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Patrick Hruby

Atlantic Sports Roundtable: did the NBA lockout ruin this year's playoffs?

The lockout-abbreviated NBA season was akin to a lukewarm shower: better than nothing, but deeply unsatisfying. At least to me. In the latest Atlantic Sports Roundtable, we discuss wether a sloppy, injury-laden regular season means the playoffs are devalued:

Patrick Hruby: ... the NBA lockout wreaked havoc with the league's regular rhythms: From a belated Christmas Day opening to the ongoing playoffs, we've witnessed bad, disjointed basketball, a ridiculously compressed schedule (three games in three nights only works for the Harlem Globetrotters) and a rash of injuries to stars such as Dwight Howard, Jeremy Lin, and reigning MVP Derrick Rose, some of which have been blamed on the work stoppage. (Sorry, Amare Stoudamire, but breaking glass in the case of a non-emergency can't be pinned on NBA owners' desire to up their BRI income). And all of this has me worried. Worried that the league is on the verge of crowning a bogus champion, akin to the 1999 San Antonio Spurs, winners of what Grantland's Bill Simmons - in his full obsessive-compulsive, list-making ?quien es mas macho? sportswriting glory—calls "the lamest NBA title ever" ...

Jake Simpson: ... [Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma City] ... that's three quality teams, Patrick. Three teams that probably would have won 58-plus games this season had the lockout not happened. Any of these three teams would be a worthy champion in a non-"lame" season. And that's not even mentioning the Bulls, who were a lock for a 60-plus wins if they had a healthy Derrick Rose ... the '99 playoffs were underwhelming because the league was in a Jordan hangover and because Allan Houston hit a lucky shot. This year, there are teams worth watching and deserving of the Larry O'Brien trophy. Even though the Heat eliminated my beloved Knicks, that's reason enough for me to keep watching ...

Hampton Stevens: ... the question, like last year, is who can stop the Heat? Not the deflowered Bulls. Not the Pacers, either. LeBron's shooting may wilt late in big games, but his defense won't. James should have no problem shutting down Granger, and I've a tough time seeing Boston or Philly stopping Miami's Big Three either. The Spurs sure could, though. They are the smartest team in the NBA, Jake, and not just the devastating plod of that pick-and-roll ...

Read the full article at the Atlantic online