NBA Playoffs 2019: Winners And Losers Through The Conference Semis

The 2019 NBA Playoffs have been a roller coaster of emotions. Wild, dramatic, and exciting are the adjectives that come to mind when describing these last couple of weeks in the NBA. From Damian Lillard’s buzzer beater and the Bucks’ dominance to the Celtics’ dysfunction and Sixers’ struggles, the NBA Playoffs have been must-see tv. Here are the winners and losers so far.

Winner: Kevin Durant

The best player in the 2019 NBA Playoffs has been Kevin Durant. As great as Kawhi Leonard has been, the Durantula has been on another level. Durant is averaging 34.2 ppg this postseason, which ranks first in the NBA. It’s not that he’s scoring buckets at will. It’s how he’s scoring. Durant’s offensive arsenal is never-ending and his wingspan reiterates the fact that his shot is unblockable. Right now, he’s the best player on Planet Earth.

Loser: Kevin Durant’s Calf

Every single fan’s heart skipped a beat. Reggie Miller convinced the world that Durant tore his achilles, but thankfully, it was only his calf. Knicks fans and the rest of the NBA can all breathe a sigh of relief. Please come back healthy, KD.

Winners: The Nuggets and Blazers

It’s never a good thing to lose a playoff series, but the Nuggets / Blazers series will have no true loser. Both Denver and Portland have exceeded expectations up to this point. For my money, Denver has the most complete team in the West, a franchise player in Nikola Jokic, and a budding star in Jamal Murray. No one predicted the Nuggets would be the 2-seed in the West and now they’re one win away from a trip to the Western Conference Finals. On the flip side, Portland is the perfect example of a patient front office. When teams lose in disappointing fashion in back-to-back seasons, the instinct is to either fire the coach or blow up the roster. The Blazers did neither and it’s worked out so far. Damian Lillard firmly planted his flag as a Top 5 point guard in the NBA and CJ McCollum is the perfect Robin to Lillard’s Batman. If the Blazers had a healthy Jusuf Nurkic, who knows how far they could have gone. I firmly expect the Blazers to win Game 6 and set up an intriguing Game 7.

Loser: The Thunder

The Thunder have ended their season in a disappointing first-round exit the past three years. Add in the fact that Damian Lillard sent the Thunder home on a 37-foot buzzer beater and things are not looking so hot in OKC. Is it time to hit the reset button in Oklahoma City? Frankly, I don’t think it’s possible. Westbrook, George, and Adams are all locked up on huge deals for the foreseeable future so it’s almost impossible to bring in a big name without trading one of those three players. The Thunder will have to change their style of play in order to improve next season.

Winner: LeBron James

Whether you love or hate him, the NBA Playoffs miss King James. It doesn’t feel the same without turning on the television every morning to see *insert sports show here* debating if LeBron was great or “just good” in a playoff win over the Toronto Raptors. The tv ratings say it all. LeBron moves the needle, and his absence in the playoffs emphasizes that the NBA needs LeBron more than LeBron needs the NBA.

Loser: The Lakers

The Lakers are not even playing games and yet, they’re still finding ways to lose.

Winner: Kawhi Leonard

Who, what, when, where, and KAWHI. At the top of the article, I stated that Kevin Durant is the best player in the playoffs. Kawhi Leonard is second. For all those who criticized Kawhi and the Raptors for utilizing “load-management” this regular season, you’re looking foolish right now. Kawhi is averaging a ridiculous 31, 8, and 3. In this series versus the 76ers, Kawhi has been a one-man wrecking crew who has been unstoppable at times. I expect a lot of teams to replicate Toronto’s “go all-in the year before a rebuild” strategy.

