2021 NBA Playoffs Gamethread

Toss-up. It will be a fun series to watch. 76ers offense is more interesting without Embiid. Lots of ball movement, backdoor cuts and playmaking. Simmons and Harris can exploit mismatches. Both teams will try to push pace, especially when Maxey is on the floor for Philly. Capela should have fun inside and will take a beating from Dwight Howard until Dwight fouls out.

Simmons and Thybulle will both try to keep up with Trae on defense. Danny Green and Seth Curry not fast enough. Nobody is but Simmons and Thybulle have length.

Philly needs to defend home court in the first two games, then play hard and shoot well on the road, which is not always the case with these guys, especially the shooting part.
I'm particularly intrigued to see how Atlanta's defense copes with the Sixers, Embiid or no Embiid. For what is supposedly a bad defensive team, the Hawks balled out on defense against the Knicks - for me, they won that series with their defense more than their offense. Even Trae worked incredibly hard on defense and didn't embarrass himself. (In contrast, I rarely felt like the Hawks' offense was firing on all cylinders agains the Knicks, so there could be some room for growth there.)
 
By the way, it's really hard for me to put into words how cool it is to have an Atlanta athlete play with the sort of swagger that Trae Young has. I was trying to think this morning about who the last Atlanta player like him was to emphatically talk the talk and then walk the walk, and the only other guy I can come up with is Deion Sanders. (Maybe Michael Vick is in the running too? I don't know.) I mean, I would still take Luka Doncic over Trae in a 2018 redraft - and Luka has plenty of swagger himself - but Trae really is a perfect cultural fit for the ATL. And that bow he took in the final minute at MSG last night, stealing the Knicks' fans end-of-season standing ovation after draining that 30-footer, was a total chef's kiss.
 

cheech13

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I hope this series wakes people up to the gap between Kawhi and PG and actual star level players. Those dudes arent there. Luka is destroying them and he's not even healthy.

If Kawhi and Luka switched teams, no doubt in my mind, Luka would be in the finals.
I haven’t watched every minute of the series but from what I have seen Kawhi is the best player on the court or at worst a 1b to Luka’s 1a. He’s phenomenal. The Clippers problem is the roster after Kawhi and PG is kind of a mess, with a bunch of players that are underperforming or don’t fit together. The whole is worse than the sum of the parts, and they don’t have many ways to fix the roster going forward.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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I haven’t watched every minute of the series but from what I have seen Kawhi is the best player on the court or at worst a 1b to Luka’s 1a. He’s phenomenal. The Clippers problem is the roster after Kawhi and PG is kind of a mess, with a bunch of players that are underperforming or don’t fit together. The whole is worse than the sum of the parts, and they don’t have many ways to fix the roster going forward.
Based on what I've seen of the series, this feels pretty spot on. What it also illustrates is how hard roster building actually is in the NBA.
 

Kliq

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The Clippers just have a dumb roster. They went out and got NAMES and guys who people have heard of, but there was a reason those guys were available; they are knuckleheads that make a lot of mistakes. You can't rely on Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and Pat Bev to all play significant minutes in an NBA playoff game and expect things to be super smooth. They are the wrong kind of veterans to round-out a top heavy team. Look at the successful super-teams and what kind of role players they had. Golden State had Iggy, Shaun Livingston, Bogut, Barbosa, David West; smart players that knew how to do their job and get out of stars way. Miami had Battier, Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Haslem. Celtics had James Posey, Sam Cassell, PJ Brown.
 

Cellar-Door

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I haven’t watched every minute of the series but from what I have seen Kawhi is the best player on the court or at worst a 1b to Luka’s 1a. He’s phenomenal. The Clippers problem is the roster after Kawhi and PG is kind of a mess, with a bunch of players that are underperforming or don’t fit together. The whole is worse than the sum of the parts, and they don’t have many ways to fix the roster going forward.
I don't think this. I think Luka is the best player in this series. The only game it wasn't clear was the one he was hurt.
Kawhi is great, but he's not really a killer late-game scorer, and 2 of the 3 losses came in part because he was inefficient on high volume on offense (46 points on 41 shots in games 1 and 5).
The biggest problem is that Marcus Morris is their 3rd option, but Kawhi isn't the guy you want taking the shots late in a playoff game. His rep on that end comes mostly from a 4 bounce miracle against PHI. He's an elite player but not an elite scorer.
 

