Oh, you need more of an explanation than that? Consider the three teams who have the best chance to win the title.
–Miami Heat: Led by the best player in the game by a good amount, the player who ESPN's Austin Link called "the best player of his generation, regardless of a championship or not" searching for his elusive Holy Grail of a first NBA championship. Besides LeBron, you have a second superstar in Dwyane Wade and a top-10 big man in Chris Bosh. The supporting cast includes veteran Shane Battier, who perhaps more than anyone in the league deserves to win a title.
–Oklahoma City Thunder: OK City has the best offensive player in the league in Kevin Durant, who would have won the MVP this year if it weren't for LeBron. One of the two best sixth men in the NBA in James Harden (we'll get to the other one in a sec). And what's not to love about Russell Westbrook, who seems to be a better version of Tiny Archibald but holds Durant back because of his Nick Van Exel-like need to play one-on-five?
–San Antonio Spurs: Between Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, this is unquestionably the smartest team in the league. Put simply, the Spurs know how to win. Duncan and Pop have won four titles with the same implacable determination. Tony Parker is having arguably the best season of his career (Year 1 AE, perhaps?) and Manu Ginobili has recovered from an early-season injury and is throwing crazy bullet passes like his former self. Oh, and the supporting cast is as good as it's been in years. My favorite bench player is rookie Kawhi Leonard, who was overshadowed by in-conference rival Jimmer Fredette while at UNLV but has been a hard-nosed forward for years.
That's three quality teams, Patrick. Three teams that probably would have won 58-plus games this season had the lockout not happened. Any of these three teams would be a worthy champion in a non-"lame" season. And that's not even mentioning the Bulls, who were a lock for a 60-plus wins if they had a healthy Derrick Rose.
The '99 playoffs were underwhelming because the league was in a Jordan hangover and because Allan Houston hit a lucky shot. This year, there are teams worth watching and deserving of the Larry O'Brien trophy. Even though the Heat eliminated my beloved Knicks, that's reason enough for me to keep watching.
How about you, Hampton? Are you keeping both eyes on the NBA playoffs?