National Celtics discourse

wade boggs chicken dinner

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One thing that will be very interesting to watch: how mentally resilient is Luka? If (and a big if), things start going badly for him, he's getting run/hunted, his shot is not falling, the Celtics' are making theirs.... will he digress into whining at the officials and the other on court histrionics that drive everyone here nuts and have his game fall apart? He has a built in excuse with the injuries that have been reported in the playoffs. Will we start getting those leaks? I honestly have no idea. Obviously he's been great to this point and with Irving he's not carrying the team alone. But I do expect him to be tested often. Minnesota wasn't really able to get into him in this way, but I think the Celtics will be (likely led by Brown, plus the overall overwhelming offense).
I have no idea how mentally tough Luka is but I told my son yesterday that if the Cs look as good as I think they will, I have a sneaking suspicion that Luka will do the same thing as Mitchell and Haliburton and beg out of the series because of injuries.

Luka said after the March win that the Cs were the best team in the NBA and he said it again yesterday I believe. https://sports.yahoo.com/luka-doncic-gives-initial-thoughts-153309121.html
 

Buster Olney the Lonely

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I heard Francesa in a recorded interview on nba radio yesterday. He thinks the Celtics are overrated and not a good defensive team despite the hype. Says Luka and Kyrie will wipe the floor with the Celtics backcourt. Mavs in 6.
Mike Francesa is a comedy act now, particularly when it comes to the NBA.

Last offseason he said that Boston made a big mistake giving Jaylen the supermax because Jaylen was “not an All-NBA player” (he was) and Jaylen only got the deal because “he was in the right place at the right time” (whatever that means).

During round one (!) Mike was talking up the Knicks-Celtics ECF and went so far as to break down that hypothetical series with it tied 2-2 heading back to Boston.

I’d stop listening to him, but I really need the comedy.
 

Justthetippett

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Didn’t see this posted in the couple of threads where I thought it might fit but here was CJM speaking Friday with some thoughts on the media portrayal of a JT/JB feud, tension, rivalry or whatever.
I love the edge this whole team and staff has right now. The criticism last year was that they acted like they had already arrived just be making the finals in '22. This whole organization knows now it's time to get this done. They aren't taking any shit. I expect them to come out flying on Thursday. Not sure if that means the shots will fall, but the effort will be 100 and they are experienced enough to put that to good use.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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that’s certainly true and having argued for Luka over Tatum in past I think there’s good reasons to do so.

it’s also true that Tatum is more complete and easier to build around.

imo the reason Luka is ahead is that his ability to create offense against great defense is simply elite and superior to Tatum (who, to be clear, is underrated on that as well). And I believe that’s the single most valuable skill a player can have leverage-wise.

this series shouldn’t be a “Tatum vs Luka” showdown—and the less it is the better for the Celtics, who are a lot better 3-6 than Dallas. Tatum also could “win” that theoretical showdown, to be clear.
It's fair that Luka is a better offensive player than JT and it's hard to argue that being able to create decent offense when NBA defenses are completely locked in is a super valuable skill, one that has historically characterized "superstars".

But apologies for repeating myself; hopefully this is a series where it becomes too obvious for people to miss that defense matters too. But the margins are so slim it's hard really to tell the impact of defense without the gaudy "STOCK" statistics. If BOS can force Luka to miss one extra shot every 10 attempts, they can turn him from a 50% shooter to a 40% shooter, which is huge. If an average game is 80 shots, making the opponent go 36-80 rather than 40-80 is four buckets, which can be anywhere from 8-12 points.

I know MIN was the top-rated defense this year but I think this series will show why BOS's defense should be ranked among the top in NBA history. I mean they certainly have the defensive talent to be included in the conversation.
 

TripleOT

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Boston has five of the best seven players in this series. JT doesn’t have to have better stats than Luka to win the title. As far as comparing the two to declare the better player, Luka, who absolutely dominates the basketball, has counting numbers to start his career that are better all time than almost everyone who has ever played. He’s been first team all-NBA five times, and has been trying on defense for two plus months now.

The casual NBA observer and even some of the “experts” prefer Luka over JT. However, Tatum is a better all around plater because of his top level defensive ability. He can credibly guard 1-5 while putting up great offensive numbers.I happy that they will go at it in this series. If Tatum comes out on top, it will really shut up his critics and bolster his rep overall.
 

