By Joe Pantorno, Assistant Sports Editor
1) Just because you have traded for the more successful player, doesn't mean you will fare better in the playoffs.
After the signing where the Los Angeles Lakers got Ron Artest and allowed the Rockets to sign Trevor Ariza, essentially swapping the two, the Lakers lost much needed versatility. Yes, it has been a rather simple year again for the Lakers, but they are being tested in the playoffs and with the fast paced attack of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Artest has slowed down a once quicker team with Ariza gone. He is indeed a more significant threat under the rim, but Artest needs to get in front of the basket in order make an impact.
Listen, I hear what everyone is saying about Kevin Durant being the best player in the NBA and they may have a microscopic point, but let's face it, LeBron James is and will be the best player in the NBA for years to come. I do believe that the Thunder would be a significantly worse team if Durant were not there just as it would be in Cleveland if LeBron never picked up a basketball but there is not a more explosive, complete player in the Association than King James.
If the Portland Trail Blazers are able to pull off the upset and win the series against the Phoenix Suns, no doubt much credit must be given to guard Brandon Roy. Eight days after undergoing knee surgery, the same kind of surgery that sidelined Magic guard Jameer Nelson for half of the season, Roy returned to the court and gave the Blazers something that is unstoppable on the basketball court: Momentum.
It is pretty much going close to script in the Eastern Conference but it's a whole different story in the West. There is a possibility right now that the top four seeds could be taking an early exit this year. It does not matter if you're playing the Spurs or the Thunder; everything is different in April.
I love how teams are written off because "they are old." Last time I checked, 32, 33, and 34 are not elderly ages. I don't want to be considered "an old man" when I turn thirty-two. Hopefully I have a lot of life left in me at that point. But for some reason, the Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen are the 30 year olds at the bar. Even though Dwyane Wade went off for 46 points, the old men in Boston have done fairly well in handling a younger Heat team. Look for them to make another run deep into the playoffs…if their hips do not break.
6) Prince Kevin?
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't trashing Mr. Durant when I said that people were wrong saying he's the best player in the league. He can very well be the second best in the league and he will be dominant for years to come. Would I go as far as saying this can be a rivalry like Magic and Larry? Probably not, especially with free agency looming, but we are looking at the class of the league for a long time.
In four games, Carmelo Anthony has taken 97 shots. Granted, he's shooting 52.6 percent, which is unbelievable, but after a while, Utah is going to find out what is coming at them. Last time I checked though, you win championships with the team and you win MVP's by taking 97 shots in four games while losing the series, which the Nuggets are doing at the moment.