Speaking Too Soon: The 2021 Eastern Conference Finals

You ever read something and think “man, I need an editor?” Because in my piece “The Terrible Coach Redemption Tour”, I asserted that Steve Nash was coaching in the conference finals. This is what happens when you have a deadline, Game 7 of the conference semis are still to be played, and of course you’re going to be spending the next five days working a contract gig full-time that’s nowhere near your home studio. The Milwaukee Bucks won Game 7 over the Brooklyn Nets. And of course I didn’t get time to write about it until Saturday. Gods help me. …

Read More

2021 Playoffs: The Terrible Coach Redemption Tour

Editor’s Note: I made the mistake of assuming Brooklyn would win Game 7 of the East semis and wrote this column accordingly. Of course, Milwaukee won that game, so Mike Budenholzer, not Steve Nash, is coaching against McMillan and the Hawks in the ECF. Pace and Space regrets the error. The NBA was, for decades, a coaches’ league. Great leaders like Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson, and Pat Riley became synonymous with the teams they led to greatness and were linked to the careers of their star players in Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan (and later Kobe Bryant), and Magic Johnson. In …

Read More

Atlanta Hawks: Living and Dying by Trae Young

Trae Young is simultaneously the most promising and frustrating young scorer in the NBA, and the Atlanta Hawks, as much as they’ve shocked the world as a 5 seed first by destroying the equally upstart 4 seed New York Knicks in the first round and then by taking a 3-2 lead on the Philadelphia 76ers so far in Round 2, are living and dying by him. Young, even though he’s three years into his career, all but guaranteed a giant extension this offseason as he enters the final year of his rookie contract, and has an All-Star appearance under his …

Read More

Atlanta Hawks: Lords of the Garbage Fire

The NBA is no longer a division-intensive league. Gone are the days when a team could get a top-4 seed just by lording over a trash division, a situation that has on occasion given us garbage like the 44-38 Denver Nuggets getting to be the 3 seed in 2006, or a similarly terrible 44-38 2007 Miami Heat team making the playoffs on a championship hangover and getting swept by a 47-win Chicago Bulls team that was the lower seed in the bracket. In theory, we could see a situation where a division winner doesn’t even make the playoffs at all. …

Read More

Trying to Make Sense of the Atlanta Hawks Hype

NBA Twitter seems to be under the impression that the Atlanta Hawks are poised to make a major leap in 2021, as the young talent they’ve drafted or acquired in free agency comes together to create the nucleus of a powerhouse team. Tommy Beer broke down the Hawks’ depth chart, and that means we can start to make some projections and take a look at whether this team’s going to be any good. A tremendous offseason for the a #Hawks. A look at Atlanta’s depth chart: PG: Trae YoungRajon RondoKris Dunn SG:Bodgan BogdanovicKevin HuerterCam Reddish SF:Danilo GallinariDe'Andre HunterTony Snell PF:John …

Read More

Kevin Willis, The Greatest Lousy NBA Player

A few years ago, Jon Bois of SBNation did an episode of Chart Party where he talked about Jeff Francoeur, describing him as “my favorite worst baseball player.” The idea was that “Frenchy” had one of the most explosive first months of a career in the history of Major League Baseball, then dropped off a cliff. Go watch it. It’s good. The weird part is despite that, he lasted 12 years in the league, played in over 1400 major league games for his career, and all this despite frequently ending up with negative Wins Above Replacement (for those who don’t …

Read More

The Greatest Draft Day Trade In NBA History

On April 30, 1956, an NBA draft day trade went down that would change the course of basketball history in a way that has rarely been matched since. Sure, there was the Greatest Fleecing in NBA History—when the Boston Celtics snookered the Golden State Warriors out of Robert Parish and Kevin McHale for Joe Barry Carroll in 1980, still the most one-sided draft day trade if not the most one-sided trade, full stop, in NBA history—but a great trade should benefit both teams in either the short or the long term to truly be considered a masterwork of a player …

Read More

Achtung Panzer! #3: The Tanking Atlanta Hawks

Losers of nine straight and 12 of 13, the Atlanta Hawks now stand 4-15, dead last in the Eastern Conference and just half a game ahead of the woeful Golden State Warriors for the worst record in the NBA. A team that was supposed to have their breakout year instead finds itself mired in the throes of awful, as John Collins serves a 25-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, Kevin Huerter sits in street clothes with injury, and Trae Young puts up monster stat lines (like his 49-point outburst against the Indiana Pacers on Black Friday) in …

Read More

Are the 2019-20 Atlanta Hawks Good?

The Atlanta Hawks could be best summarized as Trae Young, John Collins, and a bunch of guys who might be a playoff team and might not contend in the G-League. So which is it? Which direction is this 29-53 Southeast Division cellar dweller from 2018-19 going to go? Are they headed toward and way past their 36-win over/under for a date with late-April basketball? Or is this whole thing going to get impaled on the spear of Young’s seventh-worst-in-the-league defense (more on that in a minute) and lose a bunch of games 120-115 on their way back to the lottery? …

Read More

NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part III: Southeast Division

In the previous two editions of this series, we took a look at the best and worst contracts in the Atlantic and Central Divisions, and we finish our look at the Eastern Conference today with the Dumpster fire that is the Southeast Division—a division Orlando won with a 42-40 record and sent no other teams to the playoffs. Which, in turn, points to the wisdom of the NBA making its playoff standards division agnostic. In the old days, the 4 seed Magic would’ve hosted the 5 seed Celtics in Game 1 of the first round, a Celtics team that won …

Read More