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My takeaways from the first round series:

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OKC beats Houston 4-2

This looked like it might be a sweep before Russell Westbrook went down. After the injury Kevin Durant was forced to shoulder much more of the scoring load. Losing their starting point guard probably quelled any aspirations of a Thunder title run, as some people have now realized that not only is Westbrook an positive impact player, but he also might (GASP!) make players around him better.

San Antonio beats the Lakers 4-0

The Spurs late season swoon, also known as playing possum, was erased in what turned out to be a complete dismantling of an overmatched Lakers squad. Los Angeles never stood a chance as they were riddled by injuries, also known as karma, to the effect of losing the top four guards in their rotation and eventually starting Andrew Goudelock at the point in the final game of a humiliating sweep.

Golden St. beats Denver 4-2

The Warriors stunned the Nuggets in the biggest upset of the first round. Although the Nuggets came in without their second leading scorer, Danilo Gallinari, they still boasted the NBA's best home record (38-3). Stephen Curry, who's becoming a bonafide star with each passing game, stepped up big time after the Warriors appeared to be in trouble after losing David Lee early in the series.

Memphis beats the Clippers 4-2

The Grizzlies overcame a 2-0 deficit to advance with a backdoor sweep of the Clippers. Parsimonious defense, bulwarked by a team effort on offense, once again triumphed over high flying theatrics. Los Angeles also played much of games five and six without star power forward Blake Griffin after the series was knotted at two games apiece.

Miami beats Milwaukee 4-0

Absolutely shocking.

New York beats Boston 4-2

Murmurs of a Boston comeback from a 3-0 deficit were silenced as the Knicks closed out the series with a fourth win while scoring 90 points or less. The offensively challenged defensively dominated series was punctuated by the statistically fascinating performances of J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony. The two combined to take 233 shots (making just 89 - .381) while distributing just 18 assists. One per 12.9 shots attempts. Just goes to show that selfish, me first basketball can win to some extent. It also proves that while there is no "I" in team, there is a "Melo" in megalomaniac.

Indiana beats Atlanta 4-2

The Pacers size and length proved too much for the Hawks, as Indiana overcame an embarrassing game three loss, 90-69 in Atlanta, by snapping a 13 game losing streak at Atlanta to close out the series. Paul George continued his ascendance to the ranks of the elite with an impressive series, including a game one triple double.

Chicago beats Brooklyn 4-3

The Bulls were barely able to suit five players, but still had the heart and mental fortitude, which Brooklyn apparently lacks, to overcome adversity and win a seventh game on the Nets home court. The litany of obstacles the Bulls faced along the way included no Derrick Rose (out), a hobbled Joakim Noah (heel injury), losing Kirk Hinrich (calf Bruise), losing Luol Deng (spinal tap) and a team flu that saw Taj Gobson playing through chills and Nate Robinson vomiting on the bench.

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The biggest thing that resonated with me was the extent of the injuries that sidelined key players in first round series. Many of those will spill over into the next round (and possibly beyond). Teams with a healthy roster should have a decided advantage moving forward....

I am also proud to announce that the Suns are undefeated since the playoffs started.

Now finally the standings:

Playoff_rankings_5

NashMV3 has the early lead, providing separation by finishing with the best score in the Western Conference. The Eastern Conference held much truer to form, as contestants averaged 8.8 per person compared to just 4.7 for the west. The mean score was 13.4 and the median was 14. The Solution had the dubious distinction of finishing last, by only picking one winner outside of the Heat and Thunder.

With the Suns’ season over and the offseason already in full swing as the team searches for a new general manager and a head coach, questions are aplenty. So instead of the traditional 5-on-5 to...

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Many people like their sports as a self-containing entity that does not infringe upon any of the social issues of the day. Yet sports aren’t played in a bubble, and throughout history they have...

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It’s easy to watch Stephen Curry drain threes in these NBA playoffs and wonder what he might look like in a Phoenix Suns uniform. After all, as Bob Young wrote for The Arizona Republic, it...

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Mcdonough

The Phoenix Suns would ideally be naming a new GM any day now. Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby wants to have someone in place before next week's NBA Draft Combine.

According to Paul Coro, he's down to two candidates: Bucks' Assistant GM Jeff Weltman, who was a finalist and reportedly Babby's preference in 2010, and Celtics' Assistant GM Ryan McDonough. Coro never writes anything without quality sourcing, so this is a good sign for those Suns fans who want the next Presti.

McDonough, a Boston-area native, got his start in the Celtics' video department and then scouted locally and abroad before becoming the assistant GM. His background is more in the mold of a Sam Presti, the Oklahoma City GM who was groomed in the San Antonio front office. McDonough does not have a player's background but has shown acumen for the advanced metrics that the Suns want to emphasize after making investments toward that in the past year. He is known for his work ethic and his parts in drafting Avery Bradley and making a draft-day trade with the Suns to get Rajon Rondo.

Suns fans want the next Sam Presti, but let's remember that there's only one Presti and for every Presti there's a lot of guys riding coattails that can't hang in the real job (like, ahem, the last guy we had).

McDonough clearly has a good resume, but he wasn't Boston's trigger man any more than Weltman has been Milwaukee's or Lance Blanks in San Antonio or Cleveland.

Still, these are two really good finalists. Either of them will start the Suns back up the hill from the valley they are currently mired in.

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