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REGULAR SEASON CHEMISTRY MATTERS IN THE PLAYOFFS

@TheWillBaldwin

As another NBA team implodes before our very eyes in the Houston Rockets, I’m left once again thinking about one of the biggest lessons from this past NBA season: team chemistry really matters.

I remember myself joking about the Lakers and their bench celebrations while simultaneously picking the dysfunctional Clippers to win the title. Looks like the joke was on me.

It appears as though it’s time to call it into the league, what we see in the regular season in terms of how a team interacts is truly a thing that matters.

The reason for it is pretty simple. Teams that like each other, respect what they’re trying to do as a group and work well together are much more likely to respond well to adversity than a team that has no real affiliation as a group to each other.

Look at the Clippers, the moment the Nuggets put them through any kind of adversity, they folded. Paul George became Pandemic P, Lou Williams forgot how to shoot, Montrezl Harrell couldn’t guard a soul and even Kawhi Leonard lost his playoff edge. 

If that isn’t enough evidence what about this Rockets team caving in on itself as we speak?

All season long we heard Daryl Morey was in trouble after the China tweet and that Mike D’Antoni not having a contract was a real problem. There were also concerns about James Harden and Russell Westbrook coalescing together despite their close friendship. 

Since their season ended in an epic implosion against the Lakers, Morey and D’Antoni walked under their own volition and Westbrook apparently wants out as well. If that’s not enough, according to reports, Danuel House and Austin Rivers hated their roles and PJ Tucker is livid about his contract situation.

Simply put, the two teams that seemed most bizarre this season culturally imploded in spectacular fashion. 

The same can be said for the Al Horford Sixers and the Kyrie Irving Celtics last season. Everywhere you look, the team’s with clearly something wrong are self-destructing.

Meanwhile, the Lakers all loved each other and won a title. The Nuggets by all accounts are super close and made a surprising run to the conference finals.

Out east, the Raptors are famously close and experienced an incredibly successful season without Kawhi and a never-ending list of injuries. Miami also has a serious love for each other and made the finals and the Celtics after downgrading talent in Kyrie for Kemba became a team that clearly enjoyed each other’s company.

This NBA season felt like the final test in this somehow never-ending argument about the importance of the regular season. Game to game it may not necessarily matter who wins or loses.

What does matter, is a championship contender’s ability to buy in and their chemistry around the organization. If it’s good, a long playoff run may be in your future.

If it’s bad? Well, the jury is in on what will happen next. 

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