TripleOT

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Boston in 2022 was what the Mavs are in 2024, a team that retooled in season, gelled, and thrived in their conference in the playoffs. Boston’s retooling wasn’t as dramatic, but the White addition really shored up that team. If Rob wasn’t hobbled, there’s no doubt in my mind they win against the Warriors. That Boston team had a few problems, with White not ready for the biggest stage, the bench being inferior, and their superstar being worn down and not fully healthy in getting his team to the Finals. Hopefully the Mavs run into the same problems.
 

lovegtm

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The interesting Luka v Tatum question for me isn't defense. It's whether the current Celtics would be better on offense if they had Luka instead of Tatum.

The Mavs would probably be worse on offense with Tatum replacing Luka (although their offense isn't amazing, so it's closer than it might seem).

I guess more broadly, I've become more interested in team offensive ecosystems than individual player efficiency, even though I get the appeal of the latter for "rankings".

Indirectly this answers @riboflav 's question about why some people here like Timpf: he's one of the only media personalities who gets at all granular in that way. Lowe used to do that years ago, but those days are long behind him.

The NBA is very dynamic, and as soon as you stop analyzing it actively and granularly, the value of your opinions decays fast, because the game changes that quickly.
 

mostman

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From today’s Athletic Pulse email, penned by Branch and Sprow.
Dallas might have the two best players in this series though, and one of those players, Kyrie Irving, already has an iconic Finals moment on his resume and is hated by the Celtics fanbase.
Let’s just go off what’s happening right now in the 2024 NBA playoffs.

Tatum: 26/10/6
Irving: 23/4/5

And that’s before discussing defense. There’s no path to defending this statement. Just to also add, White is 18/4/5.
 
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wade boggs chicken dinner

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Boston in 2022 was what the Mavs are in 2024, a team that retooled in season, gelled, and thrived in their conference in the playoffs. Boston’s retooling wasn’t as dramatic, but the White addition really shored up that team. If Rob wasn’t hobbled, there’s no doubt in my mind they win against the Warriors. That Boston team had a few problems, with White not ready for the biggest stage, the bench being inferior, and their superstar being worn down and not fully healthy in getting his team to the Finals. Hopefully the Mavs run into the same problems.
Good comparison. While it wasn't a change in personnel per se, the switch Ime made in having TL play a rover on defense was almost as dramatic as adding a new player.
 

TripleOT

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The interesting Luka v Tatum question for me isn't defense. It's whether the current Celtics would be better on offense if they had Luka instead of Tatum.

The Mavs would probably be worse on offense with Tatum replacing Luka (although their offense isn't amazing, so it's closer than it might seem).
The Mavs with JT instead of Luka, with Good Kyrie at PG, would be a formidable team. They would be markedly better defensively and might be as good offensively. They do have some good long distance shooters, and maybe JT opens the floor a bit more for them than Luka. They might be more engaged offensively, as opposed to standing around watching Luka fiddle and diddle.

Luka has averaged 44.5 wins per season (with the two shorter seasons adjusted). He has had the opportunity to dominate the ball and put up relatively empty stats on middling teams. Tatum had to enter the league on a stacked team, due to the unusual situation of a good team having a top three pick, and in his first year perfectly filled a specific role as a spot up shooter and defender, and then morphing to leading man in a deep playoff run, coming within a bucket of having the most rookie playoff points ever. He’s adapted and perfectly filled whatever role his team needed. It’s not his fault that the Celtics didn’t shore up their bench in 2022, but he has to wear that Finals performance as a scarlet letter until he has a successful finals.

Now that the Mavs actually won a conference finals, it’s like a national coronation. Luka is a great offensive player with the flair for making crunch time plays, but the gap between Luka and JT isn’t that great, if there is one. I’m guessing that we are going to see a very high level Tatum performance in the Finals. He’s been waiting for this chance at redemption, his game has grown since 2022, he’s healthier, and he has better teammates. Boston in 5.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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Nice piece in the New Yorker from Louisa Thomas: The Boston Celtics and What Greatness Looks Like.

