Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 NBA Playoffs Quick Thoughts

Damn. Have these playoffs been fantastic or what? If you answered "or what," get the hell out, I've lost all faith in you. If you answered, "yes, they have been fantastic," get ready for some bullet points.

  • Basketball is truly amazing in that it is the only sport where a contest can transform into a performance. We've all experienced it. One player completely transcending the game and doing absolutely everything right. A team completely and perfectly meshing, becoming infinitely greater than its individual players. Two players (or even two teams) going blow for blow in a perfect, choreographed duel on the hardwood - except its not choreographed and everyone's doing everything fluidly within the game, which only gives it an added flavor of astonishment when it happens perfectly right. These performances can come at any time. Kobe kicked when off in Game 5 of the Lakers-Hornets series by throwing down over Okafor like it was 2001. Gary Neal extended the Spurs lives with a buzzer beating three, and the Spurs followed up with a flawless overtime. You never know how long the brilliance will last - a few plays, a quarter, a game, a series; or who it will all affect, but you damn well better appreciate it while it's happening
  • This is my fiancee's first experience watching playoff basketball with me. She doesn't quite understand basketball. Which, to be fair, I've been watching and playing my whole life so it comes naturally to me. Someone just starting to watch it now has no idea who to be watching and when, how to see a play develop, how to read the players and anticipate what's coming up next. It's coming along though. She's picking up a few things here and there. Her terminology isn't always spot on yet though. Tonight she said, "I hope he free throws as good as that other guy." Adorable. Also, the announcers at one point said "67 seconds left in the game." She looked up and said, "It looks like a minute and seven seconds to me." Also adorable. And yes, she's very smart, she gets thrown out of her element when basketball things are happening.
  • The final bullet point for now is regarding the List of Greatness. Specifically the 2011 inductee. There's about five active players who all have a legitimate shot at making the list depending on how the playoffs, All-NBA Team Selections, and MVP Voting shakes out. They are:
    • Chauncey Billups - 252.2
    • Ray Allen - 243.9
    • Dwyane Wade - 240.0
    • Paul Pierce - 228.5
    • Pau Gasol - 216.5
    • Dwight Howard is sitting at 194.8, so it's conceivable he could make the list this year but he'd pretty much have to win the MVP, be on the All-NBA 1st Team, and practically carry the Magic to the NBA title.
  • So, if you want to keep track of which player is in the lead as the playoffs are going on, here's what you need to know. Players get 15 points for an All-NBA 1st Team Selection, 10 points for a 2nd Team Selection. The MVP is worth 25 points, but those points are divided up amongst every player who got at least one vote for MVP. If Derrick Rose gets 75% of the MVP vote, he'll get 75% of those 25 points (18.75). If Howard gets the other 25%, then he gets the other 6.25 points added to his overall rating. Win Shares are meaningless in the playoffs until the conference finals. If a player's team loses in the conference finals, take his playoff win shares, multiply them by 2.5, and add them to his rating. If a player's team loses in the finals, take his win shares, multiply by 5, and add them to his rating. Same process for winning the finals but multiply by 10.
  • It's going to be a tight race. Now that the Knicks are out, I can't see any way Chauncey holds on to the top spot. (Which is good for me, since I will admit I hate the guy and would seriously start questioning the value of this whole project if he got in.) It may just come down to if the Celtics can beat the Heat, and how well Pierce does compared to Paul. (I'm kind of writing off Pau for this season - he'd have to play incredibly while everyone else on that list played horribly, and he's not off to a very good start on that so far. I'll give him another year or two before he's ready to claim a spot on the list.)

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