Western Conference Finals: Minnesota Timberwolves (3) vs Dallas Mavericks (5)

InstaFace

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Since then, it's been a pretty quiet 2 years. Why do people think he'll get "mercurial" during the WCF?
During the WCF? I suppose that was the post you were replying to. No, I agree with you he'll probably keep it together for that much - though on an ugly end to the season there might be some sniping or drama. I'd say rather that he's a ticking time bomb, and sooner or later he'll go off. When that happens no one can say, it's not like there's been a stress trigger for his episodes in the past.

So the odds favor you here, just because the series is less than two weeks long. But the odds that it ends badly for him in Dallas, rather than in the normal ways players move on from a team, are also high as that time accumulates.
 

TrapperAB

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I explicitly acknowledged that there was a window of time in Brooklyn that got quite bad.

Since then, it's been a pretty quiet 2 years. Why do people think he'll get "mercurial" during the WCF?
I'd argue that it's been a quiet one year -- the end of 2022-2023 was a bit of a mess, with Kyrie sitting out of six of the last fifteen games, including the last two, when Dallas tanked and missed the playoffs (something that I still find surprising and sad). That, combined with how his departure from Brooklyn unfolded, doesn't make for a quiet year.

This year, he's admittedly been great. I'm just curious to find out what he does now that he's in the conference finals -- a place he has not been since leaving Cleveland. He shit the bed for the Celts in '19, got injured in '21, swept by Boston in '22 (and got fined $50k for flipping off the fans), and didn't make the playoffs in '18, '20 or '23. How sure can anyone be that he'll be his best self in the WCF? Will he defer to Luka in the Finals if they get there? Or will he have to be the leader, because he's been there before, and hit one of the biggest shots in Finals history?

Others may believe that Kyrie, at long last, has his head on straight. I won't believe it till I see it. He hasn't been tested under the pressure of these last two rounds in seven years. I, for one, wouldn't completely trust him. Of course, as a fan, I'm scarred by his bullshit exit from Boston, including those final four games against the Bucks. That said, it was five years ago... so maybe I'm wrong not to trust the guy. He hasn't given us much reason to, though.
 

Auger34

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I explicitly acknowledged that there was a window of time in Brooklyn that got quite bad.

Since then, it's been a pretty quiet 2 years. Why do people think he'll get "mercurial" during the WCF?
He’s quit on every team he’s ever played for. That’s more than a “window in Brooklyn”. I don’t think anything will happen in the WCF but you’re severely underplaying the shit he’s done in his career. He has basically actively attempted to sabotage 3 franchises. He’s a loose cannon.

EDIT: and you’re really saying that post-Boston hasn’t been that bad other than “Black Israelites” and the vaccine? That is such a low bar it’s unreal
 

TrapperAB

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I agree, and "lowest floor of any starter left in the playoffs" is a huge stretch. He's been great since he got traded to Dallas (and I'd argue in Brooklyn, as well, strictly speaking on-court) and fantastic this postseason when Luka has had stretches of playing like ass (injury or not). He's done a good job of getting Dallas's non-Luka players involved early in games and then he steps up in crunch time. Why would he suddenly implode? He seems happy, engaged, and in a legitimately good spot.

I find this series hard to call, personally. I think Dallas's defense is being a tiny bit underrated and Minnesota's offense a bit overrated.
Agreed that "lowest floor" was hyperbole. I'm more than willing to be wrong -- when I ignore the fact that he's a head case and screwed over the Celts, I love watching him play. But I am FASCINATED to see how he and Luka navigate the WCF and possibly the Finals. Will he continue to do what you point out he's done so far in these playoffs? Or will he pull the same BS he did in Boston? No one can be sure -- which is why I say his floor is low. If I told you that Dallas flamed out to the Wolves in 5 and he went -56 over the final four games, insisting on guarding KAT in the final game, would you be totally shocked? Tatum wouldn't do that... Luka... Ant... Halliburton. But it's always in play for Kyrie.

Anyway, sorry for derailing the conversation. Just unloading some of my Kyrie venom. Fuck that guy.
 

Eric Fernsten's Disco Mustache

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I don't think about this very often, but once in a while I've wondered if we'd ever see another pair of stars implode late in the playoffs in the same way the the Shaq-Kobe Lakers self-destructed in the 2004 Finals.

Those who watched it remember that there was absolutely nobody on the Pistons who could slow down close-to-prime Shaq. The Lakers should have won that series easily. Instead, Kobe refused to pass Shaq the ball and kept going 1:3 into a Detroit defense full of long/quick guys who could bother him. Shaq shot ~63% in the series, Kobe ~38% (and ~17% from three), and before the end the two were reportedly not even talking to each other.

There was no reason under heaven that Pistons team should have won that Finals, let alone in five games. Kobe clearly decided he'd rather lose big than win and have Shaq be the hero.

A few months later Shaq would be in Miami, where he won the NBA Finals two years later. With just Kobe the Lakers were a lottery team for several years, until Stern orchestrated the Pau Gasol heist.

