We’ve asked our stable of scribes to take one last look back at the 2011 NBA playoffs.
What’s your favorite non-Finals series of the 2011 playoffs?
Steve Aschburner: Memphis-OKC. It was a hoot to see the Grizzlies pushing the Thunder to seven games and generally showing themselves to be Oklahoma City’s equals. With a triple-overtime Game 4 on the heels of a single-OT Game 3, the first four games especially were exhilarating.
Fran Blinebury: OKC vs. Memphis. In the Grizzlies, we had only the second No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 in a best-of-seven series, going up against a Thunder team that everyone believed was still a year or two away. What we got was seven games of gripping theater matching the relentlessness of Zach Randolph at the Grindhouse vs. the rising talent of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook at Loud City. It was intensely-played, gripping basketball that had two overtime games, one that went triple-overtime, and a Game 7. It was delicious and, best of all, could be a preview of more to come from both teams.
Shaun Powell: Oklahoma City-Memphis had everything you’d want: A pair of overtime games and a series that went the seven-game limit. You never had a sense that either team was safe from the other. Also, because these weren’t your traditional playoff teams, we were introduced to fresh faces, exactly what the NBA needed.
John Schuhmann: Thunder-Grizzlies. One of my favorite things about these playoffs was the contender turnover and fresh faces in games of importance. Just knowing that either Memphis or Oklahoma City was going to be in the conference finals was cool, and then they gave us a great, seven-game series.
Sekou Smith: This is an easy one. The Memphis/Hang Time Grizzlies knocking off the Western Conference top seed Spurs in six games in the first round should be everyone’s favorite non-Finals series of this postseason. It happens so rarely, an eighth seed upending a top dog. For it to be our Grizzlies, though … sorry, we get a little emotional just talking about ‘em. Seriously, the Grizzlies and the run they made to the conference semifinals captured the theme of these playoffs perfectly. They forced us to expect the unexpected and then delivered.