Jimbodandy

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I don't think this. I think Luka is the best player in this series. The only game it wasn't clear was the one he was hurt.
Kawhi is great, but he's not really a killer late-game scorer, and 2 of the 3 losses came in part because he was inefficient on high volume on offense (46 points on 41 shots in games 1 and 5).
The biggest problem is that Marcus Morris is their 3rd option, but Kawhi isn't the guy you want taking the shots late in a playoff game. His rep on that end comes mostly from a 4 bounce miracle against PHI. He's an elite player but not an elite scorer.
We were having the same conversations at this point of the playoffs last year with the LAC. After the top 2, their rotation isn't deep enough. It wasn't last year, and isn't this year.

Maybe it's the mix and not the depth per se, but it's just not enough.
 

Kliq

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I don't think this. I think Luka is the best player in this series. The only game it wasn't clear was the one he was hurt.
Kawhi is great, but he's not really a killer late-game scorer, and 2 of the 3 losses came in part because he was inefficient on high volume on offense (46 points on 41 shots in games 1 and 5).
The biggest problem is that Marcus Morris is their 3rd option, but Kawhi isn't the guy you want taking the shots late in a playoff game. His rep on that end comes mostly from a 4 bounce miracle against PHI. He's an elite player but not an elite scorer.
Strongly disagree, Kawhi can get nearly any shot he wants on the floor thanks to his size and handle, and his shoulders and athleticism allow him get decent looks off of contested shots. He is exactly the kind of guy you want to taking big shots. I think field goal percentage in the playoffs is actually really overvalued, but Kawhi is a career 50-40-85 shooter across 129 career playoff games. He is 17-6 over his career in playoff series and has won two rings and two finals MVP. The idea that he is only a clutch scorer because he made one shot in the ECSF is inaccurate.
 

johnmd20

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Strongly disagree, Kawhi can get nearly any shot he wants on the floor thanks to his size and handle, and his shoulders and athleticism allow him get decent looks off of contested shots. He is exactly the kind of guy you want to taking big shots. I think field goal percentage in the playoffs is actually really overvalued, but Kawhi is a career 50-40-85 shooter across 129 career playoff games. He is 17-6 over his career in playoff series and has won two rings and two finals MVP. The idea that he is only a clutch scorer because he made one shot in the ECSF is inaccurate.
9 of those series wins were in San Antonio where he was never the first option. Since then, he's been a beast, no doubt. But. . . .there have been some bad losses in the past few years.
 

Kliq

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9 of those series wins were in San Antonio where he was never the first option. Since then, he's been a beast, no doubt. But. . . .there have been some bad losses in the past few years.
Kawhi was definitley the first option in 15-16 and 16-17 in San Antonio.
 

Cellar-Door

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Strongly disagree, Kawhi can get nearly any shot he wants on the floor thanks to his size and handle, and his shoulders and athleticism allow him get decent looks off of contested shots. He is exactly the kind of guy you want to taking big shots. I think field goal percentage in the playoffs is actually really overvalued, but Kawhi is a career 50-40-85 shooter across 129 career playoff games. He is 17-6 over his career in playoff series and has won two rings and two finals MVP. The idea that he is only a clutch scorer because he made one shot in the ECSF is inaccurate.
I'll see if I can find it but Matt Moore did a nice breakdown of Kawhi's clutch rep, and his numbers were pretty unimpressive (can't find it yet, may have been a twitter thread, which would stink since he clears his tweets periodically). Also in SA he was not the main crunch time option in the title years.

