by Kevin McCormack
Each day until the end of the NBA Finals, we’ll be taking a look at the conventional wisdom of the moment — which team is currently the favorite to win it all, and which team should be ashamed to still be putting on their jerseys.
Here’s how it looks on the morning of Wednesday, May 11.
Start planning the parade:
It’s a tale of two series in the West. The Mavs dispatched the Lakers with relative ease while the OKC-Memphis series has all the makings of a seven-game classic. A potential Game 7 in Oklahoma would be played on Sunday, meaning that the West Finals couldn’t start until Tuesday, May 17 at the earliest — giving the Mavs a whopping nine days off since they sent Kobe and Co. to the golf course.
For a veteran team (I’m fairly certain Jason Kidd’s knees appreciate the week off), having the ability to rest, regroup and focus on the second half of the playoffs will be invaluable. Hey Cubes — cue the confetti!
Give it up already:
All Ball HQ is about two miles from Philips Arena, so we’re quite familiar with the basketball stylings of the Atlanta Hawks. And as a seasoned watcher of this team, let’s just say that it’s been a fun playoff run, but that run is about to end. And here’s the reason: Joe Johnson.
In case you forgot, the Hawks doled out a whopping $119 (!!) million to Johnson over the summer — a staggering sum of money for a player who you could argue isn’t among the 20 best players in the league. To make matters worse, consider the plight of 2014-15 Hawks. That’s when a 34-year-old Joe Johnson, in the final year of his massive deal, will be making $24.1 million. And if the CBA negotiations result in a hard cap, I hope the fans of Atlanta look forward to Joe Johnson and four guys from The Varsity taking the court each night.
This is all just a long way of saying that if the Hawks are to somehow win two straight games against the Bulls, they need Joe Johnson to start playing like he deserves that contract. Scoring only 15 points in a critical Game 5 just won’t cut it.