What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
As we are at the end of the 2012-13 NBA regular season, it is time to look at the teams who can actually win in the coming play-offs. Sure, the casual fan is going to be planted firmly on the Miami Heat bandwagon, but let’s be honest…they aren’t the only team who can win.
But to be more honest, there aren’t very many team who can win. That’s why it is time to take an honest look at each of the playoff teams, strip off the misperceptions and make a realistic assessment of their chances to stand alone on the top of the NBA mountain come June.
Today, we give you the full two scoops of Dubsism on the Eastern conference.
You can see the Dubsism run-down on the Western Conference here.
8 ) Milwaukee Bucks
The Perception: The Bucks are a playoff contender
The Reality: Somebody’s got to lose in the first round
Odds of Winning The NBA Title: Roughly the same as Wisconsin becoming the next tropical beach vacation destination
Other than Monta Ellis, this team is a collection of either guys you never heard of or guys somebody once thought were any good. The only reason they are in the playoffs is because the team with the best shot to run them down was the Philadelphia 76ers, who sported a road record of 9-29. I rest my case.
7) Boston Celtics
The Perception: The Celtics are better than a seventh-place team.
The Reality: The only reason Boston is not the eighth seed in the east is because the Bucks have played at least equally as shitty as of late.
Odds of Winning The NBA Title: “Slim” and “none,” and “slim” just bought train tickets out of town.
Raise your hand if you kn ow what to make of the Celtics. At first, I though the injury to Rajon Rondo would finish them. It didn’t. Then I thought Danny Ainge was going to have a fire sale and begin the rebuilding process now. He didn’t. What it all boils down to is while the emergence of Jeff Green and the incredible back-court defense offered by the duo of Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee give the Celtics the shot to advance in the playoff so long as they don’t face the Pacers or the Heat. Other than that, there will be solid residents of “One and Done” City.
6) Atlanta Hawks
The Perception: The Hawks have enough talent to compete
The Reality: The Hawks are streaky and hurt
Odds of Winning The NBA Title: Just like a hawk isn’t as good as an eagle, Atlanta just doesn’t have the talons to get out of the first round.
To quote my Sports Blog Movement partner Ryan Meehan – “They won’t win because they haven’t.” In other words, The Hawks haven’t made it out of the second round in the last 15 years, and they’ve established themselves as a consistent “about.500, first round exit.”
5) Chicago Bulls
The Perception: All the Bulls need to right the ship is the return of Derrick Rose.
The Reality: What the Bulls need to right the ship is the return of a healthy Derrick Rose, and to heal up everybody else.
Odds of Winning The NBA Title: A Rose by any other name can’t get past the second round.
The date to mark on the calendar in the history of the Bulls 2012-2013 season is March 2nd. This was the high-water mark for Chicago when they were 34-25; 9 games above .500. What also happened around that point is the Bulls became incredibly inconsistent.
What’s really concerning about the Bulls is that a Tom Thibodeau team which has kept itself in contention with 1942 Red Army-style “scorched earth” defense is slowly showing signs of fading. Consider the following facts the aforementioned time period:
To me, the Bulls’ whole season of inconsistency can be spelled out it two games. The first was the February 13th game against Boston. This was an abomination to all things held sacrosanct by basketball purists. This was a clash of two defensive-oriented clubs who dry-humped their way to a 71-69 finish. This two-and-a-half hour snooze-fest is important because at the time it seemed to be the preview of coming attractions for the Bulls.
Let’s not forget that In mid-February, the Bulls still looked like a legitimate contender to be a top four team in the East. They were nine games above .500 without Derrick Rose, largely because of their defensive prowess. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng not only understood how to stifle opponents, but weren’t so worn out they could still do it. The moral of the story is that the Bulls win ugly, and they lose ugly.
In mid-February, the Bulls still looked like a legitimate contender to be a top four team in the East. They were nine games above .500 without Derrick Rose, largely because of their defensive prowess. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng not only understood how to stifle opponents, but weren’t so worn out they could still do it. The moral of the story is that the Bulls win ugly, and they lose ugly, as was evidenced by a 121-79 loss to lowly Sacramento not too long after this.
To go back to the inconsistency point, this is also the team that snapped the Heat’s 27-game winning streak. and with no healthy Derrick Rose and a the rest of the team beat up, there is going to more ugly losing in their immediate future. The bottom line is that even with a healthy Derrick Rose, the rest of this team is worn down and beat up; an advance to the second round should be considered a huge success.
4) Brooklyn Nets
The Perception: I’m not really sure anybody has a perception of the Nets
The Reality: The Nets are enigma, but they have some talent
Odds of Winning The NBA Title: Not as good as they would like to think.
Back in January, this team was a lot more interesting coming off Brook Lopez’ return and Avery Johnson’s departure. January was a month that saw the Nets notch wins over the Thunder, the Pacers, and the Knicks. February brought victories over the Bulls, the Pacers (again), and the Nuggets.
That sounds pretty good, but before you fall in love with Brooklyn, stop to consider the fact that a) they have no depth, and B) how bad they looked in the stretches where they had no Brook Lopez or Joe Johnson. To go anywhere, this team needs those two on the floor, along with Gerald Wallace and Deron Williams. Williams ankles are a source of concern, as is Joe Johnson’s health in general coming off an injury.
3) Indiana Pacers
The Perception: The Pacers have no “star power”
The Reality: The Pacers are the best TEAM in the Eastern Conference:
Odds of Winning The NBA Title: Pretty damn good if they can win the Eastern Conference
Indiana’s defensive dominance and team construct makes them an ideal playoff team. In no uncertain terms, the Pacers have the best defense in the NBA. They rank first in opponent’s shooting percentage and second in opponent’s scoring. They feature a starting lineup with standout defensive players at four of five positions, with David West being the weakest, and he’s still pretty damn good.
This means the Pacers can (ironically enough) can control the pace of the game (which is how the Bulls beat the Heat, by the way) and grind it out in half court games as well as any team in the league (which is what playoff basketball is all about, by the way).
Not to mention, if Frank Vogel isn’t the NBA Coach of the Year, the award should be abolished.
2) New York Knicks
The Perception: The Knicks are a legitmate title contender
The Reality: The Knicks are a collection of smoke and mirrors.
Odds of Winning The NBA Title: Easily the worst of any Top 4 seed
Carmelo Anthony is the best active player who’s played eight seasons or more and not yet won a ring, and he’s hoping that his fate changes this season as the Knicks are the second best team in the East. The Knicks have rediscovered some of the brilliance they had early in the season, and J.R. Smith is a legitimate candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.
The problem is that really all the Knicks can do is shoot jumpers. They only have two guys who can play inside, and they can’t play defense at all. Everybody is on love with the Knicks because of this late winning streak. Granted, the road wins over Miami and Oklahoma City are positives, but look at the rest of that streak….there’s way too much Toronto, Charlotte and Washington to get that excited about it.
1) Miami Heat
The Perception: The Heat are the best team in the league
The Reality: The Heat have the most dominant player in the league
Odds of Winning The NBA Title: Pretty fucking good, period.
Let’s cut through the crap here. This team goes as far as LeBron James takes them. Don’t get me wrong, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh have important roles to play, but LeBron is the driver of this bus. The big challenge for the Heat will come in the form of the Pacers, whose size and defensive prowess offers the best chance to keep the Heat from repeating as Eastern conference champions.