We were told early and often in this shortened NBA season that it might be like this:
The old, wise veterans of the league would bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June.
The reason being was the relatively recent history of an NBA lockout season and what transpired.
In 1999, the eighth seeded Knicks came out of the Eastern Conference sporting a roster that included the likes of Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Latrell Sprewell, Chris Dudley, Herb Williams and David Wingate.
Out of the West that year came San Antonio, owning long-in-the-tooth guys like David Robinson, Mario Ellie, Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, Steve Kerr, Jerome Kersey and Will Perdue.
Both of those teams did, however, feature an influx of youth in the front court. The Knicks had traded for Marcus Camby and the Spurs had won the draft lottery (at the expense of the Celtics) just a couple of years earlier and had landed Tim Duncan.
While none of the elder contenders remaining in this year’s NBA field have a young stud like Duncan or even Camby, they do have capable benches and feature role players that at times can be deadly for the opposition.
Lakers: The Celtics and Lakers met in the Finals in 2008 and 2010. Could the Every-Other-Year series resume in 2012?
It’s possible if previously unheralded guards like Boston’s Avery Bradley and LA’s Steve Blake continue to rise to the occasion.
Blake took over the Kobe Bryant role for the Lakers in Game 4 of their series with the Nuggets as his 3-pointer with 18.9 seconds left gave LA a two-possession advantage. Blake had struggled from 3-point land previously, but made the shot when it counted.
Celtics: Like the Lakers, Boston is still relying heavily on its eldest star guard. Ray Allen played 37 minutes in Game 3 of the Hawks series after not playing an NBA game in nearly a month and he logged 19 minutes in the Game 4 blowout.