Wednesday And-1 links: Iman Shumpert has a new Knicks anthem

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• That would be Iman Shumpert’s new Knicks anthem. Good to see he’s keeping busy during knee rehab.

Beer prices are going up at NBA arenas. Hey, those poor struggling owners have to make a buck somewhere.

• Austin Rivers has struggled as a rookie, and as they note At The Hive, not in an “oh, all rookies are going to struggle” kind of way. They break it down and it’s not pretty.

• Matt Bonner in a high school dunk contest. Need I say more.

• Kevin Love was a great interview on TrueHoopTV.

• Ben Wallace says he is not retired and wants to play agin.

• The NBA has had 1 billion — yes, with a “B” — YouTube hits on its channel.

• Check out the decline in the number of 50 point games by players in recent years. Tom Ziller tries to figure out why.

• Everyone in Dallas sounds like the old Lakers — “Derrick Fisher really brings some intangibles to the team and the game.” I think he has brought 30.3 percent shooting and bad defense so far. But the Mavs are 4-1 in their last five and Fish will get credit for that. Deserved or not.

• Hedo Turkoglu remains out indefinitely. A nation shrugs.

A great look by Tom Ziller at the divided Maloof family and what that ultimately means in Sacramento.

• A fun Q&A with the legendary Hall of Famer Bob Pettit, talking Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and more.

Could the Miami Heat bring in Eddie House? Stranger things have happened, but not many.

• Some interesting looks at the potential design for a new Seattle arena.

• The Bobcats cut Cory Higgins. His father Rod is a Bobcats executive. Awkward.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.