End of Season Power Rankings Part V: Final Four
4. Milwaukee (eliminated by Nba Champs in 6, reached Conference Finals)
Regular season: 60-22
Playoffs: 4-0, 4-1, 2-4
Quote of the year:
Giannis Antetokounmpo: “It might take one year, it might take five years, but we are going to get this done and we are close.”
For a team with a lot of guns, it’s often that you find complacency, and to me, it’s truly what that quote represents. Yes, you have a seven-foot behemoth who can bury threes in Splash Mountain; yes, you’re only one of three teams with multiple All-Stars this season thanks to Khris Middleton; yes you have Phoenix’s best player from two years ago in Eric Bledsoe; plus Nikola Mirotic, George Hill, Malcolm Brogdon and Ersan Ilyasova. Yes, you’re deep. But complacency is exactly what got you “swept” by Toronto in the last 4 games you played in 2019. If you can tie back in your Free Agents (one of them just bought a house in the state anyway), if the Bledshow can get a jump shot, this team might be sort of good next year. But without the heart that many other playoff teams displayed this year, any one adversity will quite possibly crush this team.
3. Golden State (eliminated by Nba Champs in 6, reached Nba finals)
Regular season: 57-25
Playoffs: 4-2, 4-2, 4-0, 2-4
Quote of the year:
Steve Kerr [on the 7 technicals limit for players in the post season before serving a suspension]: “I’ll never understand the rule. Whether you go lose four games in the first round or play 25 games and you go to the Finals, it’s the same technical fouls that lead to a suspension.”
What? That’s your quote of the year? Yes, that exemplifies the Golden State Babies. This team just feels so entitled that they reek of it. The Grandest Ironies of them all hit this team, and it boils down to Draymond Green telling Kevin Durant “We don’t need you” and this quote above.
To Steve Kerr: by your logic, the league needs to give you 25 players and not 12, because you play longer and injuries hit you more. And by the same logic, your salary cap is twice the standard, because other teams get swept by you in 3 rounds prior to the Finals. By the grandest of ironies: (1) Draymond Green had to shut up the entire Game 6 of the NBA Finals because he was one tech away from being suspended from a potential Game 7, which didn’t happen because (2) Klay Thompson tore his ACL this very same game, which was just 1 day after (3) Kevin Durant’s Achilles surgery on the bug that caused him to miss 9 of his team’s final 11 games of 2019.
It’s very unfortunate, because “the other Warriors” put up a valiant effort. From Kevon Looney’s stroke of good luck of only injuring his collarbone twice, DeMarcus Cousins finding the fountain of youth in Game 6, Andre Iguodala suddenly sinking 8 3s in the finals after missing all his attempts just in the prior round, to even Jonas Jerebko contributing, these guys did their job with pride when others thought they should just roll over and die.
It will be a LONG year for Golden State next year.
Maybe Steve Kerr wants to start a petition on a higher salary cap for his team, with all the injuries, eh?
2. Philadelphia (eliminated by Nba Champs in 7)
Regular season: 51-31
Playoffs: 4-1, 3-4
Brett Brown [on how Jimmy Butler extended their season]: That was James Butler. That was the adult in the room.”
Jimmy Butler: “My name isn’t James. It’s literally Jimmy”
This may be quite a controversial placement for Philly's Process Team, but if I own the Sixers, my only thought about evaluating Brett Brown is simple: if Kawhi's Game 7 walk-off didnt go thru, WE could have been NBA champs. Thats not to say 2019-2020 is gonna be a walk in the park - Ben Simmons still has no jumper, Embiid is just as likely to "pull a Durant" and miss significant time in 2020 due to injury, and Harris and Butler, their arguably two most consistent and reliable players, could be suited up in a different uniform next year.
But this group was the only team to take the eventual NBA Champs to the very brink. No one can take that away from them.
Regular season: 58-24
Playoffs: 4-1, 4-3, 4-2, 4-2
Toronto did what Cleveland was supposed to do last year: win vs the dynasty by having the best player play for their team. Too bad for Cleveland that "the other Cavs" arent nearly as good as "the other Raptors".
While people will question (quite hypocritically) how Toronto won the NBA Championship because Kevin Durant played 15 minutes in the Finals and Klay Thompson missed Game 3 and the last quarter of Game 6 (all the while turning a blind eye to how Kawhi Leonard was totally injured by GSW's Zaza Pachulia in the 2017 playoffs, and just a year later, escaped Houston after CP3 injured his hamstring), there is no doubt that the response of Toronto's Lowry, Siakam, Ibaka and VanVleet in 2019's final game is something only champions could do.
Enough has been written on how every piece of this team had a role in taking the crown. And so much more will be made out of where Kawhi will sign next year.
I will echo the sentiment of many others: if this was just one year, it was worth the price.