Monday, May 2, 2016

NBA Update

Here's what happened in the first round of the NBA Playoffs:

Cleveland 4 - 0 Detroit
Atlanta 4 - 2 Boston
Miami 4 - 3 Charlotte
Toronto 4 - 3 Indiana

Golden St. 4 - 1 Houston
L.A. Clippers 2 -4 Portland
Oklahoma City 4 - 1 Dallas
San Antonio 4 - 0 Memphis

The most important development in the first round of the NBA playoffs may have been that Chris Paul got hurt, thus dooming the erratic Clippers in their series with the Trail Blazers, and depriving fans of a showdown between the erratic Clippers and the Warriors.  As you can see, the Blazers were the only team to pull an upset in the first round.

Or the most important development may have been that Stephen Curry got hurt, thus potentially dooming the Warriors' chances to defend their title.

We won't know for sure which of these two developments was more important until we know whether Curry will be able to play at full strength.  The Warriors can probably get past the Blazers (who are now calling themselves "Rip City" for reasons I don't understand) without Curry being at 100 percent.  But Curry will have to be Curry if the Warriors are going to beat San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals.  The Spurs aren't messing around.  Check out these scores:

San Antonio 106 - 74 Memphis
San Antonio 94 - 68 Memphis
Memphis 87 - 96 San Antonio
Memphis 95 - 116 San Antonio

So long, thanks for playing.

Here are the conference semi-finals, which began over the weekend:

Cleveland 1 - 0 Atlanta
Toronto 0 - 0 Miami

Golden St. 1 - 0 Portland
San Antonio 1 - 0 Oklahoma City

As we said when the playoffs started, there are three legitimately great teams this year: Cleveland, Golden State, and San Antonio.  So we're basically waiting for these teams to play each other.  But I do want to point out that our old friend Billy Donovan, who didn't want to be the head coach at Kentucky, is currently manning the sidelines for Oklahoma City.  This was a pretty easy job for most of the year, because Oklahoma City has Kevin Durant, who may be the best player in the NBA.  So long as he is not hurt, OKC should pretty much always make the conference semi-finals.  But then you have to play a real team -- in this case, San Antonio.

Now I can remember when Oklahoma City looked like the Warriors.  They were the young cool team that could light up the scoreboard.  In 2012, they not only beat the Spurs -- they made them look old and slow.  I was a huge fan of that Thunder team.  But then OKC's management decided to break up the team, sending James Harden to the Rockets, and the Thunder haven't been the same since.

After last season, OKC management decided to bring in Donovan.  To be honest, I don't know what Donovan was supposed to do.  OKC is effectively un-coachable.  In a lifetime of watching basketball, Russell Westbrook -- the Thunder point guard -- is the most selfish player I have ever seen.  As far as I can tell, his primary goal in any game -- especially playoff games -- is to take more shots that Durant.  (At least five times in every Thunder game, World B. Free sits up on his couch and says of Westbrook, "How could he take that shot?")  With Harden gone, all any OKC coach can do is roll the ball out and hope that Westbrook has a good night.

In Game One against San Antonio -- the first real game the Thunder have needed to win all year -- OKC put on a classic display.  Durant outscored Westbrook, 16 to 14.  But Westbrook won the game he was playing, because he took more shots than Durant (19 to 15).Here was Westbrook's final line:

5-16 from 2-point range
0-3 from 3-point range
4-4 from the line
14 points and 9 assists.

Not surprisingly, the Thunder were crushed.  The final score was 124-92, and it wasn't that close.  The Spurs led 43-20 after the first quarter, and 73-40 at the half.  I've seen Kentucky have some really great teams, and I've seen them play some really putrid teams, and I'm not sure UK has ever scored 73 points in only 16 minutes.  So you can tell that the Thunder really came to play.  They'll try harder in Game Two.  But Westbrook is gonna Westbrook, and that style just doesn't work against good teams.

I hope Donovan and his family are having a good time in Oklahoma, and when he returns to the college ranks, I hope he doesn't go to a team I hate.  But what a waste of good coaching talent.


  1. It should be noted that Memphis essentially had no players not on injured reserve when they played San Antonio.

  2. Every time I saw something about the first round of the playoffs, it was about somebody getting hurt or James Harden not playing defense.

  3. Here at the HP, we give credit where credit is due. Last night, in San Antonio, Russell Westbrook again took more shots than Durant -- 25 to 19. But this time he went 10-19 from 2-point range, 1-6 from 3-point range, 6-8 from the line, and finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Durant chipped in 28 points of his own, and the Thunder beat San Antonio 98 to 97. So that series is all tied going back to OKC.