Stevens: Bobcats face tough Orlando
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 16, 2010 1:46 PM
It's the time of year when legends are born, lasting images are created and one team is left standing after 15 others come up just short in their quest to reach basketball's mountain top.
The 2010 NBA playoffs tip off Saturday and by early June one team will have risen above the rest and captured a world championship.
The following is four things to watch during the NBA playoffs:
* History makers: Larry Brown has guided the Charlotte Bobcats into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The city of Charlotte hasn't hosted a playoff game since the Hornets faced the New Jersey Nets in the second round in 2002.
Seventh-seeded Charlotte has a tough task in first round opponent and defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando. The Magic won three out of four against the Bobcats this season.
Charlotte did compile a 31-10 record at home this season and finished the season by winning nine of its last 13 games. If the Bobcats have any shot of upsetting the Magic they almost have to steal one of the first two games in Orlando.
* Armed and dangerous: The Dallas Mavericks, the Western Conference's second seed, are perhaps the team most capable of dethroning the Lakers in the West.
Dallas went 3-1 during the regular season against its first-round opponent, San Antonio. The Mavericks are balanced in scoring with six different players averaging in double figures.
Dallas split four games with the Los Angeles during the regular season and the Mavericks possess the size on the interior to matchup with the Lakers. Finding a way to slow down Kobe Bryant could be another story.
* Feeling the pain: Every team in the league this time of year could complain about being banged up. For some teams that argument holds a little more weight.
The Lakers have recently dealt with injuries to Andrew Bynum, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farrmar. Kobe Bryant has been walking wounded almost all season.
Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut isn't expected to return from surgery on a broken right hand and dislocated right elbow. Utah big man Carlos Boozer's status for the playoffs is uncertain after he strained an oblique muscle during Tuesday night's win at Golden State.
Portland will likely be without All-Star Brandon Roy, who suffered a partial tear of the meniscus in his right knee.
* Dream matchup: The highly-anticipated NBA finals, Los Angeles vs. Cleveland, or more appropriately phrased Kobe vs. LeBron matchup never came to fruition a year ago. The marketing possibilities and television ratings boost the NBA would receive from such an attention-grabbing series would be huge.
James' future in Cleveland remains undecided and his legacy among the NBA's greatest could take a huge step with a finals victory over Kobe and the Lakers.
Los Angeles' late-season troubles would be swept under the rug for good with another run at a championship.
Other Local Sports
- Local digest
- Southern Wayne tops Triton
- Crumpler inducted to American Legion Hall of Fame
- Mount Olive wins volleyball title
- C.B. Aycock holds of North Lenoir softball
- Eastern Wayne bests South Johnston
- Trojans advance to tournament finals
- Golden Falcons play home run derby
- Trojans survive and advance
- Marsh: Testing shotguns the key to turkey success