New playoff blood — Scary-looking Nets — Trae Young apologia

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

  The Opening Tip

  • It turns out the Nets don’t even need James Harden. 
  • "Ice Trae" is a lame nickname but Trae Young is the man. 
  • Kristaps Porzingis is mad again.

Tonight's playoff games

1. This will be ___’s first title since …

The remaining eight teams in these playoffs have many of the familiar faces but none of the recent championships. As in, the most recent title by any team left came in 1983.

The total rundown:

The Hawks … 

  • Haven’t won a title since ... 1958, when they were in St. Louis and the league had an unofficial black person limit.
  • Otherwise, they’ve been close … never, really. Since moving to Atlanta in 1968, they’ve made one Conference Finals, in 2015. 

The 76ers …

  • Haven’t won a title since … 1983.
  • They’ve been close … during Allen Iverson’s 2001 Finals run. 

The Bucks ...

  • Haven’t won a title since … 1971, with Lew Alcindor. 
  • They’ve been close … a few times. They took Iverson’s Sixers to Game 7 in the ECF in ‘01, and had good-not-great teams in the ‘80s. 

The Nets … 

  • Haven’t won a title since … 1976, when they were in the ABA.
  • They’ve been close … during the early 2000s, when the New Jersey Nets submitted two of the weakest Finals teams ever. 

The Clippers …

  • Have never won a title. 
  • Have never been close. 

The Jazz ...

  • Have never won a title. 
  • They’ve been close … with those iconic back-to-back Finals teams in the late 1990s. 

The Suns ...

  • Have never won a title. 
  • They’ve been close … with Charles Barkley in the ‘90s and when they beat up Rick Barry to advance to the Finals in the ‘70s. 

The Nuggets …

  • Have never won a title. 
  • They’ve been close … in the mid ‘70s, when they lost to the Nets in the final ABA Finals. Otherwise, they’ve never made an NBA Finals. 

All eight of those teams have won a combined five NBA titles, with three of them coming before the 1970s.

That number is a 10-year low:

Data via Basketball Reference. Only titles won at time of that year’s second round were counted.

Obviously, any year that includes the Celtics or Lakers will spike the data, but there’s usually a second-tier of title winners (Golden State, San Antonio, Chicago) to deepen the pool.

This year, though, there’s almost no championship DNA. May the best historical loser win.

2. Daily GIFBlake Griffin treats Giannis like a Kia

For all you Super Team deniers hoping the Bucks would be able to put a stop to Brooklyn -- we bet you didn’t have the James Harden-less Nets beating Milwaukee by 39 points on your bingo card.

And we super bet you didn’t have Blake Griffin, who was clinically dead earlier this season in Detroit, dunking all over Giannis.

Yet, here we are.

3. Trivia time

Since 2010, the Nets have had three former MVPs play for them. Who are they?

Answers at the bottom.

4. We must accept the holy truth regarding Trae Young

You -- a fairly rational non-Atlanta native who likes the NBA -- have probably thought to yourself at some point, Man, Trae Young kinda sucks.

A few reasons this may have gone through your head:

  1. He got traded for Luka Doncic, who, through no fault of his own, Young will never be as good as. 
  2. He’s … a little unusual looking. 
  3. He’s small and shifty and thus does hunt for fouls.
  4. He was, by some metrics, the worst defensive player in the NBA through his first two seasons, and he put up self-indulgent 2K stats as a first- and second-year player. 

All that is fair. We’ve fired off a few or four of those in previous arguments.

But, between hitting a game-winner in his postseason debut, playing a delightful villain for MSG, and dropping an easy 35 in a win over the Sixers in Game 1 on Sunday, we can no longer run from the truth: He’s an awesome player.

Here are his counting stats through his first six playoff games, in which Atlanta is 5-1:

  • 30.2 PPG, 9.8 APG, 36.8 MPG with 44.8-34.6-93.5 shooting splits. 

Plus, he quietly made Bill de Blasio look like a doofus. Once he ditches “Ice Trae” and gets a real nickname and a decent chop, he’ll be unhatable.

5. By the numbers

42-14

The Suns went on a 42-14 run last night between the third and fourth quarter to beat the Nuggets in Game 1, 122-105.


21.3 PER, 18.8 PER

This season, Kristaps Porzginis, who underwhelmed in the playoffs and is “frustrated” with his role in Dallas, had a 21.3 Player Efficiency Rating.

Derrick Rose, who the Knicks acquired this season from Detroit in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr. -- who was part of the New York-Dallas Porzingis trade -- had an 18.8 PER in 35 games in New York.

Plus, the Mavs owe the Knicks this year’s first-rounder and another in 2023 as part of the Porzingis deal.


36 minutes

The Bucks went 36 game minutes last night without committing a shooting foul, which was snapped when Mamadi Diakite came in and committed a flagrant with 4:38 left in the fourth. The Nets finished with only seven free-throw attempts.


+250

BetOnline has odds for who’s likeliest to land Damian Lillard in the event of a trade: The Knicks (+250) are first, followed by the 76ers (+275), the Heat (+300), the Lakers (+350), the Clippers (+400) and Celtics (+450).

6.  Quick hits

  • Chuck on last night’s Bucks-Nets game: "These guys don't have James Harden and y'all are down 20-plus points? This is ridiculous, plain and simple"
  • Tom Thibodeau was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year on Monday. 
  • Daryl Morey got fined $75,000 for a joke tweet recruiting Steph Curry to the 76ers.
  • You’re going to want to see this pic of Guy Fieri rocking a custom Heat jersey.
  • Here’s an incredible courtside slo-mo of Kevin Durant crossing up Giannis in last night’s game.

7.  Reads

  • The latest 2021 NBA Mock Draft [Bleacher Report]
  • Avoiding another collapse may have scared the Clippers straight [The Ringer]
  • The Nets are putting the Bucks in uncomfortable spot [ESPN]

Trivia answer:  Kevin Garnett, James Harden, Kevin Durant.


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