For football and baseball-crazed residents of South Carolina, it can be difficult to appreciate the NBA for all that it is worth – especially when the closest franchise around is the Charlotte Bobcats. But it is about that time of year when “NBA fans” around the nation actually start watching the games, so here’s a quick comparison of the teams in the playoffs to SEC football programs. We hope this makes watching the NBA playoffs a little bit more interesting as the first round draws to a close.
||Oklahoma City (60-22)
|New York (54-28)
||San Antonio (58-24)
||L.A. Clippers (56-26)
||Golden State (47-35)
||L.A. Lakers (45-37)
2012 SEC Standings
|South Carolina (11-2)
||Texas A&M (11-2)
||Miss. State (8-5)
||Ole Miss (7-6)
Can anyone stop the Heat?
Alabama – Miami Heat (1-seed). Similarities abound here. Both teams have an incredible amount of talent and only seem to get better every year. The Tide have won three of the past four BCS National Championships, and the Heat are well on their way to starting a dynasty of their own.
LSU – Oklahoma City (1-seed). Both teams have the talent to contend for supremacy, but always seem to be one step behind. LSU was one miraculous screen pass away from beating Alabama last season, and the Thunder won game one of the NBA Finals last summer, but were swept by the Heat the rest of the way and went home empty-handed. While LSU becomes the perennial second-place finisher in the West behind the TIde, the Thunder–especially after the James Harden trade and Russell Westbrook injury–don’t appear ready to cool down the Heat and grab a title of their own.
Texas A&M – New York Knicks (2-seed). At any time, brilliant flashes of offense can have either of these teams can look like the best in the business. 2012-13 NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony compares well to Johnny Manziel, as both score virtually at-will and neither plays any defense. Over the past season, both teams have owned the No. 1 contender in their respective sports. The Knicks took three of four against Miami in the regular season, and the Aggies came away with possibly the greatest upset in SEC history last season in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Nothing went right for the Lakers this year.
Arkansas – L.A. Lakers (7-seed). The outlook was incredibly bright for these programs entering the past season, but both hit rock-bottom multiple times this year–prompting coaching changes. Enjoy watching the Kobe-less Lakers get swept by the Spurs in the next few days.
Ole Miss – Houston (8-seed). These two teams finished just above .500 this year, but the real story came from the work in the front office. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze pulled in an incredible recruiting class (ranked No. 5 by ESPN) over the past winter, and the Rocket’s general manager Daryl Morey made waves–and brought some excitement to an also-ran–when he traded for James Harden and signed point guard Jeremy Lin in the offseason. The Rockets are competing in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, and Ole Miss could make some waves in the West with the new players coming in.
Mississippi State – Memphis (5-seed). Neither team has an eye-pleasing style of play, but they are both scrappy enough to get the job done and shock a good team every once in a while.
Auburn – Boston (7-seed). Both teams were extremely relevant just two years ago, but have fallen off since. The outlook does not appear bright for either squad either, as the Celtics continue to break down with age and Auburn faces another NCAA investigation into its 2011 BCS National Championship.
Georgia – San Antonio (2-seed). These are two consistently-solid contenders, as neither are ever the most dominant team, but they also haven’t seen the bottom of the standings in rememberable history. Both are loaded with talent, but are lacking the “something more” that would push them over the top.
The Pacers are a close-knit group.
South Carolina – Indiana (3-seed). Like USC, Indiana is a team that relies on teamwork and great defense to grind out tough wins. The Pacers have their own “Clowney” in Roy Hibbert, the 7’2″ center who was a NBA Defensive Player of the Year nominee. Both are teams that play to their potential when facing premier opponents.
Florida – Denver (3-seed). Florida and Denver are two teams built almost entirely of raw athleticism, which allows them to make their livings off of defense and the fast break (which we’ll equate to special teams for the purposes of this article).
Vanderbilt – Brooklyn (4-seed). These are two teams who are turning their fortunes around in a hurry. James Franklin and Jay-Z comparisons abound. Franklin is trying to build a culture of winning at Vanderbilt, while Jay-Z played a huge role in the Nets’ move to Brooklyn among other notable changes for a franchise in desperate need of a refresher.
Missouri – Milwaukee Bucks (8-seed). The comparisons between these two teams are admittedly unflattering. Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson said before playing Georgia that his Tigers couldn’t be stopped if they played to their potential, and Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings recently predicted his Bucks to beat the one-seeded Miami Heat in six games in round one. Both teams failed miserably, as the Bucks are down 3-0 to the Heat and will likely be swept out of the playoffs Sunday afternoon.
Tennessee – Atlanta (6-seed). I’m led to believe that every year will be “the year” for both of these teams, but it never, ever happens. The Hawks had a solid team not long ago, but the loss of Joe Johnson and many of the key role players resulted in a loss of team character – a feeling all too familiar in Knoxville as well. Neither team will return to any former glory in the near future.
Kentucky – Charlotte (not seeded). Obviously the Bobcats didn’t make the playoffs, and that serves to reinforce my point.
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