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The Rundown v04.17.23 – Southeast Division Season Wrap-Up


Lost to Atlanta Hawks in the Play-In, but beat the Chicago Bulls. Facing the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. 56-26

First in the Southeast


First in the Southeast

In a spring season where windows are opening all over the Miami area, there’s one that seems to be closing. The Miami Heat – who haven’t won a championship since the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh put two championships in the books back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 – have become the NBA’s definition of “close, but no cigar.” Losing in the Finals in 2014, the Eastern Conference Semis in 2016, the first round in 2018, losing in the Finals again in the bubble in 2020, the first round in 2021, and the conference Finals in 2022, it seems like the Heat’s window is closing. While they repped the Southeast division as the top team, they truly underachieved when you consider they finished just three games over .500 – that’s not a championship contender. They lost to the .500 Atlanta Hawks in the Play-In and seemed about as flaccid and active as an octogenarian strolling South Beach. They bounced back against the Chicago Bulls to get the opportunity to face the league-best Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Jimmy Butler, who finished the season with 22.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.3 assists through 64 games, will have to be red hot for the Heat to move forward through the playoffs. 35 points and 11 assists in a Game One victory is a step in the right direction. With Tyler Herro suffering a broken hand, he’ll need to be the Jimmy-of-All-Trades to get by Milwaukee.

Miami leads the series with the Milwaukee Bucks, 1-0.

Beat the Miami Heat in the Play-In; facing the Boston Celtics in the first round 51-31

Second in the Southeast


Second in the Southeast

If there was an award for being the most average team in any professional sports league – much less the NBA – the poster children would be the Atlanta Hawks. On March 31st of this season, Atlanta had the unique status of being 1-1 in their last 2 games, 2-2 in their last 4 games, 3-3 in their last 6 games, 4-4 in their last 8 games, 5-5 in their last 10 games, 6-6 in their last 12 games, 7-7 in their last 14 games, 8-8 in their last 16 games, 9-9 in their last 18 games, 10-10 in their last 20 games, 11-11 in their last 22 games, 12-12 in their last 24 games, 13-13 in their last 26 games, and 14-14 in their last 28 games. No surprise that the Hawks finished 41-41, 10 games less than my expectations. Average. The only thing above average was Trae Young’s disrespect for another coach. After getting Lloyd Pierce bounced after 34 games in 2020, he got Nate McMillan excused this season – even after McMillan got the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals in McMillan’s first season (the same year). Young would finish the year 14th in the NBA in scoring at 26.2 points and third with 10.2 assists, behind only James Harden (10.7) and Tyrese Haliburton (10.4). But Atlanta did not bring Quin Snyder on to be an average, 41-41 team, and have given the team’s management the green light to shop Young this summer.

The Hawks trail in the first round to the Boston Celtics, 0-1.

Did not make the post-season 47-35

Third in the Southeast


Third in the Southeast

The dialogue when it comes to the Washington Wizards seems to be a broken record, no matter who’s coaching the team – whether Doug Collins, Eddie Jordan, Ed Tapscott, Flip Saunders, Randy Wittman, Scott Brooks or Wes Unseld, Jr. Bradley Beal has remained loyal to the bone, having been in DC through three head coaches, missing the playoffs five of those years, and losing in the Eastern Conference Semis three times and the first round twice. That has to be exasperating who is posting a career line of 22.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in his 10 year tenure. His numbers in 2022-23 were even better than his career line (23.2 points per game). Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma hung right with Beal this season at 23.2 and 21.2 points, respectively, though Beal only played in 50 games. Not sure Unseld, Jr. is the answer, but it is very loyal of the Wizards to give the young man a chance. At 35-47 in each of his first two seasons, we can certainly expect more. His dad would.

Did not make the post-season 38-44

Fifth in the Southeast


Fourth in the Southeast

Certainly expected the Orlando Magic to be in the basement of the Southeast Division when all was said and done. After all, that’s usually what teams with the No. 1 pick do for a year or two. But, likely Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero rang up a 20 points average, coupled with 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists to lead the misfit Magic. Orlando fielded a team of other team’s throwaways but got 18.6 points a night out of Franz Wagner and 15.2 points through 57 games from Wendell Carter, Jr., who was the team’s leading rebounder at 6’10” (the same height as Banchero). The Magic need a new coach – Jamahl Mosley isn’t it. And are a star player or two away from not just competing, but to even be taken seriously. They haven’t been respected or feared since Stan Van Gundy was their skipper, and Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard were the marquee.

Did not make the post-season 46-36

Fourth in the Southeast


Fifth in the Southeast

For how many times that LaMelo Ball went down with his numerous injuries, you have to feel bad for the Charlotte Hornets, who felt promise when they drafted Ball in 2020 with the third pick. Feel a little bit more compassion for head coach Steve Clifford – who went 196-214, and two playoff appearances through five seasons in his previous Charlotte stint – to come back and wing his way to a 27-55 season in 2022-23. Ball would only play 36 games thanks to ankle sprains in the pre-season and early games to a season ending fracture, putting the onus on Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre, Jr. If you think Clifford’s job is tough, consider Mitch Kupchak who is struggling in his tenure. I’m guessing he’s wishing he’d kept Jalen Duren. Knowing all of this, feel real bad that the Hornets have lost so much buzz that owner Michael Jordan is looking to sell the team.


Tracy Graven is the Senior NBA Analyst for
He has written the NBA, done NBA Radio, and appeared as a guest for the last 21+ years for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show,, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage.
He’s spent 21 years in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (CBA, G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Atlanta. 

A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in SEC Country near Knoxville, Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia  

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