Nets vs. Raptors: The Nets are losing to the Raptors…and Time
by Robby Kalland (@RKalland)
Stick a fork in the Nets, they’re done.
A veteran team shouldn’t let a fourth quarter lead slip away when they have a chance to take a 3-1 series lead like the Nets did in Game 4. With 6:12 to go in the game, Paul Pierce hit a layup to put Brooklyn up four. From that point on, the only points the Nets scored were on a pair of Kevin Garnett free throws. It was a pitiful display of ineptitude down the stretch for Brooklyn, as they were run out of the building by a younger, hungrier Raptors team.
This team isn’t veteran, they’re just plain old.
They were up 2-1 and had a fourth quarter lead with all the momentum before they hit the wall. There’s no longer a championship shine to this team, just rust. Everything about this team is old. Pierce and Garnett look like shells of their former selves, and Joe Johnson can’t get you out of the first round on his own — just ask Atlanta.
Even in the battle of rapper supporters between Drake and Jay-Z, the Nets are the washed up team.
They say the truth shall set you free. Well, for the Nets’ they’ll be freed of the playoffs because the Truth has a Big Ticket for them to depart the first round.
The Raptors get to go home, back to Toronto tied at 2-2 with all the momentum after Game 4. The Raptors now look like the grizzled, veteran bunch. They calmly took Brooklyn’s best shot and rather than panic, they settled in and played with grit and determination to regain homecourt, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they won’t let it slip away a second time.
You only get one shot at stealing homecourt in the NBA, and Brooklyn wasted theirs.
This is the Nets’ own fault. They foolishly underestimated the Raptors, looked at them as weak and tanked their way into the sixth seed. Instead of playing the sputtering Bulls in the first round, the Nets worked their way into a fight with the youthful exuberance of this Raptors team. You would expect a group of veterans to know better, but now they’re being served humble pie.
Father Time waits for no man, and the Nets’ time is up.
Wizards vs. Bulls: This is Trevor Ariza’s world, and we’re all living in it
by Amin Vafa (@AminNBA)
If we’d heeded the words of generations of masons, we’d know that the proper way to build a foundation is to build it brick by brick.
Luckily for the Wizards, Trevor Ariza wouldn’t know a brick if one landed on his head.
Thirty points from the field, with eighteen of them coming from behind the arc. The media talk about this Wizards teams as if all its talent lies with its youth, and all of its savvy lies with its veterans. But Trevor Ariza is proof that the veterans are bringing their share of talent, too. Had it not been for Ariza’s savvy talent on a day without Nene, the Wizards wouldn’t be nearly as happy about flying back to Chicago to close out this series on Tuesday.
This journeyman-swingman hybrid went from trade acquisition, to defensive staple, then to trade chip, and finally to offensive staple in just two short seasons with this franchise. John Wall’s ability to find him wide open in the corner for three-pointers has been a key cog in the Wizards’ offense all year, and against Chicago, the rest of the world is finally getting to see just how well-oiled this machine is.
It’s been a long, winding, and trafficky road in Washington, but Ariza’s journey as the franchise’s marquee player is just getting started.
Mavs vs. Spurs: Coach of the Year is Cursed, and so is Pop
by Jordan White (@JordanSWhite)
The Coach of the Year award is a tremendous honor. It’s a recognition of an individuals remarkable efforts in getting 13 men to play as one. Sometimes, it means taking a group from the bottom to the top. Other times, it honors a person who remained at the top despite all odds. It is the highest praise a coach can possibly receive.
It’s also a horrible, horrible curse foisted upon those that would dare defile the time-tested conventions of basketball
Consider last year’s winner, George Karl. For his efforts of turning a hodgepodge roster into an electric, breakneck-paced threat and winning a franchise-record 57 games, Karl was named the Coach of the Year. Then the playoffs happened. Then the Golden State Warriors happened. Then Draymond Green being possessed by the basketball gods, who saw fit to punish Karl for his ingenuity, happened, and Karl found himself banished, first from the playoffs, then from the Denver Nuggets altogether.
Now, the curse has found its way to the most curmudgeonly of coaches, one Gregg Popovich.
This is what you get, Gregg. This is your just deserts for daring to defy father time, somehow keeping Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili as dangerous as ever despite their advanced age. Did you really think you could get away with it? You’re a well-read man, so surely you must have read the tale of Icarus. That’s you, Gregg. You soared so high on your man-made wings with feathers crafted from the discarded, gel-crusted hairs of Tiago Splitter that in your ignorance you came too close to the sun.
For your sins, you’ll be crushed by everything you abhor: Monta Ellis, and his wild, inefficient ways. Vince Carter, being Vince Carter. Brandan Wright, because sure, why not. When Rick Carlise called you “the coach of the century,” it was not actually Carlisle speaking, but the vengeful wrath of the basketball gods. They were not celebrating you, Gregg, they were condemning you.
This is what happens when you tempt the wrath from high atop the thing, when you become too good, too clever for your own good. Soon, you will leave the first round, with nothing but the cursed Coach of the Year trophy to show for all of your efforts. Soon, you will have nothing.
And Monta Ellis will have it all.