A Hater’s Guide to the NBA Playoffs:

With the opening round of playoff hoops kicking off this past weekend, NBA fans everywhere are digging in for the best basketball of the year. Amidst the sixteen teams, every fan needs a team or two (or three or four) to hate. It’s what makes a blowout victory so much more satisfying, and a blown series hurt that much more. If you’re not sure why or how to hate the team your team is playing this playoffs, or you’re just a casual fan/hater, the Jones has you covered.

Nobody cares about your beef: Blazers, Pacers, Hawks, Raptors, Celtics

The underdogs with the chips on their shoulder. They feel the league has over looked and left them for dead (Portland), think they’re better than they are (Indiana, Atlanta), or feel directly jilted by the league (Isaiah Thomas, Toronto). The Trailblazers are an interesting case, you have to be a  special brand of hater to  shade Damien Lillard after being deserted by Lamarcus Aldridge and company last summer. They weren’t supposed to be this good, but that didn’t stop them from claiming the 5th seed. For the Pacers and the Hawks, they boast All-NBA talent in Paul George and Al Horford respectively. Their fans, (rightfully?) feel like they get underrated and can be heard in bars loudly proclaiming how good their best players are. They’re good, but they’re not beating Lebron. The Celtics are in that mix too with Isaiah Thomas representing all the little guys as their team’s best player, but in a league of giants his brand of mini-ball is as much a question after cratering last post-season. Finally you have the Raptors who struggle at times to get from beneath Drake’s shadow. Their “We The North” slogan and skinny Kyle Lowry are about the only things keeping them afloat in an improving Eastern Conference.

The Irrelevants: Pistons, Hornets, Grizzlies, Mavericks

The Irrelevants are perhaps the most fun group of the entire playoffs. Nobody expects the Hornets to contend for a second with the elite teams in their conference, let alone the loaded West. Casual fans aren’t even sure where they play these days. Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons put a bit of a scare in the Cleveland but ultimately showed their ineptitude down the stretch. They may compete later down the line but with no starter over 26 years old, and their best player just 22, the Pistons only consistent action is making SVG angry. The Grizzlies meanwhile have been absolutely devastated by injuries this season and are trotting out Jordan Farmer(!!!) as a starter. You can hate them but I mean, come on. That doesn’t even begin to address the saddened state of Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks. As enjoyable as it is for HEAT fans to watch them struggle, it’s even more enjoyable for fans everywhere to watch Mark Cuban scowl and wince at every perceived non-call.

The low hanging fruit: Spurs, Cavaliers, Clippers

These teams are the easiest to hate because they make themselves the easiest targets. The San Antonio Spurs have long been the Spring Edition White Walkers of NBA who return with the spring thaw to claim the poor souls caught in the lower seeds. Cleveland has been an easy target since Lebron James rose to prominence, and he has fanned the flames as he has proven only he can. The Clippers on the other hand will remain the “B” team in Los Angeles, even with the Lakers eulogizing Kobe Bryant, they will never win a primary in LA. What’s worse than being second in your own city?

Jordan Crying Faces: Warriors, Thunder, Heat

These teams simply are easy to tease and have the most long term implications based off these playoffs but are too good to ignore. This season may determine the length of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s championship window and a poor showing could relegate them to Seattle SuperSonic’s territory. Good enough to win get deep in the playoffs but just flawed enough for Kevin Durant to seek greener(?) pastures. Miami has a similar problem with Hassan Whiteside and Joe Johnson and Dwayne Wade and . . . you get the point. The further they get the more expensive retaining all of these pieces will be. Not to mention they aren’t getting any younger. The Warriors though, probably have the most pressure to win a championship this side of Lebron James. If they fall short, even if it’s to the Cavs or Spurs, they will be ridiculed as the best team in NBA history to not win a championship.

Houston Rockets:

This one was probably the easiest choice because they check all of the boxes for every other team. James Harden felt slighted by the league for getting second place in the MVP race despite the players voting him as their choice. Dwight Howard hasn’t been relevant since his finals run in 2009, and is contemplating a return to the city he helped implode. They got their coach fired which is an easy reason to hate on any team, and only barely squeaked into a playoff spot they did not earn. Finally, the number one reason to hate the Rockets, they will probably be playing their last season together despite making the conference finals last year. Such a fall from grace has even Rockets fans disparaging their own team.

Bonus: Heres a link to funny Rockets Memes – http://sportige.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Sad-Rockets-e1432298757510.jpg

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