The Atlanta Hawks in Miami: The most toothless road warriors in the NBA playoffs might as well have stayed in Atlanta to work on scrapbooking or further honing their fork-bending skills. The Hawks got smacked around in virtually every way a team can be smacked. Poor shooting? Check: 37 percent. Lousy rebounding? Check: The Heat had a 47-36 edge on the glass. Butterfingers? Double-checkity: Atlanta had almost twice as many turnovers (14) as assists (8). In fact, their blocks against (5) almost matched their assist total. By the end of this brutal 48 minutes, the Dirty Birds had scored a poultry (get it?) 72 points and lost by 26. Oh, and four of their five starters (Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Mo Evans) finished with a plus-minus score of at least -20.
Heat-Hawks, Part I: Here's what Tim Reynolds, AP sports writer, had to say after Game 6: "So a wild back-and-forth series—three routs for the Hawks, three routs for the Heat—will be decided Sunday in Atlanta. ... The wacky run of outcomes continued: Atlanta's wins have been by 26, 10 and 15 points. The Heat have prevailed by 15, 29 and 26 points." I particularly enjoyed the deceptive use of words like "wild" and "wacky." Not only do they in no way apply to this matchup, they encourage the incorrect notion that the series has been worth watching...when it clearly has not. I think I'd rather watch the entire 65-episode run of Jem and the Holograms. Twice. And that is truly, truly, truly outrageous.
David Stern: So Rajon Rondo can throw an elbow and not get suspended despite the league's continuing effort to punish players for throwing elbows? Ooooookay. Thanks for the continuing and consistent inconsistency, Dave.
Game 7 of Bulls-Celtics: Look, we all sort of knew in our hearts that there was no way this one could live up to the expectations set by Games 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, right? How could it? How many game-breaking shots and soul-crushing overtimes could a series possibly have? This one had already almost doubled the old record of four overtimes. And if you were a betting man and/or woman, wouldn't you have put your money on the team with championship experience over the one with the rookie point guard AND the rookie (and regularly clueless) head coach? Neither team played all that well, but the Bulls played worse and executed less, shooting 39 percent, getting knuckle-rapped in the paint and -- worst of all -- letting the Eddie House/Brian Scalabrine combo burn them for 24 points on 6-for-7 from downtown. Think about that: Chicago's inability to contain House and Scal probably cost them the game. That and the fact that Vinny Del Negro still hasn't figured out how to coach a defensive rotation. Mind you, the Bulls kept things close, mostly because the Celtics bricked nine free throws, so Boston wasn't free of bawfulry. (Although the C's Boston did hot all 11 of their foul shots in the last 2 minutes.)
Anyway, it was a decent game. But it was pretty much destined to be a bit of a letdown. It wasn't quite Ghostbusters II, but it was close.
Craig Y. wrote in with a couple officiating questions/comments: "Not only the questionable calls during the course of the game but two stand out: 1) How is it Perkins is called for a tech for grabbing his shoulder after getting multiple body blows from Miller cause that is all he did on the play? 2) The call near the end of the first half when Hinrich stole the ball from Pierce, fell down and the refs call a foul on Pierce who was a good four feet from the play." Quick answers: Perk screamed a complaint at the ref for not calling some of those earlier body blows. (And I would guess the officials were letting that contact go because nobody in this series has delivered as many potshots as Kendrick.) As for the Pierce foul, Paul grabbed Kirk immediately after he pilfered the ball, and the ref came in with a late whistle because Hinrich lost the ball. A lot of times refs let those little touch/grab fouls go unless (they believe) it causes a turnover or missed shot.
More from Basketbawful reader DKH: "Wow, apparently Doc Rivers is complaining about the Chicago bench hassling his players. No irony there. Anyway, worst-of to the NBA for doing everything they can to ensure the outcome of this series. Sidenote: How much does Brad Miller lumber into everything? Every time he goes to pick someone, I can't believe he gets there in time. (As I was typing this, he got in the passing lane and picked off the ball, though.)"
Halftime interview selection: From Basketbawful reader J.T. Magee: "The only bawful thing so far [in the Bulls-Celtics game], besides playing Brad Miller more than Tyrus Thomas, which is why they're losing at the half, is the fact that David Aldridge interviewed Brian Scalabrine instead of, well, any other Celtic." Choice Scals quote, from Chris (regarding Boston's in-the-point domination): "We're getting penetration, and we're getting wide open." Couldn't David have at least spent a little time talking about Brian's headbandage? Speaking of Scal...