Loser: The 76ers Roster

Sometimes, you may have all the parts to make an engine run, but they’re not the right parts so the engine stalls. That’s exactly how I feel about the Sixers’ roster as currently constructed. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris will both be free agents this offseason so at least one of them will leave. However, the root of the problem lies with their two supposed star players, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. At times, Embiid and Simmons are the two best players on the floor. However, both are wildly inconsistent. Embiid is averaging 17, 7, and 3 while Simmons is averaging 9,7, and 4. Those numbers should not be coming from your core talent. Embiid is so gifted to a point where he can be the best center in the league, but his injury history is becoming a serious problem. Simmons is a gifted passer with unbelievable vision, but his inability to work on his jump shot is holding his progression back severely. Embiid likes to play in the post and step out for 3s when necessary. Simmons needs space in the middle to run pick-and-rolls as well as to push the tempo. Unfortunately for the Sixers, Embiid’s style and Simmons’s style are like oil and water. They don’t mix.

Winner: The Bucks

Hats off to the Bucks. I picked Boston in 7 going into the series, and Milwaukee ended up gentleman’s sweeping the Celtics. The Bucks have been the best team in the Eastern Conference all year long led by the MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. Somehow, Mike Budenholzer is not getting enough credit for the Bucks season as well as Giannis’s transformation from a really good player into an MVP caliber talent. Now, the Bucks are one step away from the NBA Finals

Loser: The Celtics

When the dust settled, it turned out the Celtics could not turn it on when it mattered the most. The Celtics went to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. This year, they couldn’t even make it out of the second round with a healthy Irving and Hayward. Injuries and constant dysfunction led to their downfall. Brad Stevens had a bad year and could not manage all of these personalities. Jaylen Brown took one step forward while Jayson Tatum took two steps back. The Celtics completely lacked balance. Kyrie is a top 5 point guard in the league, but it’s looking like Boston should not be his home for the 2019-2020 season. The Boston Slam is over.

Who are your winners and losers of the NBA Playoffs so far? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @unafraidshow.

HTH: James Harden Fan Shame, Durant Won’t Leave Golden State, Transfer Portal

Hot Takes house James Harden fans Kevin Durant GSW NCAA Transfer Portal

The Hot Takes House is on the open for business. It is a compilation of scorching hot opinions that won’t turn into Freezing Cold Takes material. In this edition: James Harden fans are shameless people with character flaws, Kevin Durant would be crazy to leave the Warriors, and the NCAA transfer portal is getting ridiculous. Do not read any further if you are easily triggered. Read. Share. Leave a Comment.

James Harden Fans Have No Shame

I’m not sure how James Harden fans are not embarrassed to call him their favorite basketball player. His ridiculous amount of flopping and his refusal to consistently give defensive effort are shameful. In general, fans like their athletes tough, rugged, and mentally tough. So, I do not understand why so many James Harden apologist exist.

It is so frustrating to try and watch an NBA Playoffs game, but have to suffer through Harden flailing around and faking hurt. By no means is Harden the only NBA player that flops. His serial abuse of flopping is just the most absurd in the league. Harden is strong and built like a tank compared to most players, but he flops whenever players get close to him. Could you imagine Jordan, Kobe, Bird, LeBron, Durant or any other champion doing this?

And then there is Harden’s negligence on defense. The Rockets will NEVER win an NBA championship until he changes his style of play. No team has ever won a championship when their best player gives poor effort on one side of the ball. The producers of ‘Shaqtin A Fool’ could make an entire show about Harden every season.

As a fan, how can you be proud of this? Maybe his fans are just the segment of the population that wants credit and praise for a job performed half right.

Two Reasons Kevin Durant Won’t Leave The Warriors

Assuming the money is right, Kevin Durant would be foolish to leave the Golden State Warriors. So many media and NBA analyst from Ric Bucher, to Chris Broussard have all but guaranteed Durant’s exit from Golden State. I believe that Kevin Durant is too smart to leave GSW.

