The N.B.A.’s Play-In Tournament Isn’t the Problem

Oklahoma City, Houston and Washington, then, have clearly benefited from his triple-doubles. Detractors are bound to say Westbrook could ...


Oklahoma City, Houston and Washington, then, have clearly benefited from his triple-doubles. Detractors are bound to say Westbrook could be chasing them in every game and hurting his team when he doesn’t achieve them, but I don’t think Westbrook is motivated by triple-doubles above all else. Teammates probably wouldn’t respect him the way they do if that were happening.

All of these layers, and everything we covered last week, are why I’m so curious to see the reaction when Westbrook breaks Oscar Robertson’s career record for triple-doubles (181). Maybe this will be the moment that the league at large stops to appreciate someone who plays as ridiculously hard as Westbrook does, season after season after season, even if his résumé lacks a championship. Or maybe not.

Q: Stephen Curry is great, but he’s the third-best Warrior ever. He’s not better than Rick Barry, and he’s not better than Wilt Chamberlain. Unless Curry adds another dimension to his game, he will not crack the top 10 or 15 all time. — @michaelbookit from Twitter

Stein: This is another bold opinion (or you were just trying to get a Twitter rise out of me). Whether or not I can persuade you to reconsider your stance, I strongly disagree.

Chamberlain’s greatest successes as a player were as a 76er and as a Laker. Although the statistics he posted as a Warrior remain difficult to fathom, like the 50.4 points per game he averaged as a Philadelphia Warrior in 1961-62, his time in the Bay Area lasted less than three seasons. The Warriors even missed the playoffs in Wilt’s first San Francisco season.

Barry has long been one of the game’s underappreciated stars, and his all-around excellence in leading Golden State to an unforeseen championship in 1975 cemented him as one of the game’s greats, but Curry’s résumé has it all. Three championships, five consecutive trips to the N.B.A. finals, back-to-back M.V.P. awards, longevity with one franchise, massive popularity with fans and seemingly limitless shooting range that changed the game — Curry really has no peer here.

Q: I have assumed that teams that qualified for the playoff play-in round but did not advance further would not be considered teams that reached the playoffs this season. Then on Friday, according to the league’s official standings, Philadelphia was shown to have clinched a playoff berth when the 76ers had 10 games left on their schedule — but only an 8½-game lead over No. 7 Miami. Didn’t that mean that the Sixers conceivably could have still slipped to seventh?— Jeff Pucillo (Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.)

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