Some excerpts:
When the new season began, the Celtics played like one of the best teams in N.B.A. history. They had the highest-rated offense of all time, and a defense that was nearly as good. Their net rating, a statistical calculation of a team’s over-all performance, put this year’s Celtics alongside the league’s most legendary teams, including Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriorsat their peaks. Boston won multiple games by more than fifty points, something only two teams had done before. And yet many commentators, and even some of the team’s fans, seemed reluctant to accept this evidence. “The Celtics record (76-20) & point differential (+10.4) say they’re an all time team,” a popular sports talk-radio host tweeted recently, after the Celtics swept this year’s Eastern Conference Finals, against the Indiana Pacers. “The eye test says they are not close to that.” Why, when it comes to this team, do people see something different from what the results suggest? What do we think greatness should look like?
This [3 point shooting] has been the engine of Boston’s high-octane offense. And yet some people find it maddening to see Tatum, a player of tremendous strength, court vision, and finesse in the mid-court and around the rim, pulling up early in a possession and letting fly a long shot, which, more often than not, he will miss. Missing, though, even for long stretches, is baked into the strategy. Threes are riskier, statistically speaking, than shots taken closer to the basket—a team’s three-point shooting percentage can vary dramatically from night to night. And the Celtics are prone to runs of cold shooting—as was most obvious during that 2023 series against the Heat, when they took a hundred and six three-point shots in the first three games and made only thirty-one of them, while the Heat hit theirs at an unusually high rate. When the shots weren’t falling, there seemed to be a kind of stubbornness about the team’s approach. But the team’s shooting can get hot just as quickly; in time, the math usually works out. When Boston lost a game to Miami in the first round this year, there was a lot of talk about the Celtics’ failure to adjust during the game. The Celtics won the next three games by twenty, fourteen, and thirty-four points, respectively.
The players talk about an ethic of sacrifice; the guard Jrue Holiday, acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks, took just ten shots a game during the regular season, compared with fifteen last year. (Tatum and Brown are also taking fewer shots.) Everyone does everything. This is apparently not in keeping with conventional notions of basketball greatness. The N.B.A. title is often won by the league’s best player, and winning is often credited to that player’s determination and killer instinct, particularly late in games. Jayson Tatum is maybe only (only!) the league’s sixth-best player, and Boston is typically at its best when he’s helping to orchestrate the team’s balanced attack, rather than taking over at the end of close games. His demeanor, deliberate and steady, tends to reflect that rational approach.
 

radsoxfan

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From today’s Athletic Pulse email, penned by Branch and Sprow.

Let’s just go off what’s happening right now in the 2024 NBA playoffs.

Tatum: 26/10/6
Irving: 23/4/5

And that’s before discussing defense. There’s no path to defending this statement. Just to also add, White is 18/4/5.
This national talking point that "Dallas has or might have the 2 best players in the series" is so insane and yet it keeps getting thrown out there.

I of course always root for Tatum, but never in my life have I wanted him to play well more than this series.

Current Kyrie vs current Tatum is not close.
 

RorschachsMask

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Lou Williams thinks Tatum is better than Luka, so his opinion holds more weight, because I like when they agree with me.

Luka clearly the better individual talent, Tatum more malleable.
 

TripleOT

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Series player ranking
Luka
Tatum
Brown
Jrue
Kyrie
White
Porzingis

Even with the Kyrie Redemption Tour, is there a GM in the league that would rather have him over Jrue? I’ll bet that at least half would prefer White over Irving also. National media has a long memory about the perceived faults of players like Tatum. It must have forgot that the Nets sixteen months ago could only scare up two fungible back of the rotation at best players, a 2029 first round pick, and two seconds for Kyrie, who previously has had bitter exits from every team that employed him.
 

OnTheBlack

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This narrative is a gift. The basketball universe has somehow built a story that an -230 favorite that won 64 games and went 12-2 so far in the playoffs are going to get steamrolled by the mavericks. The Celtics get to play the disrespect card. For a team that has often taken their foot off the gas that is exciting.

C’s in 5
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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The NBA takesphere and its audience is probably the only population happy with all these off days. I am not a Silver-hater but this is something Adam/NBA Minions have to fix going forward. Today should feature an NBA game and it doesn't. Not great, Bob.
 

