Just how important is playoff experience?
I know as Pistons fans we like to think it gives our favorite team an edge over every other up-and-comer, but I'm not sure I buy it anymore. This isn't a knee-jerk reaction to last night's game -- I actually made this idea the central theme of my latest FanHouse column, which I started before Sunday's Pistons-Sixers game and focuses on Chris Paul's dominance from Saturday:
What's experience worth in the NBA playoffs? If you believe the pundits, it's what separates serious contenders from "happy to be here" upstarts. When talking about the Hornets-Mavericks series on Friday night, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith predicted Dallas to win in six. Why? Because they've been there before. "I think they have the experience and savvy to close it out, plus the sense of urgency," said Smith, "because if they don't get it done and they lose in the first round, there's going to be some changes in the Big D."
Forget that Chris Paul turned in an MVP-caliber season or that the Hornets won the No. 2 seed in the most competitive Western Conference of recent memory. Never mind the fact that the Mavericks barely made the playoffs, or that they lost in the opening round as a No. 1 seed the year before (now that was a good experience). Instead, Dallas should be favored because they're "experienced," "savvy," and my favorite, "urgent." Yes, folks, closing windows of opportunity are now reasons for hope.
Well, we saw what that was worth Saturday afternoon, as poor, inexperienced, wet behind the ears Chris Paul took a steaming dump on conventional wisdom.
I know I do more than my fair share of self-promotion here, but I'm proud of how this piece came out, and not just because I slipped "steaming dump" past my editor. If nothing else, there's some fun throwback YouTube videos at the bottom that will provide a welcome distraction to being down 0-1, but I'm curious how much you guys think experience (as opposed to just plain "talent") actually matters.