As of today, the Portland Snailblazers (HAHAHA, no seriously you guys I gotta be honest with you, lame puns based on names are the lowest form of humor that has ever existed. Trained professionals only, okay?)---are getting not just shellacked by the San Antonio Spurs they're getting washed and detailed. In three games, Portland has apparently led for thirty-three seconds. Their average margarine of victory is 18.7, fat free and delicious.
Now, a couple observations here, the first of which, as I've been saying for a while now, is that Rick Carlisle is a complete sorcerer. Terry Stotts, Trail Blazers coach, may be a sorcerer's apprentice but we've all seen Fantasia, we know how that turns out. We may be patting ourselves on the back a little much -- after all, short a miracle Vince Carter three, that series would have been over in five games -- but even then, if it HAD ended in five, the margin of victory would have been....negative 7.
Now, nobody gives you props for losing. And nobody gives you props for being close in not-all-that-visible ways. The fact that, outside of a game three blowout, the Thunder's sweep of the Mavs two years ago featured three Thunder wins worth a total of 10 points didn't exactly press any buttons.
Still though, I may be crazy, but it's hard not to believe that giving the Spurs all they could handle for seven games is spicy advertising for free agents looking to make a difference. In that sense, the Spurs going like a hot knife through Trail Blazers (and whoever) is one of the best things that could happen to the Mavs.
Again, eighth seed + first round loss means "let's not go crazy." But you could certainly make a case for the fact that the Mavs are going to be the best team among teams with salary cap space this offseason. Phoenix is going to have a lot, the Raptors COULD have a lot if they get rid of most of the guys who made them great this year, but if you look at the other teams (which you can do here -- there's a lot of Utah Jazz, 76ers, Cavs, Pistons mess). Both the Suns and the Raptors are exciting young teams while the Mavs' collective tree-rings could make a redwood. But on the other hand, the Suns didn't make the playoffs and the Raptors' series loss in seven games loss to the Nets -- in an Eastern Conference which is basically the Bran Stark storyline of the NBA -- doesn't have the same panache.
There's going to be the Lakers, probably, and I don't know how to judge the Lakers. A sane FA wouldn't want any part of that business, but Kobe will be back and they're the Lakers. There's some other guys.
Just some things to think about as we start talking offseason.