2012 NBA Playoffs

Brown Mamba’s 2012 Playoff Predictions

The best word to describe this lockout-shortened, compressed, mess of a season is “scrum”. This season, which has careened from unpredictable low points to inconsistent quality has been appropriately bookended by a capitalist’s embarrassment (the David Stern veto) and a union leader’s shady dealings (seriously, Billy Hunter?) Teams have scratched and clawed their way to parity in a schedule filled with back-to-back-to-backs, and weird results on an almost nightly basis. In fact, the major takeaways from the season have been barely explicable, with the aging San Antonio Spurs and the oft-injured Chicago Bulls wrapping up 1 seeds, while the Charlotte Bobcats set NBA records for futility.With all that said however, the show must go on and with it our (Chasing 23′s) favorite time of the year — the NBA playoffs. Let the 2012 predictions commence:

FIRST ROUND

Eastern Conference

#1 Chicago Bulls vs. #8 Philadelphia 76ers
Even an injured Derrick Rose is special in the playoffs. Combine that with the best coach in the league this year (apologies to Pop), and the Bulls should handle the 76ers. Philadelphia started the season off impressively, but ended the season on a 15-22 slide. The names Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner also don’t bring a tremendous amount of confidence come playoff time. Prediction: Bulls in 5

#2 Miami Heat vs. #7 New York Knicks
This is clearly the glamour match-up in a most unglamourous conference. The Heat begin their quest to prevent Lebron from having perhaps the most disappointing start to a career of any superstar in the history of sports (more on that in a future post). But no pressure. The Knicks have shown new life under Mike Woodson, who has proved that Mike Brown doesn’t have a monopoly on bald, slightly rotund African American coaches who enjoy catering heavily to their superstars. With Jeremy Lin out and Chandler’s wispy frame hampered by the flu, expect the Knicks to extend this series just slightly based off the strength of one great Melo 4th quarter performance. Prediction: Heat in 5

#3 Indiana Pacers vs. #6 Orlando Magic
If there has ever been a less interesting 3-6 match-up in recent NBA playoff history, I’m curious to know. The Pacers post-Reggie Miller have become painfully boring, and face a poorly constructed Magic team missing their sensitive, attention-starved leader (and only real ticket seller). The only real drama here is (1) will Larry Bird quit after the Pacers get bounced in the 2nd round and (2) in which game of this series will a disinterested Magic team officially quit on Stan Van Gundy? My over/under on the latter is Game 2, so this one looks like the Pacers going away. Prediction: Pacers in 5.

#4 Atlanta Hawks vs. #5 Boston Celtics
This is a bad match-up for the Boston Celtics. Josh Smith and Joe Johnson match-up well with their counterparts in green and the Hawks will actually have homecourt advantage in this series. That being said, the Celtics have too much pride to let Hawks knock them out this early. Atlanta’s home court should push this series slightly longer than it should go, but still expect the Celtics and their veteran savvy to live for another day. Prediction: Celtics in 7.

Western Conference

#1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #8 Utah Jazz
All bow to the miraculous Gregg Popovich, who despite an aging Duncan and a revolving supporting cast managed once again to improbably bring the Spurs to the no. 1 seed in the West — despite having far less top level talent than their counterparts, OKC and the Lakers. There will be no first round upset of the Spurs this year, as the supporting cast is better and they are facing a Jazz team that lacks the firepower of last year’s Grizzlies.  Prediction: Spurs in 6.

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #7 Dallas Mavericks
Without a doubt, the best match-up of the 1st round — the defending NBA champions vs. the young upstarts (and Western Conference favorites). The Mavericks have experienced a season-long hangover following up their championship season – while the losses of Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, and the disastrous Lamar Kardashian trade haven’t helped. While optimistic Mavericks fan may believe that an “on” switch exists where the Mavericks can switch into playoff mode, there have been no indications that this team is capable of such a feat (much like the Lakers of last year). Add to that a Thunder team that is determined to get better each year, and it looks like the 2010-11 champions are due for an early exit. Prediction: Thunder in 6.

