Tracy McGrady finally advances past the first round of the playoffs

Congratulations, T-Mac! You finally made it out of the 1st round

4/30/13 in NBA   |   droth   |   127 respect

Five minutes, 0 for 1 from the field, one assist, one steal, one turnover, and one foul. Tracy McGrady may not fill the stat sheet like he used to but this year, a few weeks before his 34th birthday, he finally advanced to the second round of the playoffs when the Spurs finished off their sweep of the LA Lakers on Sunday.

He's gone from scoring 13 points in 35 seconds and averaging over 25 ppg over a nine year stretch and losing Apr 17, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tracy McGrady (1) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sportsin the first round to being the last guy on a contending Spurs team, signed just before the start of the playoffs to fill a roster spot.

McGrady used to be one of the game's bright young stars.  He led the league in scoring back-to-back years in 02-03 and 03-04 and made seven straight All-Star games from 2001 to 2007.  During that period, he also dished out around five assists and hauled in roughly six rebounds a game.  But all we seem to remember is that he never won a playoff series.  

And that's on him.  He was the best player on those teams and he failed to take them past the first round, but let's wait a second before labeling him the most disappointing playoff performer of the last generation.  

The way that many people remember McGrady and portray his playoff woes as underachievements of historical proportions overstates his abilities as a player.  McGrady was a talented scorer, but that's what he was: a scorer.  Volume scorers have a hard time leading a team to a playoff berth, let alone victories in playoff series.  

Look who was on those teams.  His first three trips to the playoffs were with the Orlando Magic and the second leading scorer behind McGrady in those playoffs were Darrell Armstrong, Troy Hudson, and Drew Gooden.  When he made the playoffs with Houston, his supporting cast mainly consisted of a perennially injured Yao Ming.

McGrady's teams also never had home court advantage.  The highest seeding a McGrady-led team ever got was 5th, so it was an uphill battle for McGrady come playoff time.

And when he had real chances to advance, he amped his game up.  In three series that went seven games, here are his per-game stats:

2002-03: 31.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists
2004-05: 30.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists
2006-07: 25.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 7.3 assists

Those teams -- with one elite scorer and not much else -- weren't so different than some recent playoff teams that had one elite scorer and not much else.  Look at this year's Rockets, for example; Harden gets his 25 a night but they're likely going to have a first-round departure and this season will be considered a success for Harden and the Rockets.  Monta Ellis gets his points and the Bucks go out quietly in the first round.  
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5/4/13   |   saa868

T-Mac had home court in the playoffs twice.
2007 and 2008 playoffs first round, both against the Utah Jazz.