It is now an annual tradition to compare the playoff teams to movies here at MMH. We’ve now been around long enough to start having yearly traditions! There are eight playoff teams left and I will be making comps to eight movies. Some of these are based on the viewing experience, some on the players. They are all based on the things I love most. Let’s go.
76ers – The Big Lebowski
Like the cast of Ethan and Joel Coen’s 1998 masterpiece, Philadelphia’s roster features an eclectic mix of players at different stages in their careers. Though all positive, the pieces don’t seem to fit together at face value. Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing totally out of his style? Meet a point guard who can’t shoot, a bruising big man, and a rotating wheel of pure scorers. Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Tobias Harris––6/7 days a week––have built themselves up as terrific #1 seed. Don’t like it? Well, that’s just like your opinion, man.
Bucks – Speed
Watching Giannis Antetokounmpo play basketball is akin to a runaway bus barreling through whatever stands in its way… However, the obvious parallels drawn between Giannis’ playstyle and a crazed bus aren’t what makes this comp so perfect. Jrue Holiday might actually be a good comp for Sandra Bullock in terms of overlooked, versatile play, but Kris Middleton is no Keanu Reeves. No, it’s the viewing experience found in Speed and the Milwaukee Bucks that is almost exactly the same: high energy, fast-paced action with an inescapable impending sense of doom throughout.
The doom in Speed manifests itself literally in the form of a bomb hidden underneath the vehicle. Milwaukee’s dread exists due to a recent history of playoff collapses. This is a result of leading 2-0 vs. the Toronto Raptors in 2019 and proceeding to blow four straight games to miss out on a Conference Finals berth. Or from losing to an obviously lesser team in the Miami Heat during 2020’s Orlando NBA Bubble. No matter how good the Bucks look at any given time, the ghosts of missed playoff opportunities will continue to haunt them. People will forever doubt them and anticipate disappointment until they prove otherwise. Despite their Game three win, it’s beginning to look like their doubters will be right once again.
Clippers – Mean Girls
The creative odyssey I went through with the Clippers comp was something I won’t forget. There was some Men In Black momentum at one point. Bad Boys was also a contender for a time. But I decided that prime Will Smith was too much of a compliment for such a universally disliked roster. The LA Clippers are Mean Girls. Generally hated, but with effortless charisma and undeniable talent that makes them perfect sports villains.
Hawks – Mad Max: Fury Road
Non-stop heavily controlled chaos from beginning to end. The Atlanta Hawks have a feel to their offense like George Miller has behind a camera. Mad Max is a visceral action experience that slams on the gas pedal and doesn’t let up until the credits roll. Trae Young is well aware of this pedal, knowing that his teammates feed off his frenetic and hyper-confident energy. This charisma is buoyed by a fun roster of lob threats, knockdown shooters, and aggressive offensive specialists. Viewers can find themselves exhausted at times after 48 minutes of that pace. God only knows the toll it must take on an opponent.
Jazz – Ocean’s 11
Two well-oiled machines with everyone involved being aware of their role within the mission. I love this comparison as it perfectly describes what the Jazz are as a team. Sure, they have their All-Stars in Donovan Mitchell (George Clooney) and Rudy Gobert (Brad Pitt) but never feel like a top-heavy roster. We also never see games where Mitchell or Gobert try to force themselves into the offense or disrupt the game’s natural flow.
Similarly, the cast of Ocean’s 11 was fully aware that they were starring in an ensemble movie. Neither is a two-man show and they never should’ve been. Both groups’ leaders know how to get down and dirty like everyone else, leading to a sense of camaraderie amongst the unit that’s hard to find elsewhere. That “us against the world” mentality is a huge benefit to any type of success across all mediums. How this mentality is utilized will determine how great the project will be. This write-up about the two will be the first and only time Rudy Gobert will be mentioned in the same breath as Brad Pitt.
Nets – The Departed
This comp seemed the most obvious to me. Durant, Harden, Kyrie. DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson. Two powerhouse trios that only come around once in a generation. Each member plays to their strengths which equates to near-immediate success as a group. The real question is, are we ready to call Steve Nash the Martin Scorsese of the NBA? Everyone involved here is a killer. And Bruce Brown’s attempt to take over the final stretch of game three was real Mark Wahlberg energy.
Nuggets – John Wick
Nikola Jokic IS the Denver Nuggets. Every offensive possession flows directly through him, and he’s transitioned into a poor man’s anchor for every defensive possession. As a total opposite to the “us against the world” Utah Jazz referenced earlier, the Nuggets are Jokic vs everybody through and through. In the absence of Jamal Murray, our MVP has been forced to be the lifeblood of the team whether he likes it or not. John Wick had no help and toppled the Tarasov Crime Mob fueled only by his own rage. Jokic might not be the vengeful type, but the position he’s in remains the same. We will see what game 4 holds today, as the Suns have definitely messed with the Joker’s dog.
Suns – Devil Wears Prada
Picture this. An up-and-coming young star who’s finally legitimized by association with a universally respected legend. What did you see? If you said The Devil Wears Prada or the 2020-21 Phoenix Suns,
A. You have extremely niche interests and this site is made for you.
B. You’re exactly correct.
Prior to Phoenix’s 51-21 regular season campaign, Devin Booker was seen as a classic “good stats, bad team” player. Nobody ever doubted his talent, but his drive and winning ability were as scrutinized as can be. Nothing exemplifies the “good stats bad team” player quite like Booker’s 70 point explosion in 2017 which still ended in a Suns loss. Similarly, Anne Hathaway’s pre-2006 career was largely defined by her role in The Princess Diaries, which experienced some success but never quite broke into the American mainstream or the even more exclusive Hollywood elite. Insert Meryl Streep; Hollywood’s Chris Paul.
Almost instantaneously, Hathaway and Booker’s skills were showcased on the highest of levels. Those who doubted or were previously ignorant were promptly stunned by a barrage of brilliance from the two. As it currently stands, the Phoenix Suns lead the Denver Nuggets 3-0 with a conference finals appearance looming. Just one year ago his team was missing out on the playoffs entirely. The pedigree that individuals like Streep and Paul bring to an organization is something that cannot be quantified. All that’s left to do is sit back and appreciate the blossoming of the next generation’s stars.
Quite the blockbuster lineup! If you have any of your own comparisons hit us up on social media or in the comments below!