#3 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #6 Denver Nuggets
Things could not have broken down better for the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. A collapse by the Clippers kept them out of an ominous first round match-up with the Grizzlies, while the surging Nuggets have fallen into their lap in the first round. The Nuggets can (and most likely will) give the inconsistent Lake Show all they want to handle, but unlike the Grizzlies or Mavericks do not possess the firepower to actually beat LA in a 7 game series. This series however will serve as a powerful indicator of how far the Lakers will go in the playoffs. A powerful performance bodes well, whereas a weak effort (similar to the one last year against Chris Paul’s Hornets) may forebode another 2nd round exit. Prediction: Lakers in 6.

#4 Memphis Grizzlies vs. #5 Los Angeles Clippers
Where art thou, Chauncey Billups? While Chris Paul may be the the MVP of this year’s Clippers, Billups while he was healthy was the steady hand and veteran influence. Once he went down, the Clippers aspirations as contenders this season, went down with him. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, are the proverbial “team that nobody wants to play”. Still, Chris Paul is an absolute baller in the playoffs which will make this series close. In the final analysis, these teams are close enough where home court will be the final determinant, and on this account, the Grizzlies have the edge. Prediction: Grizzlies in 7.

 

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

#1 Chicago Bulls vs. #5 Boston Celtics
A funny thing happened on the way to the end of the season — the Boston Celtics woke up and actually began playing like this may be their last shot at glory. Some clever additions (Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Mickael Pietrus) have extended the lifespan of The Green Men. On the Chicago side, Thibs has been absolutely brilliant, leading the Bulls to another spectacular season. Still, it feels like the Bulls don’t have the same fire as last year in their sophomore effort. Expect the Celtics to pull out all the stops in one last hurrah for the Big Three, setting up a classic Eastern Conference finals. Prediction: Celtics in 7.

#2 Miami Heat vs. #3 Indiana Pacers
The basketball gods are smiling on Lebron this season. Miami has to be thanking their lucky stars that they avoided a tough matchup with the Celtics in exchange for a relatively pedestrian one against the Pacers. The Pacers are at best a no. 5 seed in the East masquerading as a no. 3 seed (primarily due to the injuries and the lackadaisical nature of the Celtics, Hawks, and Magic). Nothing to see here folks, move on. Prediction: Heat in 5.

# 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. #4 Memphis Grizzlies
The match-up from hell for the San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzlies handled San Antonio last year and come into this year’s playoffs even hotter. The Spurs have also been built for the regular season, with their biggest clutch playoff performer (Manu Ginobili) off his prime and their go-to scorer (Duncan) prone to nights where he disappears. Tony Parker has had an admirable season, but is not the elite playoff point guard a la Rose or Paul that can carry a team on his back singlehandedly over an extended playoff run. The Grizzlies will beat the Spurs once again and Cinderella will have an invite to the ball. Prediction: Grizzlies in 6.

#2 Oklahoma City vs. #3 Los Angeles Lakers
This is the match-up that everyone wants to watch in the Western Conference and truly represents one of those NBA “passing of the torch” series (for more on this: see Celtics-Pistons, Pistons-Bulls, Lakers-Bulls in the late 80s/early 90s) The Lakers should win this series, with good match-ups in World Peace against Durant and Sessions now able to match the speed of Westbrook. Still, the inconsistency and lack of chemistry throughout the season will be LA’s final undoing. The Thunder will complete their last hurdle on their way to official standard bearer of the Western Conference. Prediction: Thunder in 6.

CONFERENCE FINALS

#2 Miami Heat vs. #5 Boston Celtics
This is a match-up that looks far better on paper than it will be in reality. The Heat’s physicality combined with the Celtics having expended all of their energy to get to this point will make this series an anti-climactic one. Expect Lebron to be dominant in finally pushing Pierce and his cohorts into retirement (or at least mediocrity) for good.  Prediction: Heat in 5.

#2 Oklahoma City vs. #4 Memphis Grizzlies
OK, this series will not win any awards as a match-up of America’s sexiest cities, but a closer analysis reveals a surprisingly high talent level with Durant/Westbrook/Harden/Perkins facing off against Gay/Randolph/Gasol/Conley. Both of these teams are physical, athletic and willing to mix it up in the paint. This should be an entertaining series but at the end of the day, Durant will not be denied on his path to a 1st NBA finals appearance. Prediction: Thunder in 6.

Which bring us to…

THE FINALS
I could wax philosophical about a projected match-up between the Thunder and the Heat, but that would be a disservice to what this final series (and really season) is really about: Lebron James and his quest to quell his demons. Perhaps no NBA athlete has faced greater pressure to win a championship that Lebron this year. However with each of his failures over the past few years, the weight of the pressure on Lebron’s shoulders has become more noticeable. Will Lebron finally take charge in the biggest moments on the biggest stage? Or will he defer in the name of making the “correct basketball play”? Whatever the outcome, it is certain that the series will be solely determined on whether or not Lebron decides that HE wants to win it all. This writer happens to believe that time is now — and the ascension of The Scheme Team to the top of the NBA ladder will be complete. Prediction: Heat in 6.

Related posts:

  1. Brown Mamba’s 2011 NBA Playoff Predictions
  2. Bill Simmons: 2011 NBA Playoff to the Wire (5/3/11)
  3. Is 2012 The Year Of The NBA Dark Horse?
  4. J.A. Adande: A Year of Playoff Experience for Durant and Rose (5/26/11)
  5. Brown Mamba’s 2011 NBA Draft Winners and Losers

Discussion

35 Responses to “Brown Mamba’s 2012 Playoff Predictions”

  1. “Or will he defer in the name of making the “correct basketball play”?”

    You’re right. Kobe would NEVER do that. See the 2006 playoffs.

    Posted by The Realist #2 | April 28, 2012, 9:55 am
    • Sorry Realist #2, I’m sure it was buried in there somewhere within your comment, but was there a point you were making?

      Posted by Brown Mamba | April 28, 2012, 2:27 pm
      • These picks look more solid now that Rose appears to be done.

        Posted by pointguard40 | April 28, 2012, 2:46 pm
      • Yes. If you’re going to question players for “making the right basketball play”, you probably shouldn’t write an entire article that defends Kobe Bryant for doing the same thing in a Game 7 series against the Suns in the 2006 playoffs. Seems a bit biased, don’t you think?

        Posted by The Realist #2 | April 28, 2012, 3:04 pm
        • OWNED…lol

          I luv this guy

          Posted by Mike | April 28, 2012, 4:05 pm
        • Frankly, pushing this whole “deferring in the most important moments” line is ludicrous. We know that

          1) Lebron is a more productive clutch player than anyone in the NBA. That includes Kobe Bryant, who is also an appreciably worse clutch shooter than Kobe.

          2) The clutch matters less than just about any portion of an NBA game in determining who wins. The first 5 minutes of each half are by far the most important-the correlation between great clutch performance and winning is extremely small.

          http://www.backpicks.com/2012/04/26/what-part-of-an-nba-game-matters-most-not-crunch-time/

          “Will Lebron finally take charge in the biggest moments on the biggest stage? Or will he defer in the name of making the “correct basketball play”?”

          Bias alert! Do you actually have any evidence that supports that it’s a better basketball play to keep the ball and shoot versus setting up a teammate? I’d love to read it if you do, but I predict you don’t have any.

          We know that a 1 on 1 isolation play is the lowest yield play in basketball. On a league-wide level, we know that passing out of an iso increases a team’s likeliness to score substantially. Given this, slamming a player for doing just that is completely illogical, unless you’re privy to some information I’m not.

          “it is certain that the series will be solely determined on whether or not Lebron decides that HE wants to win it all.”

          And I’m sure you’re looking forward to heaping 100% of the blame on him if they lose. Good thing you have a blatantly transparent double standard for your hero, Kobe.

          http://chasing23.com/kobe-bryant-quit-game-7/

          “and the ascension of The Scheme Team to the top of the NBA ladder will be complete”

          Don’t like the Heat much, eh? I would have had no idea. Thanks for clearing that up.

          Please, quit pushing story lines when all the evidence is against what you’re saying (or debate them if you feel differently) and please quit applying different criteria to different players based on whether or not you like them. It makes your work appear agenda-driven.

          Posted by Lochpster | April 28, 2012, 5:37 pm
        • Thanks for taking a previous post of mine and twisting it into something completely unrelated. Two points I’ll make here:

          1. The point of my 2006 playoffs post was that Kobe didn’t quit, not the merits of making the correct basketball play vs. trying to take over.

