The Couch Perspective: The NBA’s First Round Losers

May 18, 2015 by

 

I believe routines are best suited and preferred by two age ranges.  The first are young children between ages 2-7.   The second range is adult males from ages 40 through the end of life.  Routines set daily expectations for younger children.  A consistent routine for children can also ensure parents keep a sense of order in the home, without it, mothers and fathers will lose their collective minds resulting in bills piling up from the therapist.

Adult males on the other hand need routines for completely different reasons and they are all unique to the individual.  For me, a nightly routine assists in winding down the day.  My routine kicks in around 9:30 PM.  The kids are asleep (at the moment) and my wife settles in to our bed viewing whatever home improvement show is currently on HG TV.  I plant kisses on the lips of my wife and new born daughter then head downstairs.  The majority of my evenings are spent on the front porch hunched in chair with my legs kicked up on the outdoor coffee table.  I then spend the next few hours listening to various podcasts or searching YouTube for Rap videos all the while with my vice nearby.

The routine changed slightly beginning in late April when the NBA playoffs kicked off.  The porch chair and Ipad was replaced by the living room couch and television.  I ditched the various podcasts and El-P and Killer Mike videos and began watching the games.  This year my intrigue was elevated more so than usual due to no clear cut favorites in either conference.  Each night throughout the first round I was privy to multiple NBA playoff games, so I watch them all.

Here are my thoughts on the postseason teams now planning their summer vacations and prepping for the 2015-16 season –

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Team:  Toronto Raptors

Seed:  4

Result:  Swept in four fairly non-competitive games by the Washington Wizards.

What happened:Days before the start of their first round match up against the Raptors, Wizards veteran Paul Pierce gave a brutally honest interview to Boston sports reporter Jackie McMullen.   In it Pierce shared his thoughts on the upcoming match up against Toronto.  He was quoted saying,  “We haven’t done particularly well against Toronto, but I don’t feel they have the ‘It’ that makes you worried,”. “There isn’t a team I look at in the Eastern Conference that makes me say, ‘They are intimidating, we don’t have a chance.”  That statement about Toronto not having “It” gained real steam throughout the media leading to Toronto’s GM Masai Ujiri needing to comment the words from Peirce.  If your GM gets caught up in this kind of back-in-forth shit talking before a playoff game this might be somewhat worrisome.  I would like to give all the credit to Pierce toying with Raptor player minds but the reality is that the Raptors are just not very good.

Playoff Positive(s):  Toronto fans still caredeeply about this team.  Canadians caring about anything other than hockey will always be strange to me.

Next season outlook:Bleak at best.  The Raptors play in an Atlantic Division where .500 ball wins you a title.   Teams in the Atlantic will eventually improve by upgrading their talent which could lead Toronto looking up at division foes in the standings as early as next year.  Kyle Lowery took a step back this year in his development as a consistent all-star caliber player, which I going to assume that an injury played a substantial part in.  The emergence of DeMar DeRozan as another significant scoring threat in the backcourt is promising.  However, upgrades at the 3, 4, and 5 must be addressed this offseason.

The Raptors are heading nowhere with head coach Dwayne Casey and now might be the appropriate time to replace him.  My advice to Raptor management – Go get Scott Brooks.

The Question that remains unanswered:Do the best professional sports fans reside in Toronto?

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Team:  Boston Celtics

Seed:  7

Result:  Swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers.  The final two games of the series held in Boston had an elevated hatred between the two teams.  Their animosity towards each other led to more thrown punches than the Mayweather-Pacquiao exhibition fight.

What happened:  Give Brad Stevens a team of castoffs mix in a few players with very little NBA experience and he will guide you to the playoffs.  No matter how large the talent gap between whatever team the Celtics play, he will have his team prepared and an immense effort from all his players will always be existent.  The Celtics played the Cavs tough for most of the series but the NBA states a team will need two elite players for a legitimate playoff run.  The Celtics do not possess one elite player.  Some would argue the Celtic roster does not have a player that could start on any of the playoff teams.   Basically Brad Stevens is a very good coach.  Now get him some talent!

Playoff Positive(s):  The C’s did not back down in the slightest bit to LeBron and friends.  In fact, the Celtics decided if you can’t win on points the next best outcome is to win the fight. (Literally)  Also, players the Celtics want to keep around received some playoff experience that will pay off in years to come.

Next season outlook:  About the same if they can’t land a big time free agent.  I believe Danny needs to start leveraging his abundance of first round draft picks for a major trade.

The Question that remains unanswered:  Can Danny Ainge lore an all-star caliber player(s) to Boston and get lucky through the draft?

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Team:  New Orleans Pelicans

Seed:  8

Result:  Lost four straight to the Golden State Warriors.

What happened:  Young inexperienced team loses to the playoff favorites.  (You heard it here!)

Playoff Positive(s):Anthony Davis and Anthony Davis.

Next season outlook:Trending up.  Future is bright for the Pelicans.  Need to add a Mike Conley like point guard and a small forward who can score and defend.

The Question that remains unanswered:  Will Coach Thibbs relocate to the Big Easy next year?

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Team:  Dallas Mavericks

Seed:  7

Result:  Lost to the Houston Rockets in 5 games.

What happened:  The Dallas Mavericks looked completely overmatched by a Houston squad that is an overrated two seed.  Dirk looked ragged and become a larger liability on defense than he already was.  Rajon Rondo went public with his bat shit crazy attitude.  No one else on the roster played consistent enough on both ends of court.  Monta Ellis had a few nice games in the series, especially picking up the scoring slack, but overall this team looked completely out-of-sync and generally disengaged.

