2021 NBA Playoffs Gamethread

Ale Xander

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They probably don’t want to go up against the MLB Home Run Derby and All-Star game on Mon/Tues. This way they get Wed night all to themselves and G4 in the optimal prime time Sat night slot.
Makes perfect sense. NBA in July brings new challeneges
 

Sam Ray Not

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The Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks both entered the league as expansion teams in the 1968-69 season. As to be expected, both teams finished last in their respective divisions, which at the time meant that a coin-flip between the two of them would be decide who gets the #1 overall pick, even though the Bucks (27-55) clearly appeared to be better off than the woeful Suns (16-66). The prize in the draft could not be any bigger: Lew Alcindor, the most dominant player in the history of college basketball and the obvious heir apparent to Mikan, Russell and Chamberlain, the man to rule the league for the entire 70s. In probably the most important coin flip in NBA history, the Bucks won the flip and got to take Alcindor, with a title coming just two years later.

The Suns got the raw end of the deal, their consolation prize was Florida center Neal Walk, who Bill Simmons once described as "the hairiest player in NBA history." One of the great Jewish basketball players of all time, Walk was not a bad player, he averaged 20-12 in 1972-73, but injuries slowed down his career shortly thereafter and he was out of the league by 1977. The Suns are still chasing their first NBA title.

View attachment 42416
Whoa. That dude makes Ron Jeremy look like Rick Astley.
 
They can still easily win this, but a loss would be distinctly un-tragic as playoff eliminations go. They’ve already wildly overperformed expectations for this season; and they should be way better over the next 1-5 seasons, not just because their star starting backcourt are both only 22 but also because they have two potential star young forwards in Hunter and Reddish, both of whom were mostly unavailable for this run. Good times for CP….
I've been in mourning since this morning. All of what you've said here is true - but I also know from experience that there's no guarantee the Hawks will ever make it this close to the Finals again, let alone win a title. To have had two cracks at the Giannis-less Bucks and failed to even hold a lead at any point in either game (IIRC), let alone seriously threaten to win either of them, is beyond disappointing.

The good news, of course, is that this was an amazing season, and that TITS is a very real thing (Trust In Travis Schlenk). Under Schlenk, the Hawks are on a similar performance trajectory relative to Trae as Schlenk's Warriors team was relative to Steph. I think they need more pieces on both offense and defense to compete with the full-strength Nets and Lakers et al., and Schlenk has some difficult decisions to make over the next few months. This being an Atlanta sports team, I'm inclined to fear the worst. But hopefully I'll get to enjoy a second Atlanta team - after the 1990s Braves - being at the Big Boys Table for an extended period of time; if they can get a second star to complement Trae, either homegrown (e.g., a healthy and improving Hunter) or externally, the 2020s are going to be a lot of fun.
 

benhogan

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I've been in mourning since this morning. All of what you've said here is true - but I also know from experience that there's no guarantee the Hawks will ever make it this close to the Finals again, let alone win a title. To have had two cracks at the Giannis-less Bucks and failed to even hold a lead at any point in either game (IIRC), let alone seriously threaten to win either of them, is beyond disappointing.

The good news, of course, is that this was an amazing season, and that TITS is a very real thing (Trust In Travis Schlenk). Under Schlenk, the Hawks are on a similar performance trajectory relative to Trae as Schlenk's Warriors team was relative to Steph. I think they need more pieces on both offense and defense to compete with the full-strength Nets and Lakers et al., and Schlenk has some difficult decisions to make over the next few months. This being an Atlanta sports team, I'm inclined to fear the worst. But hopefully I'll get to enjoy a second Atlanta team - after the 1990s Braves - being at the Big Boys Table for an extended period of time; if they can get a second star to complement Trae, either homegrown (e.g., a healthy and improving Hunter) or externally, the 2020s are going to be a lot of fun.
does TITS match when JC gets offered a max deal?
 

