Ugh. I’m actually depressed writing this. I mean, it’s not just the end of a season…. It’s the end of an ACTUAL 82 game season, something we weren’t blessed enough to watch last season (thanks, Stern).
We witnessed a dazzling post season, even though we were robbed of the presence of Kobe Bryant, a healthy Steve Nash (He was hurt so I’m counting him), Rajon Rondo, Russel Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Danilo Gallinari, Danny Granger and many others due to the injuries.
LeBron James finally got his 2nd ring with a game 7 win over the Spurs. That’s also Bosh’s 2nd ring, and Wade’s 3rd. We were shown just how far working your ass off and brilliant coaching can really take you by Popovich and the Spurs, who were only a few made free throws away from taking home the title. FOUR finals MVP’s (Parker, Duncan, LeBron and Wade) battled it out, but in a way we haven’t seen in a long time. These 2 teams respected each other. Not 1 technical foul was given to a player or coach the ENTIRE series. Out of 7 games, ZERO technical fouls. That’s something.
Danny Green (former Cavalier teammate of LeBron) almost single handedly proved just how big of a b$%*& karma could be by breaking Ray Allen’s 3 point final’s record through only 5 games, while at the same time ALMOST completely killing the Big 3′s (Mainly LeBron’s) hopes and dreams of the 2nd title. But, for some reason the basketball God’s came in and said “Nahh”, and we saw the Heat make Danny Green forget how to exist in game 6 and 7, and just to put the nail in the coffin… Ray Allen got Green back for breaking that record by hitting the game tying/season saving 3 to force overtime. Chris Andersen, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier provided the energy the Big 3 needed to win at different, but multiple, times throughout this series. The Heat eventually won game 6, and then 7. So, Heat fans… didn’t ever think you’d love Ray Allen this much, did you?
LeBron not only grabbed that 2nd ring of his, but he also took an AK-47 and blasted away the ridiculous talk of every nay-Sayer (you don’t even know how happy I am I got to use that) that tried to say LeBron isn’t the best player since Jordan. He finished the Spurs off in game 7 with 35 points, 4 assists, 2 steals, 12 rebounds and only 2 turnovers… in 45 minutes. He hit 5 threes (a shot he’s not supposed to have), he hit a 20 foot pull-up to put them ahead for good (another shot he’s not supposed to have), made all 8 of his free throws (something he’s supposed to choke on), and played phenomenal in the games before that where his back was up against the wall (the first 3 games he didn’t score over 18 points, the last 4 games his least-scoring tota was 25 points). Anyone else wanna talk about how he “isn’t clutch”? Or how he “isn’t a winner”? No? Okay, good. Keep it that way. Those days are behind us. If Wilt Chamberlain can be considered one of the greats after only winning 2 championships even though he’s notorious for being one of the worst teammates in the history of the league (seriously look that up) then LeBron has officially answered any of the previous questions about him and his legacy. Oh, btw guys… he’s only 28.
Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili gave it one last go. It was amazing. The precision, the finesse, the fundamentals… everything about the San Antonio Spur’s playoff run was amazing. There really isn’t any other way to describe it. Sure, Tracy McGrady didn’t get that ring… but it’s okay. Popovich has tons to work with for the future with Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal, Danny Green, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter and their cap room going into the off season. Ginobili put on a performance to remember for the San Antonio home crowd in game 5, which will probably be his last game (he’s been contemplating retiring for a while now). Tim Duncan solidified his legacy as one of the greatest players of all time by putting up astounding numbers. He logged playing time’s of 44:26 and 43:10 in back-to-back games in which he put up lines of 30-17 and 24-12 on 21-of-39 shooting from the floor combined. He also shot 12-of-13 from the line in a pair of games we should not forget when retelling the legend of The Big Fundamental. Had it not been for the hamstring injury of Parker disrupting the Spur’s pick-and-roll game, this series would have only been better. A Game 7 was the only way to go out. It’s not really that crazy to say the Spurs could be back in the finals next season. Parker is having a very Steve Nash-ish career by getting better as he ages, Duncan can stay healthy and still be productive, Leonard is getting better and better every day, Popovich is Popovich, and not to mention they have money to make moves in free agency. With all the young teams up and coming it’s hard to picture a rematch of the Spurs and Heat, but knowing that Popovich, Duncan, and Parker will all be there next year… don’t count them out.
While the Finals were marvelous, we unfortunately can’t get hung up on them. Let’s see… we covered LeBron shutting everyone up, The Spurs being the ideal franchise, injuries almost ruining everything, Ray Allen and Danny Green being daggers to each other, hmm… alright I think we got everything there is to talk about for the finals. So now what?
