2018-19 NBA Thread

Toronto and idc what anyone says. As Dan Gilbert once said

Dan Gilbert said:
I cannot remember ever seeing a trade where a team got by far the best player in the trade and saved over $40 million in the process.
Toronto may not have saved $40m (I'll double check the numbers later), but the sentiment is the same: if a team can get by far the best player in a deal and save a ton of money, they win that trade. And yes, even if Kawhi walks in summer.
 

Celticpride

Are you ready for the sequel?
is a Top Team Rater Alumnusis a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnus
LMAO the Lakers are such a trainwreck. Can't wait for the NBA to rig the lottery and give them Zion.
 
Playoffs 1st Round Predictions
Golden State vs Clippers: Warriors in 4
Clippers play the game the correct way, just like Sacramento. The Warriors will get their 3rd straight ring.
Denver vs San Antonio: Nuggets in 7
No type playoff experience for the Nuggets.
Trail Blazers vs Thunder: Thunder in 6
Sad to see the Blazers go out again in the first round and I like their bench but, I don't think it will be enough.
Rockets vs Utah: Rockets in 6
The only way Houston does not make it to the WCOF is injuries.
Bucks vs Pistons: Bucks in 4
The 8th seed in the east is actually 500 or better. . .
Toronto vs Orlando: Raptors in 4
I wonder where Kawhi goes in the offseason. Orlando is a perfect example of how to not build a team in the 3pt era.
76ers vs Nets: 76ers in 5
One of Magic's first mistakes was getting rid of D'angelo Russell. . .
Boston vs Pacers: Celtics in 6
Good job Indiana Pacers!
 

Coronis

N'Cha!
is a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnus
My predix:

Warriors vs Clippers in 4. lol
Nuggets vs Spurs in 6. Nuggets homecourt is too strong, Popp is great but Nuggets are more talented.
Trailblazers vs Thunder in 7. Dame gonna go off, when have Westbrick and PG13 been clutch in the playoffs?
Rockets vs Jazz in 7. My upset of the round, if Mitchell continues his 2019 form and Utah clamps defensively, they can take this.

Bucks vs Pistons in 4. No contest.
Raptors vs Magic in 4. See above.
76ers vs Nets in 5. Nets will steal a game.
Celtics vs Pacers in 6. Pacers are scrappy.
 
The 2019 NBA Playoffs have arrived. First things first: it’s sad to see Wade and Nowitzki go. Both have had very rewarding, memorable careers. I am disappointed Miami couldn’t make the playoffs to see Wade one last time, and we’re used to Dallas at this point not making noise for a few years.
In addition to this, it will be ten whole years since I’ve diligently and fanatically watched the NBA. Ten years ago, I witnessed the series and player who would eventually get me extremely hooked to basketball as a main leisure. The series and player were respectively, the Boston/Chicago series and Derrick Rose.

This year has had plenty of interesting changes in refereeing, pace, and three-pointers hoisted. Golden State remains the overall favorite, but we must wonder how Cousins will perform in his first playoff run. We wonder if Irving can lead a team throughout the playoffs. We wonder if Milwaukee is for real and if Denver will come down to Earth.

If we’re being honest, Milwaukee and Denver are the two most likely teams who have plenty of reasons to fall below expectations of what we expect of them for different reasons. Denver is young, unorthodox, and Jokic has two left feet. Milwaukee has a coach with a history of regular season overperformance, injuries, and simply just inserting a new offensive system into the playoffs tends yield surprising results somewhere down the line in the wrong direction. Milwaukee will hit a wall; it’s just a matter of how they respond or bounce back once hitting that wall.
Houston may be happy to see Golden State in the second round as opposed to the conference finals this time around mostly because their whole thing has always been fatiguing, but I don’t honestly think they’re as good as last year’s team either way.

Los Angeles (Clippers, we don’t talk about that other sorry ass organization since they’re not in the playoffs) is sadly fed to Golden State, but I ranked their potential positively.

I can’t say what is to become of the Milwaukee/Philadelphia/Toronto/Boston squabble, but it will be a doozy. Intuitively, I favor Toronto overall by a slim margin. I like their mix of versatility, experience, and metrics. I also feel like barring the Smart injury, Boston may be a little bit underrated as far as what their ceiling could potentially be, but they’re such an enigma that it’s not all that daring of a take now. Smart is a huge part of their defense as well, and I feel like it’s safe not to worry too much about them as far as getting out of the East.

