Out of Bounds: Attention dormant NBA fans: The league is back in a big way

I honestly can't tell myself, or anyone else for that matter, that I am as avid an NBA fan as most. But for once, this season has really caught my attention. At a glance it seems the same as ever: a dominant Western Conference, an obviously weaker Eastern counterpart, and an MVP race fronted by big names like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

This season, however, has been absolutely amazing to watch. The playoff picture in the West is absolutely insane and it's really going to come down to the wire. With less than two months left in the season, almost any team can make a run. Only five games currently separate the top nine teams. With only eight playoff spots, a very talented and well-deserving team will not make the playoffs in the West.

The East, though, is not on the same level. If the season were to end today, there would be three teams making the playoffs with sub-.500 records. To put that in perspective, Denver would currently miss the playoffs in the West with a winning percentage of .600, while in the East, Philadelphia would make the playoffs with a mediocre winning percentage of .429. Nonetheless, the team that comes out of the East has a legitimate shot at the title. Boston and Detroit are both on top of that pile of garbage with the two best records in the NBA, and either one would give any of the Western conference teams a run for their money in the Finals.

And just when you thought the NBA couldn't get any more exciting, the trade deadline came along. Now if you asked me three months ago if I would have my eyes glued to ESPNews the day of the deadline I would have laughed in your face, but honestly I couldn't pull myself away. The flurry of activity put teams who I thought had no chance of making a title run (Cleveland Cavaliers, anyone?) back into my mind as serious contenders. It also made me scream, "what are you thinking?!" to teams like Dallas. I'm still not sold on the fact that Jason Kidd is worth Devin Harris and two future first-round draft picks. Of course, that's all moot if Dallas does go on to win the championship this year.

Speaking of the championship, I'm just going to venture a guess that Boston will win it over San Antonio in six games, but don't hold me to that - the league is just too deep this year. Either way, the playoffs are going to be remarkably competitive and suspenseful, which will be a huge improvement over previous seasons. I never thought the NBA would be exciting again after Michael Jordan's retirement, but thankfully I've been proven wrong. Congratulations NBA, you've finally made yourself interesting again for the fans - and now I'm one of them.

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