The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 28, 2014

Stars in trouble in NBA’s 1st round

NORMAN — The NBA and many of its owners have long been in search of greater parity to thwart one of the enduring criticisms of the league’s playoffs — that the outcome is too predictable.

That the kind of suspense that makes March Madness so compelling, and the kind of hope that gives fan bases across the NFL the belief that their team has a chance to win it all, doesn’t exist in the NBA.

During the league’s lockout of the players in 2011, then-Commissioner David Stern and several high profile owners expressed a need for changes to the collective bargaining agreement to level the playing field between markets big and small.

During a wild and crazy opening round, it appears that the league is closer to achieving that goal. Top-seeded Indiana is getting a huge challenge from Atlanta, a team that entered the playoffs with a losing record. Oklahoma City is knotted 2-2 with Memphis; Houston was beaten twice at home to open the series against Portland; and even the San Antonio Spurs have their hands full with eighth-seeded Dallas out West.

“You see some of these teams that have the higher seed that have home-court advantage losing games,” NBA TV analyst Grant Hill said. “I’m not sure that we’ve ever seen that many losing at one time.”

The favorites went 7-9 in the first 16 games of the playoffs, the worst record since the league went to the seven-game series format in 2003. The games have been exciting, tightly played and anything but predictable, with both conferences appearing to be as wide open as they have been in years.

But that could come at a price. Some of the league’s most established stars and biggest brands are in trouble early in their series. For a star-driven league, the prospects of not having players such as Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard — the stars that the casual fan tunes in to see this time of year — or of not getting a heavyweight Indiana-Miami Eastern Conference finals that everyone has been salivating over for the entire season could be cause for concern.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • Clash Football It’s a whole new ball game for Tigers and Timberwolves

    With just over two weeks until football practice officially begins Aug. 11, everyone is busy preparing for the upcoming season. After all, it’s one that will be unlike any other....

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brace yourselves for what is likely bumpy road to playoffs

    In October of 2005, back when Butch Peters had Norman High ranked No. 5 on the gridiron and Karin Sexson had Norman North ranked No. 1 on the volleyball court, I wrote a column under the headline: “Two great teams … Who cares.” It was all ...

    July 30, 2014

  • USA Basketball Durant tells media that he’s not looking too far ahead

    While most of the NBA’s offseason has been focused on players going home, max contracts and who gets Kevin Love, the reigning MVP has been pretty low key. Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant has stayed in the shadows for the most part while ...

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cody adds former champions Maple, Howe as assistants

    A great wrestler doesn’t necessarily make a great wrestling coach. On the other hand, it’s not a bad place to start....

    July 30, 2014

  • Hamlin crew chief out 6 races

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR suspended Denny Hamlin’s crew chief and car chief on Tuesday for six races because the Joe Gibbs Racing entry failed inspection following his third-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Darian Grubb and ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Bell focuses on every facet of his game

    LATROBE, Pa. — Le’Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw....

    July 30, 2014

  • Sam factor may ready Rams for sensitivity class

    ST. LOUIS — To guard against another bullying scandal, NFL teams are holding sensitivity sessions during training camp....

    July 30, 2014

  • Romo skips full-pad session for the first time at camp

    OXNARD, Calif. — The Dallas Cowboys are taking it easy with Tony Romo’s back....

    July 30, 2014

  • Vikings hire help for Kluwe talks

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings have hired the attorney who investigated the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal and another who played a prominent role in the fight for marriage equality to help in settlement talks with former punter ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Cards’ Abraham charged with DUI

    ATLANTA — Authorities say Arizona Cardinals linebacker John Abraham was arrested on a drunken driving charge a month ago in the Atlanta area. Abraham has been absent from the team’s training camp since Friday....

    July 30, 2014

Facebook