Posts Tagged “nba playoffs”

When watching the NBA Playoffs almost every fan will have some kind of gripe against the refs at one point or another.  There’s always a game or two where you feel your team got the short end of the stick when it came to the whistles.  Some will say that’s part of home court advantage, some say the more aggressive team is given the benefit of the doubt, and some will claim the league is flat out rigged.

However the game ends up being called, the primary thing both players and fans will ask for is consistency and it’s the particular lack of consistency that has made the refereeing of this years playoffs so controversial.  While there have been scattered inconsistencies throughout this year’s playoffs, game 5 of the Miami-Indiana series serves as a focal point for inconsistent calls and feeds the conspiracy theorists who believe in superstar calls and league-favored teams.  The controversy in the game is over the definition of a personal foul, a flagrant 1, and a flagrant 2.

Lets look at a flagrant 1 that is given to Tyler Hansbrough for his foul on Dwayne Wade.  In the play Hansbrough definitely swings down on the ball with a lot of force, making contact with Wade’s head.  Hansbrough was undoubtedly making a play on the ball, but if you want to say he used unnecessary force, thus making it a flagrant 1, that is fine, but that also creates a standard.

Now lets look at the flagrant that was given to Udonis Haslem for his foul on Tyler Hansbrough.  This play was ruled a flagrant 1 despite the fact that Haslem clearly makes NO attempt to make a play on the ball and instead forcefully throws both arms at Hansbrough’s face, undoubtedly in retaliation for Hansbrough’s foul on Wade earlier in the game.  If Hansbrough’s foul was ruled a flagrant 1, there is no doubt this should be ruled a flagrant 2 (as announcer Steve Kerr immediately notes) due to the fact that the foul is an unnecessary and forceful blow to the face, with no attempt to go for the ball, and is likely a retaliation play.  Despite this, the foul is ruled a flagrant 1 and Halsem, a key player for Miami due to Bosh’s injury, is allowed to play the remainder of the game.  Sure, Haslem has been suspended for the upcoming game 6, but the fact remains that he was allowed to play in a critical game 5 for Miami and will also be available for a game 7 if the series goes that far.  Was Hansbrough punished by the refs for the fact that he got up after that foul, rather than lying on the ground as if he was shot like Wade did earlier in the game?  Let’s also consider that in instances like this, referees are instructed to call flagrant 2 fouls, as those are then reviewable, where as flagrant 1 fouls are not.  So by this judgment, the referees are saying that this is clearly not a flagrant 2 foul.  Put me down as suspect.

Lets then look at the foul by Dexter Pittman on Lance Stephenson that was also dubbed a flagrant 1.  Not even the biggest Miami homer can argue that foul should not be an immediate ejection.  Not to mention Pittman’s wink over to the Miami bench, making Pittman’s clear act of revenge that more disgusting.  And once again this was called a flagrant 1.

To go even further in the case of referee inconsistency in the series came when Dwayne was called for a flagrant for his foul on Darren Collison.  While I don’t disagree that this should be a flagrant 1 foul, it is hard to argue that Wade made much of any play on the ball and simply lowered his shoulder into the back of a defenseless Collison.  Let’s just say that wouldn’t fly on the playground.  The inconsistency comes in the fact that earlier in the year Jason Smith committed a near identical foul on Blake Griffin and was suspended 2 games for it.  That sets the precedent.  What was Wade’s consequence?  No suspension.  No fine.  Some may argue that it’s the nature of playoff basketball and that playoff suspensions should be for only really harmful plays.  To that school of thought I offer you James Posey’s foul on Kirk Heinrich that landed him a 1 game suspension…and that was in a playoff game.

Can I sense some major favoritism given to the stars of the game?  If Louis Amundson had committed the same foul against Wade (and inevitably see Wade lay on the floor for an hour, whilst having LeBron negotiating with the refs) would we be looking at a suspension?  No doubt about it.  Wade’s ‘attacker’ would have been immediately removed from the game, would probably face a suspension (like Smith and Posey), and he would probably be talked about like some kind of arch villain on Sportscenter.  Similarly, if Jason Smith committed on Reggie Evans rather than NBA golden boy Blake Griffin, there is no way a 2 game suspension would have been handed out.  Unfortunately that is the NBA David Stern has created and allowed today.  It almost seems as if the league and media are yearning for the superstar driven league we saw in the 80s and 90s.  That desire is putting a serious damper on the game.  People complain about the diva attitude that many NBA stars display?  Blame the entitlement that league has given these players based on their superstar treatment.  If the NBA wants to get rid of the growing conspiracy theories, its inconsistencies like these that need to be amended.  Will Indiana retaliate?  Lets just say game 6 will be a fun one to watch.

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As the first round of this year’s NBA Playoffs begins to wrap up we’ve certainly had some surprises as well as some disappointments. We’ve seen incredible performances as some well…flat out mystifying ones. Here are a few thoughts on what has occurred thus far…

1. The Knicks just aren’t that good. Despite all the hype about Melo, Linsanity, STAT, and Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler and despite being a headline love child for the major media outlets, we can finally see that the Knicks simply aren’t a great team and deserved that 8th seed. I know they had some injuries, I know that the Heat are a great team, and I know fire extinguishers are a very formidable opponent…but its hard to deny that this Knicks team was pretty over hyped.

2. The Pacers are the anti-Knicks. How can a team that finished with the 3rd seed be so under the radar? Despite the lack of a true superstar, this Pacers team is loaded with very good players. Danny Granger, David West, Roy Hibbert, George Hill, Paul George, Darren Collison with names such as Leandro Barbosa and Tyler Hansbrough off the bench. They may not all be household names, but that is a VERY good team with a lot of talent and depth. Don’t be shocked if they give the Heat a serious run for their money.

