What's Going On Right Now?
The Grizzlies are looking great, the Lakers are looking not so great? The Heat are off to a quick 2-0 series lead over the Celtics while the Bulls just won to go up 2-1 in their series in which they lost the first game. That's just this round. As a whole the playoffs have been full of surprises this year, there's no doubt about that, but where are we right now?
The correct answer? While it's not exact, we're not all that far off from the usual. Sure, there have been the surprises, mainly the Spurs getting knocked off by the Grizzlies, but it's not rare for there to be a first round upset every year. In the east we saw the #4 Magic knocked off by the #5 Hawks, hardly an upset. In the west it was a much more extreme form up upset, but at the same time, there was not a single other upset. Still though, you cannot look past a first round upset when it's a #8 taking down a #1. However, at the same time the most valuable player to the Spurs, Manu Ginobili was playing hurt and the Spurs as a whole were limping into the postseason. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, were hot going into the postseason. While you don't expect streaks like that to last for an entire postseason, it can surely last through the first round, which it did for both teams.
In the east it may seem a bit more confusing, but nothing is too far off from the regular season. The Heat are a team of streaks. They went through the end of the regular season on a hot streak, and they're just continuing it. This by no means guarantees that they'll finish as champions, but at the same time it doesn't guarantee that they won't. The series that they're in with the Celtics, as often does with veteran teams, can wind up being a series that depends on home court advantage and if the Celtics are able to steal a game in Miami. I don't think too many who have watched team during the season will doubt that this series isn't going to be a simple sweep for the Heat, even at this point. Neither team is one that will give up easily, and with the series going back to Boston, don't be shocked if things look different in a few days.
The other east series that is going is the Bulls against the Hawks. From the start few were giving this series more than 5 or 6 games. After the Hawks stole game 1 it looked a bit different. However, as the series has gone along the Bulls have looked better and better. While Derrick Rose seems to be the player that the Bulls live and die by, even when he's not on his game he's still able to do enough to give his team a fair chance to win. So far the series of events is identical to when the Bulls played the Knicks in the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals, only that this Hawks team is not the '92 Knicks, and while this isn't the '92 Bulls either, don't expect the Hawks to take more than 1 more game from the Bulls.
The bottom line is that right now things are not going far from normal. Sure, there's a game or two difference here or there, but when you really look at things, 1 seeds struggling against 8 seeds happens (using basketball-reference.com should make this obvious). If you want a good reference point to make predictions as to what will happen, there's still no reason to not look to the past.