View From The Hardwood: The Evolution of the NBA Is Apparent In The 2015 NBA Playoffs

This NBA postseason has given fans some of the most historically competitive matchups that theyve seen in at least 10 years, with several instances of higher-seeds bowing out to lower seeds, though injuries had a great deal to do with it- as was the case with the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Be that as it may, weve witnessed a NBA championship favorite being eliminated from the playoffs in the opening round for the first time in 8 years with the San Antonio’s departure thus clearing the way for a younger, more offensively loose brand of basketball to win the c’hip.  Generational objectivity being what it is, that being almost non-existent, younger fans may immediately flock to ally themselves with the belief that this signifies a better brand of basketball. After all, who but a dictator would enjoy dominance by a single entity?   It would seem this dogfight of a playoff season is indicative of not only the clashing of the old and new ways of playing basketball, but the delivery of a championship to a franchise that has never won one before.

According to Darwinism, mammals evolved to fill an ecological niche that was left behind when the much larger dinosaurs became instinct.  The same field of study says this occurred through establishing a pecking order that determined who would eat and mate, which ultimately decided who has the right to pass their genes on to the next generation, which determined who could replicate long enough to enjoy beneficial mutations that eventually came, according to the theory.

What sparks an genetic reshuffling? Well, in the real world an extinction level event is more often than not to blame.  The NBAs leveling occurs when high seeds and battled tested veteran teams are sent home early.

All of the lumbering beasts from days past are gone. Theres a new generation of faster, historically-ignored smaller market teams that are trying to do it like no champion has ever done it before, the outside-in strategy rather than the inside-out way of doing things-teams like the Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets.

But there are still those that play a style that contains much of the DNA  from their predecessors from years past-such as the Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies, and the Chicago Bulls, while the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers operate a hybrid of the two styles-they can go into the post and penetrate as much as they need to, and can outshoot opponents as well. Perhaps coincidentally, the inside-out teams seem more willing to hang their hats on defense as well.

The 2015 Conference Semifinals witness three of the four remaining series tied at 2-2, with another midseason favorite to win the championship (Houston Rockets) on the verge of being eliminated at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers.

A cursory glance at the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs does the thesis no justice though as only one series went seven-games, that series being between 2014 NBA Champion 6th seed San Antonio Spurs and the 3rd seed Los Angeles Clippers.  And only two other series even went six games (2nd seed Chicago Bulls v. 7th seed Milwaukee Bucks, 1st seed Atlanta Hawks v. 8th seed Brooklyn Nets.)  By contrast, there were five seven game series in the 2014 NBA playoffs. All but one of the remaining series features opponents so evenly matched that they could all go the distance

You would have to go back to the 2009 for a NBA Conference Semifinals in which four teams won at least two games at that juncture in the NBA playoffs and 2008 for a Semifinals in which three teams accomplished the feat.

In each of the prior years the road to the NBA Finals was cleared of the NBA Champion from the prior year, 2007 Miami Heat eliminated by the Chicago Bulls in the first round and the 2008 San Antonio Spurs lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, which may have sparked the competitive fire within the remaining teams. Everyone is gunning to bring down The Man, and when he falls, the scramble to become The Man begins without impunity. 

Back in the old days of mammoths lumbering in the paint and hard fouls, the idea of an NBA Dynasty was as concrete as it ever had been. The Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls were all threats to win a title in their respective heydays. Even the San Antonio Spurs are considered something of a dynasty as well despite never winning a title in back-to-back seasons.

That year the field became much more passable for the San Antonio Spurs after their seven game series versus the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. The following rounds saw them go 4-1 against the Trail Blazers and 4-2 against the hobbled Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.

The Miami Heat pretty much plowed their way through the Eastern Conference, with the Indiana Pacers playing the role of a speed bump on their highway to the Finals.

However, the Conference Semifinals in the both the West and East are devoid of the champions from the last two seasons.

Additionally, the field seems to be invigorated by the fact that, whoever wins it this year, will be hoisting the trophy for the first time in a very, very long time. The Golden State Warriors havent won it all since 1975, while the Chicago Bulls havent put one in the rafters since the MJ days, while the Wizards havent won it all since 1978.

 None of the remaining franchises have ever won an NBA championship. Its truly survival of the fittest at this juncture. Fortunately for every one else, two other preseason favorites (Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers) to win it all are actually playing each other. 

The very competitive fire that seems to leap from the television screen in this years NBA playoffs is not only indicative of the eventual crowning of a team and market that have devoid of a professional sports championship for nearly two decades, but the reawakening or euthanizing of a brand of basketball that most people say will never be able to win an NBA championship.

As they say come playoff time, win or go home.