Philadelphia will forever have quick guard scoring issues. In addition to this, can Simmons even stay on the floor? Assuming the games get slower and there are more half-court possessions, Simmons must play different than how he did last year because otherwise he’s in the way of what is one of the best starting five.

Brooklyn’s a nice feel-good story. I feel they have the best match-up they could have hoped for, and it’ll be awesome to finally see guys like Russel, LeVert, and Allen showcase what they can do in the spotlight. They are an organization that improved almost solely internally and through development as opposed to big signings.

Without further ado, we will begin examining the Western conference this year.

Western Conference
“They talking about next year... and I’m over here saying I’m not gonna be here hahaha” – Magic Johnson

“Let us play basketball. That’s all I’m saying. Now when I don’t want to talk to y’all, it’s a problem with me. C’mon man. Grow up. Grow up. Yeah, you, grow up. C’mon, bro. I come in here and go to work every day. I don’t cause no problems. I play the right way. Well, I try to play the right way. I try to be the best player I can be every possession. What’s the problem? What am I doing to y’all?” – Durant

"My husband is in looove with James Harden. I mean, I would like to have a little bit of that love that he's giving James Harden in my household. " – Mike D’Antoni’s wife

(1) Golden State Warriors versus (8) Los Angeles Clippers

Boring.

Okay, maybe not. Don’t have too much to say but I am interested in seeing how well Golden State defends with Cousins on the floor. I’m interested in seeing Cousins first playoff series in general. How is he in spread pick and roll? Los Angeles runs it the most with one of the deadliest scoring wings in the league.

Golden State should dominate practically all their match-ups. I couldn’t come up with how Los Angeles can take one game other than just going at Cousins and hoping Golden State is shooting below average. Maybe Zubac can kill them on the boards?

Golden State wins if: Curry can walk on two legs.

Los Angeles wins if: Curry can’t walk on two legs.

Golden State in four.

(3) Portland Trailblazers versus (6) Oklahoma City Thunder


I want to say this series will look much closer than what appears in the regular season scores. I acknowledge Oklahoma City sweeping the season series would hint out them having Portland’s number, but it’s not like they haven’t had their own issues scoring and getting into the postseason. Portland finished better even with the significant Nurkic injury.

How much impact will his injury exactly play in this series? Well, he would have been nice to have against a team that’s near the top in offensive rebounding, so you lose your edge in attempting to control the tempo for what is extremely important in this match-up. Oklahoma City thrives off turnovers and increased possessions considering they are the less efficient offensive team. This series will pretty much come down to who has the more favorable shot distribution.

Portland wants to take care of the ball, make their threes and choose their spots. Oklahoma City wants to force turnovers and rack up paint points. Oklahoma City has plenty of length and athleticism, and we know that is what frustrated Portland last year when Holiday and Rondo became pests to Lillard and McCollum.

With McCollum in questionable condition and no Nurkic, is this Portland team worth anything with Kanter? We all know Kanter’s defensive issues, but it’s not like Oklahoma City has world-beating offensive roll man talent, so it might not be as much of a weakness in this series as much as it would be in others. The true problem may come in offensively. Nurkic took pressure off of Lillard because he could pass and McCollum and Lillard could play off the ball. With Kanter, it’ll sadly have to include more off-the-dribble shots which play right into the hands of Oklahoma City’s strength.

Oklahoma City’s biggest strength is their defense on pick and roll ballhandlers, so if Portland is to win, they must have grown from last year’s defensive schemes.

Another important theme in this series when I look at these two teams: there will be plenty of double-teaming or even zone strategies put in play. Oklahoma City has struggled against zone but I’m not even sure if Portland runs it effectively. Essentially, both teams are similar in that their talent drop-off after their stars is very steep, and whoever’s role players make shots and plays more consistently will tilt the advantage in that respective team’s direction. Whose supporting cast will come through and bring more to the table on a nightly basis?