Montana Fan

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This narrative is a gift. The basketball universe has somehow built a story that an -230 favorite that won 64 games and went 12-2 so far in the playoffs are going to get steamrolled by the mavericks. The Celtics get to play the disrespect card. For a team that has often taken their foot off the gas that is exciting.

C’s in 5
The more juice the national press throws towards Dallas, the bigger the achievement will be when the Celts whip them in 5.
 

Montana Fan

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The NBA takesphere and its audience is probably the only population happy with all these off days. I am not a Silver-hater but this is something Adam/NBA Minions have to fix going forward. Today should feature an NBA game and it doesn't. Not great, Bob.
I was kinda wishing there was a Bronze medal round that pitted Indiana versus Minnesota in a best of 5.
 

InstaFace

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The NBA takesphere and its audience is probably the only population happy with all these off days. I am not a Silver-hater but this is something Adam/NBA Minions have to fix going forward. Today should feature an NBA game and it doesn't. Not great, Bob.
My off-the-wall but Adam Silver-aligned concept for how to fix this:

- The European competition calendar ends right around the time of the conference finals
- There are a whole bunch of NBA teams eliminated from the playoffs who hadn't made summer plans yet because they'd hoped to still be competing
- The NBA has never been more global, and the level of competition in leagues beyond the NBA has never been better (look at all the top global talent getting trained elsewhere and making it to stardom in the NBA - Jokic, Giannis, Embiid, Gobert, Wembanyama, Doncic, the list is quite long at this point).
- Therefore, they should have some sort of exhibition series or international cup, played between good NBA teams who were eliminated from the playoffs, and the best foreign teams that can be found.
- EuroLeague level teams, plus clubs in Australia, Brazil, maybe eventually China and Japan, Most of whom would probably crawl over broken glass to get a chance to play against an NBA team and maybe get noticed or show off.
- I'd say try to get pre-commitments from teams as soon as the playoffs start, where they agree that they'll play 3-4 games over 6-7 days during the Finals or in the gap after early-finishing conference finals. Figure out how many teams are willing to field their teams for that, then adjust the competition accordingly. Working it out with the players union might get tricky, but if the players opt in (and can opt out) and are incentivized appropriately, they'll figure it out. Much like how they figured out the IST.

Make it like a global version of the NIT. OK, so you won't win the Larry O'Brien trophy, but you can still be on national TV on nights when we're starved for basketball content, playing against teams who probably aren't anywhere near as good as you, but are super hungry for it and will be busting their asses accordingly and will probably win some games on occasion.

Maybe the US hosts it for the first few editions, but then we start alternating sides of the Atlantic every other year. Hey, Clippers, just in case you get eliminated this round, would you want to go then to Malaga Spain and play against some Euro teams, while spending off days on the beach? Let the crew ride again! Bring the family!
 

benhogan

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While we all want the Finals to start NOW! KP's improving health is a massive silver lining.

I imagine Mavs fans are less pleased than us.
 

lovegtm

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Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm sort of OK with a Super Bowl-like buildup to the Finals?

It's the main event, it's going to be intense. Get both teams rested, let both teams gameplan. Get people a bit annoyed with all the talk and player ranking blather. Create a feeling of anticipation, rather than "ok, just beat the other team in 7, let's turn around and play the next series."
 

radsoxfan

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Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm sort of OK with a Super Bowl-like buildup to the Finals?

It's the main event, it's going to be intense. Get both teams rested, let both teams gameplan. Get people a bit annoyed with all the talk and player ranking blather. Create a feeling of anticipation, rather than "ok, just beat the other team in 7, let's turn around and play the next series."
Football games are once a week anyway, so it makes more sense in football to have a long break like this. A few days to regroup would be fine, but this seems pretty excessive.

The NBA seems adamant the Finals dates have to be set in advance, in which case there is nothing that can be done (aside from sketchy ref shenanigans). Short 4-5 game conference finals = long break. 6-7 game conference finals = short break. Just the way it's going to be.
 

bigq

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While we all want the Finals to start NOW! KP's improving health is a massive silver lining.

I imagine Mavs fans are less pleased than us.
This is the silver lining I needed. I’ll continue watching YouTube footage of the 83-84 team for a few more days.
 

BigSoxFan

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Who had Keyshawn Johnson as the most sober voice in sports media?