HomeRunBaker

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does TITS match when JC gets offered a max deal?
I’m not fully immersed in the Hawks cap situation but I believe they can still match Collins and move Gallo for an expiring which would allow them a max slot next summer prior to Trae’s extension. If that is the case you can comfortably match Collins.....if not you may want to open up a max slot for a greater impact player next summer. Can Trae draw a big name like a Durant-type (not that there is a list of Durant-types but that kind of impact star to pair with Trae).
 
does TITS match when JC gets offered a max deal?
Are we sure that Collins gets offered a max? He only looked like a max player during the playoffs intermittently (to be kind). Maybe that's enough to get a max offer sheet, but I'm not quite seeing it myself.

That said, I don't really see how Schlenk can let Collins walk for nothing. At worst, he'll look at sign-and-trade options. Otherwise, he'll match any offer and use his nice array of mix-and-match contract options (like Gallo) to free up cap space as needed.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Collins was always getting a max deal. The playoffs just cemented it.
Agreed. I’m surprised this is even being questioned as the top FA on the market this summer along with Conley (providing Kawhi or Paul don’t do anything weird).
 

benhogan

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Are we sure that Collins gets offered a max? He only looked like a max player during the playoffs intermittently (to be kind). Maybe that's enough to get a max offer sheet, but I'm not quite seeing it myself.

That said, I don't really see how Schlenk can let Collins walk for nothing. At worst, he'll look at sign-and-trade options. Otherwise, he'll match any offer and use his nice array of mix-and-match contract options (like Gallo) to free up cap space as needed.
It's an awful FA class.

Collins will get maxed. I like him as a 3rd banana, but the Hawks may need to move around some of the LR furniture

https://www.spotrac.com/nba/free-agents/
 

luckiestman

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Are we sure that Collins gets offered a max?

My heuristic for the NBA when asked: will this player really get the max? The answer is yes. This is because superstars are so underpaid the money has to go somewhere. Just look at what we saw Kevin Durant do in the playoffs, there are a bunch of guy in the NBA that make 30 million dollars where if you asked “do you want Durant or those 2 guys” the answer is a no doubt about it.give me KD. Al Horford makes over $30M. Imagine he was still in his prime. I would rather have one KD at $60M that two prime Als at $30M. KD is not allowed to be paid his value so these fringe all star players make megabucks because the money has to go somewhere.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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lars10

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Phoenix did a great job identifying its young core and then adding veterans around them to make the jump. Here's an article from Dec that discusses the roster turnover: https://www.nba.com/suns/revamped-roster-2#

And while Crowder was a good addition and clearly helps his teams, the biggest reason that article is being written is because Chris Paul continued to play at an All-NBA level.
Booker also taking the next step helped.. along with a weaker western conference and a number of key injuries to all of their opponents.. do they beat LA with Kawhi?
 

ElUno20

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Booker also taking the next step helped.. along with a weaker western conference and a number of key injuries to all of their opponents.. do they beat LA with Kawhi?
Or LA without the smackdown Davis layed on them in 2 of 3 full games? Or Denver with an actual backcourt.

This phx shit is nuts. If giannis plays, they're in for a rude awakening.
 

Sam Ray Not

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Or LA without the smackdown Davis layed on them in 2 of 3 full games? Or Denver with an actual backcourt.

This phx shit is nuts. If giannis plays, they're in for a rude awakening.
The Suns were a 58-win team (pro-rated to an 82 game season) with the third best SRS in the league. They’ve had some good injury luck (as all champs have) but they’re hardly some longshot fluke. It wouldn’t be at all shocking if they handled the Bucks even with a healthy Giannis.
 

BigSoxFan

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The Suns were a 58-win team (pro-rated to an 82 game season) with the third best SRS in the league. They’ve had some good injury luck (as all champs have) but they’re hardly some longshot fluke. It wouldn’t be at all shocking if they handled the Bucks even with a healthy Giannis.
Yeah. They played twice this year with both teams at near full strength and Suns won by 1 both games. This would be a coin flip series with a healthy Giannis.
 

Euclis20

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The Suns were a 58-win team (pro-rated to an 82 game season) with the third best SRS in the league. They’ve had some good injury luck (as all champs have) but they’re hardly some longshot fluke. It wouldn’t be at all shocking if they handled the Bucks even with a healthy Giannis.
They had a regular season worthy [enough] of a champ, but I can't imagine any title team has had as lucky a playoff run regarding injuries as the Suns have this year. The Warriors had some really good injury luck in all of their title seasons - Love and Kyrie going down in 2015, Kawhi in 2017 and Paul in 2018, but what the Suns had this year (Davis, Murray, Kawhi and potentially Giannis) would be arguably as great as everything the Warriors got but compressed into a single postseason.
 

