THE PLAYOFFS: ROUND 2 IN REVIEW

“Alright Shaq, what you got for me?”

“An ever-deepening sense of ennui, as, once again, none of you shitty stand-in hosts can sing along or even pretend to amuse yourselves.”

SHAQ
-100 D’Angelo RATSELL On-court, this one is probably a high 3 for sheer what-the-fuckery, but Kobe Bryant elevates the play with a great reaction shot that mixes awe and disgust in equal measure.

But in the studio, things are going even worse.

Lisa Leslie drops the line “What’s he doing?” for the fifth time in three appearances. Everyone ignores her!

We get rousing studio chants for defense! They’re interacting with each other now!! I almost don’t know what to do with myself.

Lisa Leslie certainly doesn’t. To bookend the occasion, she mumbles to herself: “Ah. Poor…” just as Shaq cuts in: “Number two!”

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3.5/4 Shaqs

-100 Tarik BLACK In a moment of mental paralysis, Shaq forgets how to read the teleprompter, replacing the word “who” with “what.” In an even more stunning instance of psychological confusion, Tarik Black also struggles to get things going for his curmudgeonly team of on-air analysts.

Lisa Leslie exclaims “What the heck!” for the twelfth time. I love the CG passing lines Shaq wills into existence. I hate the reference to the XFL.

really do hate Lisa Leslie mumbling: “Dang. Come on, man.” For the second clip in a row, she’s sucked out all the energy at the end, like venom from a snakebite, or Hillary Clinton at a Dem debate, or capping off a wild, debaucherous night with a 2 a.m. meal from Arby’s.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3.5/4 Shaqs

-100 Jared SULLINGER In this baffling play, Valanciunas’s rigidity to form is matched only by Sullinger’s obedience to the Newtonian conception of gravity. For once, the play is so disjointed and inhuman that even Shaq’s co-hosts can comment appropriately.

Yes, it does look like a video game, NBA 2k to be exact (but not to needlessly name-drop corporate sponsers.) It feels exactly like some ephemeral recreation of real life that exists not to represent deeply, but merely to indicate abstractly enough to briefly entertain.

And I bet both players’ controllers are super low on batteries.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3.5/4 Shaqs

-100 James HARDEN It’s gotten to the point where I really fucking hope that out-of-bounds passes get the sort of CGI extendo-treatment that Shaq always bestows. It’s incredibly gratifying to imagine a collapsible Pat Beverly unfurling himself up-up-and-up towards the ball. Somehow, it brings back dull, mis-remembered childhood images from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang built on primitive blue-screen effects. It really shouldn’t.

By the way, every single clip has been a 3.5 so far. Shaq is killing it on these clips. And the crew is committing genocide on the mic.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3.5/4 Shaqs

-100 Klay THOMPSON Despite broadly sharing anti-natalist sentiments with Schopenhauer, I suppose there is, from my point of view, some chance that I have a grandchild. So I decided to watch every one of the Warriors’ last twenty games this year. And that means I saw this play unfold live.

The only problem? It’s not really a stupid play. In a way, it emblematic of the Warriors transcending basketball by drafting two singular shooting talents and then constructing a system to outsmart everyone else.

Here, they just out-outsmarted everyone, as Curry passed up one 70% three in semi-transition for another.

The best part is really Klay saying “Man, fuck that” afterwards. Maybe I can ethically adopt?

Overall Shaqtin rating: 2.5/4 Shaqs

MISC
-15 Julis RANDLE Obscene gestures Fined $15,000.
FUCK
-100 Cleveland CAVALIERS Bed bugs. League CURSE

 

But wait, there’s even more Shaqtin! And now, Shaq has BRENT BARRY in the studio to banter with!! This should be fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Well, everyone sings this time, but it’s painfully self-aware and out-of-rhythm. So not the brightest of indicators imaginable.

SHAQ
-100 Erik SPOELSTRA This play by Marcelo Huertas is unbelievably intelligent, and blatantly illegal. I’d like to give him a +100 here, but Shaq explicitly confirms that the only nominee worth considering is Coach Spo for acting as a “human shield,” vaguely painting the accoladed coach as some sort of willing accessory to a deceptive, foreign insurgent stealing from decent everyday Americans (like Goran Dragic.)