Easy Basketball: 2019-20 Will be Durant’s 13th season

Players want to play fewer minutes and win more as they get older in the NBA. Durant has never had gotten easier shot attempts or had to carry less of the weight than he does with Curry, Thompson, and Green on the team. In his first nine seasons in Oklahoma City (Seattle), KD faced double teams, played a ton of minutes, worked extremely hard for shots, and only had one chance for a championship. In three seasons with the Warriors, he has a Finals MVP, two NBA Championships, and is making a run at a third. He plays fewer playoff minutes, averages more points, and shoots a higher % from 3, 2-pt, and free throws than OKC.

Durant’s Silicon Valley Investments

Durant has maximized his time in the Bay Area financially. He has started his own venture capital company which has partnered with some Silicon Valley heavyweights. His company reportedly has equity stakes in Rubrick, Acorn, Pieology, and Lime Scooters. Money does travel across state lines, but proximity and relationships matter in business. Warriors majority owner Joseph Lacob made his money in venture capital and mentors Durant in business.

I’m supposed to believe that Kevin Durant, who wants to score, win, and make money will let a couple beefs with Draymond make his life harder? Nah. I don’t buy it.

NCAA Transfer Portal is Getting Out of Control

We have covered the NCAA and its hypocritical and unfair practices extensively on Unafraid Show. I believe the players should have the right to transfer more freely and unencumbered like coaches. However, a lot of these kids are getting bad advice from their inner circles. These kids are transferring at the first sign of adversity. Right now there are nearly 1,000 players who have entered their names in the college football transfer portal. If a player enters his name in the portal, it doesn’t mean a player will transfer, schools can pull the players’ scholarship.

It is nice to say “I played as a true freshman”, but sometimes that adversity that you face by redshirting is the best thing for your growth. These young players need to understand that the push you need to achieve your dreams is often found in the struggle to get there.

Download the Podcast:

Game Of NBA Thrones: Playoff Teams As Game Of Thrones Quotes

Game of thrones NBA

Winter is here. The series that has dominated pop culture in the last few weeks is Game of Thrones. After the Season 8 premiere, it’s clear that this show will go out with a bang for its final season. What makes Game of Thrones so unique is its ability to cross over into other genres. In particular, thanks to shows like Game of Zones, the fantasy series has found a home in the NBA. I wanted to take it one step further. The show is known for its memorable dialogue. Because of this, I wanted to use famous quotes to describe teams in the NBA Playoffs. Here’s what I came up with.

Note: Press play for optimal viewing experience.

Golden State Warriors: “Winter is coming.” – Ned Stark, S1E1

Winter is here, and the Warriors are leading the charge. Once again, the NBA Playoffs will be the Golden State Warriors vs. The Field. That’s the only war that matters. Every other matchup is secondary because the only question of importance concerns the Warriors. Who can beat Golden State? Until proven otherwise, the Army of the Dead from Golden State will win yet another championship. Humanity and the rest of the teams in the playoffs don’t stand a chance.


Milwaukee Bucks: “The Long Night is coming. Only the prince who was promised can bring the dawn.” – Melisandre, S7E2

The Warriors are the Army of the Dead. They continue to wreak havoc on the NBA and in all likelihood will win their fourth title in five seasons. However, if some team, or someone, is going to take down Golden State, it’s going to be the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Sure, Milwaukee has never won a playoff series with Giannis and the living world has never defeated the Night King, but Giannis and Jon Snow have a chance to do both. If both stars bring their A-game on the court and the battlefield, anything is possible.

Denver Nuggets: “This isn’t a war we can win.” – Jamie Lannister, S7E5

Congratulations to the Denver Nuggets. You had a wonderful season. The Nuggets went from missing the playoffs to battling for the one seed in the span of two seasons. Nikola Jokić became an all-star and Jamal Murray became a shooting assassin. That being said, the Nuggets cannot win the NBA Championship. The Nuggets may not even be able to beat the Spurs. Great season, but try again next year.

