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Knicks fan’s guide to the NBA playoffs: Western Conference

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Who do we hate? Who do we tolerate?

Hello dear Poster & Toasters!

We here in the P&T War Room have been pretty wrapped up in all things coachy and have maybe not given you the top notch playoff coverage you were yearning for. Oh well. The Knicks are out. The season is over. Forget about it, kids. It’s coachtown.

Just kidding just kidding! I would never do you like that. It’s the playoffs, man! Basketball! So with no further ado, a Knick fan’s guide to the 2018 playoffs.

Matt Miranda and I will be breaking up into West and East and give you a Knicks-centric view of each team, as well as the KnickPick (which is pretty much guaranteed to lose. Hey-o!).

—China Parmalee

West

(1) Houston Rockets

CP: Well well well, Houston. I see you. How many times are we going to flirt like this, Rockets? Somehow it seems like our fates are linked.

There was that thing that happened in 1994, of course. Memories of that carried over for years, leading to that epic preseason game that had not one but two fights. Then you took our Jeff van Gundy from us and then you took Jeremy fucking Lin and I’m Chinese-American and that really hurt but at the same time I became sort of a fan because Jeremy Lin (and Yao Ming, obviously). And Chrive! And then to top it off you took our dear sweet Pablo. Basta.

And now? Now you’re coached by our old friend Mike D’Antoni, and even if I don’t love your roster, you’re kicking ass and I gotta say that I’m kinda rooting for you.

MM: Last summer at a drive-in theatre in Calverton, Kentucky, I saw the Captain Underpants movie. It was good, but what matters basketball-wise is the film’s villain, Professor Pee-Pee Diarrheastein Poopypants, Esquire. For most of the picture he’s your typical German-accented mad scientist bent ridding the world of all laughter because people have laughed at his name his whole life. The climactic battle features an enormous Turbo Toilet 2000 powered by rotten school food leftovers. What matters, basketball-wise, is that the Mike D’Antoni Rockets are the giant Turbo Toilet 2000, and they must be stopped or we’re all dead.

D’Antoni’s Rockets are a performance-enhanced monstrous version of his high-octane Phoenix teams 10 years ago. They’re led by James Harden and Chris Paul, two guys who, were this soccer, would be praised and panned as masters of “the dark arts.” They push the limits and then some. If they’re not tricking the referees, they’re crying to them. Houston’s whole style of play is a way of gaming the game. Please, God, spare us a Rocket title this year. Imagine what the rest of the NBA would look like if this cheat-code style of play is successful. It’s like watching reality turn into binary code right in front of you. Where’s the fun in fifty reminders a night that 3>2? Where’s the flavor?

As Knick fans, especially, this is a sea change to rise up against. Kristaps Porzingis led the team in shots taken from 10-16 feet; Frank Ntilikina was third in attempts from 16 feet to the arc. These are New York’s two big hopes going forward. If their midrange habitat is abandoned as the entire league goes NBA Jam!, we’re looking at a joyless, laugh-less future.

(8) Minnesota Timberwolves

CP: The TWolves are a cornucopia of Knickdom! Not just forever 6MotY Jamal Crawford, but Cole “World” Aldrich! He of the missing tooth! Woo! OAKAAK!

Wait? What’s that you say? There’s another former Knick on the Wolves? Oh, right. Derrick Rose. Well, that explains why they getting swept!

MM: The bitter tears of Timberwolves fans when their season ends will be as sweet nectar to my hateful tongue, particularly the children’s tears, too young and dumb to know their team had no chance of advancing. Why such hate?

Since 2006, the Wolves have picked ahead of the Knicks in every draft. Every. Single. One. When you’re a poor family, and you got nothing going for you, and nobody cares, and you see another poor family in your neighborhood that got nothing going for them, only they go to church or something so people always coming around bringing them food and charity and trying to help them get back on their feet, and they keep screwing up every single chance (or, ya know, shamelessly tanking), you gonna feel some hate in your heart. The only time in those dozen years New York picked ahead of Minnesota was 2012, when neither team had a first-round pick. The Knicks took Konstantinos Papanikolaou, nicknamed — no joke — “the Greek Army Knife.” Slow. Clap.

KnickPick: Rockets

(2) Golden State Warriors

CP: I used to date a guy who was a long time and long suffering Warriors fan. He used to wax so nostalgic about the days of Run TMC and that beautiful brief shining moment when Webber and Sprewell were together - and the Warriors had been so sad and crappy ever since - that I started to really root for them. 15 years ago.

But man, I got nothing to say about these herbs. OK, no that’s a lie — I’ve got one thing to say: Steph Curry was never going to be a Knick. He was never ours. Stop thinking that. Also, even if he had fallen one more spot, we would have traded him before he became a star. Facts.

MM: I love the Warriors. I wish Steve Kerr had come to New York, and I don’t care what anyone has to say about the roster he would have inherited. I will always believe he would have been the right man for the Knicks. I love Steph. I love Klay. I love Kevin Durant with Steph and Klay. If all the Warriors joined the Knicks tomorrow, Draymond Green would own this city’s heart by tomorrow night. I love the uniforms. I love their two-way excellence. I love seeing them run riot. I love that in 2012 they won 34% of their games and three years later were champs. This year the Knicks won 35% of their games. 2021 FOR THE WIN!!!

