Super-Overreactionizer: Welcome to the NBA Playoffs

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Super-Overreactionizer imagines a world in which swift, nonsensical takes of of the most immediate results are the true measure of validity. These posts are constructed in the safety of a controlled #hottakes environment and should not be taken seriously by, oh, say, anyone.  – Ed.

 

I Believe That Jonas Is Our Future, Teach Him Well And Let Him Lead The Way

hplogoby Noam Schiller

If you’ve stumbled upon any mention of this Nets-Raptors series, you’ve probably heard it: experience. Emanating from the fabled championship ghosts of the Barclays Center and expanding world wide, shock waves of veteran know-how ooze from every mistimed Brooklyn Knight punch. The Nets have been here before, and have succeeded; they are here again, and they will succeed. The Toronto Raptors are neither of these things, mere third-seeded pawns in the hopeless battle against mighty sixth-seeded playoff inertia.

But whereas playoff experience is sure to spelled eventual doom for the poor virgin Raptors in last nights game one, the benefits of youth did shine through the darkness. For even if this playoff run ends prematurely, Toronto has itself a future behemoth in Jonas Valanciunas.

Less than 6 minutes into his NBA playoff career, the Lithuanian wunderkind already had 8 points and 7 rebounds. He was essentially the entire Raptor offense until the rest of the squad overcame the initial culture shock.

Even his mistakes, 6 turnovers in all, were borne of aggression in the face of trying circumstances rather than fear of the stage. When fellow postseason debutants DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross either fouled or short-rimmed themselves out of the proceedings, Jonas bullied his way towards every carom available, and snarled in his elders’ face as he skied for oops.

We have enough evidence that Valanciunas can be a productive NBA center, and given his tender age (he will be 22 in two weeks), we could have assumed improvement was due. He’s as springy as modern big men come, straight from the Tyson Chandler mold, and has a soft touch from the free throw line that leaves room for offensive growth as he refines his post game. But last his playoff inauguration can prompt us to hope for more and expect it sooner. Against a Brooklyn squad that plays small and rebounded worse than any team not named the Lakers this year, the only thing that can stop Jonas from tilting the series in his direction via unadulterated physical terror is jitters.

Apparently, those don’t exist for the center, who has played on major stages before he came over to the NBA with both his club and Lithuania’s variously-aged national team. 18 points, 17 rebounds – that’s not what a second year player does in his first playoff game, that’s what a man does when he’s among boys in the Under-19 World Championships. Jonas now has both in his resume.

The Raptors 3rd seeded season seems like something of a fluke, fueled by an addition-by-subtraction trade and multiple key players playing for a new contract, and it could end quickly at the hands of these Nets. But Jonas Valanciunas could be responsible for similar years in the futures, and there will be nothing improbable about them. As the league grows faster and smaller, the Raptors have a manchild who can run with the former and strike back against the latter and headline the next great wave of big men. All hail Jonas.

The Unfortunate Case Of Doc Rivers And Those Lakers Banners He So Foolishly Insisted On Covering Up

by Scott Leedy

Forget all the reasons you think the Clippers lost yesterday. Forget the hard doubles that Steph Curry’s video-game-like shooting talents demand on the pick and roll. Forget the Warrior’s interior passing. It wasn’t David Lee’s mastery of space and timing in the 4-on 3. It as not Chris Paul’s–for him– sub-par performance. Don’t blame the officiating. Don’t blame Blake Griffin’s lack of minutes due to foul trouble. Don’t credit Klay Thompson for staying disciplined and using his length to consistently disturb Paul’s shots and passing lanes. Definitely don’t give any credit to Mark Jackson, or God, there were larger forces at work in the Staples Center on Saturday.

Thou shall keep no false idols. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Clippers coach, Doc Rivers insisted on doing when he debased the rightful home of the Los Angeles Lakers. You may have already heard about the inspired, supposedly chemistry-building tactic: Early in the season, Doc Rivers rallied his team around the idea that all Lakers banners should be covered up during Clippers games. To many, this is a rather harmless but somewhat interesting bit of sports minutia. Of course, why wouldn’t the Clippers cover up the Lakers banners during their games? It is insulting, as the lesser of the two Los Angeles professional basketball franchises, to have your better looking, more successful older brother lord over you while you try to escape his rather domineering shadow. Surely, most feel this tactic, and the Clippers’ season has been a resounding success. The Clippers have been terrific and Kobe is left to frantically search for the world’s most selective and powerful amnesia drug. But heresy comes with a price and the demand for the Clippers’ pound of flesh arrived at the most inopportune time.

