Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 at 1:40 am  |  49 responses

Links: Day 10 Playoff Thoughts

The Lake Show returns, plus the Celts and Cavs move on…

by Lang Whitaker

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve been on three different radio shows talking about the NBA Playoffs, and on all three shows I faced a similar barrage of questions:

Q: Should Hawks fans be worried?

A: I get this question because the reason I’m on all these shows is to not only talk NBA, but to be a Hawks specialist. Because outside of Mike Woodson, nobody watches more Hawks action than I do, and even that’s debatable. It’s not much, but it’s all I have. Anyway, my answer is both yes and no. Yes, Hawks fans should be nervous, because the way the Bucks played Game 3 and 4, they seemed to convince themselves that even without Bogut, they can play with these Hawks. At the same time, this is how the Hawks have played all season. Just when you thought they had everything wrapped up, they’d fumble it away. When you thought they were down and out, they’d rip some impressive win and make you think they were on top of the League. It’s frustrating, but it keeps happening, and I’m resigned to it by now.

Q: If the Hawks lose to the Bucks, how does it affect Mike Woodson’s future in Atlanta.

A: First, I don’t think the Hawks are going to lose the series to the Bucks. That said, I have no idea what’s going to happen in Atlanta this summer. Woody’s taken us from being a 13-win team to a 50-plus win team. Is he the guy to take us further and make us a contender? That’s not my call. But getting blown out repeatedly on the road isn’t what you want on the top of your resume.

Q: Are the Lakers done?

A: Nope. Yeah, they lost two games in Oklahoma City, but they came in tonight and crushed the Thunder. At Kobe’s request, Phil Jackson pulled a Woodson and put his slow point guard on OKC’s off guard, and Kobe seemed to get into Westbrook’s head (he finished with 8 turnovers and 6 assists). The Thunder have better athletes, but with most of the Lakers starters playing short minutes tonight and then getting a break until Friday’s Game 5, they’ll be fine. Laker fans have a tendency to be a bit Chicken Little (the sky is falling!), right Mutoni? But I think they’re still the most talented, most experienced, best-coached team in the NBA, and I still think they’re going to win it all.

Q: What is LeBron going to do this summer?

A: I DON’T KNOW! I’ve been asked this all season, on the radio, on NBA TV, at parties, in the office…and I don’t know. I don’t think anyone does, except for maybe LeBron. The one thing I do think is that the most likely way to get LeBron to stay in Cleveland is for the Cavs to win a title. If they win it all, I just don’t think he can walk away.

Q: Can the Cavs win a title?

A: I think they can. Not sure if they will, though. They strike me a little bit like Orlando last season, in that they’re a team where a couple of guys could get hot at the same time and they could zoom into the Finals. (Where I think LA has too much for them.) But watching Bron the last two weeks reminds me again and again that he’s the most complete player in the world today. They’ll beat Boston, and then most likely have a to get revenge against Orlando, and then have to play the best team out West. That’s a tough road to navigate for a team that relies so heavily on one guy.

Q: What about Dwyane Wade? Will he return to Miami?

A: Have you ever been to Miami? It’s pretty nice. Water, islands, sunshine. Mickey Arison, the Heat’s owner, has always been willing to spend money when its warranted, and Pat Riley has shown a knack at somehow flipping rosters full of guys nobody wants into rosters that can contend. I know Wade’s from Chicago, and maybe he’ll want to go home, but I think leaving Miami is going to be tough.

Q: You were right about the Spurs!

A: You readers may be confused by this, perhaps not recalling me saying anything about the Spurs here, and maybe I haven’t in the last week or two. But I have in the past. If I’ve learned anything in the last decade here at SLAM, it’s that you never count out Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. Never. You wait until they’re completely eliminated before you think about anyone else. Dallas beat ‘em tonight, but the Spurs are not done. It’s not inconceivable to think they could go to the Western Conference Finals.

Q: What’s wrong with the Nuggets?

A: Watching them in this first round is painful, especially knowing what they’re capable of. They’ve got no urgency, no desire. And I know it’s got to be so tough for them, with George Karl out battling cancer, but the Nuggets just don’t seem to care if they win or lose. Although it’s fun watching the statue of Adrian Dantley on the sidelines.

Q: Will Larry Brown be coaching the Bobcats next season?

A: I think with Larry Brown you always assume he’s going to leave. I have no inside information on this, and I guess it sucks to be pessimistic for Bobcats fans, but Larry Brown has given us this track record to go on, and so I will.

Q: What’s the matter with the Braves?

A: Man, don’t even get me started…

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  • http://Www.slamonline.com Myles Brown


  • http://www.nba.com/suns Dacre

    If anyone can win one game on the road (game 6) it’s going to be the Mavericks. Best road team all season. Spurs are playing better than they have all season, certainly wouldn’t say that about the Mavs and I think as the pressure rises, so will their efforts.
    Lakers did/can flip the switch?!
    Suns will go cold for game 6 at Portland and come back to Arizona for the game 7 flush.
    So who is it to be: BOSTON or CLEVELAND out in the 2nd round???? One of these teams will not look the same come off season….

  • Joey E.

    your Braves aren’t as bad as my Dodgers, Lang! look at the bright side haha. records are the same, but we suck

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Good stuff, Lang. Shout out to Joey E. for mentioning the Dodgers. Man, are we bad. One of best thing about the Playoffs is that I have barely had time to watch the Dodgers. I just get the emails after every loss. I’m not surprised by Lakers’ showing tonight. Hard to believe how quick people were to write them off because they lost two road playoff games. Same with the Hawks.

  • http://www.nba.com/suns Dacre

    Where do the Bulls go from here? They need upgrades at the Pivot/4 spot – Noah will need some help come this time next season – and whilst Kirk and Luol are great perimetre defender types there just seems something lacking in a direction sense, new coach time? A consistent 20 ppg game big man would be ideal along side Rose.
    OKay, another 7 game series to see if Dwight can stay on the floor. Here’s hoping that Milwaukee can squeeze an upset over the Hawks, because Dwight will have more of the same problems against the length of ATL.
    Whoever will lose the series between Utah and Denver will find it a major setback for either party. Basically we’ll see who wants to leave in the offseason, Carmelo or Boozer.
    Oh and the heat… Wade is basically as good as gone now and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is no longer on speaking terms with B-Easy or Jermaine O’Neal…

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  • Joey E.

    yeah Ben, I hate to do it, but the boys in blue are frustrating me so horribly.

    and Dacre, I want to say Wade is a good as gone too. I think he and Rose would be killer. But I think his situation is very similar to Kobe in 04. Kobe almost left to to the Clips, but in the end he stayed. I think same thing happens here. Like Lang said in the write-up, tough for him to leave Miami

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com Michael NZ

    Lang, your thoughts on Iso Joes free agency? Me? He left the Suns to lead the Hawks and, hey, they’ve improved each year and if he stays they figure to further improve, right? Only key guy on the downside is Bibby. (Best rapper in the NBA is probably on the way out too). Why would he leave at this point to win 33 games with Amare’s/Rudy’s/Carlos’s Knicks?

  • Jackie Moon

    I’m just glad Lebron didn’t make that left handed free throw, because if he did, the media would be slobbering all over it … but Kobe would’ve made it … I’m just sayin … OK I’m kidding, don’t get all worked up …

  • SeanB

    Joey E and Ben the dodgers are killing me too its tough to watch their junior-college equivalent pitching staff, and Lang nice work as usual

  • JoeMaMa

    Orlando will win it all. Mark my words. Too big, too talented, great shooting, the DPOY, and finals-tested. JoeMaMa says Orlando. So does your mother.

  • JoeMaMa

    But I want the SPURS. And Lang…the Bucks won’t win. Don’t worry. It’s like the Lakers/Rockets last year. Hard to believe it happened, but the better team won…and will.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    JoeMaMa – the Rockets were the better “team” in the pure essence of the word, the Lakers were just too big, too athletic and too skilled for the Rockets to handle in the end. But the Rockets played like a TEAM. Everyone touching the ball offensively, movement, spacing, defensive communication, funneling to draw charges etc.
    That, to me is a team. The Lakers, well, they had/have tremendous star power. The closest the Rockets had to a star (and he was) was Yao, who got injured half-way through. Their next best “star calibre” player was Artest.

  • Ronald

    Co-sign EVERYTHING Hursty said. Watching Yao go down was painful.

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    anyone catch the refs make shaq unguardable for a period in the 3rd? how was brad miller supposed to guard him without getting called for mysterious fouls?