          2. With Lebron, if you noted my comments, I was referring to his performance (or lack thereof on the very biggest stage at the biggest moments. There are very specific times where the correct basketball play is not sufficient. When your team needs you to do more than delegate the responsibility to a 16 footer by Udonis Haslem. Lebron has still not done this in the *very biggest moments*, and thus, still does not have a ring to speak of.

          Nice try though, Realist #2.

          Posted by Brown Mamba | April 28, 2012, 5:41 pm
          • You’re arguing semantics, Mamba. Some talking heads in the media often associate “making the right basketball play” with “quitting” because they buy into the irrational narrative that stars *must* take all the shots to win a game (or playoff series, or title; doesn’t matter which one you choose – they are all based on the fundamental unit of a win). In this particular case, Kobe Bryant didn’t shoot the ball in the 2nd half of GAME SEVEN (as in, if your team doesn’t win the game you are eliminated from title contention) of the 2006 playoff series vs. the Suns. Instead of applying your ridiculous standards of “winning” to Bryant however, you wrote an entire article justifying Kobe’s decision to “defer” and blamed his supporting cast for not making shots.

            Write whatever articles you want, Mamba. But can you at least be consistent with your reasoning?

            Posted by The Realist #2 | April 28, 2012, 6:16 pm
          • Realist #2 – you seem bent on portraying me as some irrational Kobe fan. There are a lot out there, I won’t dispute, but you’re just simply off base with your logic here.

            Let’s go through it, just to make sure we’re clear. Kobe actually did try to take over the game in the 1st half of that Game 7 against the Suns. He found that the result of this was the Lakers were down by 15, so, he made a adjustment which he believed would give the Lakers their only shot of winning that game (the truth is, the Lakers were doomed in either case).

            In the case of Lebron specifically, in both series against the Celtics while he was with the Cavs and last year vs. the Mavs, he literally disengaged from the games and seemed to defer on taking control every time he was passed the ball down the stretches of these series. The problem for him is that one of his greatest assets, team play, has become one of his greatest flaw in the absolute most pressure-packed moments. Frankly, and almost any basketball fan who watched those series will tell you, it was weird.

            Again, I’m not arguing that 99% of the time, Lebron’s way of playing works. He has a higher level of efficiency, shoots a higher % of game winning shots, etc. However, there is that 1% when he needs to transform into something a bit different, and it remains to be seen if he will do so (and I happen to think he will this year).

            Posted by Brown Mamba | April 29, 2012, 11:52 pm
          • @BROWN MAMBA
            The Lakers won only one (2nd) quarter of that game. It was the one in which Kobe scored 18 of his 24 points. Obviously if he didn’t quit shooting the Lakers would have had a better chance to win that game. Instead he quit.

            In the first quarter Kobe scored 5 points and the result was the Lakers was down by 17 (scoring 5 points is hardly a taking over).

            He took over ONLY in the 2nd period, the only period the Lakers won.

            Posted by doosiolek | April 30, 2012, 1:55 am
          • “In the case of Lebron specifically, in both series against the Celtics while he was with the Cavs and last year vs. the Mavs, he literally disengaged from the games and seemed to defer on taking control every time he was passed the ball down the stretches of these series.”

            False. He, Wade, and Nowitzki were the leaders from that series in shots attempted in “crunchtime” during the away games in Dallas. The issue wasn’t that LeBron didn’t want to shoot the ball; he just didn’t convert his attempts like in previous series (and another “myth” about this narrative is that LeBron “refused” to go to the basket; except he wasn’t doing that during the semifinals and ECF either. He didn’t get to the line and most of his attempts were long jumpers).

            Of course, I’m being nice to you here. I’m conceding the argument that the “closer”/”clutch” theory has validity, which Lochspter has shown to be dubiously suspect.

            Posted by The Realist #2 | April 30, 2012, 8:23 am
          • The other issue with your post is that basketball teams tend to run their offenses through the players that are performing at optimal level, and the other players “play off” of those players (this is different from the For the Semis and ECF, LeBron was playing well and got the brunt of the possessions; in the Finals, Wade was the guy. With LeBron not playing well, he shouldn’t be jacking up more shots *anyway* – Wade shouldered most of the load and LeBron complemented his play.

