Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Five things we've learned in this NBA postseason

tom jones' two cents

After tonight's Game 7 between the Celtics and 76ers (8, Ch. 28), the NBA playoffs will be half over and the conference finals will be set. The Boston-Philadelphia winner takes on the Heat in the East, while the Thunder and Spurs meet in the West. Here's what we've learned so far in this postseason:

1. LeBron James and the Heat deserve our respect

There are those who would love to see LeBron James and the Heat fail. But if you were to throw out that one ill-advised week when he made his "Decision" to join the Heat and then had that goofy dance party with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (a week he has since apologized for), how could you not like James? He plays the game right, he works hard, respects his team and his opponents, says the right things and, by all accounts, handles himself well off the court. And isn't it admirable that his top priority last year was to go to a team that had the best chance to win a title? He and Wade showed guts and determination to get past the Pacers without Bosh.

2. Kobe Bryant's Lakers are nearing the end

In fact, they might have already arrived there. Kobe Bryant is only 33 and remains a star player. He still is capable of scoring 40 on any given night, just not every night. He just wrapped up his — read this closely — 16th season. Add 220 playoff games and that's like tacking on 2½ seasons. Bryant is four years removed from his only MVP award, and the Lakers are 5-11 in their past 16 playoffs games. The Lakers could improve by making a few moves, such as acquiring Steve Nash, but in order to become a title contender again, they have to make a big splash by getting the Magic's Dwight Howard. Otherwise, Bryant's career likely will end with five NBA titles.

3. The Spurs are ageless

Forget the Patriots. Forget the Red Wings. Forget the Yankees. The Spurs might be the best team in North American sports over the past 13 years. Since 1999, the Spurs have made the playoffs every season and are now going for their fifth title. And this stat is amazing: The Spurs have won 26 of their past 35 playoff series, winning 112 of 180 postseason games. That includes an 8-0 record this postseason thanks to sweeps of the Jazz and the up-and-coming Clippers. Tim Duncan just turned 36, but you can't tell. He's averaging 17.6 points and nine rebounds a game. Ageless.

4. We should all feel sorry for Seattle

Don't you feel just awful for the hoops fans living in Seattle? The Sonics broke into the league in 1967 and won an NBA title in 1979, but they didn't win another. The team then moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and here it is, just four victories from the Finals. Seattle fans can only watch from afar as three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, above, has developed into one of the league's best players and, along with teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden, seems poised to win a title eventually, maybe even this season.

5. The Magic is a mess

Without Dwight Howard, the Magic was bounced in the first round of the playoffs. With Dwight Howard (if you catch my drift), the Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy, while GM Otis Smith left the organization. The Magic had the league's fourth-best record since Van Gundy became coach in 2007, but because Howard pouted, Van Gundy was fired. And the idiotic thing is, Howard, above, still might whine his way out of O-town. Forget calling Glenn Davis "Big Baby," that should be Howard's nickname. Time to let go of this big baby and start over from scratch.

Five things we've learned in this NBA postseason 05/25/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 25, 2012 9:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mikhail Sergachev said he felt comfortable and welcomed in his first day in a Lightning uniform.
  2. Trump welcomes Joe Maddon and World Series champion Cubs to White House

    The Heater

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has welcomed the manager and several players from the World Series champion Chicago Cubs to the White House.

    President Donald Trump, with Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, right, and team members, gives a thumb-up as he meets with the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs, Wednesday,  in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. [AP photo]
  3. Lightning re-signs Cory Conacher to two-year deal


    Cory Conacher said he wanted another shot in the NHL, and hoped it would be with the Lightning.

    Cory Conacher on Wednesday signed a two-year deal with Tampa Bay.
  4. For starters: Rays at Pirates, with Blake Snell on the mound


    LHP Blake Snell returns to the majors for the Rays tonight after a six-week stint at Triple-A Durham, confident changes to his mechanics will lead to more strike-throwing and an increase in confidence will make him more successful.

    Blake Snell returns to the majors for the Rays tonight after a six-week stint at Triple-A Durham.
  5. Lightning's Mathieu Joseph on the rise at development camp


    BRANDON — The last 12 months have been quite the ride for Mathieu Joseph.

    Mathieu Joseph checks Carolina's Jake Bean during a preseason game in September in Tampa.