Here's a new twist on an old theme...the sad standing bench.
The Orlando Magic: Remember: This was supposed to be a better Magic team than the one that made the NBA Finals last year. All the experts said so. The numbers said so. Their 8-0 record and monstrous point differential through the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs said so. Just like a Weekly World News Headline -- "Bat Boy pregnent with Hitler's Robot Baby" -- it was a scientific fact.
Here's another fact for you: The Magic are now 0-2 in their Eastern Conference Final series with the Boston Celtics. And Orlando is 0-5 all-time in playoff series in which they lose the first two games. Okay, that was two facts, but you see what I'm getting at.
Of course, I've been saying all season that these Magic weren't as good as last year's squad, no matter what lies the experts and their stats were telling us. The 2008-09 Magic had a system. Dwight Howard anchored the defense and took care of the heavy lifting, and Hedo Turkoglu facilitated the offense and took over scoring duties in crunch time. The 2009-10 Magic replaced Hedo with Vag Carter. And that's pretty much where I rested my argument...and I was right. But we'll get back to that.
For the game, Orlando managed only 92 points on 39 percent shooting. Mind you, this was despite a 9-for-13 night from Dwight Howard. Speaking of which, I have to give Pumaman credit. After getting roughed up and beaten down in Game 1, Dwight said he was going to change his tactics. And he did. Instead of trying to elbow past or straight through his Celtic defenders, Howard made much quicker moves, stopped trying to over-dribble and power his way through the defense, and seemingly developed a quick-spin hook shot overnight.
Dwight finished with a game-high 30 points and even went 12-for-17 at the free throw line, which is pretty freaking good for him.
But I made this point yesterday: The Celtics don't necessarily care about stopping their opponent's superstar. Sure, they want to make life as rough on that player as they can, but their brilliance is in stopping "the other guys." I'm always telling BadDave and Evil Ted this, but in many cases, if not most cases, superstars don't win championships. The role players do. The Birds, Jordans, Magics, etc., those types of players are going to get their numbers. They always do. But it's John Paxson or Robert Horry or Steve Kerr hitting a clutch jumper that usually swings things one way or the other. Heroics from an unexpected source.
The Celtics wouldn't let that happen.
The non-Howard Magic starters were 13-for-42 from the field. J.J. Redick was the only player to do much scoring off the bench -- he finished with 16 points -- but went 3-for-9 from the field. Of course, in all fairness, Redick did go 2-for-3 from downtown and 8-for-8 from the line. Moreover, he had 4 assists, a surprising 2 offensive boards (both on the same possession), and helped keep the Magic from falling apart in the first half. In fact, Redick logged 34 minutes and finished with Orlando's best plus-minus score (+5).
Next to Howard, Redick was the Magic's most important player. I hope you see why that was a huge-ish problem.
Here are some other numbers for your enjoyment: Orlando gave up 22 points off only 14 turnovers. Furthermore, they were outrebounded 38-36 and outscored 36-34 in the paint. Those last two disadvantages aren't staggering, except that the Magic were supposed to win the paint and rebounding battles handily. After all, Howard is the best center in the league, right? And the Celtics are a bad rebounding team, aren't they?
Some theories just don't hold up.
Reality check: The Magic hadn't lost back-to-back home games since losing Games 4 and 5 of the 2009 NBA Finals. For all intents and purposes, that ended Orlando's title run. Seems like history could be repeating itself here.
Vince Carter: Like I said above, when they replaced Turkoglu -- who was indeed overpaid by the Raptors but had proven himself as the Magic's go-to guy -- with Half Man, Half A Nutsack, I wrote Orlando off as a true championship threat. With Hedo gone, who was going to take over clutch duties for the Magic? Pumaman, who has 1.5 post moves and can't hit free throws? Rashard Lewis, who's never liked doing the dirty work and can't really create his own shot? Nope, Vinsanity was the Magic's new Captain Crunch. He was the only one who had the capability to do it.
And last night, that fact bit the Magic in their magical ass.
I'll give him this much: Carter hit two or three really tough shots, which naturally led Mark Jackson to exclaim, "And that's why the Magic got Vince Carter...to hit big shots!" And just as naturally, Jeff Van Gundy pointed out that those "tough shots" were actually "bad shots"...and that knocking them down is a sort of fool's gold.
As usual, Van Gundy was right.
Vag went 5-for-15, grabbed only 1 rebound, dished only 1 assist and committed 3 turnovers. But Carter's biggest eff up came when it mattered most. Of course. The Magic were down three points with 34.7 seconds left, but Stan Van Gundy wrote up a play that worked: Carter got free on a drive and almost made it to the rim before getting fouled by Paul Pierce. All Carter had to do was knock down both freebies and the Magic would have a really good chance to steal this game.
Vag bricked the first. Right before the second attempt, the camera zoomed in on Carter's face. I swear, he looked like a Fear Factor contestant who had just been asked to eat a giant plate full of cow testicles that were covered in crawling insects. I immediately said, "Nope," as in, "He is so going to shank that second free throw."
And he did.
Update! Okay, first of all, I realize cow's don't have balls. It was s'posed to be part of the joke. But anyway, Evil Ted and I were just talking about the game and I came up with a better analogy: Have you ever been stuck somewhere -- on a train, or a plane, or in a car on the highway -- and suddenly been hit with a case of diarrhea? All you can do is screw up your will power and try to hold it in. That's the look Vince had on his face...the look of a man who was terrified that he was about to shit his pants. And then he did it.
Said Carter: "I don't take losses well."
That's funny, Vince, because you've had a lot of practice. Everybody knows this is Carter's first trip to a conference finals, right?
Carter continued: "They bring me in to make plays and deliver in crunch time. For me to step up there and miss two free throws, regardless, this doesn't sit well with me."
Well, I'm sure Magic fans are utterly relieved that blowing the game doesn't sit well with you. Like a Hello Kitty band-aid, that just makes it all better.
"Don't blame me. Basketbawful warned y'all."
As Basketbawful reader Kazam92 said:
Hedo wouldn't miss those FT's, he'd likely also hit that 3 that nelson bricked earlier.
just a reminder:
Update! The Ghost of Nick Anderson: I can't believe I didn't include this on my first try:
J.J. Redick: After Game 1, Basketbawful reader Basebawful said: "I think J.J Redick should play more minutes, the guy is a hustler, plays great defense on Ray Allen and shoots great. That run at the end of the game was in part because of him."
To which Cortez replied: