Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat

The Extra Pass: Winning regular season series doesn’t guarantee playoff success… but it doesn’t hurt

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Not long after Mason Plumlee shut down LeBron James at the rim and the Nets had swept the season series from the Heat — two teams that very well could meet in the second round of the playoffs — I put this out there:

Nets fans shouldn’t count on regular season success equaling postseason success against Miami.

The Nets won three of those games by one point and the fourth went into double overtime — it’s not like they dominated Miami. Besides, Miami has rested guys (Dwyane Wade did not play Tuesday). More than that, teams change in the playoffs, where the match ups and the ability to exploit them matter more.

But regular season success in a series does tend to point to post season winners.

In the past three seasons, the winners of the regular season series are 23-11 in playoff match ups. (Eight series were tied in the regular season, and this does not include the Finals where the teams only played each other twice.)

That’s far from a guarantee of victory, but it suggests that the better team tends to win out in the regular season and postseason. You would expect a one seed to have beaten an eight seed most of the time during the season, same with a two-seven matchup, and it does shake out that way.

Here are the 11 series in the last three years where the regular season was not a predictor of postseason success:

• 2013: Clippers took 3-of-4 from Grizzlies then lost in six in playoffs.
• 2013: Nuggets took 3-of-4 from Warriors, but without Danilo Gallinari were not the same team come the playoffs.
• 2012: Celtics took 3-of-4 from Heat then lost in seven to eventual champs in Eastern Conference Finals.
• 2012: Sixers had taken 2-of-3 from Celtics in regular season but lost in seven games in playoffs.
• 2012: Magic took 2-of-3 from Pacers in regular season when they still had Dwight Howard, lost in playoffs without him.
• 2012: Bulls took 2-of-3 from 76ers in regular season but after Derrick Rose blew out his knee fell in playoffs to Philly.
• 2012: Spurs took 2-of-3 from Thunder in regular season, lost in six in playoffs after being up 2-0.
• 2011: Bulls swept season series from Heat but Miami dominated Eastern Conference Finals 4-1.
• 2011: Celtics took 3-of-4 from Heat in regular season but Miami beat them in five games in playoffs.
• 2011: Lakers took 2-of-3 from Mavericks in the regular season but Dallas swept the playoff series.
• 2011: Grizzlies take 3-of-4 from Thunder in the regular season but the Thunder win Game 7 and take the playoff series.

You note injuries play a role here in a few cases — Derrick Rose’s knee and Dwight Howard’s back changed the course of their teams’ seasons in 2012.

But a lot of times it’s a matchup issue. Down 2-0 to the Spurs in 2012 the Oklahoma City Thunder figured out how to better use their athleticism on defense and went on to sweep that series (they have dominated the regular season series since then as well). Miami has done the same thing to Boston twice, having come together in the playoffs and using their superior athleticism to their advantage on that stage.

That’s a Boston team that had a lot of these Nets players on it. Which is why Brooklyn fans may not want to read too much into that sweep.

Kyle Lowry plays through injury in All-Star game, out for Raptors now

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 19:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors and Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors in action during the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center on February 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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Kyle Lowry participated in the 3-point contest. He played nearly 18 minutes in the All-Star game.

But when the Raptors played the Celtics in their first game after the break, Lowry never saw the court.

He was sidelined with a right wrist injury suffered in Toronto’s final game before the break.

Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet:

He can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened and didn’t even feel it during the game, but when Lowry woke up the next morning he knew something was up.

“Honestly, I thought I’d slept on it wrong — I thought it would go away,” Lowry said. “It was a little sore, but I paid no attention to it.”

Unconcerned at the time, Lowry didn’t tell anyone but his wife about the wrist pain, and took off for New Orleans where he participated in both the NBA’s three-point contest and all-star game this past weekend. He received some treatment in between his all-star appearances and iced his wrist on and off, but he still saw little cause for alarm.

“I thought over the break it would rest up and heal up,” Lowry said. “But it constantly stayed bothering me.”

“That’s a blow — that’s a huge blow for us,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said Friday evening after announcing the injury. “I don’t know how long he’s going to be out. But, no, it’s not a one-day thing.”

This is bad — bad for the Raptors and bad for Lowry’s reputation.

Lowry might have wanted to show his toughness by not running to the doctor for every bump or bruise. But this will also raise questions about whether he prioritized the shine of All-Star Weekend over the grind of Toronto’s season. Lowry is not a trained medical professional, so it’s understandable he misdiagnosed his injury. But he makes his living using his body, and his employer provides trained medical professionals to handle these types of things. Lowry’s bet that his wrist would heal over the break clearly backfired.

And now the Raptors pay the price. They traded for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker to make a push, but that’ll be much tougher without the the team’s best player. Toronto beat Boston without Lowry, but the Raptors are still fourth in the Eastern Conference. Passing the Wizards for third is paramount to avoiding a second-round matchup with the Cavaliers and getting a clearer path back to the conference finals.

Every game matters now for Toronto, and wherever blame falls, Casey nailed the outcome: Lowry’s injury is a huge blow.

Brandon Ingram posterizes Taj Gibson on alley-oop (video)

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The Lakers wouldn’t trade Brandon Ingram for DeMarcus Cousins, because they believe in Ingram (or because they couldn’t get on the same page about a deal, but let’s go with a belief in Ingram).

The Thunder traded for Taj Gibson because he provided, among other things, stellar rim protection.

One of those worked better than the other on this play.

Gordon Hayward dunks on Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker (videos)

Gordon Hayward (20), del Jazz de Utah, intenta un enceste ante Thon Maker (7) y Michael Beasley (9), de los Bucks de Milwaukee, en el duelo del viernes 24 de febrero de 2017, en Milwaukee. (AP Foto/Benny Sieu)
AP Foto/Benny Sieu
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Are we obligated to call Gordon Hayward “deceptively athletic”?

The Bucks have something special in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and they think they have something special in Thon Maker.

But Hayward jammed all over those two in the Jazz’s 109-95 win last night.

First, he got Antetokounmpo:

Then, he got Maker:

Report: Lakers working toward buyout with Jose Calderon; Warriors, Rockets interested

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Jose Calderon #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a called foul during the second half of a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on November 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Lakers took on the salary of Jose Calderon this year so they could get a couple second-round picks from the Bulls (Chicago got him from New York in the Derrick Rose trade), but even with the previous regime in Los Angeles the aging point guard was never part of the future.

As was expected, the Lakers are now talking about buying out the Spanish national and letting him head to a playoff team for a stretch run, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN that it’s not yet a certainty Calderon will secure his release from the Lakers in the coming days, but the sides are indeed discussing the options as Wednesday’s playoff eligibility deadline nears….

Sources say that Calderon, if he winds up hitting the open market, would instantly become a target for both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.

Cleveland may also have interest if their plan to land Deron Williams when he is bought out by Dallas goes awry.

Calderon, 35, was not part of the Lakers’ regular rotation, playing in just 24 games. He can still knock down a shot if he has space and can set his feet, and he still has a high hoops IQ and can see the floor, but his athleticism has faded, and that can leave him exposed. Particularly on defense.

Players are being waived now so they clear in time for teams to sign them by March 1, after that said players are not eligible for playoff rosters.

There are better players to hit the waiver wire in the coming days — D-Will, Andrew Bogut, Matt Barnes — but Calderon is going to land somewhere. He’d be a solid third point guard and veteran presence for a playoff run.