(7) San Antonio Spurs

CP: Weird to see them here, huh? Another Texas team that ruined our dreams. Look, without my boyfriend Kawhi I don’t really care. They’ve had plenty of success, all good things come to an end, whatever. It’s better to have played and won championships than to have never won championships at all, or something. Sucks that they had to draw the Warriors.

Hi Kawhi! How you doin’?

MM: I can’t get past how sadly I feel for Gregg Popovich losing his wife this week. I don’t know why that is, but it’s true. You got someone you love nearby as you’re reading this? Get up and give them a hug. A kiss. Whatever works for y’all. We’ll be here waiting when you get back. Go. Do it.

KnickPick: Spurs

(3) Portland Trailblazers

CP: Honestly I have no opinion about this team but I do tend to want them to succeed. Rasheed Wallace will always be a Trailblazer to me, and Sheed is great. Also, I like blazers. And blazing.

MM: A couple summers ago I visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time. My fiancee was born there; we hung out in Seattle a few days, spent about a week in Washington (hands-down the most beautiful place I have ever seen), then went down to Oregon for a while. I was super excited to see Portland, but we were only there for like two hours before our flight back, and it was cloudy, and we got in some silly argument about something, and the point is most of my memories of Portland are walking around a mall alone for a while. These Trail Blazers are no more memorable than a lonely walk around the mall. But if they’re swept maybe they unload Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum, and maybe one of them ends up on the Knicks and is awesome, so there’s that. There’s pretty much just that.

(6) New Orleans Pelicans

CP: Anthony Davis is really good! New Orleans is a totally awesome and fun place!

Irrelevant!

The Pellies are infected by the taint of Rajon Rondo and therefore they must FAIL.

MM: This has legit happened at least three times: I’m watching a New Orleans game, and someone who doesn’t follow the NBA that closely walks in, sees the score, and goes “New Orleans...?” I always die a little death before I answer. It’s embarrassing for everyone once you say “Pelicans.” Hey. NBA. This team is good. It deserves a good name. Please give them one. At least give them a name that’s cool when it’s shortened. “Knickerbockers” is a nice name to visit, but most people don’t wanna live there. “Knicks” is for the people. “Pels/Pellies” is not. “Pelicans” and “Puerto Ricans” are just a few letters apart. Why not honor the people? Bring attention to the multiple humanitarian crises going on RIGHT NOW? That’s no more arbitrary than the American government abandoning millions of non-white voting-ineligible citizens in their time of need.

KnickPick: Blazers

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder

CP: Yes, the Thunder have a famous ex-Knick. Yes, he had kind of a kind of controversial tenure with the team and it makes your feelings complicated. Yes, it was weird but c’mon, he was ours. OAKAAK!

Long live Corey Brewer!

Ah, *checks notes* oops...

Carmelo.

Carmelo. Car. Me. Lo. (He was Melo, plain Melo at home, standing six foot eight in one sock.) It’s weird, right? Do we love him, do we hate him? Do we want him to win or nah? I don’t even know. He’s simply Carmelo Anthony.

So yeah, you do you, but me? I’m pulling for OKC and I’m happy that Melo and Raymond Felton are still together. Penguin! Fate has a sense of humor.

MM: My love for Carmelo is strong. My basketball hate for Russell Westbrook’s game may be stronger. He’s like a black hole, a powerful, irresistible force of nature that overwhelms everything around him; whatever miracles he comes in contact with exist only in relation to his insatiable gob. The greatest testament to Durant’s greatness is that it was able to flower alongside Westbrook’s. I see Paul George leaving OKC this summer, Westbrook being pissed, the Thunder panicking, and a certain savvy Brooklyn-born digital athlete opting-out, re-signing for more money and professing his love the 47th state.

(5) Utah Jazz

CP: My grandma used to live in Salt Lake and my uncle Charley was a big Jazz fan (although his real passion was the Lady Utes) and so the Jazz are cool. Can’t help but feel guilty, as a New Yorker, every time I see Thabo Sefelosha. Sorry about the NYPD, dude! We’re trying to do something about it!

MM: I went to college in Buffalo. When I tell people that they act like I said I used to live in Hell. Yes, Buffalo is cold. There’s a lot of snow. You know what else there is? A lack of that particular strain of asshole you find any- and everywhere it isn’t cold and snowy. Buffalo will never be a hotspot to visit, but it’s fun as hell living there and uncovering its parochial delights.

I’ve always assumed Utah is the Buffalo of NBA cities. People shit-talk it; it’s just assumed anyone who’s drafted or traded there is on the highway to hell. But Utah, free from so many people, so many of whom suck, is a place where Joe Ingles happens. Where man-bun Ricky Rubio happens. Where (swallows hard) Donovan Mitchell happens. The Jazz are underdogs, they play a (nowadays) radical style, and JazzFanDonny was always a cool commenter. I’m rooting for Utah. The haters? Get thee behind me.

KnickPick: Thunder

Next up: the East (is big, man), where all the hatred flows.