  • http://www.nba.com/bobcats Anton

    @David. The refs were guarding the Cavs last night. Every call. It was killer. But even more frustrating was the Boston/Miami game. I wanted Boston to win. But after yesterdays game I actually felt bad for Eboy. Every call was against the Heat. And the announcers for the Celtics was terrible. The worst I have ever heard. They didn’t even make sense. I had to watch my TV on mute!!!

  • TyMo

    Anton, that’ll be a $25,000 fine

  • mj23

    Hawks/Bucks has got to be the worst series. Who cares? The winner will be annihilated by the Magic who are well rested and waiting. Celtics/Cavs matchup should be interesting.

  • Atrain

    How is Hawks/Bucks the worst series? It’s the closest one in the East!

  • mj23

    Because both teams suck.

  • Aaron

    @Anton. You’re right. Boston’s announcers are an enigma to sportscasters everywhere. Another reason why Boston has no class.

  • mj23

    C’mon, who wants to watch Joe Johnson and John Salmons.

  • roman

    You better hope D. Howard stays his .ss off the bench. They wont win with him staying in foul trouble.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com TADOne

    At least you have Jason Heyward.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    The Heat sucked…..the refs had little to do with their terrible turnovers and horrendous shooting…it’s pretty simple. As far as D-Wade leaving, ya’ll are out of your f’ning minds if you think he’s leaving $30 million on the table, leaving South Beach for Chicago and stopping himself from playing with Bosh or STAT and another All-Star level player. Please…

  • mj23

    @Eboy. Only $30 million? I would say Wade is worth a lot more than that.

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    You sure Eboy?

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Everyone wants to grab the few elite free agents on the market. The elite ones want greener pastures, and that often means teaming up with another elite guy, free agent or not. Some teams with an incumbent go-to guy can’t afford an elite free agent, while those (Clips,NY) who can afford to break the bank splurging on more than one elite guy have NO ROSTER. Miami has its hands on Wade, AND can afford another elite signing or two. It also has a bunch of bench players forced into a starting role due to the lack of a 2nd guy. Add the 2nd option, and these bench guys are suddenly a decent bunch, instead of over-achieving flawed starters. Why indeed would D-Wade leave a 5th seed (with a probable star forward addition) for an 8th seed where he would be their big signing of the offseason?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Allenp

    Yeah, the refs were jobbing the Bulls.
    How does Derrick Rose not get fouls? He had like two free throws going inot the fourth quarter and he was LIVING in the lane. That’s ridiculous.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    How does Wade and Rose make sense? It reeks of “OMG put Kidd and Penny together and you have the best backcourt of all time”. Wade and Rose would probably sell a lot of tickets but do you see them winning a lot of games? It might seem like a great idea, but it makes no sense at all to me since they both don’t have a reliable 3 point shot, which was Chicago’s biggest weakness TODAY and over the last few games. Who’s going to hit that shot? Even if you sign a shooter to the theoretical Chicago squad, where’ll the minutes be found for him since you have to play Wade and Rose loads for them to win? Remember what happened the last time a team signed two superstar slasher-attcker types without 3-point range – Melo and AI. It didn’t work.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Allenp

    Eboy means that Wade will have to give up $30 million on his max contract if he signs with a team besides Miami. If you resign with your current team they can offer you a higher salary over the length of your deal. Plus, they can exceed the salary cap to resign you. So, basically, Miami can sign a top notch free agent first for the max, then give Wade a bigger max contract, with more years, than any other team even if it means going over the salary cap.
    So Wade would be giving up money and the Miami weather to sign somewhere else.
    I think Wade resigns if the Heat get Bosh or Amare. Without those two, he’s gone.
    It would be best if the Heat signed one of those two, then flipped Beasley into a player at the 3 or 5. Or, possibly, convinced Beasley to play the 3, and found a center with a pulse some other way.

  • http://slamonline.com Krishan

    Man boston announcers are the worst. It’s like they don’t talk when the ball’s in play, but once a stoppage happens, they go into this auto-whine session, it’s f**kin unbearable.

  • Rikson

    Why is everybody so sure that the heat get either bosh or stat during offseason?! They’ll only join Miami if wade stayes and viceversa…. This could be a tricky situation!

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Allenp clarified my statement. Thank you. Also, I’d love to have them make a play for CP3 instead of a big man, but that’s just me.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Since Wade and Bosh have the same agent, and we all know damn well Bosh ain’t staying in Canada (and he was in the Heat’s house during Game 4 when Wade went off and the crowd was on fire), draw your own conclusions.