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crV8k9xySgE
That was beautiful. And he’s 100% right. The Celtics won 64 games during the regular season and have gone, what, 12-2 during the playoffs and some in the media are treating them like they’re some kind of paper tiger. I think these guys are going to come out with a major chip on their shoulder.
 

The Mort Report

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Who had Keyshawn Johnson as the most sober voice in sports media?

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crV8k9xySgE
Key's actually been kinda funny to watch on Undisputed when it comes to the C's when Pierce is there. They obviously task him with always countering Pierce, and he tries at the start, you can tell he doesn't believe the crap he has to spout, and as soon as PP and Skip get into it he immediately sides with Pierce and completely 180s on his anti-Cs talking points from 2 minutes before
 

BaseballJones

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I heard Francesa in a recorded interview on nba radio yesterday. He thinks the Celtics are overrated and not a good defensive team despite the hype. Says Luka and Kyrie will wipe the floor with the Celtics backcourt. Mavs in 6.
I mean, they very well could. Freaking TJ McConnell and Andrew Nembhard averaged 21.0 and 15.0 points a game on a combined 60-115 (52.2%) from the floor. Kyrie and Luka are much, much, much better than McConnell and Nembhard. It won't be easy keeping the two of them under a combined 60 points a game, if we're being perfectly honest. (They averaged 59.5 points a game combined during the regular season, FWIW)
 

snowmanny

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Luka and Kyrie are averaging 51.6 ppg in the playoffs compared to Tatum/Brown's 51.0. I'm not seeing Kyrie going for 25 a night, though he will have his nights.
 

Euclis20

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This gets to the genesis of any argument against Boston winning the title: We've seen them come close and lost a bunch in the past, so they won't win this year, either. The other basic arguments are either totally outside of their control (Dallas unequivocally had a tougher playoff run, which is neither here nor there at this point) or laughably simple and easy to disprove (the team with the best player wins the series, which is why Lebron famously has like a dozen titles). Dallas can certainly win the series (35% seems about right, and all too possible), but most of the arguments in favor are just wishcasting.
 

lars10

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The Mavs with JT instead of Luka, with Good Kyrie at PG, would be a formidable team. They would be markedly better defensively and might be as good offensively. They do have some good long distance shooters, and maybe JT opens the floor a bit more for them than Luka. They might be more engaged offensively, as opposed to standing around watching Luka fiddle and diddle.

Luka has averaged 44.5 wins per season (with the two shorter seasons adjusted). He has had the opportunity to dominate the ball and put up relatively empty stats on middling teams. Tatum had to enter the league on a stacked team, due to the unusual situation of a good team having a top three pick, and in his first year perfectly filled a specific role as a spot up shooter and defender, and then morphing to leading man in a deep playoff run, coming within a bucket of having the most rookie playoff points ever. He’s adapted and perfectly filled whatever role his team needed. It’s not his fault that the Celtics didn’t shore up their bench in 2022, but he has to wear that Finals performance as a scarlet letter until he has a successful finals.

Now that the Mavs actually won a conference finals, it’s like a national coronation. Luka is a great offensive player with the flair for making crunch time plays, but the gap between Luka and JT isn’t that great, if there is one. I’m guessing that we are going to see a very high level Tatum performance in the Finals. He’s been waiting for this chance at redemption, his game has grown since 2022, he’s healthier, and he has better teammates. Boston in 5.
Looking at the stats for Tatum and Luka in the playoffs.. kinda crazy but they're getting similar numbers of shots up with Tatum playing more minutes. Luka is scoring at a higher percentage on twos... he's also getting more rebounds and assists. If they were to switch teams.. Tatum probably gets more shots with more minutes and would dominate the ball a lot more than he already dominates the ball with the Celtics. He's already shown that he can average 30 points for a season.. if he had less options to pass to I think he could do that or better with Dallas and he'd have similar counting stats to Luka because he'd play more minutes than Luka does. I do think the defensive upgrade, especially with the other bigs on Dallas would be pretty huge.. You'd have another defender that could challenge the other team's 3s and 4s...and sometime 5s.
 

m0ckduck

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It's quite a piece. After mentioning that Boston won both meetings in the regular season, we're told: "But it’s not as if Boston has owned Dallas, or Luka in particular, for very long. In November 2021, Doncic did this to beat Boston at the buzzer:"

2021? Why not add in some Rolando Blackman highlights while we're at it.

