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On the NBA: More Musings from the Second Season

The All-Playoff, First Team

LeBron James

Give me LeBron because he’s the best. He hasn’t exactly stood out this postseason because he’s merely done what he always does: influence every aspect of the game, every minute he’s on the floor. The spider-string of dominance he casts on both ends of the floor has become rote. But he can also slay you with stylistic daggers, the kind of posterizations that ruin a legacy, or a run. He’s everything, and it’s terrifying.

Steph Curry

The cinematic standout of the playoffs, Curry’s hot shooting streaks are reason enough for his Warriors to believe they’re competitors in any and all contests. It’s often forgotten that he’s a hell of a passer, too—fully aware of what the attention he demands from defenses does for his teammates, and great at capitalizing on the misdirection.

Kevin Durant

Durant’s been phenomenal. If anyone considers the Thunder’s (inevitable) loss to Memphis a referendum on what he’s made of, they ought to think twice. KD’s lost two of the league’s fifteen best players (also terribly close friends, which matters when facing the fire of May) in less than a year, and found out his coach and power forward’s weakness were being hidden by the excellence of three game-changing dynamos, all along. In having to do it all while the rest of them watch, LeBron-circa-2007 style, he’s been a marvel, and worth every bit of his hype.

Marc Gasol

Marc made the big shot against OKC, last night. That he can add a clutch scoring capacity to what he’s already got—league-honored defense, best big-man distributor, co-owner of the paint—is scary. As the pressure of the second season ratchets up, Gasol ascends toward the form of the perfect big man.

Roy Hibbert

Want to eliminate easy paint points entirely? Check. And if Hibbert can keep up what he started Saturday, re-discovering his offense by tipping in 24 points around Tyson Chandler, the Heat are in for a whole lot of work.

Can anyone just shut up about the fashion choices of NBA players? Last night, Dwyane Wade’s (not-even-that) unusually high pants caused a ruckus of ridicule in broadcasts and all over the net. This seemingly innocuous signifier (Dwyane’s clothing) is actually a pretty clear mark of the times changing. As one player’s come out as gay, plenty more dress like they aren’t afraid of some jock-headed pundit calling him that—certainly a quirk that David Stern didn’t anticipate, in drafting his oppressive dress-code.

That Marc Gasol’s the defensive player of the year but missed the All-Defensive first squad illuminates the changing valuation of defensive performance, overall. Said change doesn’t show up so clearly in the box scores, yet; and maybe not even the saber-scores. Is there, yet, reliable statistics for how effectively one stays on a team-defense string, help-covers when needed, and bounces in and out of the paint, doing the 2.9 second dance as well as Joakim Noah does? Until there are, honoristic discrepancies like Gasol’s can be expected.

How guaranteed is a second straight Miami title? Are we falling prey to a recency bias, in being so sure of one? Are we distracted by the glamour of their huge winning streak, and their endless open-court style? What challenges have they conquered, in these playoffs? Does shutting down Nate Robinson and Marco Bellinelli (and not even doing it every game) and the Milwaukee Bucks really count as dominance? Are we ignoring that the only way Dwyane Wade can be playing this poorly is if he’s hurt? Isn’t this a circumstance sure to worsen against the relentless Pacers? Are the Grizzlies even better than they look? And, perhaps, do we generally give too much credence to the gravity of a dynasty? (There has, as a matter of fact, been six teams to win the O’Brien cup in the last ten years). I’d still put my money on the Heat, but only if there was a gun to my head. My jury’s still largely out.

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Total comments: 35
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Vogel made a very dumb coaching decision. Instead of taking out your best rim protector when you need a crucial stop, why not run a matchup zone with 2.2 seconds? Stick Hibbert in the paint while everyone else matches/switches.

    One thing's for sure, I'm feeling optimistic about Pacers winning at least one game at home if they can come this close to winning in Miami.

  • BenQueens says 1 YEAR ago

    David West, well not so much. How many FT's did that dude clang tonight? And a couple of bunnies at the hole, too, were mysteriously short.

    He also set some lazy screens that gave MIA the ball. It was about as bad as you can look while also going 11-17 from the floor.

