Art by Keith Allison
Mike Dupar has his own BS Report.
The playoff races in the East and West continue to reshuffle at a moments notice with really only the top two seeds in each conference comfortably solidified in their current positions. Down the home stretch some teams have begun welcoming back integral pieces to their rosters while others watch their rosters wilt at the least opportune of times.
Today we take a look at crop of playoff teams dealing with injuries and teams with players returning from injuries, and their impact on and off the court.
Marcus Smart: Celtics
It’s been a rough week for the Celtics but they are from Boston so no one really feels all that bad except for Bill Simmons, which in turn, I suppose, makes us all feel bad as we will have to hear even more of his endless Celtics stannery. Kyrie has been suggested to have both serious and not-so serious knee injuries; Pre-Meth Birdman, AKA Daniel Theis, has a serious knee injury and is out for the remainder of the season; and Jalen Brown is in the concussion protocol after doing his best impression of Harry vs. the Ladder in Home Alone 2.
In the moment, that was a scary fucking injury but he’s okay so I’ll draw the obvious comparison no one else will. You’re welcome. The major concern to the Celtics hopes this postseason is Marcus Smart’s thumb injury. Smart is a divisive player to say the least. At once he personifies a Übermensch like quality on the defensive end of the court like Russell Westbrook if he cared for disrupting picks and tickling his opponent’s assholes instead of hoarding rebounds and detonating rims, but he also chucks horrendous brick-balls and at times seems completely unaware of his own limitations.
For the record, I will always ride for Smart regardless of his on-the-court abilities solely because he shoved Rush Limbaugh’s left nut into his moob on national TV for calling him the N-Word.
This past off-season Smart and the Celtics were unable to agree on a contract extension, leaving Smart in a position to prove his worth to the league during a contract year. On offense, Smart has responded thus far by shooting a flaccid 30% from three on 47.9% True Shooting and averaging 2.4 turnovers a game (the most of his career to date). But on the defensive end Smart remains an elite on ball defender and the league’s greatest nuisance.
In one of more memorable moments of the season, Smart baited the refs (who should know better—Know Your Personnel!) and James Harden into one of the more comedic end of game scenarios in recent memory.
Narc-ass Chris Paul’s response is easily the best part of all this, as you can see the immense pleasure he gets from seeing his legacy and impact on the league play out before his eyes.
Smart’s valuable, fuckery aside. He is a large part of the Celtics success this year on D. The Celtics are number one in the league in Defensive Rating, and with Smart on the court they manage to best that metric with a Defensive Rating of 99.4. Against Pick-n-Roll ball handlers the Celtics have held opponents to a league low Effective Field Goal % and overall are a + 6.3 with Smart on the court.
With Kyrie being the turnstile that he is, I have my concerns as to how the Celtics will fare without Smart in the playoffs. That said, the entirety of the East is lacking the sort of explosive guard that could punish the Celtics sans Smart…except for…
John Wall: Wizards
Remember when Wall went out and the Wizards responded by firing not-so subliminal shots at him while snapping off a 5-game win streak? Yeah me neither, since then they’ve gone 8-8 and have strangely looked like a team that might just be better with their best player. Over the course of their recent .500 stretch the Wizards have had an Offensive Rating of 107.4 (vs. 109 with Wall) and looked bipolar without an elite ball handler. Beal has been serviceable as the de facto point guard and Satoranksy has positioned himself as a favorite of color commentators and the analytics crowd (he’s 4th in the league in EFG% amongst guards with 200+ FGA), but against dense defenses they both lack the ability to split defenders and draw a crowd like Wall does.
Ultimately, I think Wall’s time away has served the Wizards well, as it’s empowered Otto Porter and allowed the role players to coalesce around one another, but in the playoffs the opportunities dwindle and defenses bog down. With Wall (assuming he gets healthy), the Wizards have one of the top 10 two-way-players in the league and a guy that has the versatility to mesh within the new dynamics of the team. If he’s 100% I think the Wizards can and will make the Eastern Finals.
Andre Roberson: Thunder
Since Roberson’s wild injury, the Thunder have a Net Rating of 0.8, which is nerd talk for “they suck” and would qualify them as 16th in the league over the course of the season.
While Roberson’s absence can’t be over-stated, maybe the most illuminating stat is regarding Paul George’s defense in relation to Roberson’s presence on the court. George is a first team all defense shoe-in and is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the league.
When Roberson is on the court with George this year, the Thunder have allowed opponents a stout 95.7 Pts per 100 possessions. Without Roberson and with George on the court, the Thunder have allowed opponents 111.5 points per 100 possessions, which is the same amount of pts/100 possessions a 5-man lineup of Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Terence Ross, and Nikola Vucevic had allowed this season. WOOF!
The Thunder’s Remaining schedule is as follows:
There is absolutely no way to read that schedule and those stats and not think the Thunder are a tad fucked.
Between you and me, I’m hoping for the Thunder to somehow matchup with the Nuggets so that we can get a showdown without defense—then we won’t miss Roberson so much this post-season… at least not as much as he misses the hoop.
(again Narc-ass Chris Paul steals the show)
Baptism of the Week
Overall a solid week of Baptisms but this gem from Justise Winslow takes the cake.
Here Winslow looks at scrubby Marquese Chriss like he definitely farted while dunking on him. And if you can’t dunk someone into a wheelchair or a basketball coma, well, you might as well fart on them.