The crazy schedule could really mess with playoff seeding

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Our own Ira Winderman writing at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel points out that changes this week to remove divisional opponent record from tie-breaker procedures for playoff seeding don’t go far enough. Because the imbalanced schedule impacts record as well.

But if the Board wanted to carry out the process to its natural conclusion in the wake of the lockout, then a one-time strength-of-schedule tiebreaker should have been added beyond the primary tiebreaker for head-to-head competition, considering the degree that the 66-game schedule is so out of balance.

For example, say the Heat and Chicago Bulls split their four-game season series (the Heat lead 1-0 with the second game Thursday night at the United Center), consider from a Western Conference perspective that while the Heat are scheduled twice apiece against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, the Bulls have just one game again each of those three (the Heat and Bulls each play the San Antonio Spurs once).

via Miami Heat battle against Chicago Bulls could be determined by NBA playoff tiebreakers. – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

It’s an interesting line of thought, but beyond playing the West teams, what do the Strength of Schedule numbers suggest? Here’s what Basketball-Reference.com says:http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/share.cgi?id=qGjrP&output=iframe

 

OK, Bulls fans, before you blow a gasket, yes, being the best team in the league is going to bring down your SOS. You’re just not playing against teams better than you that often. But the fact remains having the weakest schedule in the league is tough to argue. At the same time ,though, if you take the numbers out of it, consider this. Twice the Heat have ventured West on a road trip and twice have suffered losing streaks. When Chicago has gone West, they haven’t been perfect, but they’ve been efficient and effective.

Shouldn’t how you play against the best teams in the league count as well?

Of course, by that measure, the Heat are 1-0 against Chicago this week. Hey play this week. Good times.

But there’s a simple solution here. Win the most games. Or don’t worry about it. The best teams in the NBA can play on the road anyway. But it’s an interesting debate.

Rockets owner appears to leave seat, yell at refs during matchup with Thunder (VIDEO)

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The Houston Rockets are in control of their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and were up 3-1 heading into Tuesday night’s Game 5 in Texas.

That did not stop what appeared to be Rockets owner Leslie Alexander from complaining to NBA referees. During gameplay. While standing directly next to an official, some 20 feet from his courtside seat.

Via Twitter:

Congratulations are in order to Bill Kennedy, the official in question, for keeping his cool. Or perhaps he just was so surprised by some dude yelling in his ear from right next to him he didn’t know how to react.

Brandon Jennings no fan of the NBA’s new Awards Ceremony event

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Come June 26, Drake will be on stage in New York City, handing out the NBA’s awards — Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and so on. (We need to set an under/over on the number of players Drake hugs that night.)

The NFL does it. The NHL does it. And the NBA has decided to follow suit with a broadcast awards ceremony where everything — except the All-NBA Team — will be announced that night. It’s happening because the broadcast partners want it.

Brandon Jennings is not a fan. Here is what the Wizards’ point guard Tweeted:

Jennings took down a Tweet that said if he had won the award he would have wanted to get it with the organization and his teammates around him. (And no, he knows he’s not winning the award. If you were going to put that in the comments be more creative.)

There’s something to what Jennings is saying. The NBA award roll out was awkward at times in previous years, but it gave the fans a chance to celebrate the awards with their favorite player. Now, everyone will watch it unfold on television from a ballroom in NYC. That feels a little colder. Also, we will get to see the reaction of those who don’t win (particularly this season, where several players can make a strong case for MVP).

It will be interesting to see how this first year goes, and how the league tweaks it going forward. The more than two month gap between the end of the regular season and the awards could feel a bit awkward. But we’re not going to knock the idea until we’ve seen it in action.

Portland GM makes it official, Festus Ezeli will not be back with team next season

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This season the Portland Trail Blazers found their center of the future (and the present) in Jusuf Nurkic.

Which makes the next step fairly obvious: Portland will not pick up the option on Festus Ezeli for next season, GM Neil Olshay confirmed at the team exit meetings Tuesday.

Portland signed Ezeli on what they thought was a great contract (one-year, $7.4 million, with a team option for the second year) because he was coming off knee surgery last summer. However, Ezeli was never healthy, needed a second surgery, and never got on the court. After taking it slow over last summer he practiced with the team twice in mid-October, there was more swelling, so he pulled back.

This summer Ezeli will not draw any guaranteed money from teams, but some teams may take a look at him. Athletic bigs get a lot of chances in the NBA.

Gordon Hayward will play for Jazz in Game 5 without minutes restriction

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Gordon Hayward has averaged 20.5 points a game in these playoffs — and that includes a 40 point outburst in Game 3 — but what has been more impressive is he has done it efficiently, with a true shooting percentage of 61.1. While Joe Johnson and others have stepped up, Utah will need Hayward’s shot creation if they are going to win this series.

They will have it Tuesday night in Game 5.

After missing the second half of Game 4 due to food poisoning (he tried to play but was ineffective in the first half), he is back and ready to go this time around.

So is Rudy Gobert. The Jazz will be at full health, while the Clippers remain without Blake Griffin for the remainder of the playoffs.

Having those two back is a boost for the Jazz, they need to score more consistently against the Clippers, but the bigger key will be defensively trying to deal with Chris Paul on the pick-and-roll. He has been masterful this series, and the Jazz need to keep him in check to give their offense a chance.