Dallas can certainly win the series (35% seems about right, and all too possible), but most of the arguments in favor are just wishcasting.
Yeah, 35% seems right. Re the bolded: just to split hairs, I'd describe the pro-Dallas takes as "vibe doctoring" more than anything else. It's all about the eye test and intangibles and everything that can't be quantified. It's the equivalent of the scene in Moneyball where the old scouts are all slobbering over players based on how their swing looks while ignoring their on-base percentage.
 

jose melendez

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Luka is really good and Kyrie is, lately, really good. However, for the Mavs to win this series, they both need to be really good. The Mavs aren't winning with Kyrie averaging 16ppg.

The Celtics, by contrast, can absolutely win with Brown or Tatum having a bad game. The Mavs can absolutely win, but they need their top two to be brilliant basically every night.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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The tongue bath that Lowe gives Luka in the most recent pod is so over-the-top. He describes Luka as a certified playoff assassin that no one wants to face and, for instance, even though the Clippers have beat him 2/3 times, they’d still run from the room if you told them they had to face him. I mean, sure, it's hyperbole for effect, but I'm not sure they even mentioned that JB won the series MVP.

Is it not interesting and noteworthy that the Cs not only have Tatum, an all-NBA player, but their second-best dude just took home the series MVP? It was amazing how disinterested Lowe and Pelton were in the finals preview.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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The tongue bath that Lowe gives Luka in the most recent pod is so over-the-top. He describes Luka as a certified playoff assassin that no one wants to face and, for instance, even though the Clippers have beat him 2/3 times, they’d still run from the room if you told them they had to face him. I mean, sure, it's hyperbole for effect, but I'm not sure they even mentioned that JB won the series MVP.

Is it not interesting and noteworthy that the Cs not only have Tatum, an all-NBA player, but their second-best dude just took home the series MVP? It was amazing how disinterested Lowe and Pelton were in the finals preview.
I thought it was interesting that both Lee and Pelton agreed that BOS “unquestionably” had the better offense and no one thinks that DAL has the better defense - in fact, not only is BOS’s defense better, they agreed that BOS has a defensive gear that no other NBA team “can touch,” but they talk about the series as if it’s a toss-up. I get that Lowe’s employers want people to be excited to watch a competition, but as you point out, he doesn’t have to lean into it quite as much.
 

benhogan

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Luka and Kyrie are averaging 51.6 ppg in the playoffs compared to Tatum/Brown's 51.0. I'm not seeing Kyrie going for 25 a night, though he will have his nights.
Yea but in a new Eastern Conference Playoff rule the Boston Celtics played random girls & boys high school basketball teams for 4 weeks leading up to the Finals. While the Mavs faced the Clippers with 4 HOFers, Denver Spurs, #1 seed OKC, and the greatest NBA defense of All-Time Wolves + the 2nd coming of MJ.

I'm just sad the Greatest Backcourt Duo of All-Time didn't get to play the Greatest Frontcourt Duo of All-Time. While the Greatest PG of All-Time didn't even make the WC playoffs.

I liked the WC over the EC to start the season but the comparisons have jumped the shark. Unless, of course, you're talking about the grittiest team in NBA history, Thibs Nova Nicks...Little known fact, Jason Hart finished in 3rd place for the Larry Bird Trophy with Doris & Mike Breen making a late push.

I'll take what is NBA Media Narratives for a 100, please
 
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wade boggs chicken dinner

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Ben Rorhbach at Yahoosports looks into the narrative that the team with the best player usually wins the Finals: https://sports.yahoo.com/2024-nba-finals-luka-doncic-is-the-series-best-player-what-does-that-mean-for-the-celtics-003322605.html.

