the occasional back-to-back-to-back, we don’t really have much to remind us of it. Over the course of the season, we’ve seen Blake Griffin’s posterizing dunks, trade deadline player drama, a back-and-forth MVP race with some surprising new contenders and a whole lot of other exciting storylines to follow.

Now with the playoffs coming up in a couple weeks, everyone’s getting excited for what looks to be one of the more memorable postseasons. The Western Conference is stacked from top to bottom, and it’s really just a question of who is going to get hot at the right time. We’re looking at the possibility of quite a few Game 7’s and new rivalries cemented during these playoffs. The West is going to be highly contended from start to finish.

In the Eastern Conference you have the big guns, the Heat and the Bulls, but you also have some surging teams like the Celtics and Knicks who could cause some problems in the early rounds. The Celtics are out to prove they’re not done yet and they’re gaining a lot of momentum at the right time.

I’m just very impressed that the NBA has made us forget that this was a lockout-shortened season. As fans, we’ve all moved past the drama and are ready to close out this season on a high note. All the focus is on what’s going to happen next, not the disaster that happened a few months ago.