ElUno20

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Horseshoe firmly implanted up the suns ass. Middleton, Jrue are next up. They'll be injured by game 3.
 

lexrageorge

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I'm all in on this series. I think it's genuinely awesome that 2 lesser known NBA teams are vying for the title. Some really good players getting their first Finals experience. I do hope that Giannis is able to play and play well at some point, as it's great to see the best players play.

This series has the added benefit that ESPN is seriously upset that there are no big market teams playing right now, and anything that makes ESPN upset is undoubtedly a good thing.
 

Cellar-Door

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I really don't get the discounting of the Suns, they have 2 of the 3 best players in this series, Chris Paul was back to being the 1st ballot HOF he is, this year, Booker is really good, Ayton is really good, they have a bunch of solid vets... this is a good team a top 6 or 7 team in the league when everyone is fully healthy. They weren't significantly worse than anyone but the Nets.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I really don't get the discounting of the Suns, they have 2 of the 3 best players in this series, Chris Paul was back to being the 1st ballot HOF he is, this year, Booker is really good, Ayton is really good, they have a bunch of solid vets... this is a good team a top 6 or 7 team in the league when everyone is fully healthy. They weren't significantly worse than anyone but the Nets.
I know it’s kinda baffling. I expect them to dispose of the Bucks early and pretty easily. 5 games? Maybe 6?
 

Kliq

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Who is discounting the Suns? I think with a healthy Giannis, this is a pretty close series. Without Giannis? Phoenix is the heavy, heavy favorite. Maybe if Middleton is dropping 20+ point quarters, Milwaukee can steal a game or two, but Phoenix right now are big favorites.
 

Cellar-Door

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Who is discounting the Suns? I think with a healthy Giannis, this is a pretty close series. Without Giannis? Phoenix is the heavy, heavy favorite. Maybe if Middleton is dropping 20+ point quarters, Milwaukee can steal a game or two, but Phoenix right now are big favorites.
I meant the whole way through, people were talking about how they only made it because everyone got injured, which was weird to me because I felt coming into the playoffs they had a real case for 2nd best team in the West when healthy (LAL when healthy just because 2 top 7 players usually trumps everything). They were built for the playoffs in a way UTA wasn't, I felt the same about DEN (even with Murray), they had more depth to me than the Clippers, and their stars worked together better.

I think it's probably that most people didn't see the Suns play much, so they don't realize how much Paul bounced back, the step up Ayton took, and that Booker isn't a sieve on D anymore (he's not great but he puts in effort and you need to work now),
 

Kliq

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I meant the whole way through, people were talking about how they only made it because everyone got injured, which was weird to me because I felt coming into the playoffs they had a real case for 2nd best team in the West when healthy (LAL when healthy just because 2 top 7 players usually trumps everything). They were built for the playoffs in a way UTA wasn't, I felt the same about DEN (even with Murray), they had more depth to me than the Clippers, and their stars worked together better.

I think it's probably that most people didn't see the Suns play much, so they don't realize how much Paul bounced back, the step up Ayton took, and that Booker isn't a sieve on D anymore (he's not great but he puts in effort and you need to work now),
The only person I feel like is really saying that is El Uno, who is a Clippers fan and also will take the most negative-position on most topics. Phoenix definitely benefited from some injuries, but they were also a very good team. Both things can be true; I feel like this in general is a very pro-Suns board.
 

Cellar-Door

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The only person I feel like is really saying that is El Uno, who is a Clippers fan and also will take the most negative-position on most topics. Phoenix definitely benefited from some injuries, but they were also a very good team. Both things can be true; I feel like this in general is a very pro-Suns board.
Twitter has been all over it, but then again twitter is a cesspool of negativity and Lakers fans.
 

tbb345

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I really don't get the discounting of the Suns, they have 2 of the 3 best players in this series, Chris Paul was back to being the 1st ballot HOF he is, this year, Booker is really good, Ayton is really good, they have a bunch of solid vets... this is a good team a top 6 or 7 team in the league when everyone is fully healthy. They weren't significantly worse than anyone but the Nets.
yeah and it’s not like the Bucks have looked like world beaters this playoffs. In fact, they’ve been kind of mediocre

(I think Milwaukee has benefitted more from opponents injuries than Phoenix.)

