The NBA Play-In Games Were Pointless And Dumb

LeBron James, talking about the play-in tournament that his Lakers were unable to avoid as a result of tiebreakers in their three-way tie for fifth place in the Western Conference, said “whoever thought of it should be fired.” For the Lakers, this made sense, because in any normal season where the top eight teams simply get into the playoffs, James and Anthony Davis could’ve been shut down for the regular season, and if the Lakers finished seventh, so what? They’d still be in the playoffs with no concern. As it stood, they had to make a stretch run to stay …

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The COVID Vaccine and the NBA Feeling Like Itself Again

As this goes to press, my arm hurts like hell at the injection site where I got my second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine a couple of days ago. I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been hit by a car; that was apparently what the great random number generator that powers the universe rolled on the dice for me. But as I shook it off, I read a report in the New York Times that suggested that the US Centers for Disease Control is finally coming around to the idea that fully vaccinated people are safer than …

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1992: The Worst NBA All-Star Game

The sharp and complete transition between two eras in the NBA doesn’t happen often, and when it does, it’s downright jarring, like a major geopolitical shift after a war rather than a passing of the torch where the next generation asserts itself as the older generation declines. I don’t mean something like Michael Jordan‘s retirement in 1998 either. That was not ultimately an instant sea change. It was if you’re a Bulls fan, but legends drafted in the mid-80s still had their rivalries going—the Pacers and Knicks in the East, the Jazz, Rockets, Spurs, Trail Blazers, and Suns in the …

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The Greatest NBA Players Not in the Hall of Fame

There are currently 34 players in NBA history with at least 100 Win Shares who are not in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Of those, nine—in descending order, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook—are still active. It’s probably safe to say all nine will eventually end up in the Hall after they retire, and five (James, Paul, Durant, Harden, and Curry) are absolute locks to go in on the first ballot. Another eight—Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Vince Carter, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tyson Chandler, and …

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A Wild 2021 Finish Brews in the Western Conference

Through games of May 2, the Western Conference features a three-way tie at 36-28 for the 5 seed with just eight games to go in the regular season. And as alluded to in last week’s “6 is the New 8”, this is a fantastic year to have such a three-car pileup on the NBA standings highway. Most of the time, when you get a tie across a bunch of mid-seeds, it’s just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as all that hangs in the balance is who gets to host whom in what ultimately meaningless Game 1 of a …

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6 is the New 8: The Fight To Avoid the NBA 2021 Play-In Games

As this article goes to press on the evening of April 29, the NBA has on its hands a fascinating look into the wisdom of choosing a four-team play-in tournament to decide the final two playoff spots in this truncated 72-game season. In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat are tied for the sixth spot at 33-30. In the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks hold a half-game lead, 34-27 vs. 34-28, over the Portland Trail Blazers. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal; the big race would be 8 vs. 9 to determine who gets to either …

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Portland’s Painful Regression Has Begun

See? I told you so. A few weeks back (April 6, to be exact), I pointed out that the Portland Trail Blazers had a won-lost record that seemed not at all to correlate with the points scored and allowed in their actual games. They were a slightly sub-.500 team posting wins like a squad that wins 50 games in a normal 82-game season. Since I said that (early enough in the day that they hadn’t yet played the Los Angeles Clippers that night), Portland is 2-8. And what’s more, four of those losses, including the last three in a row, …

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16 Games Without LeBron, What’s Up with the Lakers?

When LeBron James went down with an ankle injury that could cause him to miss the rest of the regular season as the Los Angeles Lakers save him for the playoffs, and with Anthony Davis still out and having not played since February 14, Lakers fans had every reason to panic despite standing at 28-13 at the time of LeBron’s injury. Since then, including the loss to the Atlanta Hawks that was the end result of the game in which LeBron got hurt, the Lakers are 7-9, having played .500 ball over their last 10 games in which every loss …

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Time to Freak Out, Lakers Fans

When the Los Angeles Lakers lost Anthony Davis to an injury earlier this season, there was no cause to panic. They could bring him back fairly slowly, saving his health for the playoffs, because as long as they had LeBron James and a healthy Dennis Schroder, there was enough firepower to tread water in a crowded Western Conference. But now, with LeBron out for the next 3-5 weeks with an ankle injury and questions swirling about the 36-year-old’s durability in his 18th year in the league? Questions largely complicated by the fact of LeBron’s odometer showing 1,566 regular-season and playoff …

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The Greatest Dynasties in NBA History

In celebration of their new sponsorship deal with the NBA, Mondelez International, makers of delicious junk food, decided to launch a line of Oreo cookies celebrating the NBA’s great dynasties. Featured on the cookies will be the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, the Golden State Warriors, and…the Miami Heat. Excuse me, what? A Miami team that won just two titles in four years while being broadly regarded as responsible for the only two of LeBron James‘ six Finals losses that could be legitimately said to tarnish the legacy of a guy who otherwise has a claim …

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