Today's pic was sent in by Geert.The Atlanta Hawks:
The Dirty Birds kept things respectable for the first 24 minutes and were behind by only five points (49-44) at the half...but I already knew the game was over. Want to know why? Because of a second-quarter sequence in which Wally Szczerbiak posted up and the Hawks couldn't trust their defense in single coverage. So they sent an extra man to double Wally -- again, in the post! -- to which Szczerbiak responded by skipping a crosscourt pass to Delonte West for a three-pointer. Oh, and this occurred while King Crab was on the bench. I immediately thought to myself, "If they can't contain a LeBron-less unit featuring the postup prowess of Wally "Playa Pimp" Szczerbiak
, well, this isn't going to turn out well for Atlanta." And it didn't.
The Hawks -- who committed 17 turnovers and missed half of their free throws -- were outscored 50-28 in the second half, during which they shot 9-for-30 (30 percent). Said Josh Smith: "It was very disappointing. We advanced to the next level in the postseason and it's kind of disheartening not to be able to play and bring the effort in the second half." Only "kind of" disappointing, Josh? What should be alarming for Atlanta fans, players, coaches, management, stadium employees, personal shoppers, etc., is the casual ease with which the Crabs dispatched them. Mr. MVP scored one of the most effortless 34 points (12-for-20) I've seen in recent memory. Speaking of which...Joe Johnson:
"The Man" for the Hawks finished with 11 points and a game-high 5 turnovers. And he was the unfortunate sucker who was forced to defend LeBron. I guess I don't need to tell you that it was a pretty one-sided matchup. At one point, Johnson actually tried to post up the bigger and much stronger James. 'Bron easily flicked the ball away to a teammate, and, almost before Joe Cool could even react, King Crab was already at the other end throwing down a one-handed slam. Ego-ectomy. And I've gotta be honest...Jonhson looked nervous, if not outright scared, to be facing off against LeBron.The Atlanta bench:
The Atlantean pine jockeys contributed a whopping 10 points on 4-for-19 shooting (and 2-for-6 from the line) in 70+ minutes of mass lacktion. Oh, and their turnovers-to-assist ratio was 7-to-1. Gulp. My favorite bench player play of the night: Zaza Pachulia posts up on the baseline, about 19 feet from the basket, executes to quick half-spins and then loses the ball out of bounds. Somebody needs to remind Zaza that he's only effective within two, maybe three feet of the hoop.Atlanta's free throw shooting:
Remember how I mentioned that they missed half of their freebies (9-for-18)? Well, it might be worth mentioning that Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson and Al Horford combined for zero free throw attempts...in nearly 100 minutes of playing time. That seems almost impossible, doesn't it?The Dallas Mavericks:
As with the Hawks, there were early signs that the Mavs were in trouble. In this case, it was that the Nuggets played like absolute garbage for the first several minutes but Dallas failed to really take advantage of it. At one point, due to a defensive switch, Dahntay Jones was stuck guarding the much taller Dirk Nowitzki in the post. Dirk slammed into Jones a couple times and then pulled what I've started calling "The Wet Spaghetti," where, after minor contact, a player flails his limbs like the bones have been removed in order to get some love from the officials. Anyway, after a couple Wet Spaghetties, Dirk spun and got the ball stripped by Jones...which made me question for like the zillionth time why someone so tall and offensively gifted could suck so badly down low. It's like his puppy died in a tragic low post accident and Dirk never got over it. Hey, Dirk. You're rich. Buy a new puppy, already.
Unlike the Hawks, the Mavericks actually kept the game close through three quarters instead of only two, but the outcome was strangely similar. Dallas was outscored 31-22 in the final quarter and lost by 12 (117-105). And I wouldn't argue if you came to the conclusion that defense was a bit of an issue for the Mavs, considering that the Nuggets shot 50 percent (39-for-78) and earned 40 trips to the line.