I’d be surprised if this series reaches 6 games.
 

cheech13

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They had a regular season worthy [enough] of a champ, but I can't imagine any title team has had as lucky a playoff run regarding injuries as the Suns have this year. The Warriors had some really good injury luck in all of their title seasons - Love and Kyrie going down in 2015, Kawhi in 2017 and Paul in 2018, but what the Suns had this year (Davis, Murray, Kawhi and potentially Giannis) would be arguably as great as everything the Warriors got but compressed into a single postseason.
If you’re looking for another lucky playoff team, how about the team they are playing? Milwaukee avoided a yearly Kyrie, Harden, Trae, Reddish and Hunter in the last two rounds.
 

snowmanny

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I really don't get the discounting of the Suns, they have 2 of the 3 best players in this series, Chris Paul was back to being the 1st ballot HOF he is, this year, Booker is really good, Ayton is really good, they have a bunch of solid vets... this is a good team a top 6 or 7 team in the league when everyone is fully healthy. They weren't significantly worse than anyone but the Nets.
I am not really arguing with you but how many times has the 6th or 7th best team in the league won the championship? It happens in every other sport but the NBA?
 

Ale Xander

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Lasry on CNBC now
"they [medical staff] will figure it out"
"Young is great, we can do anything"
"We were able to win without Giannis"
 

jon abbey

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The only person I feel like is really saying that is El Uno, who is a Clippers fan and also will take the most negative-position on most topics. Phoenix definitely benefited from some injuries, but they were also a very good team. Both things can be true; I feel like this in general is a very pro-Suns board.
I think Phoenix is a really good team but also it seemed kind of clear that the Lakers were going to knock them out in the first round, they had won two games in a row and were up 2-1 when AD went down. I just think that shows how balanced the league is currently, any of maybe 10 teams could have won it all if they stayed healthy.
 

Cellar-Door

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I am not really arguing with you but how many times has the 6th or 7th best team in the league won the championship? It happens in every other sport but the NBA?
Well I would say I don't think they are definitely 6th or 7th, just that I wouldn't put them lower. To me there was a top 2, the 2 teams with multiple top 10 players, then a 3-7 tier that the Suns are in.
I'd say 3 of the last 10 titles have been won by 2nd tier contenders, the other 7 were won by LeBron or the Warriors.

I think Phoenix is a really good team but also it seemed kind of clear that the Lakers were going to knock them out in the first round, they had won two games in a row and were up 2-1 when AD went down. I just think that shows how balanced the league is currently, any of maybe 10 teams could have won it all if they stayed healthy.
Probably, but Healthy Lakers are clearly a top 2 team in the league.
 

Kliq

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I think Phoenix is a really good team but also it seemed kind of clear that the Lakers were going to knock them out in the first round, they had won two games in a row and were up 2-1 when AD went down. I just think that shows how balanced the league is currently, any of maybe 10 teams could have won it all if they stayed healthy.
I will say I think it's not really accurate to say "it's clear that the Lakers were going to knock them out" based on two games in the series. The Lakers were a very good team for sure, but this Phoenix team has been very good in the playoffs and it wasn't like the Lakers were lighting the world on fire. The Lakers were also hinging their team on an 36 year old that has played a gazillion minutes, and a superstar who is perennially injured. That was a weakness for the Lakers and it wasn't surprising that it ended up getting exploited in the playoffs. Durability is a skill.
 

Cellar-Door

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I will say I think it's not really accurate to say "it's clear that the Lakers were going to knock them out" based on two games in the series. The Lakers were a very good team for sure, but this Phoenix team has been very good in the playoffs and it wasn't like the Lakers were lighting the world on fire. The Lakers were also hinging their team on an 36 year old that has played a gazillion minutes, and a superstar who is perennially injured. That was a weakness for the Lakers and it wasn't surprising that it ended up getting exploited in the playoffs. Durability is a skill.
Yeah, PHX won a healthy game one, and had their own Chris Paul injury issue in game 2/3 but kept it close. Also, one key thing to me is, they held their own with both teams relatively healthy, and once AD went down they handled business pretty easily. Looking at how other teams (Hawks, even MIL to an extent) struggled against teams who lost stars, winning 3 straight pretty easily is a good sign.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I really don't get the discounting of the Suns, they have 2 of the 3 best players in this series, Chris Paul was back to being the 1st ballot HOF he is, this year, Booker is really good, Ayton is really good, they have a bunch of solid vets... this is a good team a top 6 or 7 team in the league when everyone is fully healthy. They weren't significantly worse than anyone but the Nets.
I've not watched PHO at all this year so I'm honestly asking this. As you know, the NBA playoffs are about matchups and it seems to me that MIL has enough people who can credibly guard Booker that he won't be taking over games. If that is accurate, I'm wondering where PHO is going to go in the half-court?

This is surely the best defensive team PHO has faced. Will be interesting to see how PHO game plans.
 

Jimbodandy

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I've not watched PHO at all this year so I'm honestly asking this. As you know, the NBA playoffs are about matchups and it seems to me that MIL has enough people who can credibly guard Booker that he won't be taking over games. If that is accurate, I'm wondering where PHO is going to go in the half-court?

This is surely the best defensive team PHO has faced. Will be interesting to see how PHO game plans.
I hate to answer this question like a chicken, but it really depends on whether true Booker is back. He has struggled since getting his nose busted.

Healthy, confident Booker isn't slowed down by Holiday et al. imo, but less than 100% Booker certainly can be.
 

Cellar-Door

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I've not watched PHO at all this year so I'm honestly asking this. As you know, the NBA playoffs are about matchups and it seems to me that MIL has enough people who can credibly guard Booker that he won't be taking over games. If that is accurate, I'm wondering where PHO is going to go in the half-court?

This is surely the best defensive team PHO has faced. Will be interesting to see how PHO game plans.
Hard to say for sure, but my guess is they run a ton of Paul/Ayton PnR like normal and Booker/Ayton PnR. MIL likes to play drop which forces you to either have the ballhandler make mid-range jumpers or your secondary guys make 3s. Not sure that's a good match with PHO who has one of the best Mid-range PnR shooters ever in Paul and 3pt shooters all over.
MIL might play at the level, and try to force them to go to the roll man over and over. Concerns are... Ayton can feast on the switch, and Lopez could end up with foul issues chasing Paul and Booker.
Either way these are two good defenses ( I think they were both top 3 in at the rim D), and it'll likely come down to who hits shots.
 

nighthob

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They had a regular season worthy [enough] of a champ, but I can't imagine any title team has had as lucky a playoff run regarding injuries as the Suns have this year. The Warriors had some really good injury luck in all of their title seasons - Love and Kyrie going down in 2015, Kawhi in 2017 ...
In fairness that was a case of the Warriors making their own luck. ;)
 

Euclis20

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If you’re looking for another lucky playoff team, how about the team they are playing? Milwaukee avoided a yearly Kyrie, Harden, Trae, Reddish and Hunter in the last two rounds.
Milwaukee for sure got lucky against the Nets, although the Nets (and Lakers) were massive injury risks all year. Trae/Reddish/Hunter is 100% cancelled out by the Bucks missing Giannis and Divincenzo, and the Bucks hammered a healthy Heat team (who were a reasonably good looking dark horse at the time, especially coming off of their win over the Bucks in the bubble) in the first round. Their good fortune this postseason really doesn't compare with what the Suns were given, especially considering Giannis' current health.

It wouldn't mean that their title would be worth less or deserve an asterisk (and 12 months from now no one will care outside of maybe Bucks and Clippers fans), but it's really not debatable that the Suns have had tremendously good fortune this postseason. Has any individual title team had a more fortuitous path to the title?
 

Sam Ray Not

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In fairness that was a case of the Warriors making their own luck. ;)
That plus the fact that they went 16-1 in the playoffs that year, were arguably the most dominant team ever, and were likely going to crush the Spurs with or without Kawhi.