The first round was cool, but the second round is here, and thats even cooler. I’m here to answer 10 questions you’ve got heading into the NBA quarterfinals.
1) How much money should I put on the Jazz?
The Jazz are +1700 to win their series against Golden State. Mind you, I do think Golden State will win the series, but Utah over the past two seasons has given them fits. I wouldn’t be TOTALLY shocked to see Utah win one of the first two at Oracle, in which case the series price would likely drop. You could then hedge your way to a profit.
I think Utah’s good enough to compete, steal a game or two, and make this a profitable series. I see it going six games.
Throw 20 bucks on Utah. A solid 20/340. Then, when the Golden State price drops after a game or two, hammer Golden State and ensure a profit. You’re welcome.
2) Should I even bother watching the Raptors/Cavs series?
Toronto’s Tucker and Ibaka additions aren’t enough to compete with Cleveland’s three point shooting barrage. Lowry and DeRozan’s naturally inefficient styles of play will once again result in their demise to Cleveland. Might they win a game or two? Sure, but it doesn’t matter.
We know what this series is. I was rooting for Milwaukee over Toronto solely because Giannis trying to topple LeBron would be something different than DeRozan and playoff Lowry bricking their way to another playoff exit. This is by far the least interesting second round series and is only worth watching to bask in the glory and greatness that is a fresh LeBron James.
3) If the medical technology allows such, should I donate my ankle to Markieff Morris?
In Washington’s Game 1 against Boston, they jumped out to a 16-0 lead before eventually falling to a red-hot Boston team from beyond the arc. In the meantime, the Wizards starting 4 (and small-ball 5) Markieff Morris suffered a brutal ankle injury.
This wasn’t you’re average “turn your ankle, jog to the locker tunnel, run a couple wind-sprints to test it out, re-tape and check back into the game” ankle turn. This was a “ah, his leg might actually be broken” ankle turn.
Without Morris, the Wizards were forced to not only allow Gortat to operate defensively against IT/Horford pick-and-rolls, but also rely on Jason Smith for valuable playoff minutes. Gortat, in his 39 minutes, was really good on both the offensive and defensive glass, but his footwork on the perimeter reminds me of a hobbled hippopotamus. He’s not built to hedge against IT in the pick-and-roll, and in the second half, the Celtics fully exploited this mismatch and let Thomas go to work. Oh, and Jason Smith is horrible, so having him on the floor for more than a second or two is never a formula for success.
If a doctor was to come to you and say “hey, you can donate your healthy ankle to Morris and he’ll be able to play in game two at full strength,” your answer, as a basketball fan, should be a resounding and immediate “yes.” For as well as the Wizards are built to exploit the IT/Wall matchup, they’re equally as screwed defensively on the perimeter without Morris. If you want this to be a watchable series, you need a healthy Morris. So, ankle replacement surgery it is.
4) Will LaMarcus Aldridge remember how to play basketball anytime soon?
His series stats weren’t totally awful (14.8 ppg/7.3 rpg on 45% shooting) against Memphis, but he just doesn’t look right. It’s not an “oh boy, LMA must be injured physically,” but rather a “does LMA have a concussion?” Seriously, it’s as if LMA, on certain possessions, forgets how to play basketball.
When he signed in San Antonio, he was a consensus top-5 power forward in the league, but as he develops with the Spurs, the gap between him and Kawhi grows exponentially larger seemingly every time they take the floor. Yes, that’s due in part to Kawhi’s offensive renaissance over the past two seasons, but LMA has anything but blossomed in Pop’s system.
Against Houston’s “Harden, three wings, and a center” lineup, I’m interested to see if Pop slides Aldridge to the 5, or if he keeps him at the four and forces him to step out and guard on the perimeter. Either way, he should have a mismatch on the offensive end of the floor, and I’m curious if he’ll be able to exploit.
In so many series, it comes down to “the team who has the best player on the court wins four games.” Here, with Harden and Kawhi neck-and-neck, I think it’s more about “who has the third best player on the floor?” If LMA is operating in the mid-post effectively and is a plausible #1 offensive option for San Antonio, I like the Spurs. If he disappears, and any of Eric Gordon, Lou Williams, or Pat Beverley is the third-most impactful player? I like Houston.
My guess? No. LMA doesn’t figure it out in time against Houston and Harden and the Rockets prevail in 6.
5) How old is Boris Diaw?
6) Who is one player who could hit a buzzer-beater that no one would see coming?
In round one, we were almost blessed with a CJ Miles game-winner in Game 1 against Cleveland. Seemingly every postseason, some unsung hero comes out of nowhere to bury a game-winner off a botched final play. For the purposes of this question I’m eliminating the following superstars from discussion: LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, IT, Wall, Beal, Curry, Durant, Thompson, Hayward, Joe Johnson, Harden, Kawhi.
Lou Williams or Eric Gordon I think would be a popular pick here. It’s not unreasonable they could get open threes in a final possession off a Harden assist or an offensive rebound.
But, instead I’m nabbing Joe Ingles.
In Utah’s Game 6 against LAC, the Jazz were down 3 in the final moments. Rather than calling timeout, Snyder let Iso Joe *dribble, dribble, dribble, launch a three*, which resulted in a brick and a Clippers win.
Instead, in a tightly contested Game 2 at Oracle, Snyder will be faced with a similar situation, only this time he’ll opt to call the timeout.
Utah will be down two, but on the road at Oracle, he doesn’t like their chances in overtime, so a Joe Johnson floater is out of the question. They need three.
They’ll run something, it won’t work, and George Hill will hoist a contested three with 5 seconds left. It bricks, providing for a long rebound which Gobert tips out to the opposite wing. The ball falls into Hayward’s lap. His primary defender had left him to go help check out Gobert, so for a second, Hayward is open. From his peripheral vision, he sees Joe Ingles’ defender sprint from the corner to contest Hayward’s three. Hayward dishes the extra pass to Ingles in the corner, who bangs the three at the buzzer. Utah goes back to Salt Lake City tied 1-1 with Golden State.
7) Will I like the officiating?
But, then you’ll remember the NCAA Tournament and be like, “eh, actually it’s pretty good.”
8) In his series against Utah, how many times will Curry go bananas?
Three. Game one will be shades of 2015-16 Curry. Game 3 in Utah will be a “hahahahaha you really thought we we’re gonna let you take a 2-1 lead in this series” Curry. And game 6 will be a “yeah, I don’t really feel like playing a Game 7 against you guys” Curry.
Those three Curry’s combine for 124 points on 23/35 from beyond over those three games.
9) How many times will I see “The Anderson’s got tickets to the game, how’d they get tickets?!?!”
That would be dependent on how many playoff games you watch. If you’re like me, and watch every game, then probably 348 times.
If you’re more like my dad, and watch probably 35% of the games, then probably 126 times.
If you watch a game or two, 43 times.
Either way, by the end of June, you will know the commercial dialogue by heart.
10) How many times will your eyes bleed while watching the Wizards bench?
You might think this answer is wholly dependent on how many times you watch Washington play, but fair warning, sometimes, just while I’m checking the ESPN Gamecast on my phone, my eyes are sent into bleeding fits as I see “Jason Smith misses 6 foot jump-shot” and “Brandon Jennings turnover.” Sometimes, I don’t even have to check. Suddenly I’m flooded with this eerie feeling that the Wizards bench is blowing it.
Honestly, this is the only burning question to which I do not have an answer. But, I will say this: the only chance that the answer is “0” is if the Wizard’s starters play 48 minutes apiece.