The NBA Playoffs will either make or break a team or a player. The postseason provides players and coaches the platform to expose their greatest strengths or the lowest weaknesses on the biggest stage. That is why the playoffs carry an incredible amount of emphasis, which draws in the utmost attention from basketball fans around the globe.
Early on in the first round, we have already witnessed exhibits of competitive, exciting, and entertaining basketball. There have been overtime thrillers, a few surprises, a miraculous four-point play, back-and-forth matchups, and LaMarcus Aldridge. Despite the rather great start to the 2014 postseason, there have been a few disappointments.
So who or what are those disappointing features in the playoffs so far? Let’s take a look.
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5. OFF-COURT DISTRACTIONS IN INDY
Conflict is an unavoidable matter in any workplace. The high-pressure environment of playoff basketball will test a team’s chemistry, commitment and personality. Teams are filled with players with egos, waiting for the right statement or situation to produce conflict. It’s inevitable, but containable. However, when reports start to surface that a fistfight between two teammates occurred in a practice prior to the start of the team’s first-round series, that has the potential to blow up in the team’s face.
This is what was reported earlier this week and involved the Pacers’ Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner. This off-the-court issue was ill-timed, and certainly had an effect on their Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on their home court. The Pacers are already playing through criticism from their downward spiral in the second half of the season, and are trying to find that chemistry that existed in the first half that propelled them into contender status.
On top of that, Frank Vogel is reportedly coaching to keep his job in Indy, which is not doing any favors for leadership concerns. Trailing in the series against the Hawks 2-1, Indiana cannot afford any off-court conflict or distraction to disrupt their identity. As stated above, the playoffs can make or break a team/player.
The 2013-14 regular season was plagued with injuries, as it appeared that no one was safe. Unfortunately, the playoffs are not immune to the injury bug either. The Clippers’ Chris Paul has a hamstring injury, but he is playing through it. The Rockets’ Patrick Beverley sprained the same knee that has a torn meniscus from March in Game 1 against the Blazers. The Bobcats’ Al Jefferson has a torn plantar fascia, which occurred in Game 1 against Miami. Both Beverley and Jefferson have been told that no further damage can occur by continuing to compete in the playoffs. Because it is the playoffs, both have opted to play through the pain.
However, it is disappointing because fans cannot witness each player perform at 100 percent. While Beverley seems to be more mobile on the court than Big Al, his assignment to defend and limit Damian Lillard is a monster of a challenge to tackle in an injured body.
Meanwhile, Jefferson is nothing but a warrior for playing on torn tissue on the bottom of his foot that is painful with every step he takes. He can barely run up and down the court, and his shooting efficiency has taken a hit. Despite telling his coach Steve Clifford that he thought his plantar fascia ripped a little more in Game 2, causing him to leave the floor for a portion of the game, he has made his presence known. It is just a shame for the fans to not witness what Jefferson could have fully done in this series.