Where’s the competition?
I was under the impression the NBA Playoffs were supposed to become tighter and tighter as the rounds progressed—it seems that isn’t the case, at least for the second round. The first round saw six of the eight series go to a Game 6, and the Chicago Bulls needing a Game 7 to get past the Brooklyn Nets. Only Miami and San Antonio—teams that swept the Lakers and Milwaukee, respectively, played less than six. In the second round so far, it looks like NBA fans will be lucky to see more than one Game 6 played aside from Game 6 of the San Antonio-Golden State series which the Spurs lead 3-2. Every other series is being virtually dominated by a team leading 3-1: Indiana leads New York, Memphis leads Oklahoma City, and Miami leads Chicago. Hopefully in the next round the likely match-ups of Indiana-Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals and San Antonio-Memphis offer up a little more drama and intrigue.
Reggie Jackson is not Russell Westbrook
It’s amazing how many people still believed the Thunder to be prohibitive Western Conference favorites to match up with whoever emerges from the East this season—which is likely Indiana or Miami. Anyway, since Westbrook’s injury the Thunder are 3-5 in the eight games played and are scoring just under 97 ppg. If the Thunder offense played at its current scoring clip, it would’ve ranked No. 18 among all NBA teams in the regular season. Bear in mind, Oklahoma City finished third in the Association scoring nearly 106 ppg in the regular season.
The reason for the scoring and winning drop? The absence of Russell Westbrook. Very few in the league could fill the void Westbrook’s injury left the Thunder with—in fact, probably two or three players max could—and none of them play for the Thunder. And there’s only so much Kevin Durant can do on his own. This team needs Russell Westbrook, and its championship hopes are waylaid for another year.
J.R. Smith is not the reason the Knicks are losing—at least, not the only one
After the Knicks’93-82 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semi-final series, Smith offered himself up as the one to blame for the play of a New York team now trailing 3-1 in the series. Rather, New York going down 3-1 to Indiana—a better-coached, better-disciplined team—reveals the issues many forgot about for awhile earlier in the season. Mainly, that the Knicks aren’t able to hang with most teams when a game comes down to defense. Yes, New York was a Top 10 when it came to points allowed per game this season. But really, who is going to be the guy to stop the other team’s best offensive threat? Roy Hibbert is dominating the interior against Tyson Chandler. There is no one to guard David West. If anyone, one would have to pick Iman Shumpert but he’s really the less-valuable equivalent of a diamond in the rough in this situation. And don’t tell me anyone actually expected Carmelo Anthony to play defense…
With the Pacers holding New York to sub-100 points per game in three of the four games played thus far, it’s no wonder the Pacers lead 3-1.