Doc Rivers tried to claim that to which he had no right. The Staples Center does not belong to the Clippers. Doc failed to recognize that–metaphorically speaking anyway– this is the house that the Buss family built. The territory that Magic Johnson claimed, electrified,and protected. The sanctuary where Kobe Bryant drank the blood of his enemies(and probably some teammates too, has anyone checked on Smush Parker recently?). For god sakes the logo of the league was a Laker. Purple and gold is not to be tainted with red, white, and blue. Banners are not trivial, and the gesture was more than disrespectful, it was open sacrilege. Doc Rivers, that ubuntu stuff was pretty cute, maybe it helped you win a title in Boston, but you’ve stepped into some real life Laker-voodoo-magic-sorcery here.

To make matters even worse, Chris Paul, the Clippers best player and leader, rightfully belongs to the Lakers (See David Stern, “Basketball reasons”). I can only assume the punishment rightfully wrought, is a reverse’ Sixth Man situation, with Kobe Bryant’s dead spirit parading around the Staples Center to protect his rightful home. How else do you explain some of Chris Paul’s wild shots and uncharacteristic turnovers yesterday? Or what about that bricked late free throw? Some spiritual forces are beyond even the Point God’s control.

Doc only has one choice, appease the Gods which he has angered or continue to suffer their wrath. Bench Chris Paul, and take down the Clippers banners. Otherwise, the Clippers are doomed to continued irrelevance. Their so called home court advantage transformed into a spiritual war zone. Blake Griffin limited to nothing but meaningless dunks and playing-time-crippling foul trouble. The ‘other Los Angeles team’ fated to lose every home game at Staples Center this playoffs.

So, the Clippers are cursed. What else is new?

Bobcats’ Kemba Walker needs to be like Mike

by Derek James

The Charlotte Bobcats aren’t exactly favored in their opening round series against the Miami Heat. Although they are just the second seed, the Heat are still an imposing and formidable opposition for the young Bobcats. While it would seem that, on paper, the game was a close one, it doesn’t tell the whole story either. After jumping out to a 23-19 lead early, Charlotte was out-scored 80-65 in the final three quarters. As you can see, the Bobcats were right there, but let it slip away.

Josh McRoberts had 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Center Al Jefferson added 18 points and 10 rebounds. How about Kemba Walker? Sure, he scored 20 points, but it took him 15 shots to get there, and that made his other numbers ring hollow. Unfortunately for Charlotte, Walker did not come ready to play in his first NBA playoff game.

See, the Bobcats drafted Walker for his big game ability after his play in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. He hit the big shot to lift his UCONN Huskies to a national championship and solidified himself as a winner. Now, tell me: does 40 percent and six turnovers sound like something a big-time winner does? I didn’t think so.

Walker’s passive play in the fourth quarter nearly killed the Bobcats on Sunday afternoon. He relied on midrange jumpers, played small by hoping to get fouled each time he touched the ball, and was quick to defer to players like Gary Neal. There is a time to facilitate and the fourth quarter was not that time. After all, this is the playoffs, where winners are forged in flame and emerge as legends. Yet, when it came to be Walker’s time, he played like someone who was afraid of the flame and unwilling to elevate his own game. Had he played like this at UCONN, the Huskies wouldn’t have won a title, so why would he play like this in the playoffs?

Should Walker continue to post empty numbers and hold his team back, the Bobcats may need to look at other options this summer. In fact, a few more disappointing games, and Richard Cho may be forced to look at someone like Shabazz Napier out of UCONN. Napier was also able to lead the Huskies to a title and showed the type of no fear leadership on the biggest stage. With Jefferson now dealing with a strained Plantar Fascia, Walker will need to prove that his performance in the 2011 national championship game was no fluke by rising to the occasion. If not, the Bobcats may need Neal and Luke Ridnour– veterans who have been and the league and know how to win –to step in. Long-term, they may have to look at Napier in June’s draft.

Perhaps Walker needs to take cues from the Heat, or his boss, Michael Jordan– the greatest champion of all-time. If we know anything about Jordan from his playing days, it’s that he has no time for guys who don’t want it bad enough, so why would that change now?

Your move, Kemba Walker.