A couple of paragraphs that stood out to me (just as anecdata; I understand that none of this really means anything to any particular series):
  • Using each season's MVP race as the determining factor for who voters believed was the best player in that particular campaign, the better player has won 41 of 68 NBA Finals — or roughly 60% — since 1956. Since the turn of the century, the player who finished higher in MVP voting has been 12-11 in Finals matchups.
  • However, if you go by a more general idea of who was the best player in each series — weeding out, for example, when Charles Barkley won the 1993 MVP, only for his Phoenix Suns to lose to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls — you could make the argument that the best player won 56 of 68 championships (82.4%).
  • The team with the better record has finished 47-18 in the Finals, winning nearly three-quarters of the time. Teams that finish with eight or more wins than their opponents are 30-5 (.857 winning percentage) in the title series. It is why James' victory over the Warriors in 2016 is so remarkable. His is the only win in 10 tries when a team has at least 14 fewer victories than its Finals opponent, as Dallas does compared to Boston.
  • [One] might think the wider the gap between two players, the more likely the better player is to win a championship. Not necessarily true, either. In cases when just one spot separated two players in MVP voting, the higher finisher won 14 of 19 Finals. In cases when five or more spots separated them in the voting, the player who earned more MVP votes won 13 of 19 Finals.
  • Fascinatingly, the higher finisher has the worst record (4-7) when he finishes three spots ahead of his Finals foe, as Dončić did compared to Tatum. (The team with the better record finished 3-7 in those same series.)
He lists all of the series from 1955-56 in case anyone wants to have a look.
 

tims4wins

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Ben Rorhbach at Yahoosports looks into the narrative that the team with the best player usually wins the Finals: https://sports.yahoo.com/2024-nba-finals-luka-doncic-is-the-series-best-player-what-does-that-mean-for-the-celtics-003322605.html.

A couple of paragraphs that stood out to me (just as anecdata; I understand that none of this really means anything to any particular series):
  • Using each season's MVP race as the determining factor for who voters believed was the best player in that particular campaign, the better player has won 41 of 68 NBA Finals — or roughly 60% — since 1956. Since the turn of the century, the player who finished higher in MVP voting has been 12-11 in Finals matchups.
  • However, if you go by a more general idea of who was the best player in each series — weeding out, for example, when Charles Barkley won the 1993 MVP, only for his Phoenix Suns to lose to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls — you could make the argument that the best player won 56 of 68 championships (82.4%).
  • The team with the better record has finished 47-18 in the Finals, winning nearly three-quarters of the time. Teams that finish with eight or more wins than their opponents are 30-5 (.857 winning percentage) in the title series. It is why James' victory over the Warriors in 2016 is so remarkable. His is the only win in 10 tries when a team has at least 14 fewer victories than its Finals opponent, as Dallas does compared to Boston.
  • [One] might think the wider the gap between two players, the more likely the better player is to win a championship. Not necessarily true, either. In cases when just one spot separated two players in MVP voting, the higher finisher won 14 of 19 Finals. In cases when five or more spots separated them in the voting, the player who earned more MVP votes won 13 of 19 Finals.
  • Fascinatingly, the higher finisher has the worst record (4-7) when he finishes three spots ahead of his Finals foe, as Dončić did compared to Tatum. (The team with the better record finished 3-7 in those same series.)
He lists all of the series from 1955-56 in case anyone wants to have a look.
Good pull. And of course the 2016 Cavs were still a 57 win team.

Edit: apparently Phil Jackson came up with something called the 40-20 rule, which is basically that teams that don't win their 40th game before they lose their 20th don't win championships, and it holds up very well historically. Trying to get my hands on the exact data.

The Mavs had 24 wins when they reached 20 losses.

The 4 instances I know of:
2021 Bucks
2006 Heat
2004 Pistons
1995 Rockets

All of those teams had at least 30 wins, however.
 
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InstaFace

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  • Fascinatingly, the higher finisher has the worst record (4-7) when he finishes three spots ahead of his Finals foe, as Dončić did compared to Tatum. (The team with the better record finished 3-7 in those same series.)
"Fascinatingly", here, of course, taking the meaning of "by complete and total cherry-picked coincidence".

I rolled my eyes at that point, and at the "more general idea of who was the better player" bit, which is retrospective rather than just relying on what data people had at the time (as an awards vote does). But it's good that someone pulled the data, and I did appreciate the team-record stuff, since that feels likelier to have some value.
 

tims4wins

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As confident as I feel, there are some 2011 NY Giants (too soon, I know) vibes, in that they simply weren't a very good team. But, the 2024 Celts are much better than the 2011 Pats, relatively speaking.
 

lars10

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As confident as I feel, there are some 2011 NY Giants (too soon, I know) vibes, in that they simply weren't a very good team. But, the 2024 Celts are much better than the 2011 Pats, relatively speaking.
Obviously one game variance too.. a lot of my confidence is based on that kind of thing not happening four times.
 