Toronto Raptors: When you play the game of thronesyou win or you die. There is no middle ground.” – Cersei Lannister, S1E7

Fight or die, win or lose, this is the last stand for the Raptors. After trading for Kawhi Leonard, who is on the final deal of his contract, the Raptors pushed all of their chips to the center of the table. It’s now or never. This is their sixth straight trip to the playoffs. The previous five ended in disappointment with the last three series’ defeats coming at the hands of LeBron James. LeBron James is gone. Kawhi Leonard is in Toronto. If the Raptors don’t make the NBA Finals this year, I expect this team to blow up like the Sept of Baelor.


Philadelphia 76ers:“If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.” – Ramsay Bolton, S3E6

Last year, The Process took a huge step in the right direction as the 76ers made the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The years of tanking and 10 win seasons was over as Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid started to live up to their potential. This season, the Sixers strengthened The Process by adding Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. All of this looks good on paper, but as Game 1 versus the Nets taught us anything, it’s that you can’t trust Philadelphia to win it all especially in the final moments of a game. The Process is far from complete.

Portland Trail Blazers: “I don’t plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me. I might be small, Lord Glover. And I might be a girl. But I am every bit as much a Northerner as you. And I don’t need your permission to defend the North.” – Lyanna Mormont, S7E1

Lyanna Mormont is tiny in stature, but she makes up for it with a giant heart and no-fear attitude. The Northerners doubt her, but when push comes to shove, she will be on the front line with a sword in her hand. The Trail Blazers have a team full of Lyanna Mormonts. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are a top backcourt in the NBA, but the rest of the league continues to doubt them because of their lack of success in the playoffs. Portland might as well be the Bear Island of the NBA because of how North it is. However, no one can question Portland’s heart and when critics continue to doubt them, the Blazers find a way to not only compete, but win.


Boston Celtics: “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love – illusions. Only the ladder is real…the climb is all there is.” – Lord Baelish, S3E6

Playing the role of Littlefinger will be the Celtics General Manager and President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge. The quest for a championship started in 2013. While teams were going crazy while trying to figure out ways to assemble a Big Three in order to beat the Heat, Ainge used this to his advantage by trading fan favorites and aging legends such as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for five players and four draft picks. Later, Ainge didn’t give into the mob who wanted to pay Isaiah Thomas and instead, included Thomas in a trade for Kyrie Irving. While teams try to sign big name free agents, Ainge and the Celtics decided to groom young talent as Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown. Now, the Celtics are rumored to be in the running in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. Will the Celtics sit on the Iron Throne one day? I’m not sure, but they will continue to climb the ladder or they will die trying.


Houston Rockets: “I learned that I’ll never win. Not that way. That’s their game, their rules. I’m not going to fight them, I’m going to fuck them. That’s what I know, that’s what I am. And only by admitting what we are can we get what we want” Lord Baelish, S1E7

The Rockets bring a unique approach to the game of basketball, especially on the offensive side. The NBA is becoming a shooters’ league, but the Rockets take that sentiment and multiply it by 10. The Rockets typically have four guys on the floor who can shoot the three and one guy who can finish alley-oops like Clint Capela. The Rockets space the floor, leave the middle open for isolation, and shoot A LOT of 3-pointers. For the second consecutive season, the Rockets set the single-season record for most 3 pointers made with 1,323. The Rockets want to play fast and get up and down the court. This is not the way most teams play, but for the Rockets, it works. Had it not been for a Chris Paul injury last season, the Rockets might have represented the West in the NBA finals. James Harden and the boys know who they are, and that’s their biggest strength.

Indiana Pacers: “There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: not today.” – Syrio Forel, S1E6

When the Pacers lost Victor Oladipo, most critics and fans including me believed their season was a lost cause. Could you blame them? The Pacers not only lost their best player but their team leader. However, the Pacers did not submit or die for the rest of the season. Indiana fought valiantly to make the playoffs. Had it not been for a 31-12 fourth quarter from the Celtics, this series would have been tied 1-1 going back to Indiana.

