The NBA postseason, generally a ray of light in our mundane lives, has been profoundly awful. It’s gotten all of us a little cranky. Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer’s resident hater, sounds off on five annoyances he’s seen through the playoffs so far.
1. Rick Carlisle is not a warlock.
He’s a human being who makes mistakes like anyone else. If you want to heap praise on someone for the Mavericks’ upset win on Monday, why not heap it on Salah Mejri or Justin Anderson, two unheralded rookies who have established themselves as legitimate NBA players over the past few weeks? Let’s give the guys credit for their abilities. And let’s not assume that Mejri and Anderson are inferior pieces being maximized by a coach who practices black magic just because you’ve never heard of them before.
2. Isaiah Thomas is caught in a mousetrap.
For as great as Thomas is, you would likely have to go back to Muggsy Bogues in 1993 to find a player 5-foot-9 or under starting on a conference semifinalist. Avery Bradley’s injury was catastrophic for the Celtics defense, and the pressure funnels down to Thomas. You can move Thomas off the ball, but the size disparity doesn’t magically disappear once he guards wings on the perimeter. He is far from the Celtics’ biggest issue, but there’s no margin for error when your best player is barely tall enough to ride on roller coasters.
3. Hey, Rockets, give up and let the kids play.
Here’s what we know: Houston has no chance of beating the Warriors, regardless of whether Steph Curry is playing. With the Rockets’ season essentially over, they might as well give extended minutes to Clint Capela and K.J. McDaniels, two of their youngest and most athletic players. At the very least, they can do what most of these lifeless Rockets won’t: switch screens and compete on both sides of the ball. A lot of Houston’s players don’t have futures with the team. Capela and McDaniels might. It’s time to see what they can do.
4. What is this Thunder offense?
As far as plans go, having Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook hoist up shots whenever they feel like it isn’t a bad one. But what happens when one of the all-time great scorers shoots 7-for-33 in a game? You would normally want to run a play for Durant to get an easy shot and get his confidence back. Instead, OKC’s only play involved KD forcing up more tough shots in traffic. We’ve noticed the Thunder’s tactical struggles all season, but they’re still happening in the playoffs. Plan A also happens to be Plan B. That’s not ideal.
5. Surprise! Detroit depth is still a problem.
The Pistons’ second unit has been their Achilles’ heel all season, and it isn’t stinking any less in Detroit’s first two games against the Cavaliers. When all five of Detroit’s starters are out there, the team can compete with anyone. When Stan Van Gundy has to hold his nose and sprinkle his bench guys in, they have no chance. The eye test and the advanced stats agree that Steve Blake (minus-20 in 10 minutes last night, and a negative net rating on the season) cannot compete with the best players in the world.
This piece originally appeared on the Ringer Facebook page on April 21, 2016.