With the NBA playoffs finally underway, here are five quick thoughts for the week:
1. David Lee (Warriors): A major blow to his team with Lee being out the remainder of the playoffs. He had another consistent and highly productive season, and it's a shame to see him out. Lee is the type of player who leaves it on the floor every game. He has great rebounding instincts and watching him over the years, his game has continued to blossom.
Game 1 was very entertaining, but I'm concerned that the loss of Lee will compromise the Warriors chances big-time.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: I was surprised to watch them give up 112 points on over 55 % shooting vs. the Clippers in Game 1. They looked lethargic and soft in their effort particularly early on. I'd have to say that was an aberration and not a consistent pattern of behavior. I fully expect them to get back to being the tough-minded and effective defensive team that they've been the past few years. I'm sure it wasn't a pleasant film to watch.
The Clippers to their credit threw the first and second punches and never let up. It has to start in the first quarter on Monday night for the Grizzlies or there is a very good chance they'll be down 0-2 in this series.
3. Phil Jackson: You'll hear his name rumored with a bunch of jobs this off-season, and what organization wouldn't consider him?
It will be interesting if he decides to come back and whether he does it as a coach or as a president/GM type role. Pacers Assistant Brian Shaw is well thought of by Jackson and I'm sure they'll be a connection there again as someone who would coach for him if he decided to be the executive and if he coached, Shaw would be the heir apparent.
4. J.R. Smith (Knicks): 6th Man of the Year Award. It's a well earned and well deserved honour. He averaged 18.1ppg this season with 29 games over 20 + points. He provided Instant offense and energy off the bench. He has settled down nicely and trusts his teammates and doesn't force as many shots. The fact that the Knicks have added so many veterans he's getting the guidance and leadership that he lacked in the past from teammates.
I've been impressed with his polish and poise this year. He looks like he finally has a plan when he's out there and that's crucial. The games slowing down for him and he plays it with a purpose now. Nice development.
5. Coaches departing: It's that time of year again. Doug Collins steps down in Philly and both Byron Scott and Lawrence Frank are fired in Cleveland and Detroit respectively. Interim Coaches Jim Boylen (Bucks) and P.J. Carlesimo (Nets) are coaching their teams in the Playoffs and will know their fate later this spring.
It's always fascinating to witness the process each off-season to see why teams make changes and how they go about the hiring of a new coach. The biggest issue I have is too often the people making the decisions don't truly understand or are willing to address the root cause issues that are creating the losing dynamics.
In as many cases it's the fault of the GM, who usually gets two or three coaches to get it right and/or an owner who understands the 'business of basketball' but not necessarily 'the basketball business'. In many cases it's an organizational failure not just the fault of one guy.
Season tickets have to be renewed and fans want the 'pound of flesh' in order for teams to sell/con folks into believing they should have hope. The ritual happens every spring yet in many cases the wrong finger of blame is being pointed.
It's the same old song.