Finals aside, what did we see/learn from the 2013 playoffs? We learned that Scott Brooks isn’t the coach we thought he was. Tom Thibodeau is an even better coach than we though he was. We learned just how valuable of a player Russel Westbrook is. Legends like the Lakers have a lot more problems than we originally thought, and the Celtic’s championship days are over because they’re officially entering rebuilding mode. We learned that despite huge success, a coaching job is never safe (the firing of George Karl and Lionel Hollins). We learned teams with young talent like the Warriors, Nuggets, Rockets, Pacers, Grizzlies and the Bulls are the next “teams to beat” in the NBA, and will be for the next few seasons. We learned that James Harden, Steph Curry, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Marc Gasol, Kenneth Faried and Kawhi Leonard are potentially stars in the making. We learned that the best season ever for the Clippers and the worst season ever for the Lakers both end with a 1st round loss… which is both sad and comical. We learned the Hawks are cutting ties with the Woodson era, and are rebuilding around Horford, Teague, a long time assistant of Popovich (New head coach Budenhozer) and a good bit of cap room. We learned that Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony have leadership problems. The most important thing we learned, though? WE WON’T MISS YOU DAVID STERN. WE WON’T MISS YOU OR YOUR GOD AWFUL REFS WHO WE HOPE ADAM SILVER FIRES AS HIS FIRST ACTION AS COMMISSIONER.
Oh, the 2012-2013 regular season. I think what I’m gonna do here is highlight the pros and cons of each team. I’m gonna start with a few teams in the West. I’ll have to break this up into 2 articles…. so this is
LAKERS: It’s already been a year ago that the Phoenix Suns traded Steve Nash to the Lakers for… nothing, and it was only a few weeks after that Dwight Howard was traded there, too. The media already was calling Kobe, Nash and Howard The Western Conference Champs, the Spurs were yesterday’s news. As a diehard Suns fan, this was rough for me. I had to come to the realization that my idol had just went to a team I grew to have nothing but pure hatred for. The Suns were nobodies now, they weren’t going to be on TV anymore… and the Lakers were. At least I had that. I would get to watch Nash experience success in a way I hoped he never would. What did we figure out, though? The Lakers learned HOW HARD IT IS TO DO WHAT THE HEAT HAVE DONE FOR 3 YEARS STRAIGHT. The Lakers fired Mike Brown after a shaky start. Steve Nash broke his leg, the worst injury of his career. LA Hired Mike D’Antoni, who implemented a completely new offense to the team. Kobe didn’t like not scoring. Dwight didn’t like not scoring. Nash was fine with changing his game, and is an effective spot up shooter as well as the best free throw shooter of all time. Pau Gasol couldn’t fit in. Earl Clark could be okay. Mike D’Antoni is a stubborn coach. This season was rough for the Lakers, but it still ended in a playoff outing. Take away the injuries, and who knows what this team could have been. They were fun to watch rather it was the play making of Pau and Howard, or the throwback performances of Kobe, or the publicized fighting between Howard and Kobe.
The pros: Mike D’Antoni figured out how to win at the end of the season. They went 28-12 under him to end the season, and won 10 straight at one point. This, of course, was when everyone was healthy. Despite next season looking bleak, they do have a TON of cap room going into the 2014 season. If the Lakers are down, they won’t be there for long. Howard could possibly still sign, Nash will come back healthy, and we could even see Kobe come back. Depending on how this team’s managed over the next few months, they could add some younger players and we could see LA turn around and make the playoffs… and lost in the 2nd round at best. But like I said, they won’t be down for long. After all, you do know LeBron is a free agent in 2014, right?
The cons: Dwight Howard doesn’t like Mike D’Antoni, or any coach, probably. They don’t have young players. They don’t have draft picks. They don’t have cap room to sign anyone. They have a still-injury-bothered Gasol, and Kobe’s still hurt. Next season really is a hit-or-miss year for them. I’m going with… bunt. They’ll make the playoffs, but won’t be a factor.
ROCKETS- Pros: James Harden’s emergence as a star. The dude is a machine. Jeremy Lin is an adequate point guard, but he is overpaid. Chandler Parsons can shoot the lights out of the ball. They were the 2nd best scoring team in the league, the 6th best rebounding team, and they 7th best assisting team in the league. With Kevin McHale proving to be a solid head coach, Asik being a perfect fit at center, they’re not too far from being a big threat in the west. Not to mention, they have enough cap room to sign Dwight Howard…
Cons: Defense. They were 28th in the league in points allowed last season. So yeah, defense.
WARRIORS- Pros: Andrew Bogut is still Andrew Bogut, so that’s awesome for this team. If they can keep him and Steph Curry healthy, Harrison Barnes doesn’t have a sophomore slump, and David Lee keeps it up on offense… Mark Jackson is coaching a top 4 seed in the west for the next few seasons. And they’re a really, really fun team, too. Klay Thompson and Steph Curry…. definitely the best shooting back court in the game
Cons: INJURIES. Steph Curry’s ankles are glass, Boguts knees could just fall off at any point, and Brandon Rush is still recovering from his ACL tear. One injury could derail this team’s playoffs hopes and dreams. But don’t worry…. JARRET JACK AND ANDRES BIENDRIS ARE THINGS.
