We need to talk about the NBA, and why your favorite Eastern Conference team is on the verge of falling apart.
Ever since Michael Jordan retired the second time, the West has run the NBA, winning titles at a 2-to-1 rate. LeBron did most of the heavy lifting, but every once in a while a plucky team would rise up and make the East proud. I’m talking to you, Toronto.
Well with the NBA season kicking off this week, I’m here to tell you why this won’t be one of those years.
Here’s why your favorite Eastern Conference team is closer to falling apart than they are to an NBA Championship.
Let’s start with last year’s #1 seed Miami Heat, where Erik Spoelstra is in his eighth consecutive season of convincing Pat Riley to pay Udonis Haslem to hang out with him on the bench and protect him from Jimmy Butler’s mood swings. This team has a top seven that are a danger to everyone in the NBA, including themselves. They might outsource you, they might shut you down, or they might collectively miss 200 combined games due to injury like they did last year. Granted, a lot of that was due to Victor Oladipo, who is, *let me check my notes here* STILL NOT HEALTHY.
Some say the Heat have lost a bit of last year’s edginess with PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris both moving on, but with Tyler Herro getting paid means we might see triple the post-three-pointer Elvis lip curls, and that’s plenty enough edge for everyone.
And what about last year’s Eastern Conference champion, the Boston Celtics? Surely they’re ready to build on last year’s success right? It’s not like they had a drama-filled offseason that included floating their second best player, Jaylen Brown, in trade talks… or suspending their head coach for an entire season for cheating on his actress wife with a team employee?
I’ll give the Celtics this, adding Malcolm Brogdon was an underrated move, and Jayson Tatum is the closest thing to an MVP candidate that the East has outside of Giannis. But this team is only going as far as Robert Williams’ knees will take them. If I’m Boston, I’m only playing my defensive stopper sparingly until the playoffs.
Speaking of Giannis, what about the Bucks? Surely the team that still looks exactly like the 2021 NBA champions has a shot, right?
And the answer is no. No they do not. The coach is still Mike Budenholzer. The team still doesn’t play defense. They’re gonna live by the three, and die by the three, and if they want to live, Khris Middleton has to find his stroke the way that Jrue Holiday did. If Middleton continues to fall off, no amount of uncalled offensive charges on Giannis is going to save this Bucks team.
Now, I’ve mentioned two teams that failed to hold on to PJ Tucker, so what about the team that added him- the Philadelphia 76ers? They’ve got the best center in the NBA in Joel Embiid. James Harden decided that he wants to actually be in shape this year because Tyrese Maxey is effortlessly running up and down the courd making him look bad. And Tobias Harris gets paid more money than God so he must be good, right?
The problem is that the chemistry on this team stinks, and it might take the team moving on from Doc Rivers in order to fix it. What’s Mike D’Antoni up to these days?
Last but not least, let’s talk about the Brooklyn Nets. Apologies to Bulls fans, Lonzo Ball’s knee is too much to overcome. And apologies to Toronto. Me not loving you isn’t the problem. Kawhi Leonard not loving you is your issue. Blame him.
And you can tell I’m not a Knicks fan, because I’ve made it this long without bringing up Atlanta and Trae Young.
The Brooklyn Nets have no excuse not to run through the Eastern Conference, but they’ll find one. Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving are so busy looking for ways to make NBA fans mad that they forgot that the easiest way to piss everyone off is to win games. Despite KD’s tantrum this offseason, the Nets roster is actually impressive. Sean Marks should get credit for adding TJ Warren and Seth Curry, who can get you 20 apiece on any given night when healthy. People are saying this team can’t rebound, but give Day’Ron Sharpe 30 minutes a night and he might lead the league. Plus, Ben Simmons 6-10 ass isn’t doing anything else, make him crash the glass.
Do I have any faith in Steve Nash? No. He’s terrible. But this team is good enough to overcome that and win it all.
But they won’t. By March, Kyrie will be protesting the existence of leather basketballs as a form of animal cruelty, KD will have found a way to force a trade to Phoenix, and Ben Simmons will have been memed to death for all the times he passed the ball from under the basket to a triple-teamed Joe Harris.
The Eastern Conference has the most talent it’s ever had. They have no excuse to not produce a serious contender this year. But they won’t.
Let that sink in.