Overall, I feel Oklahoma City may have a frontline rebounding edge over Portland due to the loss of Nurkic. I also feel like they have plenty of guys to throw at Lillard, and McCollum potentially being forced to carry the load once more may not work. Once one can actually gameplan against Portland as well as having the necessary perimeter tools to frustrate him, this will be a long series at the very least. It’s simply a matter of Oklahoma City coughing enough offense to offset the hotter than average nights.

Portland wins if: Their offense is humming along with the tune of Lillard’s exceptional guard play, McCollum has not lost an edge, and they figure out how to score against aggressive traps. They take care of the ball, Kanter isn’t a liability, and they control the boards or at least stay even in rebounding despite the loss of Nurkic.

Oklahoma City wins if: The game becomes hectic in pace, turnovers are amok, and Westbrook and George can’t be reasonably contained together in comparison to Lillard and McCollum. The supporting cast makes their shots, Schroeder doesn’t want to make you pull your hair out, and the length and athleticism of Oklahoma City become too overwhelming for Portland’s guards.

Oklahoma City in six.

(2) Denver Nuggets versus (7) San Antonio Spurs


This will be the most interesting first round match-up for me.
These teams have many similarities yet many differences. Neither team plays fast or force turnovers all that much. Both teams are solid in not fouling at the line. Offensively is where things start to venture off a bit. San Antonio is a bit more old-school with their midrange and post-ups. They are a #6 offensive rated team so it’s incredibly impressive and it’s not that they’re a bad three-point shooting team; they simply don’t take many of them. If Denver wants any shot at slowing this team down offensively, DeRozan and Aldridge will need to feel some type of pressure. We know what Aldridge can do in the playoffs, so what hope does the Denver frontline have in that? DeRozan is also up against a perimeter full of essentially playoff rookies. Will he feast?

I think the most important thing I’ll be looking at this series is what Jokic is doing. How is he being targeted by San Antonio, and how is he being guarded by San Antonio? If he’ll be guarded by Aldridge, then San Antonio will opt to go small and Millsap will have to take advantage of whoever is on him. Jokic, in general, should be interesting to watch as far as how he faces all sorts of defensive strategies and adjustments ranging from double-teams to forcing him to score. San Antonio will either try and force the ball out of his hands and force Denver’s perimeter players to score or play off of Jokic and force him to shoot. Whatever his plan and his teammates plan in counteracting that will decide plenty.

Rebounding will be very interesting and key as well. Denver comes in as the #1 offensive rebounding team, and San Antonio is #6 defensive rebounding team. Denver can’t win without getting second-chance opportunities or at the very least, it’d be incredibly hard considering they don’t get to the line, play slower than average, and currently shooting average. If San Antonio keeps up with them on the glass, it’s going to be a competitive game at the very least.

Denver is lucky that San Antonio doesn’t run much spread pick-and-roll, but Jokic is not out of the woods yet. We don’t know how well his conditioning can potentially be as a pick-and-roll target; nor do we know how consistent he can be guarding other offensive big men for decent stretches.

The classic youthful talent vs. seasoned veterans is clear looking at the roster, but it’s even more pronounced in the coaching match-up. Malone hasn’t coached a single playoff series and his first shot is with Gregg Popovich? Is the talent gap big enough to make-up for that?
Denver simply must find a way to slow down their two mid-range stars without getting Jokic in foul trouble or becoming a liability. In the meantime, their role guys got to make shots and Jokic must make the right reads. How tough could that be for your first playoffs? We’ll find out soon enough.

Denver wins if: Jokic manages to stay on the floor enough and his conditioning and playoff-style hold true. Millsap still has it in him. Denver’s talent and depth overwhelm San Antonio.

San Antonio wins if: DeRozan and Aldridge can’t be stopped. San Antonio is rebounding at the rate they should. Jokic can’t defend and struggles to score or is forced to score and not pass. Popovich simply outcoaches a rookie. The basksetball gods punish Denver for their bullshit.

San Antonio in six.

(4) Houston Rockets versus (5) Utah Jazz


Lol fuck Denver.

A rematch that has the potential to play out different but overall, I expect the same ending result.

