“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be..”
-Isaac Asimov, Asimov on Science Fiction
Necessity is truly the mother of invention and invention is the path to revelation.
Let me explain. These have been a majestic set of playoffs so far and a far cry from where we were about ten months ago. These playoffs have been a perfect intersection of last 15 and next 15 years of basketball with only really Phil Jackson as a notable absence. The current Lakers dinasty took a last bow. The Spurs and Celtics making one last charge. The Thunder and Heat climbing to what they see as their throne.
It’s been a joy to watch and a joy to analyze and the analysis up to now has been spot on. The playoffs had seemed to coalesce into the typical storyline of the young team grows, reaches but falls short and the veteran team (played in this instance by the Spurs) dance the dance one last time.
But something strange has been happening over the last few days that set off the pattern recognition systems in my head. A new and different pattern seemed to be forming.
Something that warranted a deeper look at the players on the stage.
Intrigued?That look comes after the jump.
That is every game for every player in the conference finals in the playoffs using Points over Par. It’s a little dense I know, so I made a more compact version.
We can learn a hell of a lot from these. Let’s take a look:
- The best player in the Playoffs has been Rajon Rondo. Throw in the effect KG has on any opposing big and that accounts for the Celtics successes. Throw in the fact that it’s Rajon Rondo and pray for rain and that accounts for their failures as well. The C’s have the pieces to win but they need Ray to get healthier.
- The Heat are flawed in the same way they’ve always been flawed: they lack quality size. Lebron is the best big they have and the quality of their play is directly proportional to how close he plays to the basket. He was monumental in that role against Indiana but has faltered against the presence of KG. Chris Bosh is not the answer to their size woes either. Throw in that Wade is clearly hurt and this team has deep problems. They can make the Finals but small has never, ever won it all in the NBA.
- The Spurs were a well oiled machine thru the first ten games of the playoffs but they run smack dab into their limitations. The Spurs best and most consistent player has been a rookie, the fabulous Kwahi Leonard who we’ve loved all year . Rookies though are come and go. Throw in Tim Duncan and Parker being shut down by the opposing defense and Manu not being quite Manu and the coronation of the Spurs seems to be in Peril. Down 3-2 and having to win two in a row including one in OKC all would seem lost no? Not so fast, the spurs are still the deepest team on the board and the most experienced. History favors teams who’ve done it over the young upstart. The Old King still has a few rounds in him. Except…
- The Thunder seem to have made the Leap. Early in the series with San Antonio, they looked the part of the young, overmatched upstart but then their Big Three asserted. Durant, Harden and Ibaka all raised their play to the next level in this series and that combined with Thabo throwing his hat in the ring has served to offset the by now traditional Russell and Fisher turd in the punchbowl performance. Durant and Harden have both reached that level where, like Jordan, I believe they will win no matter what. They look and feel very much like the uncrowned kings.
I thought it was a year to early for the Thunder to begin their reign. They’re too young. The path was too rough. Russell was still doing at least five things a game that make you shake your head in disgust. They have stepped up to plate though.
If they win in this ridiculously loaded year it will be hard not to think we are seeing the order of things to come for the next decade. There is a very good chance that if they win their three principal opponents will not return as built (Heat/Celtics) or at the same level (Spurs). They will have vanquished every giant and beaten all the players that matter.
History is not in their favor.
Aren’t you glad we actually get to find out?