Utah Jazz: “As long as I’m standing the war is not over.” – Brynden Tully, S6E7

The Rockets have come out with guns blazing these first two games. As bad as the Jazz have looked, they are not dead. This is a team that has won their first-round series the past two seasons. Donovan Mitchell is capable of rallying Gobert, Ingles, and the rest of the troops to make this a competitive series. As long as Mitchell is standing, don’t count him out just yet.

Brooklyn Nets: “He’s the toughest man with no balls I ever met.” – Daario Naharis, S5E10

About two months ago, I made a bet with my friend that the Nets would not make the playoffs. I believed that the Nets would falter and their lack of superstar talent would cost them a playoff berth. Clearly, I was wrong. Credit to Kenny Atkinson, D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and the rest of the team for coming together and exceeding expectations. The Nets are a fun team with a bright future thanks to their young talent and cap space this summer, which includes the ability to sign two players to max contracts. However, this team may be fun, but it’s not a championship team. The Nets still need a superstar or two to put them into the conversation for the best team in the East.

Oklahoma City Thunder: “No, of that I’m innocent. I’m guilty of a far more monstrous crime. I’m guilty of being a dwarf. Oh, yes I am. I’ve been on trial for that my entire life.” – Tyrion Lannister, S4E6

Tyrion Lannister is one of the smartest minds in all of Westeros. Tyrion is a master in strategy and tends to have a pulse on the city and their needs. Tyrion is a valuable asset to anyone’s court. Tyrion could be on the Iron Thrones, but no matter what he does for the rest of his life, some people will always see him as a dwarf and that’s something they can’t look past. Russell Westbrook is the most athletic point guard to ever play in the NBA. Russ has averaged a triple-double for the past three seasons and even won the MVP in 2016-2017. However, until he wins a championship, certain members of the media and NBA fanbase will always see him as the guy who pushed Kevin Durant out of town. Whether that’s fair or unfair is up to you to decide.

Game of Thrones / Via HBO

Orlando Magic: “I’ve known a great many clever men. I’ve outlived them all. You know why? I ignored them. The lords of Westeros are sheep. Are you a sheep? No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.” – Lady Olenna, S7E2

Hand up, I did not see the Orlando Magic winning a game in this series versus the Toronto Raptors. Hand up again, I can’t name the starting five of the Magic. Maybe the Magic are for real. I believe the Raptors will eventually prevail, but crazier things have happened. The Magic should continue to not listen to fans like myself and play their game because if they steal Game 3 at home, look out.

San Antonio Spurs: “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you” – Tyrion, S1E1

The Spurs are the Spurs. Their lineup is not going to jump off the paper and strike fear into opponents’ hearts every night. They’re not going to get in a track meet and run up and down all night. However, they’re consistent, efficient, and well-coached by Gregg Popovich. The Spurs don’t have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green anymore and yet continue to put a successful product on the floor as they haven’t missed the playoffs since 1996-1997. The Spurs know who they are and never change their identity.

Detroit Pistons: “You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well.” – Sansa Stark, S6E9

You’re going to die in four games, Detroit Pistons. Sleep well. There’s really nothing more to say. Without a healthy Blake Griffin, the Pistons don’t stand a chance.

Los Angeles Clippers:“The long night is coming, and the dead come with it. No clan can stop them, the free-folk can’t stop them, the Night’s Watch can’t stop them, and all the southern kings can’t stop them! Only together, all of us – and even then it may not be enough but at least we’ll give the fuckers a fight.” – Jon Snow, S5E8

If there is one thing the Clippers have shown so far this series, it’s that they are not going to back down to the Army of the Dead aka the Golden State Warriors. Throw Game 3 aside because the Clippers stood no chance. However, this series could easily be 3-0 had it not been for a 31 point comeback in Game 2. The Clippers are a young, exciting team that has a bright future thanks to their cap space this summer. Do not be surprised if they steal at least one more game against the Warriors.


What quotes from Game of Thrones would you use to describe the teams in the NBA Playoffs? Share your thoughts below or tweet us @unafraidshow.