Saturday, April 20, 2013

NBA Playoffs Preview

In each of the last two years, the NBA playoffs were dominated by one very compelling question:  would this be the year that LeBron James finally won the NBA title.  In 2011, LeBron and the Heat were shocked in the final by a veteran Dallas team.  Last year, the Heat were matched up against a young and exciting Thunder team in what promised to be an epic series.  Unfortunately, that promise was not fulfilled, as poor officiating decisions allowed the Heat to jump out to a 3-1 lead, and the Thunder simply collapsed in Game 5.  Furthermore, the prospect for any rematch was destroyed in the offseason, as the Thunder gave away their second-best player, James Harden.

As a result of these developments, our interest in the Association has sharply declined.  We are further discouraged by reports that the Lakers benefited from a very favorable whistle in their efforts to make this year's playoffs.  Given our concerns over the officiating in last year's NBA Finals, the last thing we want is more controversy over officiating.  And besides, Rajon Rondo, Kobe Bryant, and Derrick Rose are all out with injuries.

In light of these facts, we expect that our coverage of this year's NBA playoffs will be sharply reduced from last year.  In fact, here is what we plan to do.  We are not going to watch any NBA playoff game unless the Heat lose three games in one series.  In other words, unless the Heat are playing an elimination game, we won't watch at all.  We've seen enough of the Heat over the last two years, and we have little interest in watching them trample the rest of the Association again.

We will, however, check in from time to time to let you know what's going on.  Today, in the first game of the NBA Playoffs, the Knicks beat the Celtics 85-78.  Thus, the playoffs currently look like this (seeds are in parentheses) (the projected 2012-13 NBA Champion is in bold):

Eastern Conference:
(1) Miami 0 - 0 (8) Milwaukee
(4) Brooklyn 0 - 0 (5) Chicago
(3) Indiana 0 - 0 (6) Atlanta
(2) New York 1 - 0 (7) Boston

Western Conference
(1) Oklahoma City 0 - 0 (8) Houston
(4) L.A. Clippers 0 - 0 (5) Memphis
(3) Denver 0 - 0 (6) Golden State
(2) San Antonio 0 - 0 (7) L.A. Lakers


  1. I would like to point out one amazing statistic. Kevin Durant finished second in the league in scoring (28.1 points per game), even though he took 102 fewer shots than another player on his own team.

    Consider these statistics:

    51.0 percent from the field
    41.6 percent from 3-point range
    90.5 percent from the line

    Those are unbelievable, spectacular numbers. Only six players have ever shot over 50 percent from the floor, over 40 percent from three-point range, and over 90 percent from the line. The others are Larry Bird (twice), Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash (four times), and Dirk Nowitzki.

    Now consider these numbers:

    Russell Westbrook:
    43.8 percent from the field
    32.3 percent from three-point range
    80.0 percent from the line

    Finally, consider that Westbrook took 1,535 shots this year, while Durant took 1,433. There is simply no justification for this disparity, which simply makes it harder for the Thunder to win.

    If Westbrook and Durant played in a major city, Westbrook would be considered as one of the biggest villains in American sport, and ESPN would spent hours trying to figure out what he takes so many shots. And there would have been a total freakout over the fact that OKC dumped James Harden (who averaged 25.9 points per game with Houston), thus killing the Thunder's chances to go all the way.

    As it is, in about four or five years ESPN will give us stories like: "Why can't Kevin Durant win it all?"

    1. There has been so much talk over the last two yeas about Westbrook shooting so much it seems to me people have grown tired of the topic. That just seems to be the dynamic of the team. As for Harden I have heard a lot of talk of why they let him go and essentially OKC was the firs team to fall prey to the new labor agreement. There were steps taken in there to fight against teams going out and getting a big three like Miami did and OKC is the first to have to make some decisions around that. Harden was going to be a free agent and they knew they could never resign him, so they figured they should try to get something for him.

    2. I don't think we'd be tired of talking about Westbrook if he and Durant played for the Knicks, Celtics, or Lakers.

      I don't care whether OKC did the right thing under the rules or not. I would be interested in watching a rematch between the Thunder and the Heat if Harden still played for the Thunder, and now I'm not interested.