Playoffs 2003 – Eastern conference recap
As we enter into the Conference Finals let’s take a look back at the teams that made it and those that didn’t.
Indiana Pacers— Lost to Boston 4-2
Everyone’s putting the blame for their loss on Isiah Thomas and deservedly so. They’d be better off with him running the point rather then running the bench. Reggie Miller didn’t help much with his shooting problems, but Jermaine O’ Neal did show that in the right environment (San Antonio???) he can be a huge playoff contributor.
Offseason Goals- Thomas has gotta go and then they can try and convince Gary Payton that midwest life is right for him as well as get Jermaine O’ Neal to re-sign.
New Orleans Hornets— Lost to Philadelphia 4-2
They lose to a 76ers team that they had little hope of beating do to injuries and general lack of offence, and so they fire their coach who did a great job considering everything he was up against. Indiana would be smart here to step up and sign Paul Silas. Baron Davis and Jamal Mashburn are a pretty good combo but when neither of them can stay healthy, David Wesley and Jamal Magloire are not up to the task of carrying a playoff team.
Offseason Goals- Davis and Mashburn need to work hard to stay in the line-up, and ownership needs to show a commitment toward winning and get a coach in that will get the fans excited. Otherwise this could start looking like Charlotte again real quick.
Milwaukee Bucks— Lost to New Jersey 4-2
The Bucks got a pretty good team if the league didn’t have anyone over 6’7″ in it. But they do and so the bucks continue to struggle to get any inside scoring or defense, Anthony Mason and Joel Pyrzbilla are not going to get it done, so no matter how well Payton, Cassell, Thomas, Des Mason, and Redd play the Bucks won’t go very far.
Offseason Goals- George Karl will try and get Payton to re-sign, though his services will be highly sot after this off-season. The Bucks need to draft or sign a low post threat that can score the ball.
Orlando Magic— Lost to Detroit 4-3
Everyone this year jumped on the McGrady bandwagon and with just cause he had a great year, but he also has not gotten his team deep into the NBA Playoffs. Drew Gooden and Gordan Giricek were nice additions but much like Milwaukee, Orlando needs some interior scoring and rebounding.
Offseason Goals- Management has been trying for years to spend their cap space on signing a big man, maybe this year they actually get one. The Grant Hill saga has got to end, Hill’s career is over.
Boston Celtics— Beat Indiana 4-2
Lost to New jersey 4-0
If only Antione Walker would jack up a few less three’s and post somebody up Boston would be so much better. In a couple years when the flashiness of McGrady wears off people will realize that Paul Pierce is a much more complete player. Two problems seem to plague the East, no big man or no point guard, Boston has both problems but most noticeably is their point guard play. Tony Delk is a great back-up combo guard, but not a starting point guard.
Offseason Goals- Some how get rid of Vin Baker and his “what we’re they thinking” contract. Find a point guard, any point guard.
Philadelphia 76ers— Beat New Orleans 4-2
Lost to Detroit 4-2
This team the past few years has been see how many Allen Iverson can score and play some tough defense. That was suppose to have changed this year with Keith Van Horn, Derrick Coleman, and Aaron McKie all stepping up. Unfortunately for the 76ers it didn’t quite work, and now Larry Brown has re-signed and not only do they need to find some scoring to compliment Iverson they need a new coach to run the whole show.
Offseason Goals- Find a coach with experience, Jeff Van Gundy would be a nice fit here. Attempt to find some low post scoring and a outside shooter for the offence.
Detroit Pistons— Beat Orlando 4-3
Beat Philadelphia 4-2
Lost to New Jersey 4-0
What a lucky break for the Pistons, their the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference and they get the #2 pick in the draft. They also got swept and humiliated by the Nets, but with Darko Milicic coming aboard for the next few years, get use to having the Pistons near the top in the East. Couple really good things happened despite the loss to New Jersey, Billups showed he’s a clutch go-to-guy, Tayshaun Prince emerged big time, and Ben Wallace still looks really cool with the ‘fro blown out.
Offseason Goals- Draft Milicic, maybe add another outside shooter, and that’s it, Detroit is in good position for the future.
New Jersey Nets— Beat Milwaukee 4-2
Beat Boston 4-0
Beat Detroit 4-0
The 2-time, back-to-back, Eastern Conference Champions. How they did it I still don’t know. Other then Jason Kidd running really precise fast breaks and a few Kenyon Martin dunks their offence is very poor. Kerry Kittles and Richard Jefferson have not done anything except be inconsistent, and their bench has not been as good as it has in the past, not to mention the paper weight like play of Dikembe Mutombo. Despite all that they do find a way to win, give Byron Scott alot of credit for his coaching, and Kidd for running the offence very effectively. Will they be able to not get swept this year in the Finals remains to be seen, but this team with be hard pressed to take out San Antonio or Dallas.
Offseason Goals- Since their offseason hasn’t started yet it’s hard to say, but the obvious big thing is getting Jason Kidd to re-sign. If Kidd leaves this team, unless they get Payton, they’ll be heading back to the Jersey Swamp in a whole lot of trouble.