2022 Playoffs: Too Many Series, Not Enough Drama

Between having a full-time job with one heck of a commute between the city and the suburbs, living on the West Coast, and having had my evenings occupied with getting my new apartment set up the way I like it, I have generally been too busy to watch many games this past week. But checking in with ESPN and Basketball Reference and committing that cardinal sin of the writer of letting the box score do the job of actually watching the games, I can’t help but think I haven’t missed anything important. Sure, Minnesota’s giving Memphis all they wanted in …

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The Boston Celtics’ “Only Very Good” Problem

The Boston Celtics, by virtue of having won a convoluted three-way tiebreaker, took the 2 seed in the 2022 Eastern Conference. If they can get past the 7-seed Brooklyn Nets and the winner of the 3-seed Milwaukee Bucks and 6-seed Chicago Bulls in the second round, it will be Boston’s fourth appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals in the past six seasons stretching back to 2017. The problem is that Boston hasn’t broken through and gone to the NBA Finals since 2010. And for a franchise whose 17 championships stand tied with the rival Los Angeles Lakers for the most …

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5 Ways to Fix the Broken NBA Playoffs

The NBA playoffs are nearly upon us, and with them come a couple of games guaranteed to involve a team that posted a losing record (the two West play-in game teams, plus the Clippers if they lose their last two; they’re 40-40 at this writing.) The play-in games are pointless, and if the 34-46 Spurs lose their last two regular-season games and somehow turn it around in the play-in tournament, that 34-48 record will be the worst record by a playoff team since the 1988 Spurs got in after going 31-51. On the other hand, the East is showing why …

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With the #LOLakers Dead, What’s LeBron Got Left?

LeBron James is, at this point, playing purely for his legacy, putting any finishing touches he can on his GOAT argument before age catches up with him for good and sends him into retirement. Bron’s got four rings, including a ring in Cleveland in 2016 that came for his hometown against a team that went 73-9 in the regular season and had a 3-1 lead in the Finals. He’s got a “career triple double”, having notched his 10,000th rebound and 10,000th assist during this 2021-22 season to put the finishing touches on an accomplishment that no other player in NBA …

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The Annual Anti-Play-In Games Rant

If ever there were a concept in sports that bore repeating until the sun burned out its supply of hydrogen and the Earth burned up in the corona of a red giant star enveloping it in five or ten or however many billion years the solar system has left, it is this: The NBA Play-In Tournament is STUPID with a capital stupid. You could make the argument that the Eastern Conference at least hasn’t made a complete garbage fire out of it this year, as the 10th-place Atlanta Hawks stand 37-37, making all four play-in teams at least over .500. …

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The Phoenix Suns: Runaway 2022 Favorites

Since taking a 23-point loss at the hands of the Miami Heat to drop to 30-9 on January 8, the Phoenix Suns are 27-5, carrying a 57-14 record into the last 11 games of the season. Indeed, the Suns are so far ahead of the rest of the NBA field that their magic number is just three to clinch home court throughout the Finals. Memphis, at 48-23, and Golden State, at 47-23, are the only ones who can catch them in the West, and Miami, at 47-24, is the only team mathematically alive in the East to get a Game …

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When “3s And Layups” Goes Wrong

Critics of NBA aesthetics often say that the league has degenerated into a dumbed-down version of basketball where the only thing that matter are “3s and Layups”. And to a degree, they’re right—add in free throws to the mix and you’ve got the essentials of efficient basketball, which can be statistically measured and which have time and again borne out that those elements are the best way to score points. And since you can’t win if you don’t score more points than your opponent (duh), it stands to reason you want to maximize your efficiency. Granted, the critics of aesthetics …

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At 28-34, Washington Wizards Still Overachieving

How bad are the 2022 Washington Wizards? A team that started 10-3 is 18-31 since then, including a Friday night loss to the Atlanta Hawks that was a must-win for Washington if they hoped to remain in shouting distance of the bottom end of the play-in game race in the East. Their Net Rating of minus-2.8 on the season is seventh-worst in the league, and on paper they’re actually worse than the New York Knicks (25-38) and Indiana Pacers (22-43) below them. That’s right. The Wizards, at one point in November the Eastern Conference’s top seed, is even at 28-34 …

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The Worst-Ever NBA Playoff Teams

Not long ago, I was on YouTube watching footage of Michael Jordan‘s legendary 63-point outburst in Game 2 of the 1986 first round, a game his Chicago Bulls lost to the Boston Celtics 135-131 in double overtime on their way to a sweep. That Bulls team, at 30-52 on the regular season, made the playoffs because there were only 11 teams in the Eastern Conference and three of them—29-53 Cleveland, 26-56 Indiana, and 23-59 New York—managed to be even more utterly putrescent than a Bulls team referred to as “a bunch of coke fiends” in ESPN’s 2020 smash hit documentary …

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The NBA Dunk Contest Is Obsolete

I am, by the standards of NBA fans, an old man. Even though I’m just 44, basketball’s demographic has always skewed more toward the Millennials, Zoomers, and whatever they’re going to call the generation that’s already started but who are going to be defined by being too young to have watched LeBron James play basketball—or if they do remember him, they’ll remember him the way kids born in the mid-’90s remember Michael Jordan, as “that old guy on the Wizards who used to be good.” Unlike baseball, where being a 44-year-old MLB fan makes you a kid by that league’s …

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