Now...regarding trips to the line. I received an email from Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com
about a post he wrote regarding Danny Crawford
, one of the officials in Game 1. (Dan B. also forwarded me a link to the post.) There's a lot of statistical hocus-pokery in the post, so go read it for yourself, but here's the money shot:
"As we pointed out before Sunday's Game 1, in Mavs playoffs games worked by Crawford from 2001-to-2005, the Mavs record was 0-8. (Those years, Dallas was 41-37 in games NOT worked by Crawford.) Now we're updated to this additional info: Since 2001, the Mavs are 53-50 overall in playoffs. Dallas record when Crawford is NOT working the game is 52-35. Dallas' record when Crawford IS working the Mavs game is...1-15. Want more? The one Mavs win under Crawford's watch was in the 2006 Phoenix series, a Dallas blowout victory. Also in 2006, in the NBA Finals, guess who worked Game 3 against the Heat, when Dwyane Wade was allowed to shoot as many FTs (18) as the entire Mavs team made, all leading to Dallas’ two-point loss? That would be Danny Crawford. And in Game 6, when the Mavs lost by three points? And Wade shot 21 free throws, two fewer than the number shot by the entire Mavs team? Danny Crawford strikes again. Seriously, Danny Crawford is the damned Grim Reaper."
Well, chalk up another Dallas loss in a Danny Crawford-officiated game. The Mavs were +10 in fouls and the Nuggets were +23 in FTAs. I'm sure David Stern has already dismissed this as coincidence.Jason Kidd:
Now that Chauncey Billups is done abusing the Young Turk (Chris Paul), he's moved on to embarrassing the Future Hall of Famer. Kidd attempted only 6 shots and finished with more missed field goals (5) than points (4). He did have 6 boards and 7 assists, but was nonetheless outplayed by Mr. Big Shot (18 points, 8 assists, 3 steals.)Josh Howard:
Rick Carlisle recently described Howard as the team's "most important" player. Well, Mr. Most Important ended up with more sprained ankles (2) than points (0) and played only six minutes. So between Howard's gimpiness and Crawford's sinister hatred, you could probably chalk this Dallas loss under "extenuating circumstances." But still.PJ Carlesimo, unintentionally dirty quote machine:
Nominated by t-rocc
: "Rick Carlise, he's like the little Dutch boy sticking his finger in the dike"Lacktion report:
After an off night (lacktion-wise), the lacktators were back, courtesy of two double-digit losses for the Hawks and Mavs. And Chris was there to report it:
Hawks-Cavs: The biggest names in the first game of the epic lacktion matchup -- Tarence Kinsey, Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson, and Mario West -- somehow all failed to put out fully pitiful play. Luckily, several folks kept their non-clutch skills sharp for the second round.
Mike Woodson's oddball collection of bench folks, a former Suckramento King, and Joe Johnson provided ample opportunity for a couple of lacktators from the last round to continue their reverse momentum at the Q. Solomon Jones and Acie Law each spent 4:29 on the court, the wise man bringing home a fortune of 4.5 trillion (the first successful investment of the second round), and the legal expert missing one shot for a +1 suck differential.
The crustaceans under the command of Mike Brown crawled onto the shores of Lake Erie and proceeded to pinch away any hope for the dirty birds in the second half. Joe Smith showed why he was such an important catch for the Crabs by a slow 20:33 swim across the floor of the former Gund Arena, in which two boards (and one block) were negated by four bricks, one rejection, and three fouls for a slight 3:2 Voskuhl.
Mavs-Nuggets: Mark Cuban had to be impressed with the free flow of currency in Colorado tonight, as Matt Carroll belted out a tune of treasure with a 1.95 trillion. And the home team lit up a few human victory cigars as George Karl brought out the first synchronized trillionare trio in memory, with Renaldo Balkman, Jason Hart, and Johan Petro ALL scoring a 1.55 trillion!!!!!
Labels: Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, NBA playoffs, Worst of the Night