The 2018 #NBAPlayoffs tip off TODAY!
— NBA (@NBA) April 14, 2018
The Process Meets The Playoffs
Welcome all, thank you for joining us at Inside the ACC for my favorite time of the year, the NBA’s silly season. Two months of pure joy. Something to look forward to every day, and this weekend typifies the excitement with eight games spread out over two days. I will be examining the NBA playoffs through the ACC players on each playoff roster. We will post these in order throughout day one and day two of the playoffs. Please check back in periodically throughout and check out all 8 of them. Comment and tell me all the reasons I am wrong.
# 6 Miami Heat (44-38) @ #3 Philadelphia 76ers (52-30) Game 1, 8:00 Saturday
Teams split season series 2-2, with all but one being decided by under six points.
To be brutally honest, while I appreciate the pragmatism that accompanies The Process, I’m kind of sad that it is working out in the end. If only because too many other teams have begun to incorporate various tenets of the process into their own rebuilding schemes. Tanking is a very real problem right now. There is no need to begin mailing games in at mid-season if this isn’t the year for your team. Even more amazing, having read a Deadspin article on the Dallas finale vs Phoenix, I’m at a disconnect with why fans would continue to pay for seats for this. There needs to be some incentive for clubs to put their best on the floor and try to win games every night. Maybe going old school minor league baseball and dividing the season into halves somehow might be. The Carolina League had it right all along!
Embiid is hurt with a broken face. Dario Saric also lost some teeth, and had a DNP-Lips designation in the last box score. So…many…jokes….there…none of them appropriate. This Sixers team doesn’t know any other way, they play hard every game, are coached well every game. They could easily come out of the East, and seal the deal on any LeBron proceedings. He will be a Sixer, there is no compelling reason not to join them.
JJ Redick (Duke) has recreated himself as a mentor in Philadelphia, and gathered more respect from his colleagues year over year after arriving in Orlando as mostly a bust. He is a UFA this offseason, and the Sixers would be wise to keep him, but not at his current $23M price tag. I’m not sure that a player on the wrong side of 30 (he is 33) is in position to make demands for an increase, and the Sixers will be looking to shed as much salary as possible to fete Lebron with.
Redick has picked up a lot of the offense Embiid took with him to the DL, scoring 20 regularly with some nice outbursts in the last two weeks, scoring 25+ three times, while trying to integrate the extremely late Markelle Fultz into the lineup. He almost registered for the 50/40/90 club, falling just short on his FG%. His three pointers dominated those attempts, and where I’m from, 42% three is tantamount to 63% from two. Better than the goliaths Wilt and Shaq could put up dunking on fools.
If he happens to depart, it may be due in part to management feeling that Justin Anderson (Virginia) is a viable replacement. He scored 25 in a meaningless season finale, but had some injury concerns dating back to last year. His D is better than JJ’s, but his 3 was still only 33%, or a little lower than you’d want a starter to produce. JJ would be the best fit for this team moving forward, and maybe the Sixers will stray over the cap to retain him. Just so long as they avoid the repeater tax, and they should because Lebron will likely move on like a museum exhibit moving from city to city.
It’s the first playoff game since the Iverson era, and the building will be lit. A whole generation of kids became adolescents waiting for a sign of life. Can they handle the pressure, the Heat? If Embiid returns soon, the team can win going away. If not, the Heat can hang around. It’s that simple.
Miami loves itself some ACC, and has four players: Wayne Ellington (UNC), James Johnson (Wake Forest), Dion Waiters (Syracuse), Justise Winslow (Duke). Waiters is out after ankle surgery.
The other three all average between 24-27 minutes per game. Johnson started 41 games before it was discovered that he was better off the bench. Winslow got 25 random starts too, and Ellington is almost strictly a bench unit scorer. The three are closely bunched as scorers also. Combined they bring 30 points per night (29.8 precisely).
This pu-pu platter of guys that Miami is running out there is just unpredictable enough to surprise opponents with depth and matchup flexibility. They backed into a division crown the other night when both they and the Wizards lost, and the team isn’t bereft of talent. But this team’s system is suspect and elevated by sheer athleticism. They need to play their best to beat Philly, and even then that may not be enough, particularly if Dwyane Wade can’t help but turn into the ball hog he is. Got gifted a bunch of FT to extend that title series in 2006, turned it into a way of life. It’s time for him to retire, his style of basketball is the antithesis of how I’d like to see the game played. Driving one on three over and over again, particularly if you aren’t tall, and need more room to take off for dunks, is a low percentage play. I’ll say this controversially, and if you kill me for it, I’ll continue to “speak posthumously” : Dwyane Wade is a Hall of Famer, but he is not one of the all-time 50 greatest. And even if he cracked that list, he would be removed again after a few more guys retire.
The Process is about to steamroll the East for the next three to five years. They are paving over it. 52 wins will be a low water mark for a while, and it only netted them third in their own division this season. I for one am happy to have competitive Sixers-Celtics games again; they were my favorite thing in the 80s, more even than LA/Boston.
It’s odd that Sam Hinkie is untouchable now, much like Colin Kaepernick. Everybody wants to use his process, but nobody wants to be so bluntly honest about doing so. It’s hypocritical, he should likely be on a rebuild project. Orlando might be good, as that guy Henigan has stunk. The Bulls could use some help. The Kings cannot possibly prop Vlade Divac up much longer.
Charlotte is in need of a teardown/rebuild, and they just fired Rich Cho. Washington with Ernie Grunfeld is a prime candidate. Going to NYC to pick up Phil Jackson’s pieces is another option. Lots of messes to be straightened out. Hinkie, I believe, pays the price for the injuries that limited Noel and Embiid. But does that mean Colangelo should bear the brunt of the Simmons foot break last year? If not, then Hinkie deserves a pass.
Just so long as Hinkie doesn’t put himself up on the cross and say he died for Philly fans sins, he’ll be viewed more favorably as this collection puts together extended runs before splitting up due to salaries, touches, injuries or any of the dreaded pitfalls. Someone is always the sucker though, and NBA fans need to stop financially supporting the league and/or its’ sponsors during these concerted efforts to lose. Don’t buy into the “Illusion of Regret” that they sell. Just say that you’ll take your chances getting seats when they prove themselves. Fan subsidies need to cease, and teams need to operate with more integrity. Again, I am bittersweet about the fact that this worked out (kinda); we don’t need 10-12 teams a year deciding to shut it down. There are bona fide NBA players on every roster, phantom injuries and rest maintenance aside, those players need to compete til the 82nd game.
Prediction: Sixers in six. Dwyane Wade retires. Tanking continues at least a decade before a solution can be agreed upon by the competition committee.