Impossible to go into the conference finals without talking about the team that should have made it but didn’t — the Los Angeles Clippers. My take: They are not cursed. They were merely too thin, and they didn’t have the fortitude to finish the job.
And if the Houston Rockets taught us all one thing during their series against Doc Rivers’ team, it was this: Never give up, no matter how bleak things seem.
But that series is behind us, and we now move into the conference finals wondering exactly what we are going to see. Hack-a-Howard? Hack-a-Bogut? Corey Brewer defending Stephen Curry. Or maybe Trevor Ariza taking on that task. Or even pesky old man Pablo Prigioni. That series is going to be a chess match for sure, and we may end up seeing Klay Thompson being the most important player in the series. As mentioned yesterday in our staff predictions column, Thompson is the leading 3-point shooter, accuracy-wise, of all the players still playing.
And that allows us to turn our attention to Kyle Korver (35 percent from downtown in the postseason) and the Atlanta Hawks, who went 3-1 against the Cavs during the regular season while using DeMarre Carroll as the primary defender on LeBron James. This site has already devoted considerable attention to the amount of money Carroll is earning during these playoffs, and whether it behooves him to sign a one-year contract so that he can reap the rewards of being a max player when the salary cap jumps to $90 million 13 months from now. If the Hawks are able to win this series (they are a 1 1/2 point favorite in Game 1, it will solidify Carroll’s status as a max player. It’ll also postpone Northeast Ohio’s dream of ending its 51-year championship drought.)
All these plots and subplots were up for discussion in this podcast with Jody Oehler and Mike Jurecki on FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix. Enjoy.
Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.