Quick Hits: Post-Holiday Edition

What’s up guys, I typically try to keep my writing pretty formal and professional but since I have a bunch of miscellaneous topics I want to hit on in this post and its been a little quiet this week due to Thanksgiving, I thought I’d do a little quick-hit, shallow cut style take-smithing. I’m just going to roll from topic to topic, so here we go:

Trade Markelle? Honestly, Do It: The combined insanity of this week with regards to Markelle Fultz has left me exhausted more than anything. I’m so beyond tired of hearing about this it’s insane. I’ve never been so disinterested in someone who just 2 years ago we were trusting with the future of this franchise. If his lawyer/agent really still wants to play pretend that his shot issues are medical, then fine. Just go play pretend on another team. Today it was reported that the Sixers have moved on from Fultz in their long-term plans, which also comes after rumors that Markelle’s camp thinks he’d be better off with a change of scenery. If the team can manage to get a first round pick or just another healthy body in the rotation, then honestly just go for it. Would it be an inexcusable waste of a No.1 pick? Sure. But this team is ready to go, and Markelle will be eating up nearly $10 million in cap space next year. I want the kid to succeed, and I still want him to succeed with the Sixers ideally, but even if he does somehow get back to the do-it-all guard from UW, he probably won’t do so in the time frame that this team needs him to. 

Losing to the Cavaliers: It was very clear that the Sixers tried to mail it in and take a night off. One team clearly tried to win this game harder than the other. On most nights, the Sixers could take a night off and still probably have won, especially considering the team had plenty of people in double figures for points. Rodney Hood going 5-7 from 3 didn’t help, and the Sixers just looked sluggish on defense. The team had to try to shoot more 3’s to get themselves back into the game, but the Cavaliers forced awkward looks and at best the Sixers were trading 2 for 3 each possession. But hey man, Houston lost to this team by 9 also, with Cleveland winning two in a row on a back to back. Just goes to show that professional teams are still capable of plenty, even if they’re the worst at their level. Houston knows more than anyone (as of Game 7 of the WCF), sometimes the shots just don’t fall and that’s fine. For every loss to a Cleveland, the Sixers might have a win against Toronto or Golden State. Through highs and lows teams regress to their means and that mean is what matters going into the postseason. 

My Current Eastern Conference Standings: The way things are right now, I think this is how the EC playoff seeding will go:

  1. Toronto Raptors
  2. Milwaukee Bucks
  3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Boston Celtics
  5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Detroit Pistons
  7. Charlotte Hornets
  8. Brooklyn Nets/Orlando Magic

The two most interchangeable here are 1 and 2, and 5 and 6 in my opinion. The Celtics will probably be fine long term but they’ve already lost almost half of the games they were expected to lose all season, so they have a lot of consistency to establish if they want to host a first round series. The Pacers are the only team I could see making a first round upset. No matter who goes where in 1-4, the 4/5 matchup is bound to be the most likely to go to 7 games. I also think that the Bucks have had a great start but their numbers aren’t likely to sustain the levels they have thus far. They’ll still be very strong as the new Coach-Bud-floor-spacing 3-point-extravaganza has worked well thus far and it will still work even if, say, Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon don’t shoot as well going through the All Star break. With that said, this team is on track for 54-56 wins which makes the case for the Sixers at anything higher than 3 a tough call. I like to think the Sixers are a lock for 1-4, but the specific team they get matched up with in the second round will have way more impact on their ability to win than whether or not they have home court, so I’m less worried about win total. Finally, I have Toronto at 1 because I still don’t think we’ve seen all Kawhi Leonard has to offer this year, and that team is far deeper than the other ECF contenders. Not to mention the Bucks’ system relies on giving Giannis space and they’re only one minor injury away from losing a ton of momentum whereas Toronto isn’t quite as vulnerable.

The Wild, Wild West: The West standings are buck-fucking-wild right now. The Clippers, Grizzlies, and Kings are all in the playoff bubble right now. This means there needs to be some sifting of real ones vs. frauds:

  1. Clippers: Real. I think the Clippers are similar to the Raptors in that they’re much deeper than the other teams at their level. This team may not quite have the peaks of teams with better talent, but they probably won’t lose to that many teams significantly worse than them, like teams that are more top-heavy and less deep might. 
  2. Grizzlies: Frauds. Teams that rely on older talents like Gasol and Conley might start out hot, but these dudes are going to get tired, and you can’t keep defensive intensity up against a lot of teams at the moment.
  3. Kings: Major Frauds. The Kings are definitely exceeding expectations, but wins will be too hard to come by for this team to keep getting wins at a clip that will get them an 8th seed. 

All in all, the West will be tamed by teams with systems in place to keep the scrambles at bay. Despite where they are now, I have zero doubts that teams like San Antonio and Houston, despite being below 8th on standings right now, will still end up in the playoffs. Meanwhile, teams that are figuring out their play on the fly like Minnesota, Dallas, Denver, or the Lakers could realistically end up on either side of the bubble regardless where they are now. Teams like that might just catch a body from the Suns on an off night. Maybe Zach Levine shits out a 40-bomb on your dome-piece. Stuff like that is going to happen, and the teams that have a plan and know how to execute it will probably be better off long term.

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@CoolGuyCSN

A Philly-born Psychology student at the University of Pittsburgh. Trusting the Process. I play fighting games.

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