The Cavaliers Can’t Play Defense
This isn’t just a postseason storyline. This has been a storyline all season.
Cleveland was in bottom third in a multitude of telling defensive statistics in 2016-17’. Those being defensive rating, second chance points allowed, and fast break points allowed, after ranking in the top ten in each them last season.
This tells us a number of things. For one, it says that the Cavs can play upper echelon defense when they want to. Keyword: can. We can blame a lack of effort for their defensive struggles this year, and that’d be an accurate assessment. It’s undeniable that the Cavaliers have coasted through most of the season, especially on the defensive end. But bad effort leads to bad habits, and they may not be able to flip the switch in the postseason.
Either way, it’s definitely a storyline worth following.
Chris Paul is a Regular Season Player
The numbers say otherwise. They say that Chris Paul is just as good a player in the postseason as he is in the regular season. But the narrative says otherwise.
The narrative is that when the lights are the brightest in the playoffs, CP3 shrinks. And that’s based on nothing but his teams’ records in the postseason. A Chris Paul-led team has never made tube conference finals.
Of course, it has little to do with Paul himself. But that’s no matter. Until his team can rummage their way through the wild, wild west, the narrative will stand. So it’s worth following.
Steph Curry Isn’t a Closer
We all know why this is a thing. The infamous 3-1.
That notorious series led to a lot of storylines, the most notable being that Steph Curry isn’t a closer. And based just off that series, the tag is warranted.
In the 4th quarter of game 7, Curry put on one of the ugliest displays in recent memory. From a botched behind the back pass, to a plethora of bricked threes down the stretch, he was a shell of himself.
So it’s worth noting who takes the shots down the stretch for the Dubs. Do they still trust Curry in the postseason? Does he even trust himself? Because until he can prove himself on the biggest stage, the “choker” tag will stick with him, just like it did with a certain great of the past.
Oklahoma City Has No Depth
By just eyeballing the numbers, this storyline looks entirely true. And it might be. It’s at the heart of the Westbrook for MVP arguments.
After all, it took a herculean, 30-point triple double average from Russell Westbrook for the Thunder to even lock down the less than appealing 6-seed.
But in the postseason, depth is amplified. We’ll see just how much of it the Thunder have in their first round matchup against Houston.
Mike D’Antoni Can’t Win in the Playoffs
For as influential as Mike D’Antoni has been during his coaching career, postseason success isn’t something that he can stamp on his CV.
While he teams are usually some of the most up-tempo, exciting teams around, they can all too often be bunched into the same category. Teams that are strong against the weak, yet weak against the strong. Team that rely too much on the three. Teams that trade buckets all too frequently.
Unfortunately, this year’s Rockets look to fit that mold. We’ll see if their season ends as poorly as D’Antoni’s teams of the past have.