Although we are only in the NBA conference semi-finals, it already feels like the finals with tempers flaring, elbows swinging and fines being dished out. Each matchup is different and there is little consistency of play, however there is a pattern emerging in this round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately, for the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat, the pattern has come in the form of technicals fouls, flagrant fouls, ejections and fines. The majority of those landing on the already depleted Bulls who are without their franchise point guard, Derrick Rose, as well as Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.
In game two alone, the Bulls earned six technical fouls, including the ejections of starting center Joakim Noah and role player, Taj Gibson (automatic ejection is given when player earns two technical fouls in a game). In addition, Gibson was handed a $25,000 fine for verbal abuse of the officials.
On the other hand, the Heat seemed to get out of it a little easier as they only earned three technical fouls with no ejections or fines, yet. However, Miami was given two flagrant fouls for excessive contact without the intention of getting the ball.
Since the heated game two contest, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau received a $35,000 fine for his post-game comments about the officiating. Adding to that, Nazr Mohammed of Chicago was ejected from game three after shoving LeBron James to the ground following a hard foul.
Despite all of the boiling tempers and ridiculous number of fouls, the Miami Heat hold on to a 3-1 series lead heading into game four at the United Center in Chicago.
Beyond that series, more clean and pure basketball is being played. Nonetheless, each of the match-ups have tight competition, including the series between the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors.
Currently tied at 2-2, the Spurs and Warriors have posed a great matchup with two of their games going into overtime after sizable comebacks by both teams. Although the games are always close, the teams are very different.
The Spurs roster is filled with veterans who have consistently been in the playoffs compared to a Warriors roster which contains players fresh out of college. It has turned into a battle between the methodical set plays of San Antonio against the exciting “lights-out” shooters of Golden State.
Another exciting series is between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers which is a longtime rivalry. Going back to the days of Reggie Miller and Patrick Ewing, the fans haven’t forgotten about their storied rivalry making the games much more tense. The Pacers lead 2-1 heading into game four in Indiana.
The final contest between Oklahoma City and Memphis might be the least exciting of them all, but contains some of the most explosive players in the league. Moving forward, Memphis looks to be in great position leading 2-1 and going into game four at home playing better basketball than their opponents.
In short, there is no clear frontrunner who is proving dominant against their opponent. At this point in the playoffs all that is happening is grown men losing their tempers with the coveted NBA Championship coming closer in sight.