NBA Journey Week Twenty-Three: Are We There Yet?

The 2017-18 NBA season has now entered the home stretch of the regular season. There will be scores of articles about questioning good teams, declaring individual award races over, and the bickering over true shooting percentage and defensive rating. There is also a feeling surrounding this season that we're headed towards the inevitability of a Golden State Warriors championship. Thus, some of the fun is met with a bit of gloom. Cheer up, lover of hoops. Basketball is a sport in which the journey of the season is just as important as its destination in the Finals. Here at TSFJ, we're going to highlight some things and people the basketball realm can be excited for between now and June

Song of The Week: Kanye West featuring Paul Wall and GLC - "Drive Slow" (Not safe for the kiddies)

Back before the All-Star break, we had reached a point in the journey where it seemed players were growing slightly agitated with the idea of playing basketball all the time. Annoyance spilled onto the court like wasted gas, and the intensity of competition was the spark that caused tempers to flare. As the playoffs are a couple weeks away, the restlessness builds again. We can see the exit signs. The playoffs are a few miles more down the road. But even as we know that, we must ask...

Are we there yet?

Of course we aren't. The postseason has a designated start date and we aren't even in the same month as that date (and my birthday). As the word almost becomes a more accurate adjective describing there, our anticipation builds. The entire basketball realm is ready for the playoffs.

But understand what the milestone of reaching the postseason portion of our journey means. Yes, the basketball is more intense. Emotions narrow to laser-like focus on overcoming the better teams in one's conference in hopes of competing against the other conference's winner for the right to raise the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June. One team wins sixteen games over four rounds and the other fifteen suffer four losses to one opponent before getting those cumulative victories. The playoffs have been responsible for timeless basketball memories.

Let's also remember that with the postseason comes a descent. Sure, multiple games will be in for dozens of consecutive days. Then, there will be off days with no basketball. Fewer and fewer teams will be playing as we move through the spring months. There won't be as many basketball highlights to sift through. Soon, only two teams will remain and the schedule will go from three nationally televised games in a day to three in one week.

While teams like the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns probably are not bound for the playoffs, we should enjoy being able to watch all 30 teams while we can. (AP Photo/Matt York)

And then there are the players. Yes, most of our upper echelon talent will be in the postseason. But there will be some big names no longer playing. Blake Griffin, Lou Williams, Nikola Jokic, Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard are just a few names that could miss the postseason. With nearly half of the teams missing the playoffs, we lose nearly half of the collection of talent. Granted, our best of the best, if healthy, will be present. But there will be a long drought of months until we see most of them play again.

Eventually, the 2017-18 NBA season will be a thing of history.

So while we anticipate what we imagine will be better and more competitive basketball, understand that by drawing closer to our destination, we draw closer to the end of the season. Let's enjoy what we have while we have so much of it.

So We Blurb!

  • Dwight Howard had the first 30-point, 30-rebound game since 2010 (remember when we didn't laugh at Kevin Love?) and the first such game for a player at least 30 years old since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the late 70s. Before Kevin Love became the great player we deemed a joke, Dwight Howard was that for us at the beginning of this decade. Yes, the sentiment around him is that he never reached full potential, but a truly great player deserves to be celebrated, especially late in his career.
  • Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Randivé addressed the home crowd after a game was disrupted by peaceful protesters. The protesters were bringing awareness to the police killing an unarmed man. His words seemed genuine and kind, and gave off a much better vibe that most other sports owners present in regards to our social climate. This is what I mean by sports and its establishments joining the fight against social injustices like police brutality. Thank you, Mr. Randivé.
  • This week's Hooper Appreciation Blurb goes to Chicago Bulls guard Kris Dunn. Now, the Bulls have a long way to go before they're a playoff-caliber team, but Dunn appears to have stabilized their backcourt. After a rocky rookie season in Minnesota under former Bulls coach Tom Thibadeau and being part of the trade with Chicago for Jimmy Butler, Kris Dunn seems to be trending upward as a player, averaging six assists a game on a team with limited talent.
  • Bonus blurb: Jamal Murray dunked on JJ Redick.

Twenty-three weeks in, and our journey continues. Happy NBA, folks.

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