Magic’s Bridesmaids: The 1983 San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs have, in recent years, been awful—they are on their way to their fourth straight losing season, and their fourth time missing the playoffs in as many years. This is a franchise that until 2021 had never missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons. One of the most successful franchises in the history of the post-merger league has become a joke. Even before the legendary run of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, the Spurs made it to the Western Conference Finals in back-to-back years in 1982 and ’83. Both times, they got eaten for lunch by …

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Magic’s Bridesmaids: The 1982 San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs have had tremendous success as a franchise. Besides the legendary run of Tim Duncan, the Spurs have always been among the class of the league ever since coming over from the ABA. But like every other team that wasn’t the Lakers or Rockets in the 1980s, San Antonio never sniffed the NBA Finals. They fell short twice in consecutive years in 1982 and ’83 in the Western Conference Finals. So let’s take a look at those teams and see how they were similar…and different. Could they have beaten the Sixers in either of those years? We’ll …

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Magic’s Bridesmaids: The 1980 Seattle SuperSonics

Over the next three weekends, we’re going to take a look at all eight victims of Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers as the team from Tinseltown made eight NBA Finals and won five championships, starting with the 1980 Seattle SuperSonics. After all, the 1970s were so wide open that the West sent six different teams to the Finals between 1973 and 1978, and the 1990s were similarly up in the air as Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls defeated five different opponents to get their six rings and another two teams came out of the West to play …

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Coming Soon: The 1980s Western Conference Bridesmaids

Been watching a lot of Hardwood Classics recently, and it got me thinking of what happened to all those Western Conference Finals teams that Magic Johnson and the Lakers beat on their way to eight NBA Finals between 1980 and 1989. The only team to best Magic and friends in the entire decade was the ’86 Rockets. Michael Jordan and the Bulls faced five different Finals opponents for their six championships because after 1991, Magic was no longer there to serve as gatekeeper. What if the ’80s had been that wide open? Who would Larry Bird and Julius Erving and …

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Cultural Alienation and NBA Fan Ennui

I love the sport of basketball, from shooting around at the playground to watching the greats of the NBA do their thing on national television—or, better still, on local television in Indianapolis that I happen to watch in Seattle thanks to League Pass. I abhor celebrity culture, gossip, and the parts of sports that are collectively known as “off-the-field issues.” I detest ESPN’s chattering pundit shows, and whenever someone on their NBA coverage veers off into something not related to what’s going on on the court, I tend to mute the sound. I’m also a history buff and a stat …

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Worst Defenses to Win an NBA Championship

Before the Boston Celtics put the spurs to the Brooklyn Nets and beat them 103-92 on Sunday, Boston stood 22nd in the NBA in Defensive Rating. The thing is, the Celtics still stood at 18-5 (they’re 20-5 now as this goes to press) thanks to the greatest offense in the history of the league if the season ended today. This got me wondering. Which team posted the worst defense relative to the rest of the league while still managing to win an NBA title? A simple enough bit of analysis. And because this is Pace and Space, let’s take it …

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2023 Boston Celtics: Who Needs Defense?

If there was any doubt in the NBA that offense has become far more valuable than defense, the Boston Celtics stand as the poster children for that belief. They’re first in the league with a you-gotta-be-kidding-me 121.6 Offensive Rating. Their Defensive Rating stands below league average, 17th at 113.1. But who cares if your defense is mediocre if you’ve got an 8.5 Net Rating and a 17-4 record, both best in the league? And who cares about defense when you’ve topped the previous record for offensive efficiency by over three points per 100 possessions? Let’s have a look inside both …

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Are the 10-6 Indiana Pacers For Real?

The 2022 Indiana Pacers were a legitimate disaster, their 25-57 record the worst the franchise had posted since 1985. Through games of November 21, the 2023 Pacers stand 10-6, fourth in the East, on pace to win 51 games and storm back into the playoffs after a two-year absence. What’s more, this has been a redemption of sorts for coach Rick Carlisle. Carlisle faced accusations that maybe he just didn’t have “it” as an NBA coach anymore. After all, Carlisle’s teams in Dallas hadn’t won a playoff series since winning the title in 2011. Dallas missed the playoffs four times. …

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The 2023 Portland Trail Blazers: Overrated?

Through games of November 11, the Portland Trail Blazers are 9-3, second in the Western Conference behind only the 10-3 Utah Jazz. They’ve beaten the 8-4 Phoenix Suns twice. The team has the fifth-best defense in the league powering their early surge. But on the other hand, the Washington Wizards started last year 10-3 and fell off a cliff. Washington, whose advanced stats didn’t present as a 10-3 team, ended up dropping all the way to 35-47 and landed 12th in the East. Portland’s advanced stats look awfully similar at this point in the season. So are they headed off …

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The Broken Nets Are Back in 2023

The Broken Nets…er, Brooklyn Nets…are well on their way to barfing out another Dumpster fire of a season. At 3-6, no matter what that 128-86 demolition of the Washington Wizards may try and tell you, they’re cooked. Kyrie Irving is suspended indefinitely for graduating from Idiot School summa cum laude. Ben Simmons continues to fear 3-pointers the way small children fear monsters under the bed. And while Kevin Durant is off to a fantastic start (32.0 ppg, .522 FG%, .196 WS/48), you know he’s going to get hurt again. It’s just a question of when and what body part. The …

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