Reviewing the Drama-Filled Second Round
With the second round of the playoffs officially in the books, the exciting, action-packed NBA playoffs have a final four that was expected all along. The top two seeds, for the second year in a row, have advanced to their respective championship series’. The Hawks, Cavs, Warriors and Rockets will all be battling in the fourth coming days for the right to advance to the games largest stage, the NBA Finals. With that said, we take a look back at the second round and the many lessons, and revelations learned throughout one of the better semifinal rounds in recent years.
1) Closing out is a hard lesson to learn
With every single one of the four semifinals matchups, the losing team led after 3 games in each of the series, the first time that feat has ever been accomplished according to Elias Sports Bureau. The biggest pill that the teams that came up short had to swallow is having the series taken from them when it was so close to closing out the series. In just about every scenario, we saw the losing team have fairly significant collapses. On the Eastern conference side, the Bulls, off the heels of Derrick Rose’s Game 3 game winning buzzer beater, had a 10 point lead on Cleveland at home in game 4 before allowing their opponent to come back and beat them in dramatic fashion with LeBron’s iconic game winner as time expired. The Bulls never recovered and lost the next three to lose the series in six. In the other matchup the Wizards had a great opportunity to steal game 5 in Atlanta but failed to box out big man Al Horford as he tilted the series with a buzzer beater of his own, spoiling John Wall’s return from injury. The same can also be seen with the Memphis Grizzles who could not hang on against MVP Steph Curry and the Warriors despite holding a 2-1 lead also after three games.
2) The Clippers just had an all-time meltdown
This can be parlayed a bit with my first point, but cannot be stressed enough: this team just blew such a great chance. The Clippers, who initially won the first three out of four games in the series in convincing fashion, dropped the next three in also a convincing fashion. There are so many different elements to this collapse, especially given their first series. The widely accepted consensus was that the winner if their first round matchup with the Spurs would be a straight shot to the conference finals because the Houston Rockets were simply a less talented team. I even covered a couple weeks ago just how much was on the line with a Clippers lost; it seems I was simply one round off with my assumptions. After being up by 19 in the second half of an absolute must win closeout game at home in game six, you could see the Clippers’ season slipping away as the Rockets mounted one of the most impressive comebacks in recent memory. Yesterday’s Game 7 only proved why you need to closeout when you have the chance. Instead of possibly being favored to make the Finals and win it all the entire organization will head into an off season full of uncertainty and doubt. Again, this collapse was one of the most unexpected and unexplainable in a long time.
3) We officially have a new era of basketball
The final four teams left in the playoffs all were in the top 5 in the league in made three pointers. Think about that for a minute. The key to winning is now officially the three point shot. Post ups and midrange shots are simply not a part of winning any longer in the NBA, a sentence that would have been considered idiotic just 20 years ago in the 90’s era that had nothing but those playing styles. From a star standpoint, the best one’s are the ones who can shoot the ball and shoot it well, just look at the top three MVP vote getters in Curry, Harden and LeBron. It is significant to think that a shot that was not even in the game just over 3 decades ago is now the key to having a successful team. It is a testament to the new age of analytics and efficiency that has crazed NBA junkies for years now, and is finally being brought out for the public to see.