GRIZZLIES- Pros: Marc Gasol, Mike Conley JR, Austin Daye, Ed Davis… that’s a ton of young, cheap talent. If Zach Randolph is as productive as he was last season, and they make the right moves in free agency… Memphis will contend next season just like they did this year.
Cons: Lionel Hollins is gone… for some reason… and their future really depends on who they hire. And the consistency on the offensive end of Z-Bo and Mike Conley JR.
CLIPPERS-Pros: Chris Paul will more than likely stay, and there’s even talks of bringing in Dwight Howard. Even if they don’t, and CP3 leaves… Eric Bledsoe and Blake Griffin with the rest of their team is still not bad. And if CP3 leaves they’ll have cap room. And if they pick a solid coach who Paul enjoys playing for, we could see this Clippers team finally reach their potential. ESPECIALLY if Blake Griffin develops more of an all-around game
Cons: Well, one of their biggest cons WAS Vinny Del Negro’s coaching style. They didn’t really have a set plan other than “Hey Chris Paul run a pick and roll”. Another con is there’s talk going around that CP3 may not stay… but I’m saying that he does. Their success really depends on who they hire as a coach…. and CP3 I GUESS.
Speaking of L.A….
Check out what one of the head guys at our site has to say about his favorite play of the season.
Ben: “As a huge Lakers fan, this season did not have a lot of highlights; just a lot of disappointment. It is hard to believe just how bad the Lakers were. Also being a Lakers fan makes the following statement extremely painful: my favorite moment of the year is from a Clipper. That’s right. Who would have thought a few years ago that a highlight from a Clipper was even possible. My favorite moment was DeAndre Jordan’s dunk over Brandon Knight of the Clippers on March 10th. It was a ferocious monster dunk that seemed to suck the life out of Brandon Knight as he fell to the floor in a heap. The dunk had such a lasting effect that Brandon Knight on the floor became a popular meme. It was intense. Now here is to hoping that next year the highlights will include Kobe Bryant’s comeback!”
What a Lakers fan…
NUGGETS- Pros: They’re young, quick, in shape, and play great at home. They’re coming off their best season as a franchise… and they just fired their coach. If Gallinari comes back healthy and they hire the right person to fill George Karl’s shoes (Lionel Hollins maybe?) then they’ll be fine. They led the league in scoring, were top 5 in rebounds and assists. So, they can move the ball and put numbers up… again, they just need a solid coach to replace Karl.
Cons: Their best player, Gal, tore is ACL and they just fired their coach. And they were 23rd in the league in points allowed. This could be because they’re young and Karl isn’t notorious for his defense, but Gal won’t be back until January or February. Depending on how well Wilson Chandler plays, and stays healthy, they could be alright. I don’t see them sliding TOO much, but they do need to work on their play on the road.
SPURS- Pros: They’re coming off their 12th straight 50+ win season, they made it all the way to the finals, and took the best team in the league to a game 7 that actually lived up to the hype. Popovich is sill there, Tony Parker seems to be getting better and better, and they have a good bit of cap room going into the off season. With the growing of Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Gary Neal and so on… we should expect nothing but excellence and precision from San Antonio next season, just like we’ve all been accustomed to
Cons: Age. Manu Ginobili will probably retire. Tim Duncan is about to be 38. Tony Parker will be turning 31 next year… so their big 3 is starting to look “Lakers-big-3ish”, but Popovich knows what he’s doing. I’m sure him and the rest of the Spur’s organization will figure out how to continue to play at a high, competitive level.
THUNDER- Pros: They have this person called Kevin Durant. Ya know, only the 2nd best player in the league. Oh, and they have Russel Westbrook, too. He isn’t TOO bad. Given that we were robbed of the opportunity to see what the Thunder team could do in the post season due to Westbrooks injury in the first round, I don’t really see how they could get worst. Westbrook and Durant will do their thing, Ibaka and Sefolosha will still play great defense… they’ll be as competitive as they were last season, especially if they pick up some pieces to make up for the lack of Harden.
Cons: Scott Brooks may not be the coach we thought he was, and he showed that with the way he handled Westbrook’s injury. I know it’s a small sample, but great coaches (I.e Thibodeau) figure out how to push through. Brooks didn’t, and we saw him become pretty 1-dimensional. I’m sure they’ll be fine, though, given they do something useful with the waste of space that is Kendrick Perkins and fill in some gaps on their roster.
Check out the rest of my article in the next week! I’ll go over the rest of the West after the draft, and finish the East later on. Thanks for reading