The Western Conference playoffs have been compelling.
The Eastern Conference finals have been competitive.
The difference this NBA postseason has been stark.
And now we're down to about as good as we can expect from an Eastern Conference finals in this lockout-compacted grinder of season: A Miami Heat team lacking an ambulatory Chris Bosh and a Boston Celtics team seemingly on its last legs.
Thunder-Spurs this is not.
Out West, you won't find the likes of Ronny Turiaf as a starter or Mickael Pietrus and Ryan Hollins as featured reserves.
Out West, the once-and-forever All-Star (Tim Duncan) is still standing tall. In the East, the future Hall of Famer (Ray Allen) grimaces with each step.
NBA finals: Heat def. Thunder 4-1
Winderman: LeBron James has been a prodigy, superstar and villain. And now he's champion. The journey has left the league and Finals MVP humbled and happy for those closest to him.
This is not competition. This is attrition.
And, at times, atrocious.
And yet, we may nonetheless be on the verge of the most compelling series the East has offered this far, because even at seven games, Celtics-76ers was hard on the eyes, with Heat-Pacers never truly in doubt once Dwyane Wade got rolling alongside LeBron James.
"It's inevitable," Wade said of the Heat and Celtics outlasting the rest of the decimated East. "It's the matchup the game of basketball wants. Obviously, with the Chicago Bulls being out, this is the biggest matchup the Eastern Conference can have."
To some — OK, essentially anyone who has witnessed the Celtics this postseason — this has the possibilities to produce decidedly lopsided fare.
But even with James and Wade suddenly at their tag-team best, the Heat remain most vulnerable at the very spots where the Celtics have been successful through their two-round slog past the Hawks and 76ers.
Kevin Garnett holds a considerable advantage over anyone and everyone in the Heat's remaining power rotation, with Udonis Haslem, who doesn't even start anymore, about as close as Miami can come to a defensive answer.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Yet for all of what Garnett and Rondo are capable of accomplishing, as Allen and Paul Pierce hobble alongside, what makes Heat-Celtics meaningful fare is the fact that for the fourth time in five seasons, James finds himself going against Boston in the postseason, already with 18 career playoff games against the Celtics.
He met up with the Celtics twice in the postseason while with the Cavaliers and lost each time. He then won a five-game series last season with the Heat.
Now, here he is again, needing to push past a longtime nemesis for the opportunity to redeem himself in the NBA finals, after last year's meltdown against the Mavericks.
"I wouldn't have it (any) other way, personally," he said. "It's really the only team I'm accustomed to playing in the playoffs. No matter where I go, I find a way to play Boston.
"We've got a lot of history."
Until last season, none of it was good. Some of it was ugly.
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