            In the ’06 Lakers-Suns series however, Kobe was already playing GREAT in that Game 7, and theoretically should have used more of his team’s offense especially when they were not converting from the field (and it’s even more curious that he didn’t shoot more when his teammates were un offensively inept Parker, Brown, etc. instead of Wade and Bosh). It’s still a TEAM game at the end of the day though, and I don’t accuse either player for “quitting”. But the best strategy for the Lakers in that series was for Kobe to eat more of his teammates possessions.

            If you want to show that you’re not just another “irrational Kobe fan” (and by the way, I enjoy your articles and you raise some valid points in them), you need to write with a little more objectivity.

            Posted by The Realist #2 | April 30, 2012, 8:55 am
  2. I agree with your assessment that Billups was really missed by the Clippers after his injury.

    That,combined with Del Negro’s incompetence kept the Clippers form the Pacific.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | April 28, 2012, 3:06 pm
  3. Bulls over Sixers in 5(still)
    Heat over NY in 5(I think NY wins one in NY)
    Pacers over Orlando in 5
    Boston over Atlanta in 6
    ……
    Boston over the Bulls in 6(With D-Rose gone this will happen)
    Miami over the Pacers in 5
    ……
    Miami over Boston in 5
    ……

    Memphis over LAC in 7(cause of Chris Paul)
    Lakers over Nuggets in 5(cause the Nuggets have no one to carry them in a playoff series)
    OKC over Dallas in 6
    Spurs over Jazz in 5
    …..
    Memphis over Spurs in 6
    OKC over LA in 7(Kobe’s last stand I think)
    …..
    OKC over Memphis in 6
    …..
    Miami over OKC in 6(Because they HAVE TO WIN,no other team has that pressure.)

    Posted by nightbladehunter | April 28, 2012, 5:37 pm
  4. The little details are different but I agree with Brown Mamba.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | April 28, 2012, 5:38 pm
  5. Brown Mamba, it’s tempting to pick the Heat; in fact, it may seem downrightg impossible to pick against them after their Game 1 performance. But one game, however dominant it was, does not change the fact that the Heat has serious flaws, chief among them poor 3-point defense, a void at center, inconsistency at PG and a struggling supporting cast. These flaws are absolutely exploitable in a 7-game series, if not by the Knicks, then by someone else.

    Two other thoughts on the playoffs:

    1. The West as a whole is exceedingly unpredictable. Other than the Spurs over the Jazz and the Lakers over the Nuggets in Round 1, there isn’t anything else in that conference (in this round or beyond) that qualifies for “take it to the bank”-level certainty. It should be interesting to say the least.

    2. Let’s not forget that the Bulls have home-court advantage for the entire playoffs, and that they have a bunch of big wins this year without Rose. The United Center crowd will be ramped up even more than usual now, trying to lift their team, and I think that guys like CJ Watson and John Lucas, among others, will respond. Bottom line: don’t sleep on the Bulls’ chances of still making it to the NBA Finals. No, the NBA Realist did not pay me to write this; as you know, he’s been holed up for the last 40 hours or so, dressed in sackcloth in front of an altar with a deflated basketball on it, beating his chest and wailing “Why God, why”? ;-)

    Posted by E-Dog | April 30, 2012, 5:38 am
    • Also(had to go earlier in the middle of writing my post) E-Dog, a few more things.
      1. I agree the West is total chaos, but OKC has the best group of players in the west. The spurs are pretty old as a group. Your welcome to offer your picks though if you disagree.

      2. They had homecourt and D-Rose last year in the playoffs for all the good it did them. Miami won twice in the United Center. And if the Bulls crowd needs D-Rose to go down to get as loud as they can be then they as a whole are a poor fan base. But I don’t believe that to be true.
      You can’t pretend as much as you might like to that Chicago’s chances to win the title are over with D-Rose not playing. Unless Lebron or Wade goes down, Chicago can not beat Miami in a 7 game series. It was highly doubtful if they could have beaten them reguardless.