Update! Brian Scalabrine: From Ruben: "I know that Scal had a very good game by his own standards, but you should definitely mention that block by Rose. When I saw that I laughed so hard, thinking that it must have been devastating! Credit to Scal though, because he didn't turn into Stephon 'afraid to shoot' Marbury, and made some big shots.
Paul Pierce: From Basketbawful reader Ignarus: "I'd like to put of a WotW nomination for Paul Pierce's horrible, horrible mutton chops. I rarely get on anyone's case about hair, but he's got the hair version of a strangulated hernia glued to the sides of his face." Seriously, do you think anyone's told him? I mean, I rely on my friends to tell me when I do something that makes me look like a damn fool. Does Paul have friends like that? Or would that get somebody kicked out of the posse? (Note also that it's tough to be too hard on Pierce's face-fuzz after a series that starred Joakim Noah's head-bush.)
The Miami Heat: They just didn't look like a team that was ready to win in the playoffs. Mario Chalmers (1-for-6, 4 assists, 3 turnovers) looked lost. Michael Beasley finished with 17 points and 7 boards but, at times, didn't look that into the game. Jermaine O'Neal, who sat out of Game 6 with a concussion, played just 42 seconds after being cleared by doctors before the game. (Which means that he and Moon, the two castoffs from Toronto, were both unavailable for this do-or-die game.) And Dwyane Wade spent the entire second half looking kind of pissy...mostly because he was killing himself and yet his team was never in the game after the first quarter. (At times, particularly when he was jawing at Beasley, it looked like Pookie had taken a page out of the Kobe Bryant's 2006 novella, "Browbeat Your Teammates To Success." Anyway, their season finally ended in a 91-78 laugher, but not before a little needless drama...
Udonis Haslem: Late in the game, with the conclusion pretty much decided -- the Atlanta fans were already singing "Hey, hey, hey, goodbye!" -- Haslem did this:
Memo to Udonis: You can't foul an opponent around the face or neck and avoid a flagrant and potential ejection...unless you're Rajon Rondo. Haslem gets bonus points for his post-ejection tantruma and angry tossing of his jersey into the crowd. Way to stay classy, Udonis.
Heat-Hawks, Part II: What a fitting end to a crummy series. Seven games, seven double-digit losses. There were exactly 10 lead changes in the ENTIRE series, and all of those happened in the first quarter. Think about that: The lead never changed hands after the first 12 minutes in seven straight games. Even the Associated Press was bored. According to the AP recap: "A series totally devoid of drama ended in appropriate fashion. After a back-and-forth first quarter that ended with Atlanta ahead 20-18, the Hawks pulled out to a 49-36 lead by halftime." But wait, there's more. You want to know how boring this series has been? Check out this excerpt from the AP game notes: "The late-arriving crowd of 18,864 was just short of a capacity, ending Atlanta's streak of six straight playoff sellouts." When a Game 7 featuring an extremely popular home team and one of the three best players in the league doesn't sell out...you KNOW there's a problem.
The Dallas Maverick: Man, there was a lot of talk about how hot these guys have been, especially after the way they handled the Spurs. But people who were hoping for a second-coming of Bulls-Celtics had to be pretty bummed out when the Mavs fell on their face in Denver. Dallas was actually up 24-16 after the first quarter and then got outscored by 22 points the rest of the way. The Nuggets turned off their targeting computers and "Forced" their way to 55 percent shooting behind 'Melo (7-for-10), Nene (9-for-13) and J.R. Smith (7-for-13). And the Mavericks took a break from not defending only to bumble away the ball (20 turnovers). On the bright side, if you're a Dallas fan, is that the Mavs probably won't be able to play any worse in Game 2.
Rick Carlisle, "blame the refs" machine: Carlisle spent some time after his team's staggering loss insinuating that Dirk was getting abused...but not getting the calls. "I'll look at that closely, and if the referees were right they were right. But he's being played very physically, away from the floor where the rules are different than in post play. We'll look at it and if there's a complaint to be made we'll talk to the league about it."
Marc Stein, unintentionally dirty writing machine: Basketbawful reader catfish noticed this quote in today's Daily Dime: "The Mavs also suffered the indignity of watching Jason Terry, their newly minted Sixth Man Award winner, make less noise than three Denver subs: Andersen, Anthony Carter and Sixth Man Award runner-up J.R. Smith, who had 15 points and six rebounds in repeatedly punishing the visitors with his penetration."
