PER Diem: Hope For West's Hopeless
We've been running teams' Playoff Odds for a while now, and fans' reactions have been all over the map -- depending mostly on the teams for which they root.
Fans of good teams chortle at the prospect of their teams having, say, "only" an 87 percent probability of making the postseason when it really should be 101 percent, or chafe at the other teams that project to end up with as good or better records.
Fans of bad teams, on the other hand, tend to send me glass-half-full messages. The most common? Those would be the ones I get from followers of the league's most desperate clubs, seeing their 0.5 percent odds and asking, "So you're saying there's a chance?"
Millman's Right Angles: Tricks Of NBA
Eastern Conference Best, Worst Storylines
Which upbeat story deserves more attention?
Although the Bucks' offense has been miserable all season, they've been able to continue to play the stingy defense that led them to the playoffs last season. Milwaukee is fifth in the league in defensive efficiency, and in the 13 games Andrew Bogut has played, it has allowed 100 points in regulation to only the Lakers, the league's No. 1-ranked offensive team.
What downbeat story deserves more attention?
From "executive of the year" to "what he was thinking isn't clear" is the fall John Hammond has experienced during the past seven months. The early returns on his acquisitions of Drew Gooden, Corey Maggette and Keyon Dooling and the re-signing of John Salmons have not been strong.Of that group, only Gooden is shooting better than 40 percent for a Bucks team that currently sits a very disappointing six games under .500.
Don't Panic, Lakers Fans
I've never been critical of the stereotypical Los Angeles fans who arrive at the Staples Center toward the end of the first quarter of Lakers games and don't get to their seats until the second quarter.
I always took this as a sign of their basketball knowledge and an understanding that the first quarter of an NBA game is often inconsequential to the outcome.
Arriving at a Lakers game in time for player introductions is like showing up to the movie theater in time for the previews. Sure, they might be entertaining, but they really have no bearing on the main attraction you came to see.
Cavs Fans: Blame The Owner
A week has passed, and life has moved on for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat since the Earth stopped for LeBron's return to Cleveland.
The Heat have won five straight ahead of Wednesday's game at Utah and likely feel emboldened to take their place back in the championship conversation, even if they have yet to actually earn that role. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers -- losers of four straight by margins of 19, 28, 34 (to Minnesota!) and 10 points before Tuesday night's game at Philadelphia -- look worse than ever, shorn of seven years of swagger and of national interest now that the Big Guy is gone and the Big Game has passed. Thanks to that performance last week in which hardly any of them showed up when everyone was watching, they're shorn, too, of the chance to gain revenge on the one who scorned them. Ten of Cleveland's 13 losses have been by 10 or more points. After seven years of lurking near a title, the Cavaliers have become an exceptionally bad team in a league full of them.