      But now just you watch…when Miami wins the title bulls fans will say they only won because D-Rose got hurt. Calling it now.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | April 30, 2012, 12:36 pm
  6. E-Dog
    Its true that the Heat have some serious flaws, but so does every other team that could win the title. What those other teams don’t have is 2 of the top 3 players in the game and another top 15 player(when Bosh decides he wants to show up and play). That fact alone gives them an edge.Lebron and Wade can both make up for the teams other flaws.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | April 30, 2012, 7:02 am
  7. “The Heat begin their quest to prevent Lebron from having perhaps the most disappointing start to a career of any superstar in the history of sports (more on that in a future post).”

    Say what? At the very least Lebron is about to win his 3rd MVP award in his 8th season. I know it’s probably going to be more of the “Heads I Win, Tails you Lose” logic you use when it comes to Lebron, but c’mon now….

    Posted by ks | April 30, 2012, 9:54 am
    • KS — this exactly makes my point. Lebron has probably had a greater statistical start to his career than perhaps any player in NBA history (and certainly in the modern era). This is what would make another Finals loss so disappointing. He has become a victim of colossal expectations. But I will expand on this at some point in the future…

      Posted by Brown Mamba | April 30, 2012, 11:02 am
      • It’s only an dilemma for those who insist on using rings to rank players. And you know this.

        Can you imagine if LeBron the hushed doubters who say he’s not a Finals performer by averaging 30+ points/5+ assists, shooting well from the field, playing defense and also winning Finals MVP – and the Heat DON’T win the title? Because Mr. West did the same thing for your Lakers.

        And don’t tell me that he didn’t deserve the award.

        Posted by The Realist #2 | April 30, 2012, 12:34 pm
        • Please Lebron would then be blamed for not scoring 50 points a game and helping the Heat win the title.

          Posted by nightbladehunter | April 30, 2012, 1:28 pm
        • Seriously? I don’t see how you make this argument Realist #2 — and you say *I’m* biased. It is a fact that if Lebron lost this year after he already lost last year as well as against the Celtics (where in all 3 series he was or would have been favored to win), this would be a MAJOR disappointment.

          I mean, this is a guy who with his talent and ability should have been in line for the GOAT discussion. How can you possibly be in the GOAT discussion when you have underachieved in 3 straight years? It’s actually quite baffling you are using the rings argument. This has nothing to do with it. This is about winning when you’re supposed to win. I’m not suggesting that Lebron should have won rings when he was with the Cavs, he never had the best team. Now he does. The Mavericks should not have beaten the Heat last year. Period. And Lebron has no excuse for not winning it all this year.

          Whether you like it or not, the last few years are huge holes in Lebron’s resume as would be this year if he didn’t win it all. What makes this such a disappointment is I actually think he had/has more upside than MJ.

          Posted by Brown Mamba | April 30, 2012, 11:15 pm
          • “The Mavericks should not have beaten the Heat last year.”

            The Mavericks shouldn’t have even gotten to the Finals last year – they should’ve been ousted in the 2nd round by the Lakers, who were the prohibitive favorites to win the series (and, if you listen to the talking heads in the media, were supposed to be “crushed under the will of Kobe Bryant, who is bloodthirsty for a 6th ring”). Did they even win a game?

            “It’s actually quite baffling you are using the rings argument. This has nothing to do with it.”

            If it doesn’t, then why the response? Why speak about *LeBron* winning as if he is a one-man team? Didn’t you know that LeBron has actually been among the league’s best playoff performers since 2006?

            Posted by The Realist #2 | May 1, 2012, 7:50 am
          • A couple more responses here:

            “And Lebron has no excuse for not winning it all this year.”

            Just like Jerry West in that Finals series, right? Kobe last year? Kobe in 2008? Kobe from 03-07? Kobe from 97-99? Jordan from 85-90?

            TEAM game. LeBron didn’t even play that well last night, for example (a solid but not “LeBron”-like game), but he got plenty of support.

            “What makes this such a disappointment is I actually think he had/has more upside than MJ.”

            You truly forget that MJ was the GOAT force in NBA history, don’t you? Wilt is his only peer in the regular season, and he is unsurpassed as a playoff performer.

            I see your exchange below with The NBA Realist, and the per game number comparisons don’t do MJ justice. Or any player, for that matter – per game numbers aren’t a great judge of performance.