  • rocketrick says 1 YEAR ago

    I'm looking forward to watching the Heat prove that their opponent having a defensive minded 7' 2" center isn't going to sway the series one bit. When the Heat play small ball, who is Hibbert going to guard? Bosh? Can Hibbert handle Bosh on the perimeter? I doubt it. Indiana has some fine young talent but they haven't ever been this deep in the playoffs. I think the Heat will sweep Indiana or at worst they might give away one win to Indiana.

    I would rather look back 10 or 20 years from now at a Heat-Spurs matchup in the finals. Many of the key players in that series would be in the Hall of Fame at that point. No, it wouldn't be like the Celtics-Lakers of the 1980's, but it would be the closest in terms of Hall of Fame players going to war in the Finals against each other that we've seen in quite some time.

    I guess I wasn't the only one who didn't think Hibbert could guard Bosh as Coach Vogel pulled Hibbert at the end of the game for the last 2 defensive plays and the Heat took it to the hole both times. Still, give it up for Hibbert, he played a stellar game. David West, well not so much. How many FT's did that dude clang tonight? And a couple of bunnies at the hole, too, were mysteriously short.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I've said elsewhere in this forum that I expect the Miami Heat to sweep the Pacers, or at best screw up and give them one victory. I stand by that. I think the Heat are gearing up for the Finals and will be hitting on all cylinders. They are starting to taste the back to back championship. And the opportunity for the first back to back to back in some time.

    Sweep the Pacers? Nah. Too bad we don't have like "honor points" or something like that we can use to bet because I would so take up that bet :P

  • rocketrick says 1 YEAR ago I've said elsewhere in this forum that I expect the Miami Heat to sweep the Pacers, or at best screw up and give them one victory. I stand by that. I think the Heat are gearing up for the Finals and will be hitting on all cylinders. They are starting to taste the back to back championship. And the opportunity for the first back to back to back in some time.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago Not likely, but theoretically possible. But let's make it a sweep by Indiana
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    In the predictions thread way back I said that I liked Indiana to beat the Heat. Going to stick to my guns, even though I don't entirely believe them. If there's one thing that will be Indiana's downfall it's their ball-handling/turnover issues. When Hill goes to the bench, all the Heat have to do is apply a little bit of pressure to Augustin and he'll crack like something that cracks easily. But since I have yet to see a single prediction anywhere I have read that picked the Pacers, I guess I'll be the one to do it. Pacers in 6 (because if it goes to a Game 7 I expect the Heat to pull it out).

    ST

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Good point.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago

    2016, it depends on Chris Bosh. If he struggles horribly and Indy closes out on the Heat shooters, then James will have to step it up. I think with George on him, it'll be more difficult and that'll hurt his efficiency a bit.

    Bosh plays well, James averages 23pts/8rbs/9asts on 58%shooting

    Bosh struggles, James averages 33pts/8rbs/5asts on 47% shooting

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Depends on your definition of containing. For example the Grizzlies contained Durant but one look at the stat sheet and you can see they didn't stop him. Players of that caliber can't be stopped.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago

    I think every opponent should double or triple Lebron. Wade's a bum(this playoffs, not this season). Bosh would kill you, but if you close out on him and force him to drive, it wouldn't be as bad. Lebron makes the entire team better with his court vision and ability to take important shots. I would pick my poison and force the likes of Ray Allen and Battier beat me rather than counting on Paul George to stop Lebron.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    I see the Heat and Pacers series being a dog fight. The first three reasons that come to my head are:

    1. Wade's knee

    2. Paul George might be the best SF defender in the league. He won't stop Lebron but he can contain him

    3. The Pacers will dominate the offensive boards

    In the end, these things might not be enough to stop the Heat, but it should be enough to make it a very interesting series--especially reason #1 assuming it continues to be a problem for Wade (averaging 14ppg .490 TS%).

    I agree it may turn into dog fight in one case.......wade's knee continues to slow him more as the series continues..........as for paul George containing LeBron :lol:.......NOT GONNA HAPPEN

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I see the Heat and Pacers series being a dog fight. The first three reasons that come to my head are:

    1. Wade's knee

    2. Paul George might be the best SF defender in the league. He won't stop Lebron but he can contain him

    3. The Pacers will dominate the offensive boards

    In the end, these things might not be enough to stop the Heat, but it should be enough to make it a very interesting series--especially reason #1 assuming it continues to be a problem for Wade (averaging 14ppg .490 TS%).

