Breakfast Special: How the West Was Won

Don’t look now, but the Western Conference has a first-place tie again, all while the battle at the bottom of the bracket has intensified to the point where every possible combination between the Warriors, Nuggets, and Rockets at one end and…well, everyone else at the other end…is in play for the first round of the playoffs. Along the same lines, the eighth-place Clippers, at 41-30, are on pace for a 47 or 48 win season. If Sacramento wins out, they’ll go 47-35. It’s all over but the seeding, and speaking of that… A Playoff Game 3 in the Regular Season …

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Breakfast Special: A Thunderous Collapse in Indianapolis

Ave Sabonis, we who are about to highlight film salute you. As the Ides of March dawn, the Indiana Pacers, far from being four games into an 11-game losing streak like your reverse-jinxing columnist predicted Tuesday, have now won two big games at home to get to 44-25, retain their hold on third place in the Eastern Conference, and give their fans…optimism (?!) heading into a monstrous Western swing on the road. Russell Westbrook got his triple-double, of course, scoring 19 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and dishing 11 assists. Paul George, in his old building against his old team (such …

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How Do Fringe NBA Teams Make the Playoffs?

It’s a maxim in the NBA that your typical 8 seed gets into the playoffs by taking care of business against bad teams and then winning just enough against other teams in their neighborhood to get a little separation when the wins are counted after 82 games. And sure, because it’s a long season, there will be some surprising wins in there, beating Houston or Golden State on the road, and there will be some cringeworthy losses, dropping a game to a tanking team at home, but for the most part, you get to that 42-win range (East) or 48-win …

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Breakfast Special: Achtung Panzer!

The New York Knicks just played the most important game of their season, a showdown in Phoenix with the future of the franchise at stake. And the Knicks gloriously lost the game 107-96, getting out on the dance floor to do the Prokhorovka Shuffle and pull a game and a half ahead of the Suns for last place in the NBA; the Knicks are 13-52 against the Suns’ 15-51. Great work, New York. Devin Booker, a guy who exists in a weird vacuum where he puts up All-Star scoring numbers and does absolutely nothing beyond that to help his team …

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Breakfast Special: Brad Stevens on the Hot Seat

It’s full on Panic Time in Boston, as the Celtics got destroyed on the road by the Toronto Raptors 118-95. The chemistry is breaking down between the Celtics players, Kyrie Irving looks miserable in a Boston uniform, the fans are starting to call for the head of coach Brad Stevens (yes, this is because fans in general tend to be idiots, but Brad Freaking Stevens? If you don’t want him, Pacers fans would ditch Nate McMillan for him in a heartbeat)…and oh by the way, the actual basketball team just got destroyed by a potential second-round playoff opponent. Zach Lowe …

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Breakfast Special: Better Than the Oscars

If the Academy Awards taught us anything last night, it’s that there’s nothing Hollywood loves more than performative wokeness in the service of its own racism. But this is a basketball column, so I’m not going to rant about “Green Book” winning Best Picture, instead choosing to rant about the NBA sticking us with three games that were anything but Oscar bait. But on the other hand… The Knicks Are an Ed Wood Jr. Movie New York beat San Antonio because they can’t even tank right (or San Antonio is a disaster on the road, take your pick.) Earlier this …

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Breakfast Special: Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

The saying goes that “when it rains, it pours”, and one piece of bad news has a nasty habit of spiraling into a cavalcade of horrors, all hope for the future seeming to evaporate in one blow. And if you thought Nate McMillan‘s offense in Indiana was bad before, getting thumped 107-89 in Washington ought to show you just how much any sign of life in that ill-designed Dark Ages system was purely the doing of Victor Oladipo. Without Vic, the Pacers have looked utterly lost trying to score the basketball, and even though the defense isn’t a complete disaster …

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Breakfast Special: P Is For Powerless

Some days, you watch basketball and wonder if perhaps your time wouldn’t be better taken up by just changing hobbies. Like becoming a grizzly bear wrangler. Or an “experience collector” in North Korean labor camps. OK, so life isn’t THAT bad for Pacers fans, not when if you really want to experience the frozen wastes of Jotunheim in this mortal life, you need only step outside in Indianapolis this morning. But without Victor Oladipo, and with Myles Turner still not quite wholly sure how to be the focal point of an offense while maintaining his defensive intensity, and with Tyreke …

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Breakfast Special: LaMarcus Chamberlain

The San Antonio Spurs, using the three-pointer like a sniper rifle, made 16 such baskets on only 19 tries, an 84.2 percent clip. They shot 56.6 percent from the field overall. Made 56 field goals in the game. Scored 130 points in regulation. Even shot 89.7 percent from the free throw line. And LaMarcus Aldridge scored 56 (!) points on 20-of-33 shooting without even so much as attempting a three like he was latter-day Wilt Chamberlain. And yet somehow the Oklahoma City Thunder forced them to play 10 extra minutes of basketball before finally falling against the overwhelming assault of …

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Breakfast Special: Down With 34-Minute Basketball Games

Indiana Pacers fans were uncomfortably reminded of the bad old days Tuesday night, as a 26-point lead nearly evaporated against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, before the Pacers—the last team Cleveland beat before the Cavs’ current 10-game losing streak—avoided bookending the streak in question and finished off the 123-115 win. And the Pacers defense was so hideous that it only serves to remind us all why Myles Turner deserves to be Defensive Player of the Year; the team is a completely different squad without him anchoring the defense and protecting the rim. All due respect to Domantas Sabonis, who is a …

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