On this week's Three Man Weave, Will Strickland and Duane Watson of TSN 1050's 1 On 1 With Will & Duane draft, NBA TV Canada's Mr. Everything and host of The Hangout, Akil Augustine (@akilaugustine). As the NBA playoffs go on and teams look to survive and advance, they evaluate the remaining series and summer tasks for the Toronto Raptors.
Kyle Lowry is Masai Ujiri's first order of business this summer, but who should his second be? Greivis Vasquez or Patrick Patterson?
Strickland: No Brainer: Greivis Josue Vasquez Rodriguez. Quality back-ups at point guard are Loch Ness Monster-rare in The Association right now. When you have a guy like Kyle Lowry playing human bowling ball to help his team get wins, injuries are pre-destined. Vasquez stepped in admirably for Lowry in those times, as well as aiding to create a potent two point-guard backcourt with sure ballhandling, keen decision-making and absolutely zero fear of The Moment - all necessary variables to a winning equation. Project Pat Patterson, a handle hung on him by my #1On1 partner, Duane Watson, will be a priority to retain as well for Ujiri and the MLSE braintrust. I doubt he walks unless the offer to dance between the lines elsewhere with similar playing time is too great to pass.
Augustine: Small forward! Not that I know what Masai should do... (#InMasaiWeTrust) but I would love to see an upgrade on the wing that would by some time for T-ROSS to blossom. Luol Deng anyone? Vince?
Watson: It has to be The General Greivis Vasquez, a back-up guard who can play both positions and play alongside Kyle Lowry. Vasquez runs the pick-and-roll to perfection, but he also isn't scared to take the big shot. He got into a rhythm during the playoffs and was the most reliable player off the bench. His fire and passion are just the type of elements this team needs.
Why does the Brooklyn Nets' 4-0 regular season record against the Miami Heat mean nothing in the post-season?
Strickland: The regular season is just that: regular. The second season, aka the playoffs, is where your legend is born. The Brooklyn Nets' legend in the playoffs is rooted in being at full strength and still losing last year to the Nate Robinson-led, grossly undermanned, but infinitely tougher Chicago Bulls. Oh, let's not forget what should not have happened this season with the Nets edging the young Toronto Raptors. The two-time defending world champion Heat are built for the playoffs and are showing their pedigree in winning fashion with a commanding 2-0 lead over Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference semis. If the Nets lose Game 3 at home, it'd be a safe better for them to procure the #TackleBox post haste.
Augustine: Because the Heat have two modes: Regular season and playoffs. The Nets also have two modes...wait, no they don't. They are the No Mode Squad starring Busta-Ankle, aka D-Won't!
This is why they call it the playoffs. As they have the past two springs, the Heat take their game into another gear in the playoffs. In two of the four losses against the Nets, Dwyane Wade
was resting - for this very time of the year. For all of the Nets' veteran experience, they are tired and bruised after a series in Toronto that they barely escaped from and Miami will have an answer for Joe Johnson
.If the Oklahoma City Thunder lose to the Los Angeles Clippers, who's to blame - Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook or Scott Brooks?Strickland:
The Thunder were one Zach Randolph
"punch" to the face of noted agitator from The Bill Laimbeer School Of Smart Skullduggery, Steven Adams
, away from a potential first-round exit. Tied at 1-1 with the Clippers and headed to LA, the blame will have multiple directions for various reasons. Scott Brooks's loyalty to line-ups over deft and necessary adjustments, as well as other questionable coaching moves will catch major darts. Russell Westbrook
's greatest strengths of supreme athleticism, overt passion and singular focus may also be his biggest weaknesses, especially in the eyes of his detractors. And last but not least, the 2013-2014 NBA scoring champ and MVP who has been famously quoted as being sick and tired of coming in second would face LeBron James
-level scrutiny of his true value with a second round loss to the Clippers.
Augustine: Scott Brooks. And the GM. Kendrick Perkins is stealing cash, Serge Ibaka is stuck in neutral and the rest of the bench isn't old enough to get into a club, excluding team chaperone Derek Fisher, let alone win a series.
Watson: Sam Presti. As the GM of the Thunder he has nickled and dimed with this team to avoid the luxury tax, but he hasn't found the right supporting cast to work with his two stars. Since James Harden left, it has been on a downward slide and the MVP campaign of Durant hides some of the team's deficiencies.
Is Roy Hibbert the key to the Pacers' success?
Strickland: No. Paul George is the key to the Pacers' success, which could be fleeting in the face of the most dangerous team no one knows in the Washington Wizards. With rumours abounding over Hibbert's inexplicable metamorphosis from All-Star to Hasheem Thabeet in the playoffs, Big Roy is a necessary piece for the Pacers just to get by the Wiz, nevermind talking Eastern Conference final rematch with the Heat.
Augustine: Yes. Is this a trick question? Pull up footage of last year and superimpose it on top of footage from this year. Then, you will have your answer!
Watson: He definitely makes a big difference to the Pacers' chances on both sides of the ball. His post presence helps the defence and, if he's an option offensively, it allows Indiana to work an inside-out game. Hibbert awakening from his slumber is the easiest fix to a team that has been slumping for the better part of the year.
What must the Portland Trail Blazers do to stop the San Antonio Spurs?
Strickland: Quit? Hope Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich all of a sudden turn into Dwight Howard, James Harden and Kevin McHale (OUCH!)? How about play stout defence, show the half-court execution they exhibited in the first 40 games of the regular season and understand in a hurry the difference between playoff basketball and championship-level basketball in the playoffs, if they have not already been brutally and ruthlessly made aware by arguable the best team in basketball right now? Coach Stotts and rising stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard have to be better in Game 3 at home in the Moda Center or there will be some fine playoff parting gifts, courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs.
Augustine: Wait 365 days until next year. Or change the rules to the CBA and sign a bench during the post-season. Or hedge harder on those DAMN screens! All three options come with little chance for success!
Watson: Hope that Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter walk through that door! The Blazers need all the help they can get and it's interesting to see such an outmatched team in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge have played at an all-world level for the Blazers, but their lack of depth on the bench is an Achilles heel, as the Spurs' reserves have already proved they can compete with the Blazers starters.