I’ve been thinking a lot about a discussion the TNT guys had before Game 7 of Denver’s first round series against San Antonio. At this point, the game is over, and Denver, the two seed, beat San Antonio, the seven seed. But their conversation has stuck with me.
Both Shaq and Kenny said all of the pressure was on Denver since they were the number two seed trying to fend off a number seven seed in the first round. Chuck pushed back a little bit to no avail, although I have a feeling Kenny had some thoughts leaning towards Chuck but just didn’t have the time or words to get it out. Had I been there, I would have sided with Chuck.
Yes, Denver was the two seed, but they are a super young two seed that exploded onto the scene this year having missed the playoffs entirely last year1. There’s no precedent for them and they have a long future of playoff basketball ahead of them2.
San Antonio on the other hand basically has a coach in Pop and a system, which gurantees success to some extent, or at the very least has a track record which clearly speaks for itself. If we evaluate the pressure the Spurs were under: they are an older team with an older strategy, as they rely on the mid-range jumper in a time where analytics have all but eliminated the mid-range from other teams arsenals. Not to mention the fact one of the narratives throughout this season and last was that Pop might be looking to retire after next season. The clock is ticking.
The last thing the point out is no one predicted the Nuggets would make any noise in the playoffs. Yes, most people, but not all, picked the Nuggets to beat the Spurs, but after that it seemed to be a toss-up. Every writer and analyst seemed to think the Nuggets were this year’s Trailblazers. Great in the regular season, but nothing more than that. With no playoff experience to speak of3, in a very competitive Western Conference, all signs pointed that direction.
I guess all I really wanted to say is Shaq and Kenny are silly for ignoring all of the factors surrounding this and only looking at the seeding, when in reality they were only seperated by six games in the standings.