Kevin Durant, Stephen A. Smith, and Eleanor Roosevelt

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt Kevin Durant and Stephen A. Smith got into a beef on Twitter last week over the former accusing the latter of ruining the NBA while the latter complained that the league’s shift toward marketing personalities—Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and every other star great and small—in the 1990s set the league up for its issues in the past couple of years where TV ratings fell off a cliff in as much time as it took LeBron’s Lakers to collapse. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics, a team that …

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The Importance of NBA Game 6 to Winning Game 7 (Part 2)

Yesterday, we took a look at every series that has gone seven games in the NBA playoffs since the league went to a best-of-seven format in 2003, trying to find a pattern in how winning Game 6 to stave off elimination worked out for the team that ultimately forced the Game 7. In 29 such series between 2003 and 2012, the team that had Game 7 at home won it 22 times, so that’s the most important factor of all; having that winner-take-all game on your own floor is the strongest determinant of whether you’re going to win it. Curiously, …

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The Importance of NBA Game 6 to Winning Game 7 (Part 1)

There are going to be two Game 7s played in the second round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. In one, we have the chance to see the home team run the table for just the sixth time since 2003, as the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have each won all three of their games at home, including a win by the Mavericks to force a Game 7 on the road. In the other, the Boston Celtics survived an elimination Game 6 in Milwaukee and now get to come home to Boston to try and win a Game 7 in a …

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Does the NBA Team That Wins Game 3 Win the Series? (Part 2)

Yesterday, we took a look at every series that went back to the underdog’s home arena tied 1-1 in order to determine whether Game 3 would, functionally, ultimately decide the series. What we mostly learned is that having home court advantage in the playoffs is so overpowering that even losing a game on their home floor doesn’t often stop the favorite. When the underdog wins Game 3 at home, they’re still only 6-11 when it comes to winning the actual series, a 29-53 pace over an 82-game season. When they lose? Only one team, the 2016 Thunder in their second-round …

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Does the NBA Team That Wins Game 3 Win the Series? (Part 1)

When the road team steals home-court advantage in the first two games of an NBA playoff series, they are too often undone by losing Game 3 on their home floor. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because you’ve probably read the two-part series on this site about whether “the series starts when the road team wins a game” in the NBA Finals, in which the trendline has overwhelmingly seen the underdog give home court back in Game 3 and go on to lose the series. Doesn’t matter whether it was the old 2-3-2 Finals format or the more recent …

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Was 2022 the Worst NBA First Round Ever?

The first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs has finally come to a merciful end with exactly nothing of interest happening at any point. That is to say, there were zero upsets—all of the top four seeds advanced in each conference—and none of the series went seven games. Indeed, only four series went even six games, with three ending on the favorite’s home floor in Game 5 and one, the Celtics-Nets dumpster fire, ending with a pretty little implosion of what was supposed to be a superteam and title contender but instead had Kyrie Irving on it, which only ends …

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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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