Weekend lactivity roundup: Chris proves that even playoff elimination games can have lacktion:
Heat-Hawks Game 6: In the least interesting seven-game series in memory, lacktion was the name of the game for both Mike Woodson and Erik Spoelstra. When Mario West ruined a six minute sleep-inducing stint with a made shot, Marvin Williams decided to get it on with a +4 suck differential in 4:49 via brick, turnover, rejection, and foul. Meanwhile, the Heat celebrated their blowout win by both giving Dorrell Wright a check for 3.05 trillion and having Yakhouba Diawara toss three bricks in the same amount of time (3:04) -- twice from the charity stripe - for a +3.
Bulls-Celtics: As the Celtics successfully defended home court one last time in the first round, the upstart Bulls served notice that they will be a force for years to come, with a successful array of lacktators. Lindsey Hunter has won the NBA title twice, so he understood the value of unproducitivity in any championship run; his +1 suck differential via foul in 2:17 showed The Notorious VDN that he can be counted on to provide potential victory-clinching celebration in the future when the Bulls get good enough to start garbage time early in the 4th quarter.
Heat-Hawks Game 7: In the most forgettable Game 7 in a most forgettable series, lacktators took the spotlight in a one-sided Atlanta victory - appropriate as the Hawks-Cavs matchup that resulted promises to be an All-Lacktion classic. But first off it's time to recap the merciful end to this all-Southern sleep contest.
Miami had two of its usual lacktators on the case as the game was close early - Yakhouba Diawara withdrawing 3.45 trillion from his bank account, and Jamaal Magloire negating a board in 3:30 with a giveaway and foul for a 2:1 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
The biggest surprise however has to be Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal. When he was acquired by the Heat, nobody expected him to pan out to the same level of mediocrity that his former teammate Jake Voskuhl demonstrated in the Land Before Time. Instead, O'Neal surprised everyone by running across the platform in Level 1-2 -- http://i.ehow.com/images/GlobalPhoto/Articles/4675261/94124_Full.jpg - and finishing off his game in a mere 42 seconds, a surprisingly robust Mario: one brick and two fouls for a +3 suck differential AND a 2:0 Voskuhl!!!!!
Mario West ironically enough did not score a Mario -- or for that matter, any lacktivity (thanks to an unwanted assist and steal). Luckily his teammates showed that they are prepared for the epic lacktion battle in the next round against Darnell and Tarence, as Acie Law vetoed productivity in favor of a 2.75 trillion check, and Randolph Morris gave up the rock once for a +1 in 1:59, also good for a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl (Morris's second in three games).
Mavs-Nuggets: The very first game of the second round provided George Karl an opportunity late to provide the home fans with their human victory cigars. Linas Kleiza fouled once and missed from downtown for a +2 in 7:02, while Jason Hart makes his third lacktive appearance of the postseason by firmly fitting into a Power Glove for a 38-second Mario!
Andrew Bynum: From Basketbawful reader Sun Devil:
DISCLAIMER: I am a Blazer fan
DISCLAIMER: As a Blazer fan, I like to jab at Lakers fans
Yes Greg Oden has had a sometimes strong, but mostly underwhelming rookie year. This has been noticeable in the playoffs.
I'm just going to leave Andrew Bynum's stats right here:
Game 1: 7 points 3 rebounds 5 fouls Game 2: 10 points 4 rebounds 2 fouls Game 3: 4 points 2 rebounds 5 fouls Game 4: 2 points 1 rebound 2 fouls Game 5: 2 points 5 rebounds 2 fouls
And that's against the freakin' Jazz! They don't have Yao Ming!
Anyway, I'm fine with ragging on Greg, but let's not forget about Mr Bynum
Tracy McGrady: His humiliation became almost complete when the AP ran a story about how the new "mature" Ron Artest has become the heart of the Houston Rockets. The choice quote: "He's been key to the success of a team that was all but written off when Tracy McGrady had season-ending knee surgery in February." So not only did his team finally break out of the first round AFTER he was lost for the season due to "injury," but RON ARTEST became the hero in his absence. Seriously, at this point the only way Knee-Mac could possibly feel any worse would be if the Rockets went on to win a title. (By the way, did you know that his injury took his passion for the game? Did you know he HAD passion for the game? Yeah, I was shocked too. By the way, check out that article and you'll notice that Tracy repeatedly makes a point of how hard he works in the offseason. Maybe he's been reading Basketbawful...?)