There is a segment on NBA TNT that is called “Gone Fishin. “ It highlights the team that has been eliminated in that round of the playoffs. A picture is taken of a couple of key players from the team and celebrities from that city on vacation, fishing. The TV analysts will have their fishing rods and pretend that they are on a boat, as they poke fun at the eliminated team. Obviously, the idea is to never be on this segment. However, let’s look at the teams that are currently on vacation.
(1) Houston Rockets vs. (8) Minnesota Timberwolves. This was supposed to be a great test for the Rockets as the one seed. The Timberwolves were young and athletic, not to mention they had the size to match the Rockets. Unfortunately, it was a gentleman’s sweep. That means the Rockets won four games to one. Karl Anthony Towns didn’t show up the first few games for the Timberwolves. He was playing like an All-Star all season until the playoffs. Maybe the bright lights and the big stage were too much for him and the team to handle. They were healthy with Jimmy Butler returning to the team, so it was no excuse not to win at least two games. They had a chance to steal game one and when that didn’t happen, they lost the next three games by an average of 19 points. I know the Timberwolves were excited to be in the playoffs for the first time in like 20 years but it’s not enough just to be there. James Harden showed why he will win MVP this year for the Rockets. He could not be stopped. See ya Timberwolves.
(2) Golden State Warriors vs. (7) San Antonio Spurs. How could the defending champions, Warriors, get such an easy break? They were without Steph Curry and the Spurs were without Kawhi Leonard. Not having Leonard was a cake walk for the Warriors. That allowed them to have the gentleman’s sweep, four games to one, over the Spurs. All the talk was about the Rockets being the one seed and the Warriors went out and showed why they deserve some R E S P E C T. To me, this series was more about Ka-WHY, as in why you not with your team. I understand he was hurt, according to him. He should have been on the bench helping his team but he was nowhere to be found. I lost r e s p e c t for him. Condolences to coach Gregg Popovich on losing his wife of 40 years during the series. I can’t even imagine. I’m sure it puts basketball and sports into perspective though.
(3) Portland Trailblazers vs. (6) New Orleans Pelicans. Nobody, I mean nobody saw the Pelicans sweeping this series four games to zero! There might have been a few people who picked the Pelicans to win but not in a sweep. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum need they behinds whipped for this embarrassment. They lost every game by double digits. Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Rajon Rondo just obliterated the Trailblazers in every facet of the game. Davis was looking like the best player in the entire NBA. Lillard should go back in the booth and make a mixtape. Maybe he should call this one, Gone Fishin. He needs to stop by the ATM so he can get a feature from J. Cole after counting up the L’s he took. Saw what I did there? You didn’t, oh ok, moving on.
(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Utah Jazz. Where do I begin with this series? The Jazz won the series four games to two. Now everyone, including Stevie Wonder, saw why Durant left. Westbrook needs a team like Allen Iverson had, the year they went to the NBA Finals. He can’t win with another superstar on the team, let alone two of them. Paul George was calling himself “Playoff P” after game one. After that, he was P, as in plain. In a deciding game six, he scored five points in 45 minutes. That’s plain awful. Let’s not forget about Carmelo Anthony. He managed a whole seven points in that game. He averaged 12 points for the series. Melo has only been to one Conference Finals and that was thanks to Chauncey Billups, when he was with the Denver Nuggets. Melo needs to swallow his pride and become the 6th man, coming off the bench. He will get more shots and more opportunities to score with the second unit. He doesn’t fit when Westbrook and “Plain” are on the court. I blame Coach Billy Donovan for not making those adjustments though. The Jazz were led by a first year rookie in Donovan Mitchell. A rookie beat the highly talented Thunder?!
(1) Toronto Raptors vs. (8) Washington Wizards. The Wizards are who we thought they were. As soon as John Wall came back to the team their chemistry and ball movement left. That’s why the Raptors won the series four games to two. Something definitely has to change here. I would trade Wall to the Lakers for Lonzo Ball, a first round draft pick and a second round pick. Ball is a pass first point guard and he would fit that team. Wall would be perfect with the new “showtime” Lakers while adding “Plain” George from the Thunder. But I digress. This Wizards team is exceptional, on paper. They just don’t have what it takes in the playoffs and it starts with Wall and coach Scott Brooks. If significant changes aren’t made this offseason, they will be gone fishin this exact time next year.
(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Milwaukee Bucks. Brad Stevens is starting to be mentioned with the greats of coaching and he hasn’t even been to the Finals yet. He lost Gordon Heyward two minutes into the season and Kyrie Irving the last month before the playoffs. He didn’t have Marcus Smart the first couple of games this series, and yet they won four games to three. He coached without his three best players and turned Terry Rozier into an All-Star. He can do so much with so little as a coach. The Bucks were by far the more talented team but they couldn’t win a game on the road. You have the best player on the court in Giannis Antetokounmpo, that is not a typo. You have last year’s rookie of the year in Malcolm Brogdon. You have Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe and you can’t win one game on the road. The Bucks might as well kept Jason Kidd as coach. I believe he would have showed them how to win the series.
(3) Philadelphia Sixers vs. (6) Miami Heat. The young guns of the Sixers are showing they were ready for their first playoff series. They won four games to one. Ben Simmons showed why he is a rookie of the year candidate. He took over late in games and made the correct plays to win. Even when Dwayne Wade put the heat on his back and looked poised to win, Simmons answered. The Heat should have made this a much better series with their playoff experience, but the Sixers wanted it more. It is not always about experience, though that plays a roll. It is about execution and heart at this stage. The Heat will have plenty time to fish down in South Beach now.
(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Indiana Pacers. Last and certainly not least, the Cavs won the series four games to three. This was by far the best opening round series. All the talk after the Cavs trade was how much younger and athletic they got. Everyone was saying they were a lock for going to the Finals, that LeBron James had dropped the dead weight and got some help to win. Then the team struggled coming into the playoffs. Now LeBron has to play at least 44 minutes and score 44 points to win the series. The narrative has changed to, he doesn’t have any help. C’mon man, he has the help. He just chose to bench Tristan Thompson which would have ended this series in six games instead of seven. The Pacers played outstanding as a team. They had their chances to win the series but it was too much LeBron. I don’t believe in moral victories but the Pacers have something to build on.
Stay tuned to the next rounds of the playoffs and see who else is gone fishin.