Utah comes in at a disadvantage even if there’s evidence out there that both teams are horrible against each other in comparison to their league averages. Houston’s switching defense is a real killer to Utah’s offense because they have very few one-on-one talented players. Utah relies heavily on handoffs and deliberate screens and switching puts a stop to almost all that action. Mitchell is the only player who can potentially score in isolation, but his numbers would suggest he’s much less efficient against Houston than normal. For Utah to win, Mitchell has to hit another level of passing and play-making. Houston has decent length on the perimeter still through Shumpert, Tucker, etc.

So, to me, this series will be about how Utah figures out a way to both simultaneously score with Houston as well as stop them because their defense is based on a system; not individual isolation.

The first step into that is for Gobert to dominate the glass. Houston is 25-2 when they get 76% of their defensive rebounds (credit to David Locke for this one). Rebounding controls tempo and number of possessions, and if you’re the less efficient offensive team, you can increase your margin for error this way.

If Utah is to beat switching, they must find the match-ups they can be competent in. Can Gobert post-up someone? Can Mitchell get a big or Paul/Harden in foul trouble and cause some issues? They must find scoring in a way that’s not something they’ve done during the regular season. Snyder is a smart coach; I’m sure they’ll think of some type of wrinkle that could potentially be effective for a game or two. Rim shots and corner threes are very important to look at as throughout the regular season match-ups, Utah’s shots at the rim indicated whether they were in the game or not. Since Houston is one of the best teams in limiting drives, Gobert must find a way to score and release the pressure off his perimeter teammates.

Houston, on the other hand, seems to be back to form in what we expected from them. They’re not as good as last year, but the metrics since All-Star break would put them pretty darn close. They still need Chris Paul to show up, because Utah can and already has implemented strategies that slow down Houston’s Moreyball offense; the difference maker in last year’s series was Chris Paul’s efficiency in mid-range.

You can make a case for Utah, but that case must be dependent on how they score and get around Houston’s metrics. I understand some will see this as the best defense versus best offense, but the problem isn’t that Utah can’t hold down Houston’s scoring (they have); the issue is that they can’t score themselves.

Houston still has the same advantages it did as last year, they just have less depth and Chris Paul is another year older. Rubio will also be playing in this series and seeing him matched up with Chris Paul should be very interesting. In the end though, if Houston is anywhere close to last year; even if it was 70%, they should still win this series. I’m still wary of any rematch type of series. Utah could still come out of this just based on the variation of shooting alone. All they need is a few good unseen adjustments. Some teams find new ways to overcome their weaknesses when it matters.

Houston wins if: their switching defense still gives them a defensive advantage, Paul shows up in any relevant way, and Houston rebounds at least on par with Utah.

Utah wins if: Snyder outcoaches D’Antoni and finds an offensive plan to improve Utah’s efficiency against this team, Gobert is effective on both ends or at least immensely effective on one end, Mitchell finds great offensive flow and is passing amazingly well, Rubio makes an unexpected impact. Utah is running in transition in a smart way.

Houston in six.


Eastern Conference
“From what I’ve seen lately, they put DeAndre Jordan on me, they put (Rudy) Gobert, they put Joel (Embiid), they put Jarrett Allen. They just keep doing that shit, but it doesn’t work.” – Giannis

"That's just so thirsty of a player to just go after something like that. Clearly, 50 points is a big deal but get it within regulation." – Kyrie Irving
Danny Ainge tells us that he believes Paul Pierce had a better career than Dwyane Wade. He actually went so far as to meet with his analytics people and they broke it down to specific stats. – Toucher & Rich

Jalen Rose: " James Harden isn’t efficient". Max says that Harden has eFG quite high, Jalen says: " You are talking about eFg, but I am talking about his actual field goal percentage.” – Jalen Rose

(2) Toronto Raptors versus (7) Orlando Magic

An interesting match-up but overall somewhat predictable.

Orlando is a sneaky good defensive team capable of giving even Toronto fits throughout the regular season. It’s all thanks to Clifford’s defensive philosophies and the length of Isaac, Gordon, and the improvements of Vucevic. It doesn’t help that the two best offensive threats from Toronto in Leonard and Siakim will be matched up against the best defending positions of Orlando.

