Bosh Matters: Indiana can Beat the Heat

 

On Sunday afternoon, the Miami Heat lost Chris Bosh to a lower abdominal strain. He's almost certainly gone for the series, and most rumblings have it that he's gone until the finals. The problem with an abdominal strain, it's one of the rare injuries that sounds a lot worse than it is -- it's hard to play through, difficult to get past without serious rest, and ruins a player's rhythm. I'll cut to the chase. I think the Heat are in a relatively large amount of trouble right now, and while I'm not quite ready to assure a Pacers win, I certainly think the series has become -- at worst -- a 40-60 series for the Pacers. Like it or not, they have a huge shot at an upset right now. Despite the Heat's one game already on the ledger. I think Zach Lowe rather effectively summarizes most of the reasons why in his large-as-a-mansion "caveats" section of his Bosh injury rundown, but I think he underrates a few factors. After the jump, I delineate them. Continue reading

The Outlet 2.07: Brothers in Arms

To bring our playoff coverage up, we’re bringing our formerly retired series of daily vignettes — titled “The Outlet” — back for the playoffs. “Don’t call it a comeback.” Though, you can call it series 2, as we are in the title. Every day (or, rather, every day we aren’t doing a larger and grander piece), we’ll try to share two or three short vignettes from our collective of writers ruminating on the previous day’s events. Should be a fun time. Today’s Outlet has one of the longest pieces we've used for this series in a while, with Alex ruminating on the Nuggets' elimination to the tune of Sorkin's ultimate masterpiece, "Two Cathedrals."

  • "Brothers in Arms." by Alex Dewey.

Click the jump for today’s take. Continue reading

The Outlet 2.06: Making Free Throws, and the Project Playoffs

To bring our playoff coverage up, we’re bringing our formerly retired series of daily vignettes — titled “The Outlet” — back for the playoffs. “Don’t call it a comeback.” Though, you can call it series 2, as we are in the title. Every day (or, rather, every day we aren’t doing a larger and grander piece), we’ll try to share two or three short vignettes from our collective of writers ruminating on the previous day’s events. Should be a fun time. Today’s Outlet covers Adam discussing how you simply must make your free throws and Aaron discussing the hilarious breakout of "project" big men in the 2012 Playoffs.

  • “You've Got to Make Your Free Throws.” by Adam Koscielak.
  • "The Playoffs of the Project." by Aaron McGuire.

Click the jump for today’s two works. Continue reading

The Los Angeles Lakers and Absent Passion.

 

 "Closeout games are actually kind of easy. Teams tend to fold if you come out and play hard in the beginning."

-- Andrew Bynum, prior to Game 5 vs. the 2012 Denver Nuggets

Matchups, matchups, matchups. Like it or not, they're the name of the game in the NBA. If the best team in the sport has an elite wing, you stock up on elite wing defenders. If the best player is a freight train, you break the bank on a conductor. And if the team that's got your goat has the most dominant post presence in the league? You pick up Shaq and pretend he can still guard anyone, of course! It's not a foreign concept to most fans: You make a number of adjustments to your team over the course of the season, and while they're ostensibly made solely for the good of the team, everyone really knows why the adjustments are made. The dirty little secret is that - for teams blessed to be in the sphere of five or six contending teams per conference - the personnel adjustments tend to be little more than an ill-concealed arms race. A juggling of human capital in a usually futile attempt to adjust your team to fit perceived weaknesses in the better teams. Neutralize the strengths of the best team, and perhaps you'll luck your way into the finals! Or so they'd say. I'm going to tell you a story about the biggest arms race in the NBA over the last five years. As most things tend to be when you boil them to their essentials, it's about the Lakers. Continue reading

The Outlet 2.05: Why Can't Everyone Be Like the Spurs?

To bring our playoff coverage up, we’re bringing our formerly retired series of daily vignettes — titled “The Outlet” — back for the playoffs. “Don’t call it a comeback.” Though, you can call it series 2, as we are in the title. Every day (or, rather, every day we aren’t doing a larger and grander piece), we’ll try to share two or three short vignettes from our collective of writers ruminating on the previous day’s events. Should be a fun time. Today’s Outlet covers Adam discussing his confusion at the peculiar success of the Spurs system and Alex discussing the peculiar everything of Pierre McGee.

  • “Why Can't Everyone Be Like the Spurs?” by Adam Koscielak.
  • "JaVale's Good Game and the End of Days." by Alex Dewey.

Click the jump for today’s two gems. Continue reading

The Last 21 Games: Late Season Offensive and Defensive Rankings

For a more specific look at the surprising Spurs, see today's post at 48 Minutes of Hell.

