There's plenty of playoff surprises in the NBA Playoffs so far in the first round action we've witnessed. The Indiana Pacers have pushed the Chicago Bulls in all four games. The top seeded San Antonio Spurs are down 3-1 to the Memphis Grizzlies who entered the playoffs without a franchise playoff win. After getting destroyed in their match up last year, the Atlanta Hawks were not supposed to be up 3-1 on the Orlando Magic. And the mighty Los Angeles Lakers find themselves ties to a New Orleans Hornets team they were supposed to steamroll.
But when look deeper at each situation the flaws exposed in postseason play were there from the beginning.
San Antonio got swept by the Phoenix Suns last season because their front line couldn't defend the pick and roll and were killed in the paint and on the glass -- by Phoenix. Tiago Splitter was thought to be the answer to the Spurs lack of quality bigs but he's taken longer to adapt to the NBA than some expected and hasn't been enough of a factor against the talent Memphis Grizzlies front court.
The Spurs added depth in their back court and on the wings and Richard Jefferson's improvement helped them secure the best regular season in the West but their front court flaws have exposed them as a regular season paper tiger. They kind of remind you of Phoenix Suns' teams from a few years back. All flash, no size.
The Oklahoma City Thunder failed to sweep the Denver Nuggets, which isn't a shock but with the game on the line it was Russell Westbrook jacking up threes instead of giving the ball to Kevin Durant. Hopefully, this is a lesson the young point guard has learned in a fairly harmless situation. Westbrook's lack of true point guard abilities have been exposed, however, and will likely be an issue in later rounds.
Many picked the Portland Trail Blazers to upset the three-seed Dallas Mavericks in that series but what we've learned about Portland is that without Brandon Roy having a rare hot game, their offense stagnates under the predictability of Nate McMillan's system. It's a shame really, that the Blazers with all that talent can't find a way to score as many points as they should.
The Orlando Magic being down 3-1 to the Atlanta Hawks isn't a huge surprise either. They've lost their identity as a great defensive team on the perimeter and simply haven't been able to stop Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford or Joe Johnson. Dwight Howard can't make up for all that on his own.
Probably the least surprising surprise is the Indiana Pacers pushing the Chicago Bulls in all four of their games. The Bulls lack of outside shooting has been exposed and the Pacers are better than most people gave them credit. In the end, this first round test will help the young Bulls. They are still my favorite to win the East.