            Posted by The Realist #2 | May 1, 2012, 8:17 am
          • How did you manage to spin this back to Kobe? First off, I criticized Kobe the same way when he lost to Dallas. It was a blemish on his resume. Period. Again, the comparison point here is Jordan, who really didn’t have any blemishes.

            I’ll repeat this and then I think I’ve said all that I need to say here — if Lebron has 3 blemishes in the last 3 years (all in which his TEAM was supposed to win), that goes from coincidence to pattern, and becomes really difficult to justify.

            The reason we talk about Lebron winning is because he is the alpha dog on his team and history has shown us that great alpha dogs are able to lead their teams when given talent to championships. Lebron gets all the glory if he wins, and the criticism if he loses in this scenario. That’s just the way it works. He has to find a way to win when he’s favored in these series to be part of any all-time great discussion.

            Posted by Brown Mamba | May 1, 2012, 9:34 am
          • “How did you manage to spin this back to Kobe? First off, I criticized Kobe the same way when he lost to Dallas.”

            Did you really? Did you heap all of the “blame” of that series on him like you do with James, or did you blame any of his teammates?

            Somehow, I don’t think you criticized Kobe for anything.

            “Lebron gets all the glory if he wins, and the criticism if he loses in this scenario. That’s just the way it works.”

            Not really. That’s the way YOU make it work, and this crriteria you set up for LeBron is no different from members in the media who use rings to rank players.

            “The reason we talk about Lebron winning is because he is the alpha dog on his team and history has shown us that great alpha dogs are able to lead their teams when given talent to championships.”

            You can’t just be “given” talent. The talent also still needs to perform on their own merits. Unless you want to say that the West, Bryant, and Jordan examples I provided earlier were “alpha dogs” that didn’t perform, and that would be a silly thing to conclude. Forget LeBron for a second – 03-12 Kobe Bryant must *obviously* be not as good as Kobe from 00-02, right? That Kobe “won” three titles IN A ROW!

            “I’ll repeat this and then I think I’ve said all that I need to say here — if Lebron has 3 blemishes in the last 3 years (all in which his TEAM was supposed to win), that goes from coincidence to pattern, and becomes really difficult to justify.”

            Only the “ring counters” have this dilemma. Because even LeBron’s “debacle” in ’11 was one of the better playoff performances of the past decade – he AND Wade did more for that Heat team than star players on title teams.

            Mamba, you said that “this has nothing to do with the rings argument”? From the comments that you made, what you said is patently false.

            Posted by The Realist #2 | May 1, 2012, 1:20 pm
      • Mamba:

        MJ (First 9): FG:51.6%, TS:58.9%, FT:84.6%, 32.3 points, 6.3 reb 5.9 assists, 2.7 stls 1.0 blks, 3.0 TO

        Bron (First 9): FG:48.3%, TS:56.9%, FT:74.6% , 27.6 points, 7.2 reb, 6.9 assists, 1.7 stls, 0.8 blks, 3.3 TO

        Not sure that I agree that Bron has had the greatest statistical start. Outside of rebounds and asissts, MJ owns every other category.

        Posted by The NBA Realist | April 30, 2012, 4:08 pm
        • Yes, Realist, note that I said “perhaps”. You can certainly make a case for Jordan. Though I think you overstate a little bit in your comment with respect to Jordan “owning” every category.

          1) First of all, fg% and ft% are redundant with ts%. So this is not 3 categories that Jordan wins, it is one, and frankly, by not all that much (2%). Keep in mind also that shooting % are well down in the NBA from when Jordan came into the league.

          2) You are counting Lebron when he was 18 and 19 years old (Jordan started in the league at 21). My statement is inclusive of the fact that what Lebron did was also unprecedented for someone of his youth. To make a really fair comparison, I would say you have to take this into account when measuring the greatness of his first 9 years.

          3) Yes, I will give you that Jordan was a more prolific scorer than Lebron. That being said, I would even discount that a bit as Jordan played (especially early in his career), in the Showtime NBA.

          4) The difference in blocks and TOs is nearly irrevelant to make a strong conclusion one way of another, unless you want to nitpick about the merits of averaging 3 vs. 3.3 TOs a game.

          5) Jordan was a better thief (some of that had to do with the position he played), but Lebron was much better in rebounds and assists (15% more rebounds and 17% more assists). These are more impactful stats that steals.

