The weekend was a very eventful one for NBA basketball. While Arturo will have the full details in a bit, I’m going to offer a quick summary of the top stories, nicely complemented by some of our readers’ NBA Playoff haikus:
The Heat swept the Bucks
The Heat win
The Heat win again
The Heat win
As 78% of our Playoff Prediction contest predicted, the Heat swept the Bucks. The Heat won each game by more than 10 points, and averaged 100 points scored and 85 points allowed, for an average margin of victory of just under 15 points. The rest of the NBA should be frightened: the Heat’s most productive player was Ray Allen, and Norris Cole — one of the NBA’s least productive players during the regular season — was almost twice as productive as an average player. The Heat now gets to rest and awaits the winner of the Nets-Bulls series, which could easily go seven games.
The Spurs swept the Lakers
knows you feel lost and alone,
Dwight. Says: deal with it.
Only 9% of our Playoff Prediction contest got the number of games right, but 93% of our participants thought the Spurs would beat the Lakers. And did they ever! The Spurs dominated this matchup even more than the Heat dominated the Bucks. The Spurs also won each game by more than 10 points, but they averaged 104 points scored and 85 points allowed, for an average margin of victory of just under 19 points. When DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner are tearing it up like that, you know you’re in trouble. The Spurs now get to wait for the winner of Nuggets-Warriors. How lucky was the draw for San Antonio? They face the decrepit Lakers in the first round and then get to play either the team with the worst efficiency differential in the West playoffs (the Warriors) or the team being coached by George Karl (the Nuggets). Compared to the Thunder, who will have to face the Rockets and then Clippers or Grizzlies, the Spurs have it easy.
The Lakers are a mess
Sorry Lakers fans
You might lose this year for once
Why don’t you cry more.
As for the Lakers: what a mess. Their top four players — Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol — struggled with injuries for large chunks of the year. Bryant suffered an achilles tear, and should almost certainly be waived using the amnesty clause to save the franchise about $100 million for a player who might only play 3 months next year. Howard is a free agent, and his return is not guaranteed. Nash, separated from the fountain of youth in Phoenix, looked so far below his usual level of play this season that he will probably consider retirement. And Gasol, forced to play more of a perimeter game that destroyed his productivity, may be on the trading block once again. The coach the team started the season with was fired after only five games, and the new coach might not last another season. Yes, that sound you hear is Mark Cuban cackling with glee.
George Karl is a terrible coach
If Pop Coached Denver
They’d win the championship
You’re stuck with George Karl
George Karl is a fine coach when it comes to “X and Os”, but the most important job of an NBA coach is to determine which players get playing time. As such, Karl is handicapping an excellent Nuggets team by keeping its taller players (JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufos, Kenneth Faried, Anthony Randolph) on the bench in favour of smaller, less productive players (Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler). When the Warriors went small due to David Lee’s injury, Karl’s response was to go even smaller. As Dave Berri tweeted, the correct response would be to go big and destroy the Warriors inside like the Jazz did against the Warriors in 2007. The Nuggets have the benefit of the altitude bonus (better homecourt advantage) and the Warriors only had the 8th best efficiency differential in the West, and still the Warriors are up 3-1. Will we have the hilarious opportunity of having George Karl win this year’s Coach of the Year award, only to be fired shortly after? We can only hope!
The Warriors go up 3-1 on the Nuggets
Quietly brushing the net
From a graceful arc
This series is an Andre Miller layup away from being a Warriors sweep! How has this happened? I mean, aside from George Karl? Well, of the Warriors players who have played 30 or more minutes in this series, all but one of them (Carl Landry) has a True Shooting percentage above 60%. And he’s still at an above average 55% (average is around 53% for power forwards). That’s insane! Stephen Curry is at 66%, and Jarrett Jack is at 69%! As a team, the Warriors are shooting 44%…from three! They’re 1 for 2 in the close games (two games decided by two points), and 2 for 2 in the not-so-close games (two wins by 14 points). As long as the Nuggets keep going small and can’t defend three-pointers, this series could be over by Tuesday.
Clipper-Grizzlies tied 2-2
The Clippers won two
but the series is tied now
Time for grit and grind
The Clippers and Grizzlies are tied at two. Our contest participants thought that this series would be the second closest series, behind the Nets-Bulls. Well, after four games, the Grizzlies are outscoring the Clippers 380 to 370, with an average margin of victory of 2.5 points. But the series has only had one game decided by fewer than 11 points. Will Tuesday night’s game be close or another blowout?
Bulls up 3-1 against the Nets
Rose stayed home to sulk
Like Achilles. Kobe stayed home
Because he tore his.
After a triple overtime game, the Bulls lead the Nets 3-1. In our Playoff Prediction contest, over 200 participants were split almost perfectly down the middle in determining the winner of the Nets-Bulls series. Even if this series doesn’t go the distance, the next game will probably be close. In the first four games of this series, the Bulls have scored 400 points to the Nets’ 398.