  • http://Www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    CP3 (if healthy) and Wade (when healthy & motivated) would be a SICK backcourt.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    “That’s a tough road to navigate for a team that relies so heavily on one guy.”
    For f*cks sakes. I understand this is the easiest storyline and excuse the last couple of years but up to this point it’s just wrong. His 31 9 8 is probably 65% effort. Jamison put up 19 and 7 while Mo’s slowly breaking out of his slump with 15 and 5. Add that to the best bench in the NBA and STFU about “omg they rely too much on him!”.
    The only way someone can watch the series and come to that conclusion is if all you do is watch the highlights and look at the boxscore.

  • http://www.motherjones.com AndTheJellosJigglin

    No doubt, the boston announcers are the worst. Sometimes there is complete silence for a whole possession or two-and just as Krishan was saying, until something happens they dont agree with and start moaning and groaning-literally. They spend minutes at a time debating calls that arent even close and berating the refs. Where’s the fine for these lame homers that influence the public’s opinion just as much if not more than the players? Thats not even mentioning those atrocious accents and the boston arena announcer, who sounds like a dying hyena everytime boston scores.

  • T-Money

    Allen: Rose got robbed of a few calls but I’d like to add one caveat. He goes to the hole all day e’rrday but he rarely goes all the way. His dribble drives often end with a shotput from around the charge line. / As far as the Cavs, I’m more worried about Orlando than LA. I think they match up well with LA this year. They have 6 legit bigs in Shaq, Twan, Andy, Z, JJ and Powe. And Artest can’t really contend LeBron anymore. Now, Orlando… that’s a problem if they get hot.

  • T-Money

    Co-sign Anton. That’s kind of a tired line now that Ben Wallace and Varejao are not the primary post options. If you count Delonte (who plays the bulk of the minutes at the 2), everyone in the crunch time unit can easily give you 15+ points in any game. If anything, what determines whether they’ll win it all or not is the defense (stopping Orlando’s shooters and LA’s bigs). Cleveland has been at or near the top of every offensive category this year. LeBron still scores a lot but it’s not a one-man show on the offensive end.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Allenp

    CP3 and Wade both seem like they dominate the ball, I wonder how they would co-exist. The Heat need a game manager, who plays defense and can hit threes playing the one.
    They need a defender and rebounder at the five, how can convert at least one type of post move.
    And they need another wing player who can slash and hit threes.
    With those pieces, along with Wade and Bosh, they would contenders.
    The question is can they convert Beasley, or anybody else, into those pieces.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Bosh is going to end up in NY with Joe Johnson. Wade will either be in Miami with Amar’e after a sign-n-trade or he will be in Chicago. Rudy Gay will be the guy that gets overpaid for the Clippers. LBJ is staying in Cleveland unless NJ wins the lottery….

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Oh and Boozer, he will either be the guy that goes to Chicago if Wade doesn’t work out. Or he will end up in Miami, with Kirk Hinrich and other “new” role players

  • http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com Tarzan Cooper

    Damn nbk, I would suggest mia trade superbeas for kirk and luol after signing bosh n wade

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com TADOne

    Pffft….Wade is going to the Pistons! Dumars made all that cap space and Wade can play with a veteran PG and talented wing players like Prince and Stuck….huh…what you say?? We traded Billups and used our cap money on Gordon and Villanueva??? Ohhhh….ummm…nevermind.

  • http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com Tarzan Cooper

    LANG, ive got a question for you. What happened to CODE MONKEYS?

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com/madlib Michael NZ

    I’m totally prepared to give up on Beasley.

  • http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com Tarzan Cooper

    Lang, another question. Kg elbowd q in the face, gets a tech, league reviews, gets a one game susp. Najera throws manu to the ground by his neck, gets ejected. But no susp. How does that happen?

  • http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com Tarzan Cooper

    O wait, I know. Cuz its the spurs. The league and refs hate the spurs. Just like in 08 wcf when fishface jumped on the last barry, joey crawford shook his head. But the league said the next day it was a foul. And in 06 wcf dirk got a weak call and end of game 7, next poss, timmy gets hackd worse, no call. And I swear , fishface didnt get that shot off in .04. Considering all those, one would have to agree spurs would have won at least one more title.