The final week of NBA action is here and USSDU takes a look some interesting stories heading into the 2013 NBA Playoffs.[caption id="attachment_15416" align="aligncenter" width="535"] Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America[/caption]
Ageless Kobe Bryant Makes Final PushThe Black Mamba won't go down without a fight, and the epic display of basketball he has been putting on lately can you believe has only gifted the Lakers a one game lead over the Utah Jazz. As the NBA enters its final week, most of the media focus will be on the race between the talented Lakers and the underdog Jazz for the 8th seed. Kobe's last two efforts have included a 30 point effort against the Hornets (including a 23 point 4th quarter) and heroic stat line of 47-8-5-3-4 (including 18-18 from the FT line) against an undermanned Portland Trail Blazers team. His average minutes for April currently sits at 45.2 per game, a monumental effort given his age and the 17 seasons his body has already been through. With the final three games against Golden State, San Antonio and Houston the question has to be asked, how much magic does Kobe Bryant have left in him?
Kings to Seattle or Stay in Sacramento?Last week the NBA allowed both the Chris Hansen led group of buyers (that plans to move the Kings to Seattle) and the Sacramento group of potential owners to make their separate cases to the NBA. A Board of Governors meeting is scheduled for April 19-20 (Australian time) to vote on the relocation of the team to Seattle, as long as the Maloofs agree to Chris Hansen's deal. The Sacramento bid that is led by mayor Kevin Johnson is a last ditch effort to match the Seattle bid. Although rumours are that they're still short of the amount offered originally by Chris Hansen. The Maloofs group have given the Sacramento bidders until 5pm Friday (US time) to come up with an offer in writing or they claim they'll end all talks. With so much drama surrounding the Kings situation it's nice to know that there might be an end to this mess. It would avoid dragging out like Sonics-gate did all those years ago.
Final Race Not to Play the Miami HeatIn the East there isn't much to talk about except the Miami Heat and how no one is looking forward to playing them in the playoffs. While some teams (Indiana, Brooklyn, New York) think they match up well there are others that are far from excited to be facing the Heat (if they get past the Bucks in the first round). Chicago and Atlanta are neck and neck for the 5th and 6th spots in the East but the "winner" of the race to the 5th spot might actually turn out to be the loser. Due to the way the playoff bracket works, the team that wins the 4 seed v 5 seed 1st round series (vs Brooklyn) will play the winner of the 1 v 8 series (most likely Miami). However the team that finishes 6th will face Indiana (still not the best match-up) in the first round and if they are successful in that series they face the winner of the most likely New York-Boston series. Chicago have a dilemma here as they beat Brooklyn 3-1 in their season series and were beaten 3-1 by Indiana in the other season series. If they face Brooklyn in the 4 v 5 match-up they have a better chance of getting through but will face Miami in the second round with no word on whether Derrick Rose will be ready to play. On the other hand they could face Indiana to try and avoid Miami as long as possible but that could spell disaster if they lose in the first round. Atlanta I don't see doing anything but getting swept in the first round so I won't go into too much detail for their chances. There is still plenty of life left in the season so enjoy it before the madness of the NBA Playoffs begins!
It has been a pleasure writing this weekly article for USSDU this season and I look forward to contributing some analysis to the 2013 NBA Playoffs. -Mark Pybus (@Number031)