With the depressing Cavaliers season behind us, I hope everybody is taking the time to appreciate the NBA playoffs. I admit it feels a little bit weird to be watching the NBA playoffs without the Cleveland present as they have been in the recent years. Regardless, I am simply a fan of high quality, exciting basketball. Plain and simple, I love the game.
Apart from the obvious entertainment that one can get from watching this year's postseason, Cavs fans have something else to keep an eye on. Although the first round has not yet been completed, we have already seen some small markets achieve relative success. There is no denying that the Cavaliers have a long way to go before they reach relevancy again, but management should be taking notes.
When people talk about the model of success for small markets they nearly always cite the Oklahoma City Thunder as the quintessential example. A gathering of talented, young, offensive players while still maintaining an emphasis on defense. They show that a team doesn't need to hit the jackpot in free agency to be competitive. Instead, homegrown talent can produce a winning atmosphere. Similarly, the Memphis Grizzlies have shocked the San Antonio Spurs and built a 3-1 lead in their series. I doubt the average NBA fan can name all five of the Grizzlies starters and would likely be hard-pressed to name their head coach. Despite relative anonymity, we are well on our way to seeing a 2nd round match-up that takes place in Memphis and Oklahoma City.
While the title favorites still reside in the big markets, it's pretty cool to see New York quietly bow out in the first round while Memphis is slaying giants and look to advance further. Even after a rough season, that should make Cavs fans crack a smile just a little bit.