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Ten Things about the NBA: The Playoff Edition

Phil is mostly liking what he’s seeing in the first round of the playoffs

NBA: Playoffs-Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Playoff Edition of Ten Things about the NBA is here……and as always I appreciate you taking the time to read this every single week like you do!

Russell Westbrook the Good Teammate

I give Oklahoma City Thunder All Star Russell Westbrook a very hard time. I didn’t use to though. In fact there was a time when he was my favorite player in the NBA. But after watching him amass technical foul after technical foul plus his nastiness with the media I placed him in a different category and pretty much dismissed just about everything he did. Unless it was a bad thing then I would make sure everyone within earshot would hear all about his miscues.

The Oklahoma City Thunder may have overachieved this season; they may have even allowed Westbrook to pad his stats and especially the rebounds. The Thunder may have been over-matched and outplayed by a much better Houston Rockets team but you know what I never once seen or heard Westbrook do?

Never once did I hear Russell Westbrook publicly criticize his coach, the organization or his teammates this season. NEVER ONE TIME did he throw his teammates or anyone else form the Thunder organization under the bus during what must have been a very difficult season.

Over the years Thunder players have had problems with The Oklahoman beat writer Berry Tramel; Tramel was the one who penned the infamous Mr. Unreliable piece about Kevin Durant and has had squabbles with the Thunder organization and their players for years and years.

This past Sunday Tramel attempted to ask Thunder Center Steven Adams why the Thunder doesn’t play well when Westbrook is off the court…..and this is what ensued.

Westbrook may have been in the wrong here but that young fella earned high marks in my book as a leader; I wish more leaders behaved this way. I wish more leaders would say “don’t eff with my team” the way Westbrook did.

And just for that I won’t refer to Westbrook as Urkel ever again.

Paul George Leaving the Pacers?

The Indiana Pacers predictably lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in four straight. The Cavs pulled the broom out of the closet and swept the rug out from under Pacers All-Star Paul George and his merry band of overachievers and sent them on an early vacation.

I have a funny feeling that this might be the last time we will see George in a Pacers uniform and I think George is cool with that. I also think the Pacers players and Front Office are fine with that also.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen an All-Star publicly call out his teammates the way George did during this playoff series. That can’t be a good thing can it?

I can’t remember then last time I saw a NBA All-Star look as dejected as George looked in the presser following Game Four.

I don’t think it will be hard for Larry Bird to find a suitor for George this summer……where do you think Paul George will begin the 2018 season?

The Boston Celtics/Chicago Bulls Series

People were mad at me for not having Boston Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens in my top ten coaches list from last week’s column. They are using Stevens’ decision of benching Amir Johnson and replacing him with Gerald Green as proof positive that Stevens belonged on my list.

Now moving Green into the starting lineup might be one of the reasons for the Celtics winning three straight games for a 3-2 lead in their series with the Chicago Bulls.

However it’s interesting to note that all three of the Celtics wins this series came after Bulls PG Rajon Rondo went out with a fractured thumb.

Boston Celtics All-Star PG Isaiah Thomas has a much easier time guarding the likes of Jerian Grant and Isaiah Canaan than he does with Rondo so the defensively challenged Thomas isn’t quite as much of a defensive liability as he usually is.

As much as I would love to give wonder boy Stevens the credit for an actual strategical playoff move leading to a series win the evidence suggests it had more to do with Rondo’s injury than it does with any genius move made by Stevens.

The Portland Trail Blazers Get Swept

The Portland Trail Blazers played an amazing Game 1 and that was about all they had left as they were swept by the Golden State Warriors.

I have a question?

How in the world does an NBA team score 105 points like the Blazers did in Game 1 and only manage 15 assists and Game Four score 103 points on just 14 assists?

How does that happen? Especially when you have two capable passers in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum? The dynamic duo averaged just over nine assists between them in the regular season yet just over four assists per game during their brief return to the playoffs.

For two offensive minded players who don’t play a lick of defense those numbers look more akin to a couple of YMCA chucker’s then the All-Star players some folks think they are.

ISO Joe Getting It Done

Joe Johnson (aka ISO Joe) has at times over the past few seasons looked more like a Sloppy Joe than the Mr. Clutch most Atlanta Hawks fans remember. Anyway Dude is now with the Utah Jazz and is turning back the clock much to the dismay of Los Angeles Coach Glen Doc Rivers and All Star PG Chris Paul. Johnson is averaging 18 a night and while Father Time is undefeated Johnson seems to have the button to the wayback machine with nice plays like this one to beat the Clippers.

Johnson wasn’t finished yet. He went out and destroyed the Clippers in Game Five and you can watch all 28 points below

Vintage Tony Parker

Over the last couple of seasons plenty have written of San Antonio Spurs PG and future Hall of Famer Tony Parker and with good reason; the last three seasons have seen Parker averaging considerably less numbers than his career numbers which is usually a sign that the end is near. Or at least should be a sign.

It took six long hard fought games but Parker and the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 4-2 and Parker played a HUGE role in this series averaging 16 points per game including a vintage 28 point performance in Game six that you can watch below.

Patrick Beverley

You can say whatever you want about Patrick Beverley but you have to admit the Dude makes an impact every time he steps on the floor. He’s also pretty funny off the court as well and took a pretty good swipe at Russell Westbrook.

The Atlanta Hawks

From the moment the Atlanta Hawks made the HUGE mistake signed Dwight Howard all I kept hearing from his groupies was how he was “putting in work” and “getting it done”. I even had one of those groupies call me out specifically in a Facebook group posting just so he and his other mostly male fan boys could pile on and call me names, tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about etc. all.

Here’s their boy “putting in work” and “getting it done” during Game 5 Wednesday night. It really is true; he who laughs last laughs best.

That video is especially hilarious in light of Howard’s comments after Game Four of this series. You remember what Howard said, right? In case you have forgotten here is what he said.

Allowing a player like Kelly Oubre to get an uncontested slam dunk in a playoff game in front of their home crowd is hardly dominating the paint. Howard had the perfect opportunity to make a big play on the road and shut up a LOUD home crowd but instead took the play off.

Like I have said time and time again Dwight Howard talks a good game and sometimes he even plays a good game; unfortunately the good games are too few and far between to expect anything from him when it matters.

If the Atlanta Hawks want to win this series they should bench Howard, play smaller, spread the floor and let Dennis Schroder and Paul Millsap do their thing.

Kawhi Leonard Has the Highest Player Efficiency Rating in the Playoffs

Kawhi Leonard might not win the NBA MVP Award this season; he should but if he doesn’t it’s not that big of a deal. What is a big deal is that Leonard leads the NBA playoffs in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and second place isn’t even close. Check it out for yourselves.

Kawhi Leonard is quietly becoming the best player in the NBA.

Prayers for Steve Kerr

The only truly serious news during this first round of the playoffs is the health of Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. For a competitive guy to miss playoff games due to illness means the illness ain’t your run of the mill head cold. If you are the praying kind it might not be a bad idea to send one up for Coach Kerr!

See ya next week!!