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Hidden Subplots of the 2014 NBA Playoffs

Photo: Flickr/Mat Sadler

The Larry O'Brien trophy isn't the only thing driving this year's playoff field. There are deeper driving forces beneath the surface, and Derek has uncovered them all just in time for tip-off.

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The Crippling, All-Court Influence of Andrew Bogut’s Absence

Oct 31, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA;   NBA referee Ed Malloy (14) holds back Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) after a foul on Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (not pictured) in the second quarter of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

That analysis of the crushing impact Andrew Bogut’s indefinite absence will have on the Warriors playoff hopes has been relegated to one side of the ball is extremely telling. Golden State was a defensive team first and foremost this season, after all, due in large part to the supreme influence of its seven-foot Aussie. But his near-dominance on that end of the floor not withstanding, we’d be remiss to continue acting as if the loss of Bogut won’t prove detrimental to the Warriors offense, too. And considering that reality, it bears mentioning that Golden State is in even more trouble against the Clippers than anyone's anticipating.

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Risk Management in Rip City

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Over the past 13 games, the Portland Trailblazers have completely fallen apart, giving up 108.4 points per 100 possessions. You can't mimic Indiana's conservative defense when your starting point guard hasn't met a screen that hasn't smushed him. Robin Lopez has provided the Blazers with a defensive foundation, a solid backdrop on which they built their philosophy. But Roy Hibbert he is not.

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2014 All-Star Profile: Blake Griffin

via flickr | clappstar

Somewhere between the time he jumped “over” a kia in 2011 and Chris Paul separated his shoulder on January 3rd, Blake Griffin’s game was taken for granted. Not his highlights, of course. The jaw-dropping dunks that made Griffin a superstar his rookie year came more frequently than ever. But the crux behind his eroding reputation as a player had as much to do with those posterizations and alley-oops as any sudden deficiencies. Was Griffin, he of dropping raw statistics for consecutive seasons, really much more than the league’s best dunker?

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On Moral Victories

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Rumblings that the Wolves loss was a 'good loss', a high-character loss, or what have you, started appearing on Twitter. See, the Clippers won but they didn't deserve it. As all things Internet go, an ensuing counter-argument developed: In essence, the team that outscores the other team is the winner. No exceptions.