Zgoda: Five questions for the NBA playoffs

  • Updated: April 20, 2013 - 3:32 PM

A Knicks superstar, and the Lakers’ wounded one, add spice as Miami flexes for a repeat.


Miami Heat's LeBron James

The NBA playoffs begin Saturday without the Timberwolves for the ninth consecutive season or a guy named Kobe Bryant, but not without its usual share of compelling story lines.

In the East, the defending champion Miami Heat is clearly the team to beat, no matter how much commotion the New York Knicks’ late-season surge created in Gotham. What else can you say about a team that’s already won one title and has lost only two games since Feb. 1?

In the West, five teams won 56 or more regular-season games, the kind of parity that could make even a first-round series between Memphis and the Los Angeles Clippers one for the ages.

Even the No. 1 vs. 8 series pitting Oklahoma City and Houston reunites Rockets star James Harden with the team that traded him away mostly for salary-cap reasons last fall, and the 2 vs. 7 series offers a Los Angeles Lakers team without injured Bryant in the unexpected role as underdogs against four-time champion San Antonio.

Here are five questions that will have an impact on this year’s playoffs.

Five questions

1. What’s it going to take to beat the Heat?

Sounds like a silly question here in Minnesota in any number of ways, doesn’t it?

Usually it takes a big ol’ parasol or one of those misting machines, but in this case, judging from the season’s final three months, it sure looks like it’s going to take a whole lot more than that.

LeBron James might win both league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year if voters were honest with themselves. Instead, he’ll probably have to settle for his third MVP, another All-NBA first-team designation and his second championship ring.

The Heat won 66 games, lost ony four times since Jan. 14 and finished the season with a 37-2 flourish that included a 27-game winning streak, the second-longest in NBA history.

“I don’t see anyone challenging them,” ESPN analyst Flip Saunders said. “They’ve really been off the charts, the way LeBron is playing. There are teams that are going to be able to beat them a game or two maybe, but I can’t see anyone that has the ability to beat them four games.”

2. How are Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony going to top THAT?

You can’t make this stuff up, or maybe you can…

When New York and Boston played in January, Anthony went looking for Garnett in the Celtics’ locker room and later outside the team bus, seething over something K.G. said during the game at Madison Square Garden.

That something reportedly was about Anthony’s wife, La La, tasting like Honey Nut Cheerios. Later, Anthony’s wife denied the remark was ever said but said her hubby played along with it by telling reporters, “I’m definitely going to get a bowl of that, for sure.”

Anthony’s actions earned him a one-game suspension. Both players have downplayed any rivalry between them since then.

Garnett praised Anthony in the days leading to Saturday’s first-round playoff opener, calling his late-season burst in which he claimed the NBA’s scoring title from Kevin Durant “unbelievable.”

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Houston 10 2nd Qtr 13:29
Pittsburgh 0
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 94 4th Qtr 1:53
Cleveland 101
New Orleans 81 4th Qtr 3:30
Washington 68
Milwaukee 64 3rd Qtr 9:01
New York 68
Philadelphia 50 3rd Qtr 8:16
Brooklyn 56
Charlotte 66 3rd Qtr 3:26
Atlanta 72
Sacramento 31 2nd Qtr 12:00
San Antonio 27
Memphis 27 1st Qtr 0:16
Dallas 27
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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