The NBA is coming into its final day before the 2014 NBA postseason and I hope y'all are ready for it! On a personal note, I just wanted to apologize for my absence throughout much of the year. To say that life has been crazy would be an understatement. There have been a lot of family-related things, both happy and sad as well as a broken arm/torn rotator cuff that has made writing extremely difficult. My goal is to write more frequently and make TJRsports.com your place for NBA postseason coverage and conversation.
The Knicks and Lakers are Bad
This may not come as much of a shock to people close to the NBA but for the general public, it's going to feel weird not seeing the Knicks or Lakers in the NBA playoffs. The Lakers have been awesome from a fantasy perspective but they have basically had to roll this season with a bunch of role players and Pau Gasol. Until this season, Kendall Marshall had failed on previous stops, Jodie Meeks had a career average of 24 minutes a game and can you guess the 3 Laker players who played more than 70 games this season?? If you guessed Jordan Hill (who started less than half of those), Jodie Meeks and Wesley Johnson then you need to go to Vegas immediately. This Laker team was so devastated by injuries that the excuse computer in LA doesn't need any more reasons why they struggled so mightily. The Knicks on the other hand, really shouldn't come as a surprise. In my season preview, I said that a lot of their off-season moves were not good (Bargnani, retaining J.R. Smith for way too much money). Tim Hardaway may turn into quite the NBA sharpshooter but a team that can't play defense and high-volume, low efficiency shooters make for a bad combination. The upside to the Lakers and Knicks going a combined 62-110? We might get to see someone else on national television who is actually decent come this postseason. (No, I am not bitter toward the amount of TV time terrible teams get)
Toronto, Washington and Charlotte Made the Playoffs??
When your traditional playoff teams struggle, it gives an opportunity for young. hungry teams to take their place. This season, we saw the emergence of the division winning Raptors (I can't believe I wrote that sentence), the traditional punching bag Wizards and the Michael Jordan owned Bobcats (or are they the Hornets now?) The common trend among every one of these teams is dynamic point-guard play, the shedding of players with horrible efficiency (Hi Rudy Gay!!!) and just three workmanlike teams. Will these teams contend for a title this season, probably not. However, they will provide some quality, exciting playoff basketball and give fan bases who have been the butt end of jokes for the better part of a decade something to enjoy.
Philadelphia lost 26 games in a row and still couldn't get the most ping-pong balls
How can any professional team lost 26 games in a row? As I have written on TJRsports before, I am not a huge fan of the NBA lottery. I think it's stupid and it opens the door for tons of conspiracy theories about it being rigged as well as keeps team who need the best college player available from getting it. That being said, I cannot understand how a team full of professional players could lose this many games in one stretch. You can say that I don't know terrible NBA teams but let me remind you, I am a Minnesota Timberwolves fan. They never managed to lose 26 games in a row, even when their best player was Doug West or J.R. Rider. The best part about the 26 game losing streak?? If it weren't a lottery, they STILL wouldn't end up the with the first pick because somehow Milwaukee managed to tank more inconspicuously and skillfully than everyone.
The San Antonio Spurs are amazing
Living down here in central Texas, I get to see a lot of Spurs basketball. You can argue all day long with Gregg Popovich over the fact that he sits his players during the season but all they do is win. They are not the flashiest team but this team has 15 straight seasons of 50 wins or more. That is pretty much if not the entirety of Tim Duncan's career. Another amazing stat, the Spurs did this with their depth, not stars. They do not have a player on their roster who averaged more than 30 minutes per game this season. Pops team management and philosophy may be frustrating for fans but you can't argue against success. All they do is win and the NBA title will have to go through San Antonio this season.
Dwight made the right decision
For all the haters against Dwight Howard, you have to give the man credit for seeing what the Lakers were offering and moving to a team with promise. He traded the aging, volatile and me centric Bryant for the young, sharp-shooting team player in James Harden. He traded D'Antoni's high tempo, guard oriented offense for a coach in Kevin McHale who can do good work with big men and will help Dwight work in the confines of his offense, instead of ostracizing him. While Houston is not the perfect team by any stretch, having a prime of career guy in Howard and a fantastic player like James Harden to build around is a good start. My bold prediction for the future: when the Spurs do inevitably fall off, the Houston Rockets are primed to become the best team in the Lone Star State.
I am going to start working on a playoff preview for the Eastern and Western conferences before the playoffs begin but I wanted to wait until all the matchups were finalized. Leave any comments on here or twitter @weigel_a. I hope everyone has a fantastic day and thank you for reading!!