NBA Playoffs 2014 Playlist: 16 Songs For Round 1
From Daft Punk soundtracking Charlotte to Jennifer Lopez reaping the Clippers, check out the anthems that best describe this year's playoff teams.
The NBA regular season is finally over and the postseason finally begins on Saturday (Apr. 19), with the Miami Heat trying for a third straight title and 15 other teams trying to make sure that doesn't happen. As always, the National Basketball Association has produced a memorable regular season, with amazing accomplishments and unbelievable embarrassments (like this writer's beloved Philadelphia 76ers). But it's playoff time, and with all the plots to parse through, what better way to preview the madness than with a custom playlist?
Check out the third annual Billboard.com NBA Playoffs Playlist, in which each team is given a personalized anthem that encapsulates their outlook heading into the postseason. Warning: the non-basketball junkies are welcome to read on, but please be forgiving of the nerdiest of b-ball jokes.
INDIANA PACERS: Bruno Mars, "Locked Out Of Heaven"
The Pacers have won the most games out of any team in the Eastern Conference, and are good bets to return to the Eastern Conference Finals again this year. But then again, they haven't been able to overcome the Heat in the playoffs, and are locked out of the Finals. So close to paradise, and yet, they can never reach it. It's a sad song, and one that Bruno Mars would have no problem singing.
MIAMI HEAT: Drake feat. Lil Wayne, Kanye West & Eminem, "Forever"
Sing it with me, two-time champion Miami Heat: "It may not mean nothing to y'all/But understand nothing was done for me/So I don't plan on stopping at all/I want this shit forever, man." Hoping to complete the three-peat with another title this year, LeBron "Last Name Ever, First Name Greatest" James and co. are refusing to take their foot off the gas pedal after playing in 12 playoff series in the past three years. NBA titles may not mean anything to some people, but for James, they mean history -- and he wants his legacy to live forever.
TORONTO RAPTORS: Young Jeezy, "Who Dat"
Brash, feisty and oh so fun, the Raptors are the "Who Dat" of the playoffs because, even if no one knows who they are, they cannot be denied. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas… not exactly household names, right? Doesn't matter. The Raps won 48 games (!) this year, and are hoping to win at least one round in the playoffs.
CHICAGO BULLS: Blink-182, "I Miss You"
For the second straight year, the Bulls are entering the playoffs without their franchise player, Derrick Rose. And for the second straight year, the Bulls are playing well despite not really having a shot to contend for a title. Rose is now merely a voice inside the head of Bulls fans, who are staring at old photos of the point guard while murmuring, "I miss you, I miss you…"
WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Pharrell, "Happy"
The Wizards are not going to win any championships this year. And that's okay! After multiple seasons of mediocrity, the Wiz are back in the big dance, with a young superstar in John Wall living up to his massive contract extension and some intriguing pieces in Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal. Inflated expectations will come later down the line, but right now, the Wizards should feel like a room without a roof.
BROOKLYN NETS: Eric B. & Rakim, "I Ain't No Joke"
The old-timey Nets were a joke for the first half of the regular season, with fired assistant coaches, lackluster play from new stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, an over-his-head coach in Jason Kidd, and a generally awful record. But then, they started winning games… and now, they're a six-seed with a favorable match-up in the Toronto Raptors. The Nets are no joke, especially if Deron Williams gets going and reproves himself as a franchise star. Look out, Eastern Conference.
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS: Daft Punk, "Get Lucky"
The Bobcats have the misfortune of playing the Miami Heat in Round 1, and probably won't win more than one game against them. But hey, you never know! They're just happy to be back in the playoffs, with a new offensive anchor in Al Jefferson and at least the outside chance of getting lucky and winning their first-ever playoff game. If Charlotte somehow beats Miami in the series, Daft Punk should change the lyric from "Like the legend of the phoenix" to "Like the legend of the Bobcats."
ATLANTA HAWKS: Kanye West feat. Bon Iver, "Lost In The World"
The Hawks are back in the playoffs, even though they won 38 games and lost 44 games this year. They supposedly have a ton of trade assets… but weren't able to pull off any huge trades this year. They're rebuilding, but haven't blown up their team enough to make the draft lottery. Oh, and their best player, Al Horford, is always hurt. For Atlanta, the 2014 playoffs are one beautiful, dark, twisted fantasy.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Wu-Tang Clan, "Triumph"
Like the Wu-Tang Clan in their heyday, the Spurs continue to dominate the league with posse cuts -- that is, none of their players post flashy numbers, but they mow down opponents by operating as a unit. Earning the most wins in the league this year, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and co. are ready to make the rest of the West bomb -- while they bomb atomically.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: Pusha T, "Numbers on the Boards"
Sure, LeBron gets all the publicity, but Kevin Durant has put mind-blowing numbers on the board all season long, and might win the MVP award because of it. As fierce and unforgiving as this Pusha T track, the OKC Thunder are ready to return to the Finals and give Durant his first ring.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: Jennifer Lopez, "Waiting for Tonight"
Ever since the Clippers paired Chris Paul with Blake Griffin, the team has been dreaming of hoisting its first-ever championship trophy and reclaiming Los Angeles as more than a Lakers city. In the past few years, the Clips have burned out early in the playoffs, but with Doc Rivers as their coach and a deeper bench, the team has been anxiously awaiting their moment to demonstrate their playoff grit. Like a movie scene in the sweetest dreams, the Clippers can picture themselves and the Finals together.
HOUSTON ROCKETS: Twista, "Overnight Celebrity"
Just 18 months ago, the Rockets were at the bottom of the Western Conference with a bunch of trade assets but no star power. Then, they landed James Harden and Dwight Howard, morphing them into a serious threat in the West faster than Twista can rap about your sensational ass. They might only be a four-seed, but Howard and Harden have the ability to make the Rockets instant championship contenders.
PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: Taylor Swift & Ed Sheeran, "Everything Has Changed"
Last year, the Blazers were watching the playoffs from the sidelines, with whispers of LaMarcus Alridge being unhappy about the recently rebuilt team's direction. But this season has been a complete turnaround, thanks to a hot start, a deep bench, and the emergence of LMA as one of the best forwards in the game. It feels like yesterday that the Blazers were a troubled team -- but now, everything has changed.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Natalia Kills, "Problem"
This song could cut two ways: the sharp-shooting Warriors, led by Stephen Curry, could be a serious problem for their opponents if they get hot in the playoffs again. But they're also riddled with problems as they return to the playoffs, including an indefinitely out Andrew Bogut and some strange coaching reassignments over the past few months. In the West, it's either (Natalia) kill or be (Natalia) killed; can the Dubs muster up another surprise run?
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Waka Flocka Flame, "TTG (Trained To Go)"
We have used a Waka Flocka Flame song to represent the Memphis Grizzlies over the past two years, and while Z-Bo and Marc Gasol will always go hard in the paint, this year they're… a little less hardened, thanks to injuries, a playoffs-unproven coach and a rough Round 1 matchup against OKC. Still, these guys have been here before, and they know what it takes to bash through some stiff competition in the West. Which "Flockaveli" song will we use for the Grizz next year? Only time will tell.
DALLAS MAVERICKS: Rudimental feat. John Newman, "Not Giving In"
In the brutal Western Conference, the once-mighty Mavericks have now dropped to the eight-seed… despite having a record good enough to be a three-seed in the Eastern Conference. Frustrating? Unfair? Absolutely. But Dirk Nowitzki and his wily band of veterans are going to be stronger than a normal eight-seed and not give in too easily in Round 1.