All, of course, is not lost for Toronto here. Vucevic still struggles to defend in space and at the rim. Augustin and Fournier are still below-average defensive players for their positions; Toronto simply must get the switches they want and spread out the defense enough to manage the offense.
Orlando, like Denver, goes up and down with their multi-talented center Vucevic. Toronto has the personnel suited for this match-up as Gasol, while I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s a world-beater at his current age, is still a great post-defender. Vucevic could still get his, but the difference is that Toronto is better or equal in every other position.

And this is where the scales finally tip strongly in Toronto’s favor. While Orlando tends to excel defensively with their two athletic forwards, they are offensively dreadful. They don’t shoot many free-throws or get many transition points. Their scoring and shot distribution are bad with a lot of midranges, so they hang their hat on stopping the other team more than scoring more than the other team. They also lack a match-up they can decisively take advantage of since Toronto doesn’t have many net negative defenders.

All Toronto must do essentially is trying to get Leonard and Siakim on somebody else not named Isaac or Gordon. Another option is to attack Vucevic. You simply must favor Toronto by the mere fact that they have more options and versatility in how they can play and guard. Orlando has done well to get here and does play well against this team, but Toronto overmatches or equals them in almost everything.

Toronto wins if: Vucevic can’t be a net positive, Siakim and Leonard still manage to score well, and Toronto’s versatility and flexibility in their line-ups give them an easier time.

Orlando wins if: Terrance Ross somehow goes off consistently, Vucevic makes Gasol show his age finally, and Gordon and Isaac make Leonard and Siakim look like fools.

Toronto in five.

(4) Boston Celtics versus (5) Indiana Pacers


This series has the potential to be a long and grueling slugfest.

Indiana is a wonderful team where there is a greater whole than the sum of its parts. They rank highly in all relevant defensive metrics. Without Oladipo, they’ve won their games by execution, deliberate offensive schemes, and having a couple of talented defenders and defensive cohesion.
The problem lies in scoring points. Bogdanovich is an excellent offensive player but may not necessarily be the type of player to carry you as the #1 option in a playoff series. It is to my understanding Smart limited his effectiveness as recent as the last regular season match-up. You can expect McMillan to look deeper into Bogdanovich versus Brown in order to see if Boston is a bit more vulnerable defensively right now. For Indiana to have a puncher’s chance here, they need solid spacing from Turner, Bogdanovich to turn up big on his match-ups, and some hot shooting perhaps from Evans or a couple of role-players. Sabonis throughout the regular season appears to be most offensively consistent and efficient Indiana player based on his abilities of screening and rolling. Indiana honestly would win this series through their frontline before their backcourt. Boston is going to roll with the Baynes/Horford line-up most likely and it’s up to Young/Turner/Sabonis to stretch the floor or create some kind of action where Baynes isn’t guarding the rim or defending in a way that’s detrimental to Indiana.

Boston
has the intangibles in not just home court advantage. Stevens is still a fantastic strategic coach offensively and the team is incredibly versatile in what they can do even with Smart out. If Indiana can’t contain Boston’s offensive versatility, they will not win. Boston is as good as Indiana defensively for the most part, but they do not have the same offensive talent and execution.

Kyrie, Horford, and Hayward (who is getting back to form) are likely far too dynamic of a trio to consistently stop game-to-game. When you think about that type of difference in offensive versatility, you’re playing with a very, very thin margin of error if you’re Indiana. I don’t believe the absence of Smart will play too much of a factor simply because the issue of contention for me the most Indiana’s defense rather than offense being a key in this series.

So, the series will essentially come down to if Indiana can limit Boston’s firepower enough. Of course, this is also ignoring Boston’s own potential to make Indiana’s offense look pedestrian with their own defense. Indiana doesn’t have as talented of shooters, so if players like Young, Turner, and some perimeter players start to miss a few shots, it could get ugly on that end for them.

Boston wins if: Kyrie, Horford, and Hayward are humming along. Baynes is contributing in some form be it rebounding, defending or scoring.

Indiana wins if: They win a couple of close ones, Bogdanovich comes out of one of the best players of the series, Turner is making his shots as well as significantly limiting Horford, Sabonis is amazing off the bench, and Boston falls into their offensive drought via long-twos by Irving and Tatum.

Boston in five.

(3) Philadelphia Sixers versus (6) Brooklyn Nets


This series is tricky; especially with the news of Embiid being unclear.

