Early 2015 NBA Playoffs Loaded With Game Changers

Twists and turns are what make the NBA Playoffs that much more interesting to watch, but life rarely writes a neat narrative. Gamechangers can happen at any time. For some teams who thought they had their postseason figured out, fate has already thrown a wrench into their aspirations. We’ve got corporate shakeups, injuries and (for some good news) surprisingly stellar performances.

New management
The league-leading Atlanta Hawks announced Wednesday night that they have accepted a $730 million bid for the franchise, according to Bloomberg Business. Their new team brass is a group led by Tony Ressler, the billionaire co-founder of Ares Management LP, and includes former NBA player Grant Hill. The deal happened the same night the Hawks took lead of their series against the Brooklyn Nets 2-0. Reports say that Ressler is especially interested in running a basketball team, as opposed to padding his investment portfolio. Having a sympathetic and engaged team owner can only help the Hawks in their quest for domination.

High-profile injuries
Many regular season aspirations were dashed upon the rocks of reality this year, but the postseason is racking up some casualties of its own. Rajon Rondo out indefinitely for the Dallas Mavericks with a back injury he sustained during Game 2 of their playoff series against the Houston Rockets. (The Rockets are currently up 2-0.) Kyle Lowry limped off the court in Game 2 against the Washington Wizards (also up 2-0), further weakening Toronto’s toehold in a backcourt battle of guards. Even the Hawks—finals favourites, some would say—are missing starman specialist Thabo Sefolosha due to a confrontation with police, which may have grim consequences in the final weeks.

The comeback
Not everything’s doom and gloom. Tony Parker has come off an ankle injury to swing his team’s series against the L.A. Clippers in the San Antonio Spurs’ favour—and just in a nick of time, too. The Spurs were missing both the veteran and big man Tiago Splitter during their Game 1 loss against the L.A. Clippers. Parker carried his team practically single-handedly to a 111-107 overtime win in Game 2, earning his 5,000th playoff point and 100th career playoff victory. With Parker back, the Spurs stand little chance of failing to reach the Finals bracket.

The firing

A coach being fired during playoffs isn’t unheard of (especially when his team doesn’t make the postseason cut), but the canning of Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks may have long-reaching effects that could be felt next year. During Brooks’ seven-year tenure, he racked up a respectable 338-207 record, took the team to the 2012 NBA Finals and led them to three Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, Brooks had no such luck this year as the team (hobbled by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant’s injuries) didn’t earn a seed. Maybe next year will be a different story.
‘It’s far from over. Confidence is still high. Anything can happen.’
Coach Dwane Casey and DeMar DeRozan break down the finer points of Washington’s 117-106 win
Posted on Apr 22, 2015
‘There’s still basketball to be played. It’s not over.’
Dwane Casey, DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson tell us what went wrong
Posted on Apr 20, 2015
‘You think about doing better than last year.’
The Raptors talk post-season experience, last year’s loss and what drives them
Posted on Apr 1, 2015



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