Doctor MJ wrote:
Just jumping in on a few things:
eminence wrote:For the next paragraph "a team that played like Miami did during the bulk of the season wouldn't normally be able to improve this much" is exactly what I'm trying to say (coupled a bit with a team like the Bucks potentially not falling off so much - which seemed to happen in the Bubble RS as well). Going forward I'd be very excited if I were a Heat fan, but that's different from evaluating who they were this season.
So this points to a difference in perspective here.
If you weigh early parts of the season enough then this would hurt a team like Miami that improved over the course of the season. But of course with league emphasis on the playoffs and the championship, the fact a team started slow isn't going to mean very much as time moves on.
While I'm good with giving some weight to, say, Giannis this year for a great regular season, or the '15-16 Warriors for the 73-9 record, the idea of penalizing teams for being weak early in the year doesn't resonate with me in basketball.
To be clear: It would in baseball where the playoffs are much more like flipping a coin, but in basketball we like to think the best team wins in the playoffs. While that's of course a bit naive, in a 7 game series, the team that finds the best match up edge can typically win 4 games before the other team does, and I suppose I see it as the primary job for teams to prepare themselves to do as well as possible within those series once they've made it into the echelon that actually gets to play playoff basketball.
Of course, as I say that, interesting both the Lakers and Heat went from no playoffs last year straight to the finals this year.
eminence wrote:Kinda yes, but also no for me. The Bucks were losing because of reasons folks had speculated about. Giannis missing almost half the series buries them from there (remember he initially injures himself early in Game 3 and spends the rest of that game clearly limited to my eye). Prior to the initial injury he had just outplayed Jimmy down the stretch of Game 2, despite the Heat pulling it out.
I really struggle with this "Giannis was turning the corner" narrative. I mean, he might have been sure, but you're focusing on a game where he scored 29 points sandwiched between two games where Butler scored 30+ when all 3 of the games ended up with Giannis' team losing. I'll concede that perhaps Giannis outplays Butler in 9 out of 10 universes, but in this one Butler had the edge before Giannis got hurt, and regardless of Giannis Butler gave the Heat two heroic performances in the first 3 games of the series, by which point we knew the series was over.
eminence wrote:I think this comes back to how close I felt the Celtics series was (very). I feel like if Spo/Jimmy thought they had something clearly better in the bag (heliocentric Jimmy) they would've whipped it out in that series. That they didn't to me points towards them not believing it was much/if any better at all. To me, yes the Heat did need something better offensively from Jimmy that series to cleanly win it and he didn't have it.
Tatum held Butler to 9 pts/75 @ 40% TS when he was on him - which he was the plurality of the time (109 possessions - approximately 2x as much as Smart). Absolutely smothered him.
Re: if Spo/Jimmy though they had something better... I never said they thought they had something better. I'm quite sure that Butler's handful of electrifying performances in these playoffs blew away everyone's expectations. That's why we need to recalibrate how we think of him.
Re: Tatum held Butler. Those are some eye-popping stats and I honestly wasn't aware of them. It may well be that Tatum was a better defender against Butler than anyone then.
I would point out though that Miami's offense had its way with Boston's defense. For perspective:
Philly against the Celtics: 106.0 ORtg
Toronto against the Celtics: 100.7 ORtg
Miami against the the Celtics: 114.4 ORtg
To me this combined with Butler's stats make me see this as a case of plucking the lower hanging fruit.