It was recently brought to my attention that most people aren't quite as ridiculous as I. Let me explain. For much of the season, I've been offhandedly keeping tabs on the overall trends from an offense/defense perspective, through the view of eight-game moving averages, rankings in five-game spans, and a large spreadsheet updated when-I-remember with the latest summary data from Hoopdata. I was asked by my friend -- Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell -- if I'd put together a complete post on the surprising late-season defensive renaissance by the San Antonio Spurs. Compiling my data into an easy-to-share form for the purposes of the post in question led my data to a form where it would be easy to share the whole league picture. Hence, I decided to make a post here about it as well, specifically taking aim at interesting trends (at the most rudimentary, league-wide level) over the last 21 games of the year and sharing the underlying data behind the graphs at 48 Minutes of Hell and the entire ranking. Onward, then. Continue reading

The Outlet 2.04: Dewey Defeats Miami

To bring our playoff coverage up, we’re bringing our formerly retired series of daily vignettes — titled “The Outlet” — back for the playoffs. “Don’t call it a comeback.” Though, you can call it series 2, as we are in the title. Every day (or, rather, every day we aren't doing a larger and grander piece), we’ll try to share two or three short vignettes from our collective of writers ruminating on the previous day’s events. Should be a fun time. Today’s Outlet covers the exaltation of Knicks fans in the wake of their first playoff win since 9/11. We were going to have another piece, but I'm on deadline at work and can't finish the second piece until later, so for now we'll stick with a single piece.

  • "Dewey Defeats Miami." by Aaron McGuire.

Click the jump for today's piece. Continue reading

The Outlet 2.03: As the Clock Tolls, it Tolls for McGee

As advertised in our Prognosti-ranking series, we’re bringing our formerly retired series of daily vignettes — titled “The Outlet” — back for the playoffs. “Don’t call it a comeback.” Though, you can call it series 2, as we are in the title. Every day (or, rather, every day we aren't doing a larger and grander piece), we’ll try to share two or three short vignettes from our collective of writers ruminating on the previous day’s events. In this case, the previous few days. Should be a fun time. Today’s Outlet covers the depressing blowout of the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday as well as JaVale McGee's brilliant game against the Lakers on Friday.

  • "Only at Nightfall: a Dirge for the Dallas Mavericks." by Alex Dewey.
  • "JaVale McGee and the Imagination of the Imperfect." by Aaron McGuire.

Click the jump for the two pieces. Continue reading

Getting Nihilistic with Bias and the Sports Guy

A "footnote title" respects the champion while also acknowledging that, "Look, SOMETHING funky happened and you can't discuss that postseason in detail without mentioning that one funky thing."

-- Bill Simmons, The Footnote Title

The other day, when Derrick Rose was injured, Bill Simmons tweeted a curious tweet. He said that the 2012 title was officially an "asterisk" title. I was a bit confused by this. I'm of the opinion that if you squint hard enough, you'll fail to find a single NBA champion who didn't play in a season where something funky disqualified a strong contender. We love to delve its pores for meaning, but sports is primarily a game of ephemera and luck. When your team wins the title, they deserved it essentially as much as any other, and relied on luck essentially as much as any other. According to Bill, quite literally every Spurs title deserves a footnote, as he stated outright the reasons that each and every championship they've ever won was fishy. This was a pretty big come-to-Jesus moment for me -- if my team's titles aren't really titles, well, damn, what does anything mean anymore? I feel like I've come out of the experience a better, more nihilistic person, fast approaching @NickFlynt levels. Given that this was helpful to me in my personal development, I figured I'd do our readers a solid and help fans of every team that's ever won the title learn why their titles can't be discussed without important, team-degrading footnotes. Continue reading

The Terrible Weight and Necessity of Conscience

Hey, Gothers, what's up? Last time we met I had a long anti-HoopIdea piece. Judging from the feedback, I'd say the frustrations I expressed were quite real and quite prevalent in the NBA blogosphere (even if my piece itself wasn't exactly flawless). Now, all that said, I have always appreciated deeply the writing at TrueHoop blog in general. Their coverage of the Sloan conference has been superb, among the many, many other things that they've done quite well. Whether I agree with them or not, they do tend to be one of the more thought-provoking NBA blogs on the web. For example...

In my HoopIdea piece, maturity was the name of the game. A couple days ago at TrueHoop, after the miraculous Clippers' comeback in Memphis, Kevin Arnovitz found Gilbert Arenas to meditate on the elusive conscience, or lack thereof, of the NBA's great tradition of chokers and closers. The piece is quite good. I want to call attention to one of the things Arenas says, because it strikes me as being poignantly half-true. Check it out:

His creativity lets him do that. It's a shot he thinks he can make. Just like Kobe. If you think about the best players in the world, they have no conscience. They try anything. They do anything. Brett Favre -- he threw any pass he thought he could throw. That's his creativity. That's what he's like. He's going to fail and he's also going to win.

But a guy with a conscience won't pull that trigger.

Arnovitz, voicing the natural response, counters "that Kevin Garnett has a conscience, that he exercises an uncommon discipline and has still been one of the best players of his time." But Arenas responds immediately with the hilarious rejoinder: "And that's why he doesn't get the ball in the fourth quarter." The dichotomy Gilbert paints is stark, but not uncommon in NBA culture. Overall, Arenas is giving us an exceedingly-well-expressed take on conventional wisdom, with a dose of Arenas's own creative flair. Continue reading

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