Steinmetz: Playoffs can amplify reputations

Perhaps the best aspect of playoff basketball is that you really get the true measure of players, teams and coaches. The regularseason is one thing, the postseason is another.

The NBA playoffs can be reputation makers, but the postseason is also the place where reputations can be shattered.

A few observations:

» Hard to believe it was just three months ago that Warriors point guard Baron Davis seemed to have a legitimate gripe about not making the Western Conference All-Star team over Chris Paul.

At the time, the Warriors and New Orleans Hornets were about even in the standings and there seemed to be little difference between Paul and Davis in terms of impact on their teams.

It wasn’t quite an injustice, but to some it was puzzling how Paul, in just his third year, leapfrogged over Davis in the point guard pecking order.

No such argument anymore. Paul is not just an All-Star, he’s going to be a perennial MVP candidate over the course of his career — like he was this season.

» It’s time to praise Hornets coach Byron Scott, who has always come off a little prickly and aloof. He also seemed to be just another stubborn NBA coach who had difficulty dealing with stars such as Davis and Jason Kidd.

Interestingly, Paul doesn’t seem to have any trouble playing for Scott. But Paul aside, Scott is coaching a fundamentally sound team with defined roles. And it’s going to be difficult for any opponent to beat them.

» Funny, I always thought Tyson Chandler was the problem in Chicago, where he played for five seasons. Turns out Chicago was the problem, not Chandler.

Chandler had always been criticized for his lack of consistency. Now, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who plays every possession ashard as Chandler.

Denver’s Marcus Camby has a better defensive reputation, but Chandler is the better defensive player.

» Orlando’s Dwight Howard is a terrific specimen and can score points and get rebounds by accident. But until he gets something resembling an offensive game, he won’t be the kind of player who makes teammates better.

» You can’t beat the emotion ofthe postseason. There’s nothing better than seeing the best players in the world competing at the highest level. Still, Kevin Garnett’s act, difficult as it is to say, has gotten old and tired.

The stare-downs, grimaces, chest-pounds and cursing out loud and under his breath are more annoying than amusing. And for a guy who has yet to play in an NBA Finals, it comes off as all bark and no bite.

» Not a good sign for Boston Celtics fans that Doc Rivers’ first playoff series victory as a coach was a squeaker over Atlanta, the worst team in the postseason.

If Cleveland ousts Boston in Round 2, it’s not inconceivable Rivers will be gone.

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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