Z Lowe: playoff winners + losers so far
Old 04-22-2014, 04:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Z Lowe: playoff winners + losers so far

Here are those relevant to the series here

NBA Playoffs Winners and Losers, So Far

Winner: Masai Ujiri

Everyone in the T-Dot should pitch in and help the Raps pay the $25,000 fine the league levied for Ujiriís F-bomb ó the best part of which was Ujiri pausing, smiling, and obviously thinking about whether this was a smart thing to do. Was anyone offended by this? If you say youíd have been embarrassed if your teamís GM made such a comment, I donít believe you.

Winner: The Funky Nets

The Netsí weird small/big lineups threw Toronto for a loop, especially when Paul Pierce was on the floor doing his old-man power forward thing; the Nets scored nearly 108 points per 100 possessions when Pierce played, and fell apart when he sat, per NBA.com.

He hurt the Raps as the screener on pick-and-pops, and Amir Johnson, a big-man helper at heart, lost track of Pierce on the perimeter. Toronto also got a bit scrambled tracking matchups in transition, leading to several open Brooklyn looks. Speaking of Johnson Ö

Loser: Amir Johnson

Johnson logged just 21 minutes in Game 1, and if his ankle remains an issue going forward, Toronto is in trouble. Heís their best defender, and they probably donít have the goods to play full-time small ball against Brooklyn.

Back to the Nets: Joe Johnson feasted on post-ups,7 and the Raptors had no coherent answer for a little pick-and-roll play the Nets use with Johnson as the ball handler. Sometimes Toronto dropped back, allowing Johnson to get into the paint, with Pierceís gravity influencing things from the corner.

Toronto may want to simplify. The Netsí ability to switch almost anything, including plays involving Amir Johnson as the screener, also gives Toronto fits; Brooklyn blew up an Amir JohnsonĖDeRozan handoff play the Raps love by simply switching Pierce onto DeRozan.

Loser: DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan will be fine, but he pooped the bed in his first playoff game, and Toronto has an interesting dilemma now: Get DeRozan going by force-feeding him for midrange shots, as the Raptors did in the second half, or redirect more of the offense into pick-and-rolls? Any pick-and-roll involving Jonas Valanciunas will bring Brooklynís lone big man away from the hoop, potentially opening up a flood of offensive rebounds for Toronto against the glass-challenged Nets:

Loser: The NBA

The league cannot win. If it releases nothing about officiating, fans accuse it of hiding the truth. When it admits a mistake, fans ask why the league does not send out such releases about such-and-such other play that made them very angry. There are fans in Toronto, host of the 2016 All-Star Game, who actually think the league is conspiring against their team ó that Adam Silver is sitting in his office, thinking of ways for Toronto to lose.

Look, studies have found evidence of star calls, especially in loose-ball situations in which a star collides with a nonstar. But there is contact on every single NBA possession. There were lots of instances in Game 1 of Toronto players making contact that went uncalled ó on both ends. Ditto for Brooklyn. The calls ended up tilting a bit Brooklynís way, but thatís not evidence of a grand conspiracy. Itís evidence of how hard it is to referee an NBA game, especially when things get more physical, and the impossibility of legislating out some of the game-to-game and quarter-to-quarter randomness of what constitutes a foul amid constant jostling.

Get over it.
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