2013 Playoffs Round 2 and Round 3 Part 1: The Best Players and the Bad Coaches

Sometimes life is a goddamn mess.

Chaos happens. People quit. Systems fail. The unexpected happens and you just have to make do with what you have. You look for good options, but all you have left are various shades of bad.

It’s hard to learn that all you can do is keep on your feet and handle your business. There will be missed opportunities. You will fail to complete all you should. You’d love to play a perfect game, but really you only need to make sure you play a winning one.

Survive and advance is the name of the game.

Much like our favorite NBA players, I’m living just such a period in my life right now. I feel like I owe everyone in my life something right now. You, dear readers, are no exception. I keep starting all these posts and never finish them.

Here’s where I try to redress the balance a bit over the next few days. Don’t worry if it seems a bit haphazard, I promise you’ll enjoy the ride.

Where to Nate? (Image courtesy of http://www.bouncex3.com/)

Part I: MVP of the Playoffs thru 5/27

First we go with the usual word cloud:

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Or we can sort it for easy reading, from our MVP’s (Yay Kawhi and LeBron!) to our LVP’s (Boo Carmelo and Kendrick!):

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And finally, let’s make it really easy for you and do it by team (with pretty headers):

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Here are my brief thoughts on individual players (by team):

Miami Heat:

  • LeBron James continues his playoff destruction unabated. Keep in mind that he’s been doing this as a power forward and going against top tier defensive big men (Noah, Hibbert, and West). I still feel this is arguably the greatest individual basketball season ever submitted.
  • Birdman is putting up a WP48 of 0.504. That means he is five times as productive as an average player…in the playoffs…against top tier defensive bigs. The rest of the NBA brought this on themselves, because we quite definitely told you.
  • Wade, Haslem, Bosh, Ray, and Cole round out Miami’s impressive top seven. Miami really needs to stick to these guys as much as possible. Less Mario and Battier would be good.

New York Knicks:

  • Carmelo and JR totally stunk up the joint. The fact that Melo actually got a first place MVP vote is a crime against humanity.
  • The offensive death of Jason Kidd really killed the Knicks. The three guard lineup was really their best look.

Indiana Pacers:

  • Hibbert, Lance, George, Hill, and West is one extremely impressive top five. Bird did an awesome job building this team.
  • They really could use a star/superstar player to take them to the next level. Hill could be that guy, but he’s not there yet.

Brooklyn Nets:

  • Reggie Evans continues to impress, à la Birdman. He should always have a job and minutes on a contender.

Chicago Bulls:

  • Jimmy Butler is awesome. Great steal by the Bulls. He should really help them when they actually decide to contend.

Atlanta Hawks:

  • Al Horford is wasted on the Hawks. Psst, Hawks — wanna save some cap space?

Boston Celtics:

  • Kevin Garnett showed up like a boss for the playoffs. He really should have some value to contenders who are in win-now mode next season. The Celts really need to move him and Pierce (who really didn’t show up for the playoffs) and start the rebuild.

Milwaukee Bucks:

  • I really have no clue what the Bucks were thinking when they made the playoffs. This is a terrible roster. They really need to clear out and build around young, cheap players.

Thunder:

  • Kevin Durant was good, but he fizzled out under the crazy load he had to carry.
  • Kendrick Perkins absolutely murdered the Thunder. He single-handedly erased their home court advantage.
  • The rest of the roster was not terrible without Westbrook. Not even Fisher.
  • Russ was not great; he was okay. As I said, the real story was the self immolation Brooks committed by playing Perk. Even if Westbrook had played Perk’s minutes, I would have had them losing to Memphis and San Antonio.

Spurs:

  • Kawhi Leonard has been the best player on the Spurs this year. His matchup with LeBron will really set the pace for a Spurs/Heat finals (assuming the Heat make it).
  • Danny Green and Splitter are playing wayyyy better than last year in the playoffs. This is to be expected with young players, and it’s making a huge difference for the Spurs.
  • Parker and Ginobli are playing well. Duncan has been a bit more erratic, but I do believe it’s been partly due to matchups. I would expect a Spurs-Heat series to favor Tim and affect the guards (Miami is the best in the league at defending the pick and roll).

Nuggets:

  • Andre Iguodala is in the top three of the best free agent available in the offseason. Watch Denver screw this up.

Clippers:

  • Chris Paul was good and had a good team around him. Even though Blake Griffin was injured, his coach let him down.

Grizzlies:

  • Take heart Memphis: three of the last four teams swept in the conference finals (LA in 98, Spurs in 01 and Pistons in 03) won the title within two seasons (two even changed coaches after getting swept). Gasol, Conley, and Tony are a great core. You might want to cash the ZBo chip for a real good wing.

Warriors:

  • If Bogut can stay healthy, the Warriors have a killer core with Bogut, Curry, and maybe Barnes. Alternatively, they have a lot of expiring contracts to move in a crazy trade. I’d be burning up the phone lines with the Lakers, Clippers, and Nuggets.

Lakers:

  • Pau came back to life. But the Lakers are in a rough spot. First of all they should really look at using the amnesty on Kobe. Then they either need to trade Pau to try to keep Dwight and court Lebron or trade Pau and Dwight to try to get assets. Would a Dwight for Blake swap be out of the question? Maybe a play for Iggy (Pau for Iggy and maybe Faried)? Does Dwight walk? Does Dwight go in a sign and trade? I think the Lakers offseason is going to be the story of the summer.

Houston:

  • Love their core. Love their assets. They’re getting better, and I would bet on them winding up with one of the star chips out there on the table this summer (CP3, Dwight, Pau or Iggy).

Part 2: The Bad Coach Rankings

The hardest thing about forecasting the playoffs is that coaches are very clearly not rational actors. Time and again, when looking at these series and trying to predict the behavior of head basketball coaches, I make the mistake of assuming a level of logic that is non existent amongst certain members of their fraternity.

In honor of that, let’s do the bad coach rankings for playoffs. 5 to 1.

#5 P.J. Carlesimo

Overmatched, but he did throw a hell of a lot of Reggie Evans out there and it was Thibbs he was facing.

#4 George Karl

Jobbed by a rookie playoff coach (Mark Jackson) and chased the flawed small ball strategy. The mitigating factors are that he was missing Gallo (which took away all his regular rotations) and Bogut changed that series. Bad playoff coach GOAT.

#3 Scott Brooks

Yes, he was off his rocker when he played the corpse of Perk. But not having Russ took away his plans A, B, and C. He drew in plan D with crayons.

#2 Vinny Del Negro

His lineups in the last games must have been a sublime form of trolling. Was there a playoff minute kicker in Bledsoe’s contract?

#1 Mike Woodson

No discipline. Went completely away from his offense and just kept throwing out crappy lineup after crappy lineup.

 

-Arturo

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