All that ancient history was a round-about way of getting to: Kyrie and Luka feel like they have a little Shaq-Kobe late-playoff implosion potential. Although I haven't seen anything to suggest the two don't like each other. And Shaq and Kobe hated each other, by the end.
 

m0ckduck

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e who watched it remember that there was absolutely nobody on the Pistons who could slow down close-to-prime Shaq. The Lakers should have won that series easily. Instead, Kobe refused to pass Shaq the ball and kept going 1:3 into a Detroit defense full of long/quick guys who could bother him. Shaq shot ~63% in the series, Kobe ~38% (and ~17% from three), and before the end the two were reportedly not even talking to each other.
Bolded parts feel like a stretch to me. Yes, Shaq was much more efficient and there was clear buzz at the time that Kobe should have deferred to him more in that series. But Shaq's usage in the series was consistent with his regular season FGA and FTA. At that point, he was a still-great-but-noticeably-diminished version of his peak self, moving not as well and shooting less. The Pistons with Ben and Rasheed Wallace were as well-equipped to slow him down as any team in the league outside of SAS, and the Pistons won that series convincingly in 5 games with a +9 differential. I don't remember feeling that they "had no business" winning by the end, despite the lopsided expectations heading into the series. It was definitely the nadir of the young-Kobe experience, though, and the straw that broke the back of the Kobe-Shaq partnership.

Anyway, to the original premise (and to bring it back to the Mavs): Lebron and Wade didn't exactly cover themselves in glory during the 2011 Finals.
 
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Auger34

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For those not watching, SVG called the Mavs backcourt the best backcourt in NBA history
 

CoffeeNerdness

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If I'm Finch I'm having someone wheel me to sideline a la Hannibal Lector. Who knows if you'll ever get back here.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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I'm pretty sure it was Stan Van who said the Kyrie + Carsen Edwards duo was the best sub 5'11" guard duo to ever play.
 

Auger34

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I get not closing hard on Slo-Mo…but you have to at least fucking move towards him. Luka is literally standing in no man’s land doing nothing
 

Auger34

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Minnesota loves Naz Reid. He has to be the 2nd most popular player on that team
 

JCizzle

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I don't have audio on this game. Was Luka just acting like a giant dick to Gafford?
 

benhogan

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I get not closing hard on Slo-Mo…but you have to at least fucking move towards him. Luka is literally standing in no man’s land doing nothing
Luka is laying claim to the Dancing Bear moniker with Guerschon in Europe

watching him sprint is mildly entertaining
 

Auger34

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Luka showing up Gafford — leadership!
On The Mismatch a couple of months ago Chris Vernon was talking about how Luka was completely dogging a teammate (I believe it was Kleber but it might be Lively) during a timeout and into the game. Yelling at Kidd to take him out, talking about how he can’t catch the ball and he wasn’t good enough to play with Luka.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that pretty much every player gets much better when they get out of Luka’s orbit…but hey, he pounds the ball and makes shots so he must be incredible
 

PedroKsBambino

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I'd love someone to interview Grant Williams about Luka now that he's in a different city (and has been paid already!)
 

TrapperAB

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Any player ripped by Luka should hire an intern to cut together a highlight reel of Luka’s defensive prowess. I’m watching him on the defensive end right now and he’s complete shit.
 

Auger34

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Honest question…is Lukas knee so bad that he has to conserve energy on defense? I mean, he’s basically not moving on that end
 

Ed Hillel

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Ant is a good defender, but he’s still overrated in that area. He’s too aggressive.
 

Auger34

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I don’t think they can beat the Wolves but if this is the effort Luka puts up after a long break…the Celtics will absolutely rip the Mavs apart
 

Auger34

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Serious question: with the old guard fading (Kawahi, etc) who is the best "2 way player". Probably Tatum?
Jokic still (even if he’s a mediocre defender). Then Giannis and Tatum in some order
 

PedroKsBambino

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Serious question: with the old guard fading (Kawahi, etc) who is the best "2 way player". Probably Tatum?
It's Tatum or Giannis, depending on how much you value being on the court and what you think of Giannis' defense right now. Edwards, to me, is in the next group below them...with Embiid, Wemby, Shai, AD

Jokic is the best player - but he's a better version of Luka at both ends, he simply isn't a real two-way player in my mind
 

Euclis20

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SVG just said Ant is the best 2-way player in basketball lol
SVG spent 5 solid minutes blaming Tatum for being flagrantly fouled by Bam, because Tatum had the audacity to fire up a jump shot after the whistle. Which only happens every few minutes in every NBA game, ever. His judgement is flawed, to be kind.
 

timelysarcasm

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Serious question: with the old guard fading (Kawahi, etc) who is the best "2 way player". Probably Tatum?
Giannis or Tatum. Tatum is a little more versatile on defense, Giannis is a little more dominant on offense (until his bull rush ability fades, his shot is not great). Embiid is close, but he just runs out of gas too much for me to choose him over those two.
 

Ed Hillel

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Edwards got destroyed on D all half, though I thought he distributed well on offense despite missing his 3s.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Edwards is great. And he's fun. And he has upside even beyond what he is today. But the narrative on him is a bit ahead of his game---for now.

If the question were "who will be the best player in basketball in three years" he might be my first pick....he can get to places Tatum can't physically, and Giannis and i suspect Jokic will have slid back a bit by then. And while Wemby would be right there, his health projection has to be worse than Edwards.
 

Dahabenzapple2

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Edwards got destroyed on D all half, though I thought he distributed well on offense despite missing his 3s.
Plus 2 awful turnovers throwing the ball way out of bounds. The last one with 5 seconds left was inexcusable. I thought he played terribly overall.