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The NBA playoffs so far have been characterized by significant injuries to big-time players. Dwight Howard was out before the postseason began, Derrick Rose went down in the waning minutes of Game 1, and several other players (Baron Davis, Amare Stoudemire, etc.) have fallen victim to on- and off-court maladies. Consequently, we're seeing a lot of series that definitely will not go the distance -- there are six 3-1 series in play right now, along with two that have already been decided. The Nuggets in particular have had fits dealing with the new-look Kobe Bryant -- he's been more of a distributor late in games than he has in the past, where the game plan was simply "give it to Kobe."

Kobe's role?

Kobe Bryant's role in the fourth quarter is usually that of a force of nature, but these playoffs have seen him rely more on his teammates.


What would give the Lakers the best chance to win in the playoffs?


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Thunder or Spurs?

The Spurs and Thunder have already taken care of their two opponents, but it's still a long way to go before either team makes it to the finals.


Which team that has already advanced to the conference semifinals has the best shot at a title?


Discuss (Total votes: 115,485)

Comeback chance?

The Bulls and Magic find themselves in the same 3-1 hole as the Nuggets and Hawks, although Denver and Atlanta didn't lose their franchise players early on.


Which team down 3-1 playing on Tuesday night has the best chance at winning its series?


Discuss (Total votes: 6,778)

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Josh Smith has a strained tendon in his left knee, and may miss Game 3 against the Celtics. Can the Hawks win without him?

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We can understand if you don't want to take the time to grade your tech-support help on the other end of the telephone, but when we're talking about the dollars and emotion you've invested in sports, we think it's worth the effort. It's time for ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings, in which SportsNation grades organizations on everything from ticket prices and stadium experience to the talent on the field, court or rink. Which team will end up on top this year? It depends on what you say.

Take part in the 2011 MLB survey
2010 MLB Ultimate Standings
1. Los Angeles Angels (Overall: No. 3)
2. Tampa Bay Rays (Overall: No. 6)
3. Colorado Rockies (Overall: No. 13)
4. Minnesota Twins (Overall: No. 14)
5. Atlanta Braves (Overall: No. 15)

Take part in the 2011 NFL survey
2010 NFL Ultimate Standings
1. New Orleans Saints (Overall: No. 1)
2. Indianapolis Colts (Overall: No. 4)
3. Green Bay Packers (Overall: No. 9)
4. Arizona Cardinals (Overall: No. 19)
5. Baltimore Ravens (Overall: No. 20)

Take part in the 2011 NBA survey
2010 NBA Ultimate Standings
1. Orlando Magic (Overall: No. 2)
2. San Antonio Spurs (Overall: No. 7)
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (Overall: No. 10)
4. Dallas Mavericks (Overall: No. 24)
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (Overall: No. 25)

Take part in the 2011 NHL survey
2010 NHL Ultimate Standings
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (Overall: No. 5)
2. Detroit Red Wings (Overall: No. 8)
3. Washington Capitals (Overall: No. 11)
4. San Jose Sharks (Overall: No. 12)
5. Chicago Blackhawks (Overall: No. 16)

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It appears Tyreke Evans will be the NBA's Rookie of the Year. After Brandon Jennings scored 25 points to lead the Bucks to a 3-2 series lead against the Hawks, it also appears he might be the most significant rookie playing in May. Possibly deep into May.

Which is to say, the debate about this year's rookie class isn't nearly over. Well, other than Hasheem Thabeet. We can all agree that isn't working out so well.

Evans isn't a controversial pick as rookie of the year. ESPN's TrueHoop Network went that way in overwhelming fashion when it handed out awards. After siding with Jennings early and Stephen Curry in March, SportsNation concurred at the close of the regular season. But when it comes to looking beyond rookie season? That is another story ...

Ben (NYC)

Who makes their teammates better the best? Jennings, Evans, Curry, Rose, Rondo, Westbrook??? I say Curry.

David Thorpe
David Thorpe

Today Rondo, tomorrow probably Curry or Jennings. Full transcript

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Sometimes you're the dog, and sometimes you're the hydrant. Or in the language of the NBA playoffs, sometimes you're Michael Jordan against anyone. And sometimes you're Charles Smith against the Bulls.

The postseason has arrived, and for the first time in his career, Kevin Durant gets a shot (or more likely, 20-plus shots per game) to forge his own primetime reputation on the big stage. You know it's the big stage because Phil Jackson is already taking subtle swipes at Durant and either getting in his head or poking the bear, depending on your perspective.

In all honesty, the No. 1 seed's first-round series is usually only slightly more interesting than Duke playing Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but thanks to Durant's expected duel with Kobe Bryant, it appears all eyes this year will be on the Lakers and Thunder.

Not that every SportsNation blogger expects the series to be all that close.

Mikeyho (Taiwan)

Hey Chris. Just heard several analyst label the Cavs as "much better" than the Magic. This year's additions put them over the top. I feel like I'm watching last years comments. I'm not saying the Magic should even win. Just want to know if you think it'll be really competitive (around 50/50), or slightly competitve (Cavs's clear favorites)?

Chris Sheridan
Chris Sheridan

Right now I would pick the Cavs in 7 in that series, but I would not label them heavy favorites. Both teams are so much different than they were a year ago (Jamison, Shaq, Vince, Barnes) that it makes comparisons between last year's series and this year's somewhat irrelevant. What's relevant is whether Shaq will be able to contain Dwight and whether the Magic will still find the individual matchup they can exploit. And Stan Van Gundy is good at that. Full transcript

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