          So ok, we give TS%, points, and steals to MJ. Assists and rebounds to Lebron. All this while Lebron started at 18. It’s a fair discussion in any event.

          Posted by Brown Mamba | April 30, 2012, 11:37 pm
          • Fair points. I would only disagree with 2 of your assertions:

            1.) Shooting percentages are not down since Jordan, they are up and at a record high. Yes, FG% are down, but TS& (the true measure of efficiency) are almost full percentage point higher, further evidence of the benefits of the rule changes. As an example, league averages in 2011 were 54.4% TS, a historic high.

            2.) A 2-point differential in TS% is significant. This is not the same as a 2-point differential in FG%, it is TS%, in which a 2 point differential is the equivalent to 4-5 point differential in FG%.

            Regardless, I will agree that Lebron’s statistical 9-year start is a discussion, and in the same category as only MJ, Kareem, and Wilt, and Oscar.

            Posted by The NBA Realist | May 1, 2012, 8:32 am
  8. I see the spurs in the finals, and they can win it in 7 or the heat take it in 6

    Posted by sam g | May 1, 2012, 12:20 pm
  9. “Will Lebron finally take charge in the biggest moments on the biggest stage? Or will he defer in the name of making the “correct basketball play?”

    “There are very specific times where the correct basketball play is not sufficient.”

    “The problem for him is that one of his greatest assets, team play, has become one of his greatest flaw in the absolute most pressure-packed moments. ”

    Where is there even a shred of evidence for this idea of the right play becoming the wrong play during the biggest moments? I know it’s a talking point that’s often thrown by talking heads, but it’s just plain wrong. And there are mountains of evidence to back up its wrongness.

    We know that as games progress, players tend to take more long shots, have worse ball movement, and overall offensive productivity declines. There’s also a tendency to run more isolation plays during crunch time. Yet as this happens, we see offensive efficiency plummet. This is the wrong strategy-teams that break out of isos or just run the offense rather than relying on a “crunch time scorer” do better. This is basketball fact.

    “Lebron has still not done this in the *very biggest moments*, and thus, still does not have a ring to speak of.”

    Again, you continue to press this point despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Lebron is easily one of the top two clutch players in the league since 2000 (Chris Paul being the other, with Nash on the fringes of the discussion). During his time in Cleveland, he averaged 44 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 63% true shooting per 36 minutes of crunch time. As a team, Cleveland was the only team to improve their shooting during the clutch from 2006-2010, and their numbers actually got better in the postseason. Since Lebron left, Cleveland’s numbers sunk to the league average while Miami, previously mediocre, has improved mightily.

    http://www.backpicks.com/2012/03/23/the-crunch-time-myth-part-iii-overrating-closers-and-clutch-offense/

    Compare this to Kobe and the Lakers. This is a large reason why the Lakers have had the best offense in the league during Kobe’s career, yet are only 11th in crunch time offense during that span and barely above average. No player in the NBA gets more crunch time isolations run for him than Kobe Bryant, yet his team’s scoring efficiency on these possessions is roughly 50 per 100 possessions this year-frankly, just awful. I presume he’s not been this bad over his entire career, but it’s pretty much impossible to attribute his team’s success to his crunch time heroics when you break it down. Rather, it seems likely his late-game “heroics” are actually making it harder for his team to win.

    I know you loathe Henry Abbott, but I’m going to link the article anyway:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/24200/the-truth-about-kobe-bryant-in-crunch-time

    Do you still believe that Lebron is costing his team with his crunch time play by passing the ball? Even knowing that career numbers for both players and their teams strongly refute this, and also remembering that Jordan and Bird both famously won playoff series by deferring to teammates for the final shot? If so, please provide your evidence.

    Posted by Lochpster | May 2, 2012, 3:43 am
    • Nevermind the great info that you’ve provided Loch, I’m still trying to get Brown Mamba to address his obvious bias for Bryant. Even if he adheres to the fallacious “closer” argument, it’s simply odd that he would tell us all about LeBron’s “flaws” in this regard – but then provide an article that defends Bryant for not shooting the ball/deferring to his teammates in the closing game of a playoff series!

      Posted by The Realist #2 | May 2, 2012, 9:51 am

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