“Good move, Huertas” adds Brent Barry with his characteristic sexual drawl.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 2.5/4 Shaqs

-100 James HARDEN These are really getting out of hand. Speaking of hands, we were taught in high school to play off-ball defense with one hand on the defender, and one on the ball by en elderly ex-cop with beach-blonde hair and a one-motion offense entirely predicated off of pinch-post give-and-go action that went out of style by the mid-forties and out of date by the early sixties. I don’t think we won a game.

Good thing McDermott also blows.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3/4 Shaqs

-100 Corey BREWER A phenomenal catch/pass, with the caveat that it devolves into being a little bit of neither. It’s so strange to think that these Rockets have snuck into the playoffs. I have a $100-to-$1 bet with my friend that the Warriors beat them in the first round, and I still feel like I might have cheated him on odds. But then, Nate Silver’s overly-ambitious website has the Warriors with a 95% chance to make it out of the first round, so maybe I accepted too much tail risk after all. But doesn’t it feel like a 100000% chance the Warriors advance past the first round, Harden and all?

In that vein, does anyone think the Warriors only have a 42% chance to win a championship? Nate seems impossibly low on a 73-9 team. Off pure emotions, I would put the Warriors at 75%, the Spurs at 25%, and, most notably, the Cavaliers at 0% to win it all.

So while the play was amusing in the moment, I suppose it was slightly forgettable. As so many things are.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3/4 Shaqs

-100 Boban MARJANOVIC As Shaq GROWLS on-air for fifteen Dionysian seconds, Popovich looks on with the blank Apollonian stare of a man all-too-aware that he will never coach another Tim Duncan. No one interrupts either figure’s tragic encounter with the Other, and it is in this moment that the deepest of disappointments descends. The world cannot end with a bang, nor with a whimper, but rather the orchestral gnashing of teeth and silent gawks of men as they view the collapse of Babel’s Tower, one from upwind, one from down.

Finally, Shaq stops yelling, and Brent throws in an “Oh… Man.” I have to say, it’s a tremendous improvement over last week.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3.5/4 Shaqs

-100 All PISTONS FANS At first blush, this is a douchey move that holds up the game. The fan behind him shows his vicarious appreciation with a hearty backslap. But notice the love this v-necked, wristband-wearing idiot receives from Devin Harris, the inbounder he has just delayed.

It’s a bit unexpected, as Reggie Jackson’s reaction shows. But really, we are no strangers to seeing fans compete against each other to shoot baskets for meager corporate-subsidized prizes during TV timeouts. (Can’t have a TV timeout without also advertising to the schmucks who paid!) And at halftime, when children’s teams come on to play quick five-minute games, we are all there cheering them on to make a bucket — any bucket! (But they only shoot threes.)

Really, the only basketball act that seems to cheapen the experience of being at an NBA game is watching the trampoline dunk teams. For a brief transfiguring instant in time they assume a superhuman position above our wildest dreams of what is possible. But we can never truly forget the deceptive presence of the trampoline, and so these insane feats always come pre-packaged with an asterisk, and thus the self-assured confidence that, if we just renewed our gym memberships and maybe took up yoga and eating a bit better for a few months, we could easily do the same.

So let’s return to the original act, from the eyes of Devin Harris. Not only does he get a momentary breather from the game, but his mediocre outside shooting (career 32.4% from three) is vindicated by having some club-happy, martini-sipping douchebag clad in all black miss by a mile. Basketball is hard, this fucking cretinous amateur reminds us: it is a deeply-practiced craft, not a hobby. We can only hope to master basketball in the blink of an eye — darkened gyms, long hours — before so-called “old age” (a technologically-assisted 35 or 40 years?) finally catches up to us.

That’s why the NBA is now encouraging fans to bring thousands of their own basketballs to shoot during every break in action.

And once again, Shaq has finished with his weakest clip.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 1.5/4 Shaqs

FUCK
-100 Cleveland CAVALIERS Bed bugs. League CURSE

Thanks for reading. We’ll email you the time and link of our upcoming LIVE end-of-season casting, where we’ll be interviewing our league champion, running down the lottery odds, actually holding the lottery, and keeping strictly on-topic. Cheers.

The Commissioner

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