Hack-A-Howard? More Like Howard’s A Hack

by Jordan White

Let’s take a trip back in time, back to July. Jubilee filled the streets of Houston, for it was announced that Dwight Howard was coming to town. Here, finally, was the missing piece of the Rockets’ championship puzzle. Here was the man that would solve all of our defensive issues, that would give Houston the center they needed so they could do away with this gimmicky “mathketball.” Here was the man that would dominate the paint on both ends of the court. Here was the heir apparent to all the great bigs in Rockets’ history. Here was Dwight Howard, and the NBA title would soon follow.

How idiotic we were. How stupid. How childish. How naive. How brash. How foolish.

You can’t win a championship when your best player isn’t championship material, and let me tell you, Dwight Howard is not championship material. We should have seen it before, when he failed to beat the Lakers when he rode Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu’s coat tails to the NBA Finals in 2009.

Take it from one of the game’s greats, Shaquille O’Neal. He sees Howard for who he really is: a fraud. Howard should be dominating Robin Lopez every time in the post. He should have ended the game with 50 points and 40 rebounds without trying. He should be demanding, no, ripping the ball from James Harden’s hands. This was Dwight Howard’s time to be a man, and instead, he wet the bed like a little girl.

Hey, Dwight, instead of flailing and waving your arms at the officials looking for a foul, why not wave them at your teammate to get the ball?

But this has always been Dwight’s MO, hasn’t it? He’d rather whine and complain than step up in the big moments. If you really want to be the the team’s best player, if you really want to lead them to the championship, how about you stay on the dang floor? And don’t give me the poor officiating as an excuse – the greats find a way to win through adversity, not cower before it.

You know who Houston could really use?

A player who’s going to come in and do his work without a complaint. A guy who’s a little goofy, but just enough so that it adds to the team’s chemistry without making it all about him. A lunch pail guy. A guy down low who’s going to do all of the dirty work.

What Houston really needs is the guy who got the better of Dwight Howard. They need Robin Lopez.

Sure, Howard makes those pretty blocks and fancy dunks, but when the game is on the line, would you rather have a 54% free throw shooter (that’s Howard, by the way. I mean, come on, take some pride in your craft and learn how to make the easiest shot in the game! They’re called “free” for a reason) or an 81% free throw shooter? Now, I didn’t graduate from MIT, so maybe my math is a little bit off, but I’m pretty sure 81% is better than 54%.

Daryl Morey, he of the wondrous money ball that has produced precisely ZERO championships in his tenure, screwed the pooch this summer. The savior and leader the Rockets needed was available this offseason, all right. He was right there for the taking. Morey could have struck gold with Robin Lopez, but instead brought back pyrite with Dwight Howard.

Howard was a -5 on the night, and Lopez was a -15. I have no idea what those numbers mean, and I don’t need to.

All I know is, Lopez was a +1 where it counts: wins.

The Spurs Are Boring Their Way Straight to the NBA Finals

by Andrew Lynch

F— you, “the Spurs are boring.” I’m sick of that line.

Is a glacier boring? Its sheer weight crushes everything in its path. Nothing resists the slow, eventual spread of a sheet of ice with the density of Boris Diaw. Only an act of God can stop the glacier by turning the entire climate against it — and even that only holds the frozen destruction at bay until the next era of its dominion.

Is a radioactive half-life boring? Matter is straight-up radiating itself out of existence, into the ether. It’s the most fundamental forces in the universe played out on the grandest scales, and it happens right in front of your eyes. THEY MADE A VIDEO GAME NAMED AFTER IT. It’s an amazing series, critically acclaimed. No chance that happens if something as temporally brilliant as the conversion of radium to lead-206 actually glowed with ennui.

Is the Jurassic Park theme song slowed waaaaay down boring? It builds and builds and builds and I bet you could outrun a dinosaur if it were moving in slow motion. You’d probably even have time to look back and take a few pictures, though if you take a dino-selfie, you deserve to get eaten by a thousand accurately-sized velociraptors.

If these things are boring — if the San Antonio Spurs, the team that throttled Dirk Nowitzki in the first game of their first round series, are boring — then entertainment is a sucker’s bet. Give me the boring stoicism of Kawhi Leonard destroying all who step in his path. Leave me with the yawn-inducing fundamentals of Tim Duncan. Put me to sleep and let me dream of Tony Parker as he eviscerates defenses and leads the Spurs to the NBA Finals.

Because if San Antonio is boring, then what was last June?

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