I also think there is a difference between overall performance and ability to create and make good opportunities late in games. I think Kawhi is much better at the former than the latter. He's a superstar overall based on his total contributions, but as a #1 late in game guy I don't think you'd have him in what, the top 20? 30?
 

johnmd20

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11:30 for me. Praying if it goes to game 7 it’s earlier and I can watch.
The eastern time zone has 47% of the population. The NBA is just removing 47% of the people in the US, almost all of whom cannot watch this game. It's a 1-1:20am finish. College kids could stay up. That is about it.

It is brutal.
 

Mystic Merlin

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Good fucking lord I hate the NBA’s scheduling.

Theyre cool with Portland/Denver at 5PM West Coast time but they’re not cool with staggering the Lakers/Suns at, say, 9P EST?
 

Sam Ray Not

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I don't think this. I think Luka is the best player in this series. The only game it wasn't clear was the one he was hurt.
Kawhi is great, but he's not really a killer late-game scorer, and 2 of the 3 losses came in part because he was inefficient on high volume on offense (46 points on 41 shots in games 1 and 5).
The biggest problem is that Marcus Morris is their 3rd option, but Kawhi isn't the guy you want taking the shots late in a playoff game. His rep on that end comes mostly from a 4 bounce miracle against PHI. He's an elite player but not an elite scorer.
Through five games:

Inefficient Kawhi:
30.4 pts on .686 true shooting (.868 ft)
7.8 reb / 4.0 ast / 2.6 tov / 2.0 stl / 1.2 blk

Killer Luka:
35.0 pts on .556 true shooting (.429 ft ???)
8.0 reb / 9.4 ast / 4.6 tov / 1.0 stl / 0.6 blk

As far as “killer late game scorer” ... I haven’t seen the numbers broken down quarter by quarter, but I will note that Luka has been absolutely atrocious in at least two of the five 4th quarters, including last night’s: forcing awful shots, turning it over like crazy, and clanging everything, including free throws. Luka himself was furious at himself after last night’s performance.

On the other hand ... all points count the same, and Luka has set the tone and taken control of a lot of games early. And for all his clanging he has had an insanely positive overall impact on his team’s bottom line: +41.2 net on off (to Kawhi’s -23.6). And his team is up 3-2.

Definitely buy that Luka’s been the best player in this series, but like Kliq I think you’re underrating Kawhi’s scoring ability (late game or otherwise) pretty wildly.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Through five games:

Inefficient Kawhi:
30.4 pts on .686 true shooting (.868 ft)
7.8 reb / 4.0 ast / 2.6 tov / 2.0 stl / 1.2 blk

Killer Luka:
35.0 pts on .556 true shooting (.429 ft ???)
8.0 reb / 9.4 ast / 4.6 tov / 1.0 stl / 0.6 blk

As far as “killer late game scorer” ... I haven’t seen the numbers broken down quarter by quarter, but I will note that Luka has been absolutely atrocious in at least two of the five 4th quarters, including last night’s: forcing awful shots, turning it over like crazy, and clanging everything, including free throws. Luka himself was furious at himself after last night’s performance.

On the other hand ... all points count the same, and Luka has set the tone and taken control of a lot of games early. And for all his clanging he has had an insanely positive overall impact on his team’s bottom line: +41.2 net on off (to Kawhi’s -23.6). And his team is up 3-2.

Definitely buy that Luka’s been the best player in this series, but I think you’re underrating Kawhi’s scoring ability pretty wildly.
To the Clippers credit, they pressured Luka heavily during the fourth last night so some of the bad shots he took were a function of good defense. Give the Mavs credit for winning that game but if Mann goes hard to the rim and/or that THJ shot doesn't fall, the Clippers might have managed to pull that out.


You have to imagine that Luka will see a new level of physicality next game. The Clippers have no choice but to let the others beat them at this point.
 