Playoff Positive(s):  None.

Next season outlook:  Time to rebuild.  OKC will take their playoff spot next year.  A lottery pick will be granted to the Mavs next year.

The Question that remains unanswered:  Should Rajon Rondoattend some sort ofinpatient psychiatric care for the summer?  I am sure this will give him plenty of time to destroy the other patients in a game of Connect Four.

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Team:  Brooklyn Nets

Seed:  8

Result:  Lost to the Atlanta Hawks in six games.

What happened?The Nets suck and I can’t believe this series went six games.  That statement says more about my opinion of the Hawks than how shitty the Nets play basketball.

Playoff Positive(s):  Jared Jack.

Next season outlook:  Horrible.  Miami will be much improved; Indiana will be back in the playoffs after a year without Paul George, Detroit Pistons should will at the 40 win mark next year, and the bottom dwellers of the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks can only trend upwards.  All those factors will keep the Nets out of the playoffs next year paving the way for the eventual rebuild.  Cap spaces issues and the Brook Lopez eventual departure to free agency will delay any forward movement.  Might be a few years before we see this franchise back in the post season…..and I am perfectly content on seeing that way.

I hate this team and their front office.  It’s the exact opposite of how to build a successful franchise.  Go get Mark Jackson as your coach and see if any team is stupid enough to take Deron Williams and Joe Johnson off your hands.

The Question that remains unanswered:  Should wealthy Russian business men own NBA franchises?  Seems like a NHL franchise would make more sense for these folks to mettle in…

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Team:  Milwaukee Bucks

Seed:  6

Result:  Dug their selves into an insurmountable hole by losing the first three games against the Bulls.  The Bucks then came back with a fight to win games four and five only to be completely and utterly blown to oblivion in a game six.

What happened:  Missed opportunity in the game three double OT loss.  If somehow they pulled out that game things would have been a helluva lot more interesting.

Playoff Positive(s):Experience.

Next season outlook:  I don’t see the Bucks, new logo and all, making the playoffs next year in the East and if for some reason I am wrong it will come as an 8 seed.  A healthy Jabari Parker and that Greek dude will not be enough.  Plus what top free agents actually seek out Milwaukee has their top destination?  Answer:  No one.  Therefore, being just good enough to make the playoffs each year will not be positive for the Bucks if Jason Kidd wants to every make a deep playoff run.  So be shitty for a year or so, hope for a few more draft picks to pan out, and convince Parker and Antetokounmpo to stick around for the next five years….and just maybe the Bucks can make a run like its 1971!

The Question that remains unanswered:  If a team loses by 60 points to close out the series, do the two series wins still count?

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Team:  Portland Trailblazers

Seed:  4

Result:  Lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in five games.

What happened:  Injuries and more injuries.

Playoff Positive(s):  None.

Next season outlook:  They will be in the playoff mix if and only if they following occurs –

  • LaMarcus Aldridge is a Trail Blazer next season.
  • Damian Lillard is 100% healthy.
  • Sign or draft a lock down defender that can give Curry and Thompson fits for the next three years.
  • Robin Lopez returns next season as ’77 headband wearing Bill Walton.
  • Carrie and Fred redesign the uniforms.

The Question that remains unanswered:  Can Portland resign Aldridge or does he take his talents elsewhere?

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Team:  San Antonio Spurs

Seed:  6

Result:  The Spurs lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Clippers in what is now considered the best first round series ever in NBA playoff history.  I might have to agree especially since I cannot remember any other first round series from prior years.  (I do remember an image of Mutombo lying on the court clutching the ball with a big grin across his face after his Denver squad upset the Sonics to win a series.  Not sure if that was a first round series or not nor if any of the games were played at a high level…..so Spurs-Clips it is!)

What happened:   Two evenly matched teams played seven incredibly well played basketball games which included a game seven for the ages.  Also Chris Paul played the game of his life to close the series on his home floor.  Paul did his best impression of a 1988 bad ankle scoring Isiah Thomas to finally get the Clips living up to their potential.  Now can they make it the finals?

Playoff Positive(s):  Best round for them to lose in the first round.  They had back to back finals runs it’s almost impossible for this bet team with older legs to make it three.  They looked beat against the clips.  This extra rest before next season is going to pay off.  No major moves really need to be made the core of this team can make one last finals appearance before Tim Duncan heads to isolation

One criticism of Coach Pop – He needs the offensive to run through Kawhi Leonard.  I feel that Leonard can be a 20 + ppg scorer year in and year out.  He needs the green light from his coach.  Leonard is hesitant on offense at times due to how well they move the ball.   If you’re not going to something in two seconds you better pass offensive that the Spurs implement might be counterproductive in someone like Leonard.   If you want Leonard to be the guy to bear the load offensively than run more sets for him or give him the space to create.  At least give it a whirl, see what the kid can do.

Next season outlook:Of the eightfirst round teams that did not advance this year, only the Spurs have the roster to sniff a championship next season.If the core returns and Leonard can take a huge step forward on the offensive end (and stay healthy for an entire season) the Spurs will contend for a title.

 

The Question that remains unanswered:  Do the Spurs bank their future on Kawhi Leonard?

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12 Comments

  1. Doug-e-Fresh

    What happened? The Nets suck and I can’t believe this series went six games! I will use this line for the remainder of my days…funny, funny shit!

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