  • rocketrick says 1 YEAR ago I'm looking forward to watching the Heat prove that their opponent having a defensive minded 7' 2" center isn't going to sway the series one bit. When the Heat play small ball, who is Hibbert going to guard? Bosh? Can Hibbert handle Bosh on the perimeter? I doubt it. Indiana has some fine young talent but they haven't ever been this deep in the playoffs. I think the Heat will sweep Indiana or at worst they might give away one win to Indiana.

    The Spurs-Grizzlies matchup on the other end is going to be one of those back and forth, 6- or 7-game series. I think if the Spurs can force the Grizzlies to rely more on their jump shots, the Spurs can win this series. If the Grizzlies are able to control the paint effectively for long periods of time, the Grizzlies should be able to take the series.

    I would rather look back 10 or 20 years from now at a Heat-Spurs matchup in the finals. Many of the key players in that series would be in the Hall of Fame at that point. No, it wouldn't be like the Celtics-Lakers of the 1980's, but it would be the closest in terms of Hall of Fame players going to war in the Finals against each other that we've seen in quite some time.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago Lebron and Spo are masters at adjusting to what the opponents do
  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago

    all the more reason why they won't be caught slipping again


    The Heat always lose the first game against a non-8 seed.
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    all the more reason whythey won't be caught slipping again

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I don't know, all that rest didn't help Miami in game 1 vs a banged up Bulls team.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    don't blink you may miss it! Miami will be rested while Indiana fights it out with NY. sounds like a recipe for disaster if I'm in Indiana. Miami in 5.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Hopefully his concussion isn't too serious and he is ready for game 1, but even if he doesn't get ready until game 3 I still think Pacers can make it a series. They say that the series doesn't start until a team wins on the road.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago I don't give the Pacers ANY shot without Hill
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I think the Pacers have a better chance of beating the Heat than the Grizzlies do. Pacers have better shooters which makes it harder for Miami to double down low, and I think Paul George can defend Lebron better than Prince can.

  • pharmag says 1 YEAR ago

    My thought is the Heat win in 6 (maybe 5) but most of them the final score is within 10. The reason being is that while Pacers have a very good defense and match-up well defensively, Miami isn't too shabby at defense and the difference isn't all that great when you compare the difference between the Pacers and Heat offenses. Pacers win a couple because a couple guys go off, but that is it.

    Now, Heat/Grizzlies is a completely different story (I do expect the Grizzlies to get to the Finals). I would actually watch that series, and with the way Memphis is playing right now, wouldn't be surprised if they won it in 7.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    Agree that he doesn't play with a lot of "fire". Still, at 7' 2" he discourages a lot of action at the rim, is blocking a lot of shots when they try, grabbing rebounds, and his post moves are solid--he just needs more consistency with them--if he gets on a roll Miami is in trouble.

    Don't get me wrong--I still think Miami wins, but I think it is going to be a great, great series. Indiana is one Reggie Miller-type player from being a legitimate threat to win the title. If Lance Stephenson and Paul George each improve their offense a little over the Summer Indy becomes a force...and who knows what happens with Granger...does he get traded? Come back and be the scorer they need? They are in great shape.

    the fire and drive in a player can not be underestimated. roy continues to have games of 6 pt. 2 rebounds in 30 min action. I really thought he had begun to blossom at the end of last year. to say this year was a dud for him would be an understatement. he may be tall, but so was Bradley. it takes more than being tall. as I said b4 I agree with you he has the skills. he just seems to be playing in slow motion sometimes. I believe there is only so far Indiana can go as long as he is on the roster. he doesn't have the heart of a champion.

    as for Miami.....the only thing that can derail them is injury. nothing in the east will deter them from the finals. the best chance is for a team from the west to knock them off. they are simply to good. right now LeBron is the best player in the game and playing like it.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    Agree that he doesn't play with a lot of "fire". Still, at 7' 2" he discourages a lot of action at the rim, is blocking a lot of shots when they try, grabbing rebounds, and his post moves are solid--he just needs more consistency with them--if he gets on a roll Miami is in trouble.

