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In NBA playoff mode

April 21, 2011 - Neil Rudel
Now that I've recovered from the devastation of slipping to sixth (and last among payouts) in the Blair County NBA Fantasy League (19th season, BTW), it's time to focus on the playoffs.

I realize local NBA fans in this region are in a minority, and that's fine: I get dizzy trying to follow the puck in the NHL so we're even. My interest in the NBA started many years ago, when I took a liking to the Buffalo Braves (Bob McAdoo, Gar Heard, Randy Smith and Ernie D.), and I'd listen to Johnny Most, the legendary Celtics' announcer, crackling through the car radio of my old Dodge Dart. I was even privileged to write an NBA column for The Daily Collegian in 1976-77.

I also very much enjoyed my days of catching up with Altoona players Johnny Moore, Doug West, Mike Iuzzolino and Danny Fortson along the NBA road for periodic updates. Not many, if any, towns of 50,000 can make that claim.

This year's playoffs have a refreshing feel of unpredictability, evidenced by the visiting underdogs winning Game 1s of the following series: Hawks-Heat, Hornets-Lakers and Grizzlies-Spurs. Moreover, the visitor has covered the spread more often than not so far, making it likely that a lot of these series will go seven games.

One of the best bets in sports is when the team that is down 2-0 comes home for Game 3. That would be Indiana and Philadelphia tonight, although I'm not so sure I would go against the Heat.

As for the bigger picture, Miami will lead most of the drama in the East, and it will be a surprise if the Heat don't at least get to the conference finals, probably against Chicago. The West is more up in the air as Oklahoma City is poised to take out the Spurs -- if they get to the conference semis -- and the Lakers, who presuming they can get by the Dallas-Portland winner look vulnerable.

Seeing some new blood such as an Oklahoma City vs. Chicago or Miami would be different than the Lakers-Celtics and a LeBron presence in The Finals will keep TV ratings high.

I am looking for: