Schayes: How Players Handle the Ups and Downs of a Playoff Series

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dannyschayesMarch Madness seems like ages ago, and it did not leave all that many enduring memories. Well at least for those outside of Connecticut.

While the NCAA basketball tournament is full of ups and downs, upsets and buzzer beaters, it is over in a flash. Three weekends of a basketball binge … and it’s gone. One team celebrates while 67 others just go home. It’s so impossible to predict that even a $1 billion  bracket bet was over the first week.

Now the real tournament, the NBA Playoffs, is upon us.

In college, teams are on a tightrope. One slip and you fall off and disappear. In the NBA, each playoff round can have more games than a team will play in winning the Final Four. And you need to win four rounds to be the champ. That’s 16 wins, a possible 28 games over two months. Now that’s a tournament!

As we start the playoff,s the early rounds have already generated tremendous excitement. There are plenty of buzzer beaters, and upsets. The big difference is that a loss isn’t fatal. It only raises the temperature.

What makes the NBA Playoffs so compelling is the very fact that it’s so hard to win a series. In the early rounds the teams facing each other are division or conference competitors. That means that they have already played each other three or four times (not counting preseason matchups), have scouted each other a hundred times, and know everything about each other.

There are no secrets, no special plays, and little preparation time. You don’t have a week between games. And players who were friends before the playoffs started are rarely friends afterward.

Each round is a war.

DraftStreet Fantasy Spin, April 24, 2014

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Click on this banner to sign up for DraftStreet’s two-day NBA playoff fantasy leagues

Tonight we have a quandary. There are six games from which to choose players, so there needs to be a strategy that accounts for so many choices.

So today, I will make like the fantasy player “youdacao” — a player I see on the leaderboards almost every single night.

I don’t know how much money “youdacao” puts into play on DraftStreet each night, but it has got to be substantial. In the $22 Tuesday-Wednesday league that I wrote about yesterday, “youdacao” finished 2nd, 8th, 10th, 11th (with the same team entered four times),18th (with the same team entered twice) and 24th. The 2nd place finish was worth $800, 8th place paid $160, 10th was $120, 11th was $100 and 18th was worth $60, and 24th had a $40 prize.

Add it all up, and this fellow took home $1,640 by entering multiple teams. “youdacao” entered the $22 field with 20 teams, for a cost of $440. He netted a nifty profit of $1,200.

SH Blog: Durant defiant about Tony Allen’s defense, Parsons says he’s better than Batum

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Kevin DurantKevin Durant has had one of the most prolific seasons we have ever seen, and he will run away with the  MVP award for his efforts in 2014.

Part of what has made him so great is the efficient way in which he has totally dominated the competition. He averaged a whopping 32 points on 50.3 percent shooting from the field. His true shooting percentage (including field goal, 3-pointers and free throws) came out to 63.5 percent, which is truly ridiculous.

When Tony Allen is the one defending him, though, all of that goes out the window.

This has been a major issue in the first round of the playoffs for Durant, who is accustomed to getting his way. In the first two games, Durant has shot six-of-20 from the field with Allen as his defender – good enough to consider Allen a Durant stopper. It’s not just the fact that Allen has disrupted him from the field. He has done an incredible job in completely denying Durant from even catching the ball half the time, breaking up whatever scheme the Thunder had planned and forcing them to scramble to something else with the clock winding down. The Thunder have tried to set screens on Allen, but he has been a wizard at dodging them or getting right through them.

Credit also has to go to the team defense of the Grizzlies. When Durant catches the ball, there is always at least one player in the back that closes the baseline, discouraging the small forward from driving into the paint. If Durant gets by (barely), there will be at least one or two defenders waiting to provide help. Allen’s ball pressure is difficult enough to get by, so any help following that type of defense puts a great amount of pressure on Durant, and he’s clearly been frustrated when they decide to start the defense with Allen on him. Of course, this cannot be done for an entire game (it’s simply too tiring), so Allen is not on him at all times, and that’s when Durant has done most of his damage in this series. Here’s a great compilation of some of Allen’s work:

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5 Fast Facts from Last Night’s Games — Aldridge Drops 43, Mavs Blow Out Spurs, Heat Hold Off Bobcats

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AldridgeAnother day and another pair of road victories for lower-seeded teams. Are the home teams becoming the underdogs?

It certainly feels like it.

Wednesday, April 23 played host to yet another puzzling day in the 2014 NBA Playoffs. A championship favorite was blown out on its home court, the two-time defending champions were nearly upset and a lower-seeded team completed a two-game sweep at their opponent’s venue.

Here’s everything that you need to know about last night’s games.

Tweet of the Night: Tracy McGrady not happy with LaMarcus Aldridge for putting on a shooting display against the Rockets

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Bl9dKajIgAIVp6aTracy McGrady has moved on from his basketball career and is now venturing into a new phase of his life.

That doesn’t mean he’s not paying attention to what’s going on in the NBA, though, and he has certainly taken notice of the play of LaMarcus Aldridge in the first round of the playoffs against McGrady’s former team.

In the first two games against the Houston Rockets, LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging a blistering 44.5 points on 57.6 percent shooting from the field. On Wednesday, he had 43 points on 18-of-28 shooting with eight rebounds and three blocks, helping the Blazers beat the Rockets 110-105 for a shocking 2-0 lead while playing both games on the road. Houston has simply found no solution to slow down Aldridge, who has been making just about anything he throws at the basket.

Somewhat sarcastically, here’s what McGrady had to say while watching Aldridge tear the Rockets apart:

It’s sarcasm in the sense that he’s clearly complimenting the power forward on his amazing shooting display. The two teams face each other again on Friday, and it’s pretty much do-or-die time now for the Rockets.

Tweet of the Day: Reaction To Goran Dragic’s Most Improve Player Award

Mike Woodson, Entire NY Knicks Coaching Staff Relieved Of Duties

James Park is the chief blogger of Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on twitter @SheridanBlog.