    Don't get me wrong--I still think Miami wins, but I think it is going to be a great, great series. Indiana is one Reggie Miller-type player from being a legitimate threat to win the title. If Lance Stephenson and Paul George each improve their offense a little over the Summer Indy becomes a force...and who knows what happens with Granger...does he get traded? Come back and be the scorer they need? They are in great shape.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    @2016/JG

    I wish I felt as good about the matchup as the both of you, but I don't :(JG....roy hibbert unstoppable? :lol:roy is a joke (IMO)...sure he has all the tools to be a top flight center, but he needs to take the yellow brick road to oz to see the wizard. he has no heart :lol:I would bet if Indiana had the chance to redo that max contract of his they would probably let him walk to Portland.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    No kidding. I think Indiana is one of the best teams in the league. Further, they have the match-ups to give Miami problems in multiple areas. D-Wade or not I still think Indy gives them a scare--and possibly an upset. Lance Stephenson has found a home at SG. George Hill is showing that it wasn't just being in San Antonio that made him so good. Paul George. David West. ROY HIBBERT (he gets all caps cuz he's so tall). Hibbert is a beast right now on both ends--who on Miami is going to stop him? Bosh? Birdman? Haslem? That's it. Roy is going to destroy in this series. If Indy gets anything out of West, Hill, and George then Miami is in trouble. Plus, Indy's defensive rep is strong and the refs aren't going to give Miami as many foul calls as they are used to.

    Maybe you're right about a warm knife through butter....I'm still looking forward to watching this one.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    If Chicago can win one game against Miami, then Indiana can win two or three imo.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    The Indiana-Miami match up will be must-see TV

    WHY? Miami will run thru Indiana like a warm knife thru butter. Indiana only hope is d-wade is slowly breaking down and won't be full throttle. Chicago probably gave them the most physical series they will encounter in the east. the east is the least. some of the playoff teams over their should have been at home b4 the playoffs evenstarted.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Kobe guarded the other teams best guard this year. That is part of the reason for his lack of defensive stats. It was either he guard them or Steve Nash.

    I'm not talking about this season, he wasn't even selected this season (and we might have Zach Lowe to thank for that). I'm talking about previous seasons, he has made the 1st All-Defensive Team ten times and I can easily pick three guys who deserved the selection more than he did for at least five of them.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    The Indiana-Miami match up will be must-see TV

  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    I think I agree with the recency bias point about the Heat - or at least, that the indicators people are using are not as strong as they should be. Yeah, they put together a big win streak, but I don't think that shows that they'll romp through the playoffs. In that streak they beat 5 teams who are still in the playoffs, and the losses on either side of the streak were to Chicago and Indiana, both of whom are still in the running. Their record against the remaining teams in the playoffs since the beginning of February is 7-3, which while still good is far from the numbers you would expect from the all-conquering basketball machine they're being made out to be.

    ST

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago

    I was just about to say the same thing Steven said. However, I will add that even though coaches voting is better than media voting, I think both parties do a poor job--just look at how many 1st All-Team Defense selections Kobe has made. Maybe the coaches are looking at film of Kobe's defensive highlights, but for the last few years (at least) Kobe has been very Harden-like on defense.

    I think players should get the votes like they used to, either that or give it to the GM's because they have access to so much more information than everyone else.


    Kobe guarded the other teams best guard this year. That is part of the reason for his lack of defensive stats. It was either he guard them or Steve Nash.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I was just about to say the same thing Steven said. However, I will add that even though coaches voting is better than media voting, I think both parties do a poor job--just look at how many 1st All-Team Defense selections Kobe has made. Maybe the coaches are looking at film of Kobe's defensive highlights, but for the last few years (at least) Kobe has been very Harden-like on defense.

    I think players should get the votes like they used to, either that or give it to the GM's because they have access to so much more information than everyone else.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago The deference between DPoY and NBA defensive first team is who votes on them. Coaches vote for the teams and watch film. The media votes for DPoY and go with likable guys.

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