March 15, 2016, 2:21 pm
It is the most anticipated couple of weeks of the basketball season. There is no greater time of the year than March and the excitement that surrounds each team. In the NBA, any team can beat any other team in a do-or-die situation, as seen by the would-be-16th-seed Lakers defeating the Warriors by 17 in Los Angeles earlier this month. But what would a tournament like this even look like? In the spirit of Selection Sunday and March Madness, let’s take a look at what an NBA bracket would consist of.
Editor’s Note: You can follow Zain Dhanani on Twitter (@XainDhanani) here
1 Golden State Warriors vs. 4 Detroit Pistons/Utah Jazz
2 Boston Celtics vs. 3 Memphis Grizzlies
The committee did not do the Warriors any favors by setting them up with a potential match-up against a Pistons team that took them down in Detroit earlier this season. I’m not so sure that the Pistons will make it that far. The Jazz, now employing Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward, are used to streaking at this time of the year. The competition committee may determine to raise the rim in the battle of who is the most athletic big in the NBA. I can see it now, Rudy Gobert goes up for an alley-oop only to be met by Andre Drummond at 14 feet off of the ground. After an intense battle, the Bad Boys prevail and get a date with the Warriors out west.
It must be the luck of the Irish as the Celtics drew a Grizzlies team that looks more like an infirmary than a basketball team at this point. The Grizz have lost Mike Conley, Mario Chalmers, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Chris Anderson, and Brandan Wright for extended time this season. Yet somehow, this team continues to win as they did against the Cavs last Monday in Cleveland. Regardless of their locker room, the Grizzlies are desperate for talent and have resorted to giving useful minutes at the Point Guard position to two people who they signed off the street. The Celts rank 3rd in pace while the Grizz rank 27th so it would be interesting to see how which team conforms to the other team’s style. I could see a Zach Randolph post-up on the left block with the shot-clock winding down which results in a rebound and Isaiah Thomas fast-break score kind of like this:
I see this match-up playing out much like the March 9th slaughtering that Boston gave to Memphis.
What if I told you that on one cold January night where the Pistons were recognizing Ben Wallace for his services and defensive prowess, the Pistons put a cap on a healthy Warriors team? The selection committee must have tried to set Curry’s team up for failure. The Pistons are top-10 in shots attempted within 10 feet while the Warriors are bottom-five in opponent field goals made within 10 feet. Needless to say, Detroit will be attacking Golden State down low. However, I do not believe that Draymond Green’s struggles vs. the Pistons this season will continue. Steve Kerr will find a way to deploy the small ball lineup and pull Drummond in space against Green who will blow by him or find the open man.
Golden State will down the Pistons on the Best Coast.
This sets the stage perfectly for a Boston-Golden State match-up that gets me so excited that I wish this tournament could happen right now. If you have forgotten, and I’m not sure how you could, the Celts almost gave the Dubs their first loss of the season back in December. Brad Stevens concocted a plan that would force Stephen Curry to have his worst shooting performance of the season to that point. Yes, he still dropped 38, but if you watched the game, he was fighting tooth and nail for every point.
This all comes with a grain of salt because Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes both sat out in the only battle between these two teams this season. I would like to think that both teams’ run and gun attack along with two of the game’s top-5 coaches would make this a must-watch game. It would be interesting to see what Brad Stevens would do when the Warriors go with their small ball lineup. Could we see an Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Evan Turner and Jae Crowder lineup that we haven’t seen in over 250 different lineup combinations all season?
The Warriors offense was built to create space, even if it is only for a split second. They love to use double screens to get Steph and Klay open while Boston loves to play tight defense and chase screens. The problem is that Steph only needs an inch of space to make you pay:
West Champions: Golden State Warriors