Things I've learned from this playoffs:
Once again, that that Mavs teams was special:
You know, I was really rooting for the Knicks this year. I didn't meant to, I just love Tyson, and it was kind of a way to experience the Mavericks After Death. You know. Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, great three-point shooting, J.R. Smith to play the JET roll, Shump to play the Marion role and elite, elite scoring at the 4. Had more swagger and more head case than the Mavs, but so does your average disgruntled shoe salesman.
But you know what? It turned out it was as much about personality as talent. may never have been a team who knew how to share and how to be aggressive at the same time than that Mavericks team and there aren't too many who were worse than this Knicks team. In the first four games of the Boston series, Carmelo has shot 93 times and tallied 6 dimes. The number of games in which he's had more than 2 assists in the entire playoffs is 2. Meanwhile he's shooting just 39% and 30% from three. Dirk Werner Nowitzki, 4 years older than Carmelo at the time, in his 2nd round series in 2011 scored 32 points per, on 56% shooting and still had 3 or more assists in 3 out of the 5 games.
Or maybe it didn't turn out it was as much about personality as talent. Maybe the Mavs had more talent. I've kind of stopped thinking I know why things happen in basketball.
So it gone. Which leads me to my next point
The jury will always be out on Tyson Chandler, but it sure looks like the Mavs got lucky re: Jason Kidd, huh?
Here's the dirty little secret about Tyson Chandler. He had a couple rough years, but if you look at his stats from 2006 and 2007, they're not really any different from 2011-2013. He's great at what he does, and what he does is just really context dependent. He's "only" one of the most fundamentally sound defensive centers, with possibly the finest lateral quickness in the game, who doesn't take many shots but makes all of them. So it's one thing to put him on a team with a bunch of cagey defenders who just need someone to play goalie for them, another on a talented but flawed New York squad and another on a bad Hornets squad. So.
But Jason Kidd? And remember, the Mavericks really wanted to keep Kidd, but...Jason Kidd has played over 230 minutes in this here playoffs. And after going 2-6 and 1-2 to open the playoffs, he has not only gone 0-16 since then, that is over the course of 8 games. Jason Kidd hasn't scored a point in 8 games. This is not a misprint. Do not adjust your television.
This has been true for Jason Kidd, and it was always the question. If you figure a genius baller like Kidd makes the game so much easier for everyone else but ALSO makes them play 4 on 5 on the offensive end, where does the math end up? Presumably if he's literally scoring zero it no longer does.
On the other hand, a guy who could get the ball to the right guy would still probably have been better than Mike James occasionally hitting a three? Probably?
#4 is, I guess, a mea culpa to anyone I've ever badgered with apparently dumb arguments on this subject, and it's:
Black hole scorers are more important than I thought?
This one was a real eye-opener for me. It's not that I thought the Lakers would ACTUALLY be better without Kobe or the Thunder without Westbrook but I got a thing about black hole scorers. I mean-there has never BEEN a player talented enough that it was a smart play to take as many dumb shots as those guys do, and never a team bad enough that you should take those shots from someone else. Especially if you have KD and Howard-Nash-Gasol on your teams. I try to fit this stat into everything I've written this year, but when Kobe took 20+ shots, the Lakers were 16-25. When he dished 6 or more assists, they were 27-11.
But uh...yeah. Those teams were NOT good without those guys. So, lesson learned, me. And fifth:
Kevin Durant needs to work on his game
This is a weird one to write. I mean, KD is 24 and I by no means do I think he's at his ceiling. Dirk wasn't that good at that age, for sure, and if anyone can master what Dirk has learned since then, it's KD.
But... They're bad enough, without RWest, that the fact that they hung in with the Grizz is super impressive, and a testament to KD, but good enough that it wasn't unimaginable.
Here's what I saw, tell me if I'm crazy: Kevin Durant is not nearly as good at creating his own shot in the half court as several others of the better scorers in the game. That is, he SORT of is, because he is so unimaginably quick with the ball with an unimaginably quick release, that the percentage of the time he is "open" is higher than basically anyone else in the game. And he's more than just a scorer, grabbing 11 boards and dishing 7 assists a game in this Memphis series. But when he's ACTUALLY not open, he doesn't have a lot of moves to get open.
He needed 27 shots to score 27 in the second to last Grizz game, even though he went 5-7 from three, and he took 21 to score 21 in the clincher.
Aberration? Possibly. But it looked to me---I could be crazy-that KD, needs to develop something, say a post game, that will get him out of that trap.Unfair? Maybe. But is KD without Russ Westbrook really in worse shape than Carmelo without any reliable second scorers? LeBron with an extremely ineffective Dwyane Wade? Dirk, basically any year the Mavs have made the playoffs?
Long term, it might be good for him to have experienced, for the first time in his career, no one else to pick up the slack. Plenty of room to grow. Which leads me to my final point:
LeBron is actually just a lot better than anybody right now.
In my opinion, Shaq was the last really DOMINANT player in the game, and Jordan before him. Kobe always had Duncan and (maybe to a lesser degree Dirk), and for a while there, there were a lot of names---Howard, Durant, Paul, D-Will. But there aren't any more.
You know, I kind of hate the East. Ever since J-Kidd's Nets hopped in three times to get annihilated in the Finals with the likes of Kerry Kittles and Richard Jefferson, the East has been pathetic and people really underestimate, in my opinion, how much that matters. You play most of your games against worse competition, the playoffs are much less grueling---Did you know the Heat actually have a 2-7 record against the Pacers and Knicks this year? But they'll only have to play one, after they've beaten up on each other, where everywhere you turn in the West it's an amazingly tough team.
Still...it's pretty impossible imagining what happened to Dwight, or Cp3 or Durant happening to LeBron, isn't it? I mean, isn't it? Oh well.