Justthetippett

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Aug 9, 2015
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Saw this on my phone this weekend and had to laugh. There's no way a 64 win Lakers team would get a take like this.

View attachment 83628
Means nothing but the same could have been said about the recent Detroit and SA teams, I guess. Thing about the Celtics is that they actually are whelming. They have kicked ass all year. And have top level talent.

I can't wait for all of this to change when the Celtics win the title.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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It's an outrageous headline. But the article itself (I had to track it down and read after seeing this) is actually quite reasonable, more along the lines of "why do people perceive them as underwhelming?"
Thanks for posting. Seems like much of the narrative is driven by the fact that BOS was down to IND late in 3 games.

What I don't think people understand is that IND was not a great matchup for BOS (and would have been a bad matchup for DAL). BOS's defense is designed to prevent corner 3Ps and protect the rim while conceding mid-range 2Ps and above the break 3Ps. As it turns out, IND just happened to be
  • 1st in the league in mid-range accuracy - 48.7%,
  • 2nd in the league in short mid-range accuracy - 47.8% and
  • 1st in the league in long mid-range accuracy - 48.7%
So while IND out-performed their shooting percentages, it is not terribly surprising that a team that is really good at shooting mid-range shots got super hot against a team that likes to give up mid-range shots.

But BOS still made the proper adjustments in the end and swept them.

The other amusing thing to me are the commentators talking about how Luka is an "offensive weapon the NBA has never seen before." I mean did everyone forget last year's playoffs? I thought Jokic was the unstoppable weapon that the NBA can't defend?

BOS held DAL and DEN to 110 / 110 / 102 / 115 points during the regular season. I think if BOS scores above 117, they will win the game (non-OT). And as we all know, BOS scored 119 and 138 against DAL this year.
 

Devizier

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I think there are a few confounds when considering any of these historical analyses. The first is obviously the sample size issues that come into play when you’re looking at a heterogenous sample (NBA titles) that contains an N of approximately 70.

Another is that the league is deeper than it has been at any point in its history. Following the ABA merger the league expanded at a rate roughly paralleling US population growth, until 2004. So for the last twenty years, the league has remained the same while the pool of prospects have grown, both at home and abroad. As a result you just have deeper teams across the board, and the depth and relative availability of talent has allowed teams to make (in my opinion) more significant mid season moves than at any time in their history. We just saw this with Indiana, a much more dangerous team with Siakam than they were before that.

Another confound is that teams treat their regular season much differently than in the past. The Popovich model predominates despite the leagues efforts to curtail it. So, again in my opinion, regular season outcomes might not be quite as predictive.

Of course neither of these factors cut against the Celtics, really, they just make it much harder to draw comparisons from history,
 

m0ckduck

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What I don't think people understand is that IND was not a great matchup for BOS (and would have been a bad matchup for DAL). BOS's defense is designed to prevent corner 3Ps and protect the rim while conceding mid-range 2Ps and above the break 3Ps. As it turns out, IND just happened to be
  • 1st in the league in mid-range accuracy - 48.7%,
  • 2nd in the league in short mid-range accuracy - 47.8% and
  • 1st in the league in long mid-range accuracy - 48.7%
So while IND out-performed their shooting percentages, it is not terribly surprising that a team that is really good at shooting mid-range shots got super hot against a team that likes to give up mid-range shots.

But BOS still made the proper adjustments in the end and swept them.
The Pacers were also just... pretty good, period, more so than people realize. They initially lost 3 straight after acquiring Siakam in Jan but then went 20-12 down the stretch— exactly the same as Dallas, for that matter, but with a better point differential. Haliburton, Siakam, Turner, Nesmith and a playing-out-of-his-mind Nembhard with a strong bench: that's a legit conference finals roster most years, not just a "they lucked out and don't deserve to be there" team. It feels like people just can't take them seriously mainly because they're so slanted towards offense, and so this feels cheap and gimmicky, like they're not winning 'honestly'.Similar to how people feel compelled to write off the Celtics for their perceived over-reliance on the three-ball. That, plus the fact that it's Indiana and a 6-seed (never mind that they were 3 games out of the 2 seed).