The 2017-18 NBA season concluded its regular season. There will be scores of articles about questioning good teams, declaring individual award races over, and the bickering over true shooting percentage and defensive rating. There is also a feeling surrounding this season that we're headed towards the inevitability of a Golden State Warriors championship. Thus, some of the fun is met with a bit of gloom. Cheer up, lover of hoops. Basketball is a sport in which the journey of the season is just as important as its destination in the Finals. Here at TSFJ, we're going to highlight some things and people the basketball realm can be excited for between now and June.
Song of The Week: J-Live - "Braggin' Writes Revisited"
The NBA regular season is half as long as one Gregorian calendar year. At nearly 26 full weeks, the Association's collection of games to determine playoff and draft lottery seeding is longer than the NFL's total year of games played from start of the regular season through the Super Bowl. With 30 teams playing 82 games, that is a lot of basketball that we've seen along our journey. With the playoffs beginning tomorrow, we were given a few days of rest and reprieve to reflect on the kinds of moments and events we got to witness since October. What better way to recap than with the ultimate collection of blurbs.
- We nearly died of dysentery, as Boston's Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome leg injury six minutes into the season. While Boston recovered to finish as the second seed in the East, there was a cloud over the team, carrying raindrops full of the possibility of how good they could have been.
- Speaking of injuries, so many All-Star caliber players were lost along the way. DeMarcus Cousins and Kristaps Porzingis are two stars who went down for the rest of the season, and there were more players of this level who have missed significant time this year.
- The Warriors, residents of our destination point, are preparing for their most arduous postseason run this core iteration has experienced in their four years together. It includes hungry conference foes, looking at the slightly wounded Warriors and realizing that this is the time to potentially usurp them before the Finals. And even if Golden State emerges from the West again, we presume that The Best Player Ever will be there for a fourth consecutive duel. Every championship is earned, but should the Warriors capture this one, it'll require the most work.
- LeBron James. Season Fifteen. Given the fact Cleveland had major roster turnover, a coach stricken with illness, a star player wonderfully opening up about his battle with anxiety and offensive and defensive woes that still may not be fixed, LeBron had his best regular season to date at 33 years old. He is the best individual basketball player to ever live. He also started dunking on people again.
- Basketball players don't fight, but they get testy and petty. This season has seen some rather comical moments sprout from small beef between players. Joel Embiid and Russell Westbrook are the co-captains of the All-Petty Team.
- It'll be interesting to see how MVP voting shakes out, and Rookie of the Year is a two-horse race. But those All-NBA teams will be very, very difficult to compile. Someone is going to get snubbed.
- The playoffs begin on Saturday, and Philadelphia's JJ Redick can boast the fact that he has been in the postseason every year in his career. While that would be impressive if he were a member of the Spurs, there's an added level of achievement because Redick has played for franchises like Orlando and the LA Clippers. He provides spacing and veteran presence for the young and confident Sixers. Congrats to him on a successful career.
- Of all the individual seasons this year, I think Indiana's Victor Oladipo had the most surprising. After a challenging year with Oklahoma City, Oladipo was traded to the Pacers. He flourished as the number one option, and posted career numbers across the board.
- Special shout-out to ESPN's Doris Burke. She is one of the best commentators going, and I'm glad the network gave her a full-time position to showcase her knowledge and charisma.
- My single favorite moment of the regular season is not a dunk, crossover or buzzer beater. In fact, the moment resulted in zero points. Giannis Antetokounmpo sent the Celtics' Aron Baynes to the floor after taking off for a dunk and with his momentum being so great, it sent a bigger man crashing with a thud. Here at TSFJ, we give obituaries for poster dunks, but this deserved a full funeral and eulogy.
The regular season portion of our journey is complete, but we continue forward. See you in the playoffs. Happy NBA, folks.
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse's good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.