I wanted to stick with the alliteration theme from the previous posts. As this season is quickly coming to a close, I wanted to have a little review of some of the surprising events in what has been a great season. While there have been many things that I didn't really expect, only six things have truly surprised me about this season. Some were examples of excellence, while others were almost baffling. This list is in no specific order, so don't try to read into it too much.
1) How good the Spurs have been
I always expect the Spurs to be in the playoff hunt, but as Duncan and the other main players on the team have been getting older, it just seems natural that they would slowly slip down the Western Conference totem pole. Not so this year. As of today they were 58-19, had clinched the southwest division, and were 2.5 games ahead of the defending champion Lakers. To me, it was completely surprising that they were this good. They did it by basing their attack on their aging stars and by picking up the pace, something which seems contrary to the Spurs organization. I hate the Coach of the Year award, but Popovich really deserves it.
2) How good the Bulls have been
This is pretty similar to my first surprise, but for some very different reasons. I knew the Bulls would be better this year after signing Boozer, but I really didn't think they would be that good. At the start of the year I would have put them in fourth at best, and possibly even 5th (behind Miami, Boston, Orlando and possibly Atlanta). Right now, like the Spurs, they are leading the Eastern Conference by 2.5 games and are very close to a 60 win season. Unlike the Spurs, however, they have gotten there with a brand new coach, a very young set of stars (especially Derrick Rose), and a focus on defense. Rose has really been the key to their success, and my surprise. There was no way I thought he would be a top MVP pick who would be leading his team back to greatness. Crazy!
3) How terrible the Cavs have been
This one is completely opposite to the first two things that surprised me. I knew they would be bad this season. There is no way they could have replaced Lebron after he left, but a league-worst 15-61 season? 26 losses in a row? They didn't win for the whole month of January! If you went back a few games, they went 1-36 for a stretch. That's just crazy to me! They had some pretty decent players, even if the whole team was built to work around Lebron. They also have a pretty good coach, but even that didn't help. Again, don't think that I was picking them to make the playoffs. But I did think they could at least compete for the last spot (not because they were good, but because the other teams sucked too!). You'd think their professional pride would have at least got them a few more wins.
4) The Jazz debacle (or T-wah's nightmare)
If I had to rank these surprises (which I don't because it's my own post) I would probably put this at the top of most surprising. No one could have seen this coming. I actually was thinking they were a darkhorse to get to the finals. They had lost Boozer in the offseason, but did a very good job at replacing him by getting Al Jefferson (could he just be unlucky? He's always been on a loosing team and at the short end of trades). Add that with a hall of fame coach and one of the best point guards in the league, and you had a contender. But then out of no where Jerry Sloan retires, and then even more suddenly Deron Williams gets traded to New Jersey. Wow! What a crazy season for a team that was an example of stability. Now instead of contending in the playoffs, they've been eliminated and are most likely into full rebuilding mode. Now that was a surprise!
5) Kevin Love's breakthrough season
This was probably the least surprising of this list, but I still didn't really see it coming. I thought Love would eventually be a good NBA player, especially after Jefferson was traded and he became the best player on his terrible team (I mean, it had to be him, cause it sure wasn't gonna be Beasley or Darko!). But when he got his 30 point-30 rebound game, something which hadn't happened since Moses Malone did it in the 1970s, I was a little caught off guard. Then he went out and set the record for double-doubles in a season, which really surprised me because of all the good double-double guys that had played in the league recently (Garnett, Duncan, Howard, Shaq, etc.). How did Love get it when none of them had? I don't really have an answer, but the fact remains that he did, and that surprised me.
6) The New York Knicks
This one seems like an obvious choice because of all the stuff that's happened to them recently, but I put it on this list not for the reasons you may be thinking. I have to publicly admit that I thought the Stoudemire signing was not going to turn out. I was wrong, and I will admit that. The start of the Kinicks season was what really surprised me. They were such a good team with Stoudemire playing like an MVP, and the other guys around him really pulling their weight. Then came the Melo trade, which really wasn't that surprising (other than the Knicks gave up half their team for a guy they knew they could have signed in the offseason. I guess they must have really been afraid that he would have signed the extension and been traded to the Nets. Or they were just idiots!). What is surprising now is how bad they are. Everyone knew their defense would suffer, cause Melo doesn't play defense, but how are they so bad that the 76ers could beat them? They really should have been a threat in the first round. What a weird season for the Knicks!
So there's my list. Like I said, many other things were surprising to me, but these six I didn't see coming at all. Now please comment on this! I want to know what you think about these things, whether you agree or disagree, and if you feel that something else deserves to be on this list rather than what I've written. Let's make this website what we've wanted it to be. Fats out!