3. The Spurs and the Thunder are for REAL. Both of these teams are an absolute joy to watch. In terms of the Spurs, Duncan has found the fountain of youth, Parker is playing some of the best basketball in the league, they have an incredibly deep roster, and play possibly the best team basketball of any team out there. You want to know how basketball is supposed to be played? Watch the Spurs. The Thunder, on the other hand, are just so difficult to contain. Durant, Westbrook, and Harden are nearly impossible to stop…if you corral one, another will go off. We saw this against the Mavs. Games 1-3 were all very close, but Durant, Westbrook, and Harden each took over one of those games and got the Thunder a win. It’s hard to do much about that.

4. Andre Miller is incredible. There’s a lot of buzz about Javale McGee following the Nuggetts win in game 5 and deservedly so…he played great, but this overlooks the absolute CLINIC put on by Andre Miller in that game.  Post moves, floater, bank shot, lob pass, spin move, you name it and Miller put it on display AND made it look easy. The fact that Miller has no speed, can barely jump, and is older than every single player on the Lakers roster, yet is still able to dominate a game…that is incredible.  I’m not sure about George Karl’s claim about Miller being a top 10 point guard of all time, but this guy might have a serious claim to top 10 most underrated of all time.

5. Javale McGee has made himself some serious cash. You think McGee doesn’t know he’s a restricted free agent this summer? Something tells me he’s going to be getting a lot more than that $3.5M qualifying offer after his performance in the Lakers series.

6. Was Josh Smith serious with that inbounds pass? I know the Hawks got away with it because Rondo fumbled the ball at the end and it will probably be overlooked and forgotten, but come on. You are going to throw a bounce pass right at one of the league’s great steal artists…and expect to get away with it? Imagine if Rondo didn’t fumble the ball afterwards and ended up scoring…that play ends the Hawks’ season. I guess that’s why they are the Hawks.

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With the NBA Playoffs starting Saturday, we had a couple of our bloggers makes some predictions for how things will pan out.

What’s the most intriguing 1st round matchup?

Kyle Williams – Definitely the Memphis/Clippers series. Both teams have the talent to win the West and the athleticism of both teams should make this series a really fun and exciting one to watch. The Celtics/Hawks and Lakers/Nuggets matchups also have potential to be very interesting.

Dave Vinluan – Clippers vs Grizzlies. Interested in seeing how CP3 plays in the postseason with his new squad.

Jeff Morgan – The one I’m looking forward to the most is probably the Grizzlies vs. Clippers. Tons of young talent on both teams, both with something to prove, should be a really entertaining series to say the least. Close 2nd would be Knicks-Heat, If Melo continues his torrid pace and Amare can be Amare, Knicks just might be able to give the heat a series, at the very least a couple of close games. Should be a fun one.


Biggest Potential 1st round upset?

Kyle Williams – Nuggets over the Lakers. The Lakers are definitely a more talented team, but they have struggled with consistency this season and if that continues, the Nuggets have the athleticism and depth to run the Lakers into the ground. The Knicks also have a shot at upsetting the Heat as they have a lot of talent on that roster, but so does Miami so I find it hard to see the Knicks winning more than 2 games.

Dave Vinluan – Knicks over Heat.

Jeff Morgan – If Atlanta was any team besides Atlanta I would say they have a good shot at upsetting the older Celtics. They’re more athletic, and have more size than the C’s down low and if they put everything together I can see them pulling off the upset. Watch out for Denver too. They have always played the Lakers well, especially at home, if the Lakers lose either game 1 or 2, Nuggets have the talent to capitalize.


Who wins the West?

Kyle Williams – Thunder. While the Spurs and Grizzlies are playing great basketball, it will be hard for anyone to compete with the athleticism and scoring ability that the Thunder bring to the table. They are a great team at home and the Durant/Westbrook/Harden combination will be very hard to stop along with Ibaka and Perkins anchoring the defense down low.

Dave Vinluan – OKC Thunder. Westbrook and the scoring champion, the Durantula will take this team far.

Jeff Morgan – As much as I want to say the Lakers, to me the Thunder are the team to beat. They’re super talented, they have size down low, Durant and Westbrook are one of the best 1-2 punch in the league, with a healthy James Harden I can’t see a team beating them 4 times. If they get past the Lakers (potentially) in the 2nd round, look for them in the Finals.


Who wins the East?

Kyle Williams – Heat. Miami is just too talented and Derrick Rose’s health is a big time question for Chicago. Chicago has a potentially brutal series lined up with Boston that could wear them down a bit. I think the Bulls are the best team in the East, but Rose’s health is too uncertain for my liking.

Dave Vinluan – Chicago Bulls. Managed the #1 seed without Derrick Rose for most of the season, and it helps when you’ve got the White Mamba…

Jeff Morgan – This one is tougher because I can legitimately see 3 teams coming out of the East: Bulls, Heat, and Celtics. However, ECF we most likely be Heat and Bulls again, this series is a toss up, it all depends on who’s healthy and who’s playing the best coming into the series. I think the Heat have an easier path – NY and IND then the Bulls – PHI and BOS, so I’ll give the Heat the slight edge here and say the win it in 6.


Who wins the NBA Title?

Kyle Williams – Thunder. They have the talent and athleticism to compete with Miami and Westbrook will be a very difficult matchup. I will have to see Lebron win a title to believe it.

Dave Vinluan – OKC Thunder

Jeff Morgan – Who wins the NBA Title? I got Thunder-Heat in the FINALS. Which would be a hell of a series, and even though the Heat have more experience, I think the Thunder are too tough on their home court and win the championship in 7. Lebron and Co. will have to wait yet another season.

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