Breakfast Special: Stephen Curry, Playoff Choker

Kevin Durant has scored 45 points or more in three of the Warriors’ nine playoff games so far. The Warriors are 1-2 in those games. First it was the Los Angeles Clippers beating the Warriors despite Durant’s 45 in Game 5 of the first round. And Saturday night, it was the Houston Rockets either winning the obligatory Game 3 on their way to losing in 5 or winning the game that keeps this all about home court and stands as a milepost where the series will be won in Game 5 when one team goes up 3-2 and either closes …

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Breakfast Special: NBA Up! All Night

The Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers played 68 minutes of basketball in Game 3, and when Portland won 140-137 on a late three-pointer in the fourth overtime by Rodney Hood, you had to get the feeling that the Nuggets’ fate—Portland in six—was sealed. This is doubly true when you consider that Nikola Jokic played 65 minutes—the second-most in a playoff game and third-most overall, and the longest time logged in a playoff contest since 1953 (Bob Cousy, 66 minutes against Syracuse)—while scoring 33 points, hauling down 18 rebounds, dishing 14 assists…and seeing his team lose. Enes Kanter‘s sore shoulder …

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Breakfast Special: Philly In-Six-Ers

One of the most fun parts (in that Nelson Muntz kind of way) of being a basketball journalist is watching the Hot Take Machine fire up during the first two games of a series, where a team that is excellent at home by virtue of being a top-two seed either holds serve and establishes nothing besides “this series might go 7” or loses one and opens up “road team in 6” talk (see headline.) There is absolutely nothing meaningful to be gleaned from a series until at least Game 3, when a combination of optics and stats tell us what …

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Breakfast Special: Portland’s Rocky Mountain High

The series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game, and by that metric, Game 2 just marked the start of the Blazers-Nuggets series. Portland won 97-90 in an ugly ballgame that was as close as it was only because the Blazers couldn’t grab a defensive rebound to save their lives. Denver shot 34.7 percent (34-of-98) from the field but grabbed 23 offensive rebounds against 40 Portland defensive rebounds (36.5 percent of the total in a league where the average is closer to 22 or 23 percent). Even with that, and even with just nine turnovers, Denver lost anyway, …

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How Much Do High-Volume, Low-Efficiency Shooters Hurt NBA Teams?

In the NBA, there’s a certain class of scorer who puts up monumental counting stats but isn’t actually any good. You know the type. The guy who scores 30 points on 30 shots while his team loses by 20. The guy who’s as likely to shoot you out of a game as into it—as Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard once said of Lance Stephenson, “some nights he was the best player on our team and other nights he was the best player on the other team.” Guys like Josh Smith, Allen Iverson, and Jerry Stackhouse in the old days and guys …

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Breakfast Special: Referees 115, Rockets 109

Jonathan Coulton famously sang that the first of May is the beginning of the season of having sex outdoors, but on April 30, the only screwing going on was happening inside Oracle Arena and involved Scott Foster going to the window, to the walls on the Houston Rockets. James Harden had 29 points on 9-of-19 shooting and shot 8-of-9 from the free throw line, but he also had four fouls, never quite looked completely in rhythm, and ended up carrying a minus-9 accumulated in the first quarter all the way through his 34 minutes of action in the game as …

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Breakfast Special: Attack of the Killer Jokic

The NBA Playoffs has seen a lot of Dark Ages garbage ball in the East and a lot of vintage Showtime in the West, a sign of the gulf in quality of play between basketball in the early games as opposed to the ones worth staying up late for. This was on display once again Monday night, as the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 121-113 in the Game 1 West nightcap after a stinker of a game that saw the Philadelphia 76ers level their series with the Toronto Raptors by winning Game 2 94-89. We begin with the …

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Do Triple-Doubles Lead to NBA Wins?

Earlier in the season, we looked at the strange tendency for 50-point games to come in losses and put forth some thoughts related to whether individual stat-chasing might ultimately hurt team basketball. But nobody’s arguing that players should put the ball in the basket less. If scoring 50 points is what it takes to get the win, just ask the Golden State Warriors how Game 6 went against the Clippers when Kevin Durant did it. But the triple-double, that’s thornier territory. After all, if triple-doubles were the biggest contributing factor to wins, Russell Westbrook would have so many NBA Finals …

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Breakfast Special: Refs 1, James Harden 0

The NBA didn’t need another refereeing controversy, but when a seemingly pulled-out-of-a-hat set of calls involving Klay Thompson‘s defense on James Harden cast doubt on the validity of a 104-100 Warriors win, that’s exactly what the NBA got. Let’s start with a highlight… THAT IS A FOUL. IM DONE. pic.twitter.com/K7oxB0A6zt — UniquESports+ Featured (@SportsProvlder) April 28, 2019 …and then leave it to Twitter to correctly point out that if this is a foul, it’s an offensive foul on Harden, not a defensive foul on Draymond Green: Lmao you’re right actually. A foul on James Harden for jumping straight up but …

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Breakfast Special: The Worst Game 7 I’ve Ever Seen

The first round of the NBA playoffs was so top-to-bottom terrible that in the process it made a fine argument for just reducing the number of teams in the playoffs from 16 to 8 and proceeding directly to the conference semifinals. Heck, I’m a Pacers fan and even I would be perfectly OK with those eight teams being conference-agnostic—Milwaukee-Utah, Toronto-Philadelphia, Golden State-Portland, and Denver-Houston would’ve been your four first-round matchups in that case. The four top East seeds went 16-2. The Blazers and Rockets won their series in 5, the Warriors needed 6 only because they seemed so hell bent …

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