2011 NBA Playoffs: The lay of the land

Lakers v. Mavericks, Celtics v. Heat are matchups worth watching

As we approach the later rounds of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, the team-to-team matchups are incredibly exciting. First, the experienced Los Angeles Lakers are up against the Dallas Mavericks and their high-powered offense. With so many players gracing the stage, there’s just so much to watch for: the slithering drives of the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (the Black Mamba) into the lane, the physical play of Lakers Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum inside the paint on both offense and defense, the sharpshooting of the Dallas power forward Dirk Nowitzki, the brilliant passing of Jason Kidd, and the acrobatic moves and unique shooting style of Shawn Marion. This is all against the backdrop of the intense sportive atmosphere brought about by the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

But, the Lakers-Mavericks matchup is not the only one worth watching, as the Boston Celtics take on the Miami Heat. Miami’s big three — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh — seem to have their act together after having some trouble with the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. However, they’ll need much more than that to defeat the Celtics. The Celtics counter with their own big three plus Rajon Rondo, who has proven to be a force this year in the Playoffs, averaging around 11 assists per game and playing a vital role in the initiation of the Celtics half-court offense. The atmosphere in the arenas in this series have also proven to be spectacular. The American Airlines Arena in Miami is always packed with fans in white, cheering for the “white-hot Heat.” And the TD Garden in Boston, a huge sports city, has always been bustling, but it’s achieved a bit more hype now that the Heat and its superstars are coming to town.

It would be difficult for any true sports fan to come up with reasons not to watch these two series as the teams fight for a spot in their respective conference finals.