Embiid will make a big difference in this match-up because Brooklyn doesn’t have any hope of containing him, but Brooklyn has had great offensive success against Philadelphia throughout the year and would have even more if Embiid is not the defensive anchor. Philadelphia’s pick and roll defense of scoring guards have been suspect for a couple of years now, and worst of all, Redick can’t hide from the likes of Brooklyn’s perimeter talent. This has the potential to be a very entertaining, extended series. Do not be too surprised if Brooklyn wins this series because the ingredients are certainly there for them.

Philadelphia has depth issues, and their starting line-up doesn’t quite have a lot of experience together (they’ve only played ten total games together). I honestly see Philadelphia as the weak link between my four possible choices from the East. This match-up is a classic case of top-end depth versus consistent depth. Brooklyn can potentially have an edge depending on how both teams manage their minutes. Philadelphia must stagger as much of the starting roster who literally get by more by talent than chemistry, whereas Brooklyn has value across the board and went through more of player-development focus regular season. You can easily see a situation where Philadelphia’s bench, lack of depth, and “togetherness” puts them at a disadvantage.

So, is Brooklyn good enough to topple them?

Well, when looking at the four games, Philadelphia overall has a negative net rating; but we must be careful doing that. There are different versions of both teams. I simply find it concerning how well Brooklyn’s perimeter players feel comfortable scoring. That is a major problem especially if you do not have Embiid at 100%. Philadelphia has nice size and length, but Brooklyn has a lot of speed. It’ll be very interesting to see what comes out on top between Philadelphia’s size and Brooklyn’s speed and playmaking.

Philadelphia still has things they can do with a hampered Embiid. Butler is still a star who can carry a series, and Simmons can flourish in a match-up with a lot more pace.

There are a lot of different directions this series can go. I don’t feel comfortable leaning too much into Philadelphia, but I’ll go in assuming Embiid plays like normal Embiid, and if he can make an impact on both ends, Philadelphia has the best possible intangible. Brooklyn’s advantages, while notable, still hinge on new playoff blood I must rate just a tiny bit lower than the impact of mere talent. What do you trust more: top-end talent and size, or depth, playmaking, and chemistry? Tempted to take the upset to be quite honest.

Philadelphia wins if: Embiid dominates, Philadelphia finds a way to somewhat slow down Brooklyn’s guards and three-point shooting, Redick is not a net negative, and Philadelphia’s role guys come through.
Brooklyn wins if: They’re too hot from three, their guards can’t be contained, and they’re just too much offensively. Their depth overwhelms Philadelphia and their on-court chemistry flourishes in the post-season.

Philadelphia in seven.

(1) Milwaukee Bucks versus (8) Detroit Pistons


Yawn.

I don’t want to spend too much time on this because we know the obvious result and why. Detroit is a poor outside shooting team with the most inconsistent guard play, Griffin looks injured, and Drummond can’t guard in space so Lopez will make a fool out of him.
What I’m really interested in with this series is how Giannis, Bledsoe, and Middleton perform. Detroit has no hope in stopping Giannis but I am interested in seeing what strategies may work. We’ve seen teams lay back with centers work decently depending on the center, and we’ve seen zone defense.

Bledsoe struggled last playoffs and Jackson should be a decent starting test to see if he’s really a changed man. Bledsoe is leaps and bounds more talented and athletic than his match-up, but if he doesn’t play up to that advantage, what good is he in later rounds?
I need to see Milwaukee perform well outside of Giannis. They need to show teams how good they are when Giannis is seeing a wall of defenders.

Milwaukee wins if: They step on the court.

Detroit wins if: Giannis is shot in the kneecap.

Milwaukee in four.
 
Not that the Pistons ever had a chance, but not having Blake makes this series really dull.

Also, lmfao Kyle Lowry.

Heh

170597
 
Last edited:

Coronis

N'Cha!
is a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnus
Well I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. Unsurprised that the main run happened after Curry got benched =/ I feel this is a good thing us losing like this so early. Much better than later in the playoffs where a stronger team could use this to mount a serious challenge. Hopefully they’ll learn from this. Also fuck Pat Beverley. Also great that the Sixers won, love to see Simmons more aggressive driving.
 

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