Cellar-Door

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Through five games:

Inefficient Kawhi:
30.4 pts on .686 true shooting (.868 ft)
7.8 reb / 4.0 ast / 2.6 tov / 2.0 stl / 1.2 blk

Killer Luka:
35.0 pts on .556 true shooting (.429 ft ???)
8.0 reb / 9.4 ast / 4.6 tov / 1.0 stl / 0.6 blk

As far as “killer late game scorer” ... I haven’t seen the numbers broken down quarter by quarter, but I will note that Luka has been absolutely atrocious in at least two of the five 4th quarters, including last night’s: forcing awful shots, turning it over like crazy, and clanging everything, including free throws. Luka himself was furious at himself after last night’s performance.

On the other hand ... all points count the same, and Luka has set the tone and taken control of a lot of games early. And for all his clanging he has had an insanely positive overall impact on his team’s bottom line: +41.2 net on off (to Kawhi’s -23.6). And his team is up 3-2.

Definitely buy that Luka’s been the best player in this series, but I think you’re underrating Kawhi’s scoring ability pretty wildly.
I think you missed the "inefficient" caveat. It wasn't that he was inefficient overall, he's been very good this series, it was that in 2 of the 3 games they lost he shot poorly, and LAC aren't built to survive bad Kawhi shooting in the playoffs. He's been the 2nd best player in the series to me behind Luka who has been insane (he scored or assisted 31 of 37 FGs for DAL last night).

The late game is a separate question. I think he's short of a number of other superstars as a late game individual scorer... and that's fine, you just need to take that into account with your team.
For this series by the NBA clutch measurements (+/- 3 last 2 minutes) Kawhi has a TS% of 34.7, and a net rating of -75 (Luka's TS is 0, I think he took and missed 1 shot, the sample is small).
Playoff "clutch" TS% and +/- for Kawhi when he was option 1:
2020- 20.5/-27.3
2019- 56.6/-5.6
2018-DNP
2017- 57/-33

Regular season
2021-36.9/-19.7
2020- 53.3/38.8
2019- 50.1/4
2018- DNP
2017-52.6/24.7

So he's generally a good in the clutch, but not great for one of the best players in the league.
 

Jimbodandy

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The eastern time zone has 47% of the population. The NBA is just removing 47% of the people in the US, almost all of whom cannot watch this game. It's a 1-1:20am finish. College kids could stay up. That is about it.

It is brutal.
The over/under on phantom calls has been now set at 57. If I were a gambler, I'd put big money on the Lakers.
 

johnmd20

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I'll catch the highlights tomorrow. If I stay up until 1AM and the Lakers tie the series on a 20 FTA advantage and 3 Suns fouling out, I'll feel pretty stupid.
I could DVR the game but I always spoil it for myself. Can't stay away from the news if I'm up.
 

TripleOT

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I certainly can

Those two years produced excellent players at 14. It was unlucky that the Sacto and Memphis picks didn’t deliver bigger.
 

Cellar-Door

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I certainly can

Those two years produced excellent players at 14. It was unlucky that the Sacto and Memphis picks didn’t deliver bigger.
I mean, it's also only 2 years into Romeo and 1 in Nesmith, MPJ didn't really show much until end of year 2 and broke out in year 3... some guys take time.

I would also say... while I'm a big Porter fan... he drives DEN fans nuts, he's a terrible defender and streaky as hell. He's an amazing shooter though, and being on a team with Jokic helps. I think he's a star. On the other hand, he fell to 14 because his medicals were supposedly terrible. Most years don't have a guy like that.
 

tbb345

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So Portland pretty much has to trade CJ McCollum right? They desperately need a 3 or a 4.
CJ for John Collins? CJ for Sabonis? I honestly can’t find a great match but Portland definitely needs to move on from him
 

Cellar-Door

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POR is in a sneaky bad spot. How do you fix that team?
I mean the obvious one for years has been trade CJ... but he's turning 31 and has 3/100 left on his deal... what return can you get for him?
Trade Nurkic maybe?

Stotts is gone I assume, but roster-wise I don't see how they improve