First Round Preview: What Happens If They Lose?

I wrote one of these last year, and it was a lot of fun – so let’s do it again!

Eastern Conference

(1) Cavaliers vs (8) Pistons

PredictionCavs in 5. 

I’ve enjoyed making fun of all the Cavaliers drama all season, but LeBron is playing the best basketball of the season right now and the Cavs are more experienced and so much more talented that although the Pistons will put up a good fight, the Cavs will beat them easily.

What is the Pistons lose? Nothing. Stan Van Gundy continues to shape the organization with his vision, and the Pistons accept that they are simply ahead of schedule and that any playoff experience is good for this team.

What if the Cavs lose? Ooooh, boy.  I don’t see LeBron leaving Cleveland again, not any time soon at least, but other than that I imagine everything else on the table.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love got traded, and even though the Cavs signed Ty Lue to a silly non-interim basis, I could see LeBron trying to bring in somebody like Mark Jackson to take over. In addition, these changes will lead to more reports that LeBron is running the organization and he will be blamed for the team’s early exit – and some of this will be entirely true.  Overall, this would be a huge mess and a sign perhaps that LeBron may have tried to take on too much responsibility and power on himself.

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The 2015-2016 NBA Report Card

So, here we are. Another season in the books.  We said goodbye to Kobe, we read the Hinkie manifesto, we marveled at Steph’s 400 and the Warriors 73, we laughed at Houston, and a whole lot in between.  Looking back, how did each team’s overall season play out?

In reverse win-totals order, pre-season over/under = O/U

Philadelphia 76ers (10-72; 21.5 O/U): F.  Jerry Colangelo might have been watching too many episodes of House of Cards when he decided to take the job to take over the 76ers with his master-plan in mind.  Just a few short months after his arrival, his son is now the leader of the team with Sam Hinkie resigning in a startling public execution of The Process.  In terms of the on-court basketball, this team somehow regressed: finishing as at 30th in Offensive Rating and 6th worst Defensive Rating.  There’s no real discernible “star” to be seen, and it seems unlikely that Noel and Okafor can play together long term – forget Embiid and Saric waiting in the wings.  It’s not all bleak – Bryan Colangelo has a remarkable treasure trove of assets in terms of young players and specifically great draft picks that he can turn this thing around quickly.  But this season? An unfortunate waste.

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My Goodbye to Kobe Bryant

I wrote this at Silver Screen and Roll:

Embracing Kobe the way I did was what solidified my confidence in being comfortable with who I was and allowed me to thrive in social situations that I would never have considered being a part of. I started college in 2005, and I made friends immediately who knew me as “that crazy Lakers fan.” I was obsessed. I knew every fact about Kobe, read and heard any interview he ever did — and in some ways started asking myself — “What would Kobe do?” It’s a dumb thing, but it’s helped me and I’m not ashamed to say that. Kobe’s mentality; his love and his passion for his craft, his “take no prisoners” attitude is not one that I can replicate, but it is one that I can try to learn from. It’s why I defended him so veraciously as he was blamed individually for the dismantling of the Shaq/Kobe Lakers — this wasn’t just about Kobe, it was about the person that I saw myself in, the person who helped me every day and didn’t know it.