Giannis Has a Title. Can He Be the GOAT?

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals, winning the Greek Freak his first championship in his eighth season in the league. It took Michael Jordan seven years in the NBA to become a champion. LeBron James got his first ring in his ninth year. With the 5-time All-Star, 5-time All-NBA, 4-time All-Defensive (including Defensive Player of the Year in 2020), 2-time MVP already in possession of a fringe Hall of Fame case even if he never plays another NBA game, he’s added a ring to that list of accolades. But let’s speculate …

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NBA Playoffs: How Often Do Home Teams Win All 7 Games?

Last week, we took a look at how often teams win the series when they draw first blood on the road. Favorites, as in “the team that gets Game 1 and, if necessary, Game 7 at home”, almost always win—if it hadn’t been for Golden State in 2016, that record would be flawless going back to at least 1991. Underdogs only win 41.2 percent of the time (again, since 1991), but since they only get three home games, they’re up against the wall from the moment Game 1 tips off. Last night (July 17), the Milwaukee Bucks won Game 5 …

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NBA Finals Don’t Start ’til the Road Team Wins, Tested (Part 2)

In Part 1 yesterday, we looked at the NBA Finals from 1991 to 2005 to determine what happens to a series when the road team wins a game and breaks serve. Because with the Milwaukee Bucks, as of this writing, down 2-0 in the 2021 Finals and headed back to Milwaukee on Sunday night, we know they’re going to have to beat the Phoenix Suns on the road at some point, but if they hold serve at home and win Game 5 back in Phoenix, what will it do to their overall chance to win the series? For the first …

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NBA Finals Don’t Start ’til the Road Team Wins, Tested (Part 1)

The Phoenix Suns held serve at home to win the first two games of the 2021 NBA Finals, but if the Milwaukee Bucks are able to do the same, we’ll be looking in a week or so at a tied series, 2-2, with what will basically become a best-of-three for all the marbles. On the other hand, if the Suns win one out of two, then the complexion of Game 5 changes completely, with the home team poised to win it all on their own floor and with the consequences of a loss far reduced as they’ll still have a …

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The Great Portland Trail Blazers Postmortem 2021

The Portland Trail Blazers have been an object of fascination for this here site ever since they got off to a spectacular 28-18 start despite at that point in the season having a negative Net Rating from having gotten their butts kicked by 20 points or more on seven separate occasions while having just two wins of that margin to their name. They seemed to spit in the face of the logic that great teams win big and lose close, and at the time I predicted that it would come back to bite them hard in the playoffs. And sure …

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In Search of the WNBA Goat Part 3: The Winner!

Welcome, the small and dedicated subset of you who care about my thoughts about women’s basketball. When last we left off, we’d narrowed down the WNBA GOAT debate to two names, one with an impressive advanced stat profile across a long career, the other the face of a championship franchise without a men’s team to divide the city’s attention. The former is Tamika Catchings, longtime Indiana Fever stalwart and 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. The latter is Lauren Jackson, who if nothing else has on lock the greatest-of-all-time moniker in her native Australia. Let’s put them together for a …

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In Search of the WNBA GOAT (Part 2: WS/40)

Trying to rank the greatest men in NBA history by Win Shares produces an interesting magic number of sorts. Every NBA player who has at least 125 career Win Shares is either in the Hall of Fame already or will be once he is eligible—the list of those latter guys includes LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, Pau Gasol, James Harden, Dwight Howard, and Vince Carter. Nobody in WNBA history has 125 career Win Shares. The seasons are only 34 games long, after all, but there’s still a Mendoza Line of sorts. If we assume that Diana Taurasi …

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In Search of the WNBA GOAT (Part 1: Rings and Counting Stats)

The men’s NBA has a pretty well-settled debate on who its true greatest of the great are, the players who go beyond the Hall of Fame and onto discussions of a would-be Mount Rushmore. If you’re the type to count rings, Bill Russell is (and will quite possibly always be) the greatest. Nobody is ever winning 11 championships again. Even LeBron James reaching Russell’s 12 career NBA Finals will be tainted by “Russell went 11-1 and James went (if he wins them all from here out) however many-and-6.” If you want to deal in counting stats, until someone scores their …

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1992: The Glorious Apex of Horace Grant

There have, at points in NBA history, been seasons where a good-but-not-great player came out of absolute nowhere to reach such lofty heights that, when they regressed back to their natural talent level, lapsed into history as one of those seasons that becomes a gee-whiz moment like “wait, he did WHAT?” Josh Smith did it in 2010, finishing fourth in the league in VORP in the only season he hit more than half of his shots before shooting his way out of the NBA entirely. Brandon Roy did it a year before—he was always very good during his brief but …

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Russell Westbrook Keeps Breaking Advanced Stats

Remember 2017? When Russell Westbrook snookered everyone into thinking he was historically great by averaging a triple-double over the course of a season for the first time since Oscar Robertson did it 55 years before? And remember when those of us in the media lost our minds and gave him the MVP award? Well, he’s spent the past four years making us all look like idiots, and in 2021, he is once again averaging a triple-double—this will be the fourth time in his career he’s managed the feat if he keeps it up—and making the kind of people who still …

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