NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part I: Atlantic Division

We have talked extensively on the subject of Wiggins Factor, a formula designed to relate NBA salary to Win Shares on a per-minute basis and determine which players provide the most bang for the buck in terms of powering good teams to titles…or, by contrast, the players who are such a waste of money that every minute they’re on the floor all they do is bring your team closer to the draft lottery. But now it’s time to pull all the data together from across the league and give all those raw numbers some context. Over the next six days, …

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The Toronto Raptors Are Headed for a Historic Dropoff

Kawhi Leonard finally made his free agency decision, and he’ll be teaming up with Paul George on the Microsoft Clippys…er, Los Angeles Clippers, looking to become the kings of Staples Center in a rivalry with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Leonard’s former Spurs and Raptors teammate Danny Green. Meanwhile, the Raptors have a dinosaur mascot, an aging Kyle Lowry, and a slammed-shut championship window that followed the greatest one-season free agent rental in NBA history. It stands to reason that the Raptors aren’t going to come anywhere close to the lofty heights they achieved in 2018-19. The Milwaukee Bucks have …

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Breakfast Special: Golden State Bluesmobile

The Golden State Warriors always prided themselves on “strength in numbers”, but the only numbers anyone’s counting in Oakland as the team prepares to depart across the Bay next season are the ones on the potential lost free agent contracts for Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Durant suffered what history says will be a career-ending injury to his Achilles in Game 5, while Thompson, after scoring 30 points, collapsed in a literal sense down the stretch when his ACL finally said “no mas” in his left knee. Although, to Klay’s credit, holy crap: Klay walking back onto the court WITH …

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Breakfast Special: 12 Minutes of Kevin Durant

I am, in my heart of hearts, a deeply religious man. I believe in the gods, and I believe that the gods are the arbiters of probability, the referees who decide whether Schrodinger’s Cat lives or dies, and in their various guises made manifest at sporting events. And not in the performative Christianity “thank God for this championship” sort of way. Just once I’d like to hear a player on the losing side say “well, we’d have won, but you heard the other team. God wanted them to win, clearly.” No, I’m talking about the kind of divine intervention that …

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Breakfast Special: Will the Raptors Blow a 3-1 Lead?

The Golden State Warriors finally failed to hit 109 points in a Finals game, a score they’d posted like clockwork in each of the first three games of this championship series despite losing two of them. Too bad for them, because 109 would’ve been enough to win this one. As it stands they lost 105-92 to the Toronto Raptors and look an awful lot like a team that’s going to be forced to surrender when the battle shifts back to Canada for Game 5. In some small way, this is validation for Kevin Durant. Stephen Curry looked completely spent in …

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Breakfast Special: Now Steph Knows How LeBron Feels

Granted, Shaun Livingston is not J.R. Smith, but for Stephen Curry, his 47-point, 14-of-31 shooting, 6-of-14 from three and 13-of-14 from the line, eight-rebound, seven-assist gem of a game, one of the greatest performances in defeat in NBA Finals history, was wasted in a listless 123-109 loss in Game 3 as the Toronto Raptors grabbed back home-court advantage. Not since LeBron James‘ 51-point, 8-rebound, 8-assist performance last year, which was ruined when Smith lost track of the clock and launched a thousand Internet memes has one player done so much with his teammates just standing around watching. Although on the …

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Breakfast Special: Until the Road Team Wins a Game

The Golden State Warriors scored 109 points in each of the first two games of the NBA Finals. Trouble for Toronto came when they scored 118 in the first game and just 104 in the second, leaving the series tied at 1, home court advantage for now having evaporated, and the series on its way back to Oakland for Games 3 and 4 as the Dubs send off Oracle Arena in potential in-six championship fashion before heading into the new fancy digs in San Francisco next season. Game 2 was made possible by one of Golden State’s patented third quarters, …

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Breakfast Special: Marc Gasol Makes Me Look Dumb

At what point are we going to stop ragging on Nick Nurse as an NBA head coach? Nurse has guided the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA Finals in franchise history and his team executed a masterful game plan against the Golden State Warriors in order to take Game 1 at home—while we’re on the subject, for that matter, Nurse had such a great regular season coaching the team that his squad got to host Game 1 of the NBA Finals!—and the Raptors won 118-109 to take a 1-0 series lead. Now, let’s try not to over-react here; the home …

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Breakfast Special: Bucks Die by the Sword in Toronto

Rigidity of doctrine, no matter where it crops up, is a killer. It’s how once-prosperous businesses fail, it’s how politics stagnates into nations and empires in decline, and it’s how armies lose wars before the first shot is fired. For Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, his rigidity of doctrine in terms of his offense and his commitment to minutes and rotations got him completely outcoached by Nick Nurse (!) as the Toronto Raptors beat Milwaukee 100-94 in Game 6 and won the series four games to two after dropping the first two games on the road in Milwaukee and looking …

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Breakfast Special: Fred VanVleet Comes Back from the Dead

Earlier in the Eastern Conference Finals, when the Milwaukee Bucks won the first two games and nearly ended up going up 3-0 on the road in Toronto, Fred VanVleet was so utterly awful that Raptors fans were ready to throw him off the CN Tower and openly questioned coach Nick Nurse on social media about his usage of the embattled guard. Well…fast forward to Game 5, where the Raptors, after winning Game 3 in overtime and taking Game 4 easily at home, traveled to Milwaukee and busted this series wide open, going up 3-2 with a 105-99 win that sends …

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