The NBA Playoffs are in full gear and the first round has been anything but disappointing. With the top seeds fading, fighting in Indiana, and lint rollers making waves in Toronto, I decided to reach out to the Bro Jackson NBA Team to answer some more questions. (Note: These questions were written and answered on Thursday, before the Pacers lost Game 3).
1. What’s been the biggest surprise of the playoffs so far?
Courtney Cox: It’s a tie between the Portland Trailblazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge putting up big numbers so far in the playoffs or the Washington Wizards giving that work to the Chicago Bulls. Both are amazing to watch, but I’m going to give a slight edge the Wizards–they came out of nowhere and have killed it.
Jared Mintz: It’s not really shocking as they never established an offensive identity this season, but Houston’s struggles have been the biggest shock to me. I thought they’d be able to dominate Portland, but the Blazers defense on James Harden and how well they’ve defended the pick-and-roll has the Rockets looking like they’re about to be swept. Kevin McHale isn’t doing his club any favors by seemingly making zero adjustments, but when they aren’t pushing the tempo in transition or getting the ball to Dwight Howard, the Rockets have looked like five guys who have never played together, and have been embarrassingly stagnant on offense.
Jonathan Ridewood: Sorry Wiz. Sorry Hawks. The biggest surprise so far has to be that the Spurs, the defending Western Conference Champion and owners of the league’s best record, highest point differential, and all the health and momentum a team would want heading into the playoffs, were blown out at home against a Mavericks team, and it wasn’t even a game in which Dirk Nowitzki or Monta Ellis dropped huge scoring totals.
2. Should we be more worried about the Spurs, the Thunder, or not be worried at all?
Courtney Cox: I’d be more worried about the Oklahoma City Thunder at this point–they’re the ones that have to conquer not only a Memphis Grizzlies team that won’t go away but what appears to be a stifling curse put on them by rapper Lil B. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant shot a combined 19-53 Thursday night in their overtime loss to the Grizz and KD couldn’t hit a three to save his life. The #Based curse is too real right now. I need that recipe.
Jared Mintz: I think it’s very valid to be worried about the Thunder. This is a team that was missing its second best player (or 1B) for about half of the season, and they’re having a hard time adjusting to a very stingy Memphis defense. Dallas is a really tough out with all of the crafty veterans they have on that team, so there’s definitely reason for concern for both teams, but OKC looks like they’re in legit trouble.
Jonathan Ridewood: The team down 2-1 should be more worried.
3. Are the Pacers going to get it together?
Courtney Cox: Nope, nah, not a chance. I don’t trust this team at all, mainly because something’s going on (perhaps off the court) that I’m not aware of that has them crumbling like old crackers. After their Game 3 loss, it just seems like no one has the answers. Just like Sway.
Jared Mintz: LOL. Roy Hibbert’s PER for the playoffs through the first three games: -1.3. Rik Smits ain’t walking through that door.
Jonathan Ridewood: No. People who slow down to gawk at car crashes must be loving this series.
4. Is there any reason anyone, even Drake, should ever bring a lint roller to a basketball game?
Courtney Cox: I like the qualifier there – “even Drake.” Because we all know if anyone’s going to be insecure about lint accumulation, it’s Drizz. Honestly, I don’t know many places a lint roller is necessary. If you keep it in your car, your gym locker, your boo’s house that has that furry dog, cool. But I’m not walking in a bar and pulling out my lint roller, let alone an NBA playoff game.
Jared Mintz: Honestly, no, it’s a basketball game, in Toronto no less. However, I’m pretty sure the “Drake the type . . .” Twitter page has probably tweeted “Drake the type to lint brush his leggings on TV at a sporting event,” so I’m much happier that this happened than I am flabbergasted by it. Drake the type to say “good morning” to the sun, after all.
Jonathan Ridewood: My exposure to Drake is pretty limited. He’s mostly something I read about tangentially on the Internet, but his use of a lint roller fascinates me to no end. So did he bring the lint roller to the game? He’s from Toronto, so did he make a note to bring the lint roller because these are his black pants that always get all linty? Either that or he asked someone in his entourage or a Raptors official for a lint roller. In that case it would have been someone’s job to fetch Drake a lint roller, right? And why did he even need a lint roller? Do the Raptors use white napkins or something in their VIP room? Was he cuddling with his cat before the game?
And maybe I worry too much about looking dumb, but I’m surprised how comfortable he was in using a lint roller sitting in the first row. If I’m him and know that every single movement I make is being watched, I’m going to do all my grooming in a private setting, even if it’s something as innocuous and not disgusting as removing lint from your pants. Or perhaps when you’re that famous and have managed to become a hip-hop star despite appearing on a teen melodrama as a quadriplegic, you lose all self-consciousness in public settings ‘cuz haters are gonna hate’ no matter what you do.
I really hope lint rollers become a trend in hip-hop. America needs gold-plated, diamond-encrusted lint rollers.
5. What are your thoughts on refs admitting that they missed calls in a given playoff game?
Courtney Cox: Too little, too late. Refs need to step it up for the playoffs just like players. The stakes are higher, they are more important than ever, and there are an abundant amount of resources to help them do their job correctly. Also, it can’t be said enough–refs, we’re here to see the players, not you. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. I don’t go to games to see referees and soak in their philosophies on sport the same way I don’t go to the movies for the seats. Both are just necessities.
Jared Mintz: It’s essentially like hitting a parked car, leaving a note, and not leaving contact information. Great, you’re admitting that you messed up, but what are you doing to fix it? Nothing, because there’s nothing you can do. I guess I hate it?
Jonathan Ridewood: I endorse the refs recognizing truths that any rational person who knows the rules of basketball would agree with. The officiating has been noticeably bad, but the focus can’t be on one call. The NBA needs to continue to revise how it approaches the profession and can’t be afraid to implement new rules changes to create a better product. The NBA has done a lot to improve performance review, but maybe the case is that reffing is an impossible task and making exact calls when a game is as fast paced and athletic as the NBA can’t be done by a human. At least the NBA isn’t plagued by a byzantine rulebook like football or bound to an absurd tradition like soccer and its lone ref on the field.
6. What was the final comment that got Lance Stephenson/Evan Turner swinging at each other (could be from either player)?
Courtney Cox: “That’s why you’re not even going to be here next year.” – either guy
Jared Mintz: “We’ve sucked since you got here, so don’t tell me that I need to pass the ball more, especially not to your avatar girl-looking face.” – Lance Stephenson
Jonathan Ridewood: Being an NBA fan, sometimes it’s not about on-court performance, but instead the player, his contract, and everything off the court becoming the narrative. All I can think about with these two players is how much they will make as free agents. Lance Stephenson has probably cost himself many millions of dollars, and just about however much Evan Turner signs for will be too much.
7. Should Al Jefferson sit out the rest of the playoffs with his foot tear, or do you like seeing him gut it out against the Heat?
Courtney Cox: I never like to see athletes playing through injury, but I also understand that no one wants to get the “soft” reputation or put in the Derrick Rose box. I’m torn (NPI) on this, and it’s probably because I have no medical training outside of a brief stint as an athletic trainer in high school. Al Jefferson has already shown his dedication and toughness playing through injury Wednesday, and doctors say he can’t hurt it any worse than he already has, so if he feels he can still contribute, I say go for it. But if he’s going to be dead weight for the team, he’s gotta swallow his pride and speak up.
Jared Mintz: To my knowledge plantar fasciitis can’t get worse from a body damage perspective, so if him being out there can help, why not give it a go if he can withstand the pain? With that said, I don’t think that a hobbled Al Jefferson will make any difference for Charlotte, and it’s really showed over the last six quarters or so of this series.
Jonathan Ridewood: This is such a difficult, multi-layered question, and the answer probably changes depending upon the sport, where the player is in his career, and the circumstances of the game. In Jefferson’s case, he should sit out and get ready for next season. The Heat will win this series, and Jefferson can get his big moment in the spotlight next season when the Bobcats will presumably improve. And who wouldn’t want to spend more time in their giant bed? I feel bad for the movers who had to move Big Al’s giant bed from Salt Lake City.
8. True or False: LaMarcus Aldridge is the best PF in the playoffs.
Courtney Cox: I’m going to go with TRUE (adding this: best PF in the playoffs SO FAR). LaMarcus Aldridge has definitely had the most profound impact for his team and one of the strongest individual performances in the playoffs. Houston hasn’t found an answer.
Jared Mintz: False but it’s not that far fetched. Blake Griffin kinda took the crown this year and has been the second-most impressive four in the playoffs so far after the scorching hot LMA.
Jonathan Ridewood: Yes, and Houston should not let Terrence Jones guard Aldrdge for one single possession going forward.
9. Are the Bulls worse than we thought, or are the Wizards better than we thought?
Courtney Cox: I think it’s fair to say that the the Washington Wizards have surpassed most people’s expectations. The Chicago Bulls aren’t worse than we thought, they’re just worse off than we thought. Another year, another postseason without Derrick Rose and this year, without Luol Deng. Meanwhile, the Wizards are running on all cylinders and they’ve become a force against a team that is playing without all of its pieces. I knew the Bulls had a lot working against them. What I didn’t know was just how much the Washington Wizards had going for them.
Jared Mintz: Little bit of column A, little bit of column B. We all expected the Bulls to have a hard time scoring the ball during the playoffs, and they’ve shot the ball at 42 and 43 percent in the first two games of the series. Also, is there a worse starting lineup in the playoffs than the one Chicago’s trotting out there? Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer are both shells of the best versions of themselves, and while Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler are both gritty two-way players, they’d both be better suited in bench roles. I love seeing John Wall and Brad Beal continue to grow, and with the way things are shaping in the Pacers/Hawks series, we may see these two future stars in the ECF.
Jonathan Ridewood: Heading into this series, I thought these teams were evenly matched but gave the edge to the Bulls because Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the league and Joakim Noah has been superb all year on defense and as the focal point of the Bulls offense. After two close games that could have easily gone the other way, my feelings haven’t changed. I knew John Wall was ready for the big stage, but who would have guessed how well Nene has been able to score against Noah? This is why you should stay out of the prediction market.
10. Now that Steph Curry has been introduced, what will the next Chris/Cliff Paul State Farm Commercial look like?
Courtney Cox: The assist thing isn’t going to work for Steph. We gotta branch out from that.
Sidenote: Why are there no moms in these commercials? Is this produced by the same people that write out or kill off every mom in Disney movies? Mama Curry or Steph’s wife, Ayesha, need to be in these. He has too many fine women in his family to not let them get some shine.
Jared Mintz: I don’t know but I’ve had the stupid song from the commercials stuck in my head since reading this question. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Dame Lillard or maybe Mike Conley in one of these commercials. Bless Conley–the most underrated player in the NBA.
Jonathan Ridewood: Why are these commercials so popular? Do people just like sweater vests?