The second round is underway in the NBA playoffs. We’ve seen at least two games in each second round and we still have lots of basketball left to play before a champion is crowned. There have been some interesting thoughts come to the mind this early in the postseason. Although half of the field has been eliminated, there is still interesting things to talk about,. Here are a few thoughts and opinions I’ve had so far in the NBA playoffs.
1) This has to be the end of “Lob City”
For the last half a decade we have seen CP3, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan in LA as “Lob City.” They have made highlight plays over and over again. We never saw any of those highlights come from games deep in the playoffs. They have yet to make it even as far as the Western Conference finals. This year they even became the first NBA team to blow a series lead in five straight years(@SportsCenter twitter). It is known the Western Conference is not a cakewalk. It’s never easy to win in the playoffs out west, but still, you would expect to see at least one conference finals appearance from a team with three stars.
Chris Paul is statistically one of the better point guards to ever play the game but the time of the old school Chris Paul-like point guard is gone. “Lob City” as we know it has to be finished. Blake and CP3 have player options for this upcoming offseason, I would expect them both to test the market. Paul wants a ring, badly. I would not be surprised to see him leave in search of gold. It is possible we see Blake move but you have to think the Clips missed the market on trading him away last year when some teams would have really liked him. This could be the offseason where we see the LAC blow up “Lob City” and move on to new things.
2) How long before Giannis wins a ring?
This young Milwaukee Bucks team really gave the Raptors a tough series but the Raptors had the Bucks figured out by game four. I guarantee this Bucks team wins a championship before I am able to spell Antetokounmpo without looking it up. In six games this post-season, Giannis averaged 24.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, four assists and took over the game in some spots. This team is young. The star player is young and they already look dangerous. Giannis will be snagging MVP awards at some point in the near future and with the talent around him they will win a championship at some point, just wondering how long until it happens?
3) Would you want Russell Westbrook on your favorite team?
Would you? There is no doubt that Russ is good and will probably win the MVP this year, but is he good for his team? I mean, watching the Rockets vs. Thunder series at times, I would catch myself thinking “wow, what a terrible shot” and “what is he doing there?” We saw Russ force shots, including game two where he took 43 shots. Yes, he had a 51 point triple double that game but very inefficiently. Do the triple doubles really even matter? If Lebron has a game with let us say, 38 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists and shoots 54% from the field and Russ has a stat line of 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists but shoots his typical 39% from the field, is Russell’s game considered better? I wouldn’t say it is just because Russ has double digits in three stats. Is his game thought of as better though? Russ does not always make his team better, which brings the argument… can your team win in the playoffs when Russ is your best player? Would you necessarily want Russ to be on your team because I am not sold?
4) How good of a backcourt are Wall and Beal? Are they the real deal?
This Washington backcourt consisting of Wall and Beal has looked really good so far in the playoffs, specifically in the first round. They did just lose in game one to Boston though. Beal who had a slow start to his career seems to have finally turned into the player he was supposed to be coming out of college. Wall is averaging 28 points a game while Beal has put up 26 a game so far this postseason. While at the same time, Wall leads all postseason participants with 11 assist a game. Wall is 26-years-old and Beal is 23. This could be a dangerous backcourt, making the Wizards a contender for years to come. Although they are currently down in the series to Boston 2-0, they have two games coming up at home where they could easily even the series at 2-2.
5) Can we please speed this up?
I think some people would agree with me when I say that the NBA playoffs take way too long, especially the first round. If you really look at it, it’s kind of pointless. Only one lower seed won a first round series, the Jazz, who some would argue have more “talent” than LAC. Plus the Clippers were injured and no Blake Griffin makes a huge difference. The point is the first round needs to move faster or they could make it more interesting somehow. Bill Simmons fans out there will know he has been an advocate for this over the last few years, suggesting ideas like single elimination tournament for the last two playoff spots or going back to best of five series. With the best of seven and the new home/away format of 2-2-1-1-1, the first round gets really drawn out. Basketball is a sport where most of the time, the better team will win. The NBA is fairly predictable, does this first round really matter? Do we all not wish we could just hurry up and get to Warriors vs. Cavs round three?
6) Just how dangerous is this Rockets team?
Game one of their series with the Spurs, Houston wins by 27 and knocked down 22 three-pointers. This team comes out and plays a game where they are trying to gain a mathematical advantage by taking as many three point shots as possible. The other week in a radio interview with Mike and Mike, coach D’Antoni said that he considers an open mid-range two-pointer a worse shot than a transition or somewhat contested three point shot. If the Rockets are hitting the three’s they are very dangerous. Live by the three, die by the three in Houston. As a general basketball fan, I am kind of pulling for the Rockets to beat the Spurs so we get to see a Warriors vs. Rockets Western Conference Finals. With the Spurs though, comes experience. They managed to handle Houston easily in game two and show that the series is not going to be easy for either team.
7) Why are we announcing regular season awards so late?
This year the NBA is doing the NBA awards show to announce the postseason awards such as MVP and so on. This awards show will not even be taking place until late June. Just bringing this up because how awkward will it be when Russ wins MVP over James Harden after Harden and the Rockets beat Russ in the playoffs. Not that it is a big deal or anything just thinking we could have already announced the award winners, or just wait and vote after the postseason? It becomes pretty clear once we get into the playoffs that Lebron is truly the most “valuable” player in the league.
8) Can the Warriors be stopped? Could we see 16-0?
A sweep in every series of the playoffs would lead a team to be 16-0. The closest we have ever seen was the ’01 Lakers who went 15-1 and the only loss was in game one of the finals in overtime. Could we see 16-0 this year? Personally, I say there is no way but it is not out of the question. They breezed through the series with Portland and now face Utah. I think we see at least one loss before the finals and then who knows what could happen, especially if they face off with the Cavs. As of now, this Warriors team looks like there is nothing stopping them from at least making a third straight appearance in the finals. Even with no Steve Kerr, this team should walk right into the finals, unless the aforementioned Rockets team can give them fits. A 16-0 playoff run would be quite a feat but if any team were to do it, it’s this Golden State squad. Who knows, maybe we see an NBA finals matchup with two 12-0 teams. Just saying, it could happen.
We are only a few games into the second round, so it is obvious there is lots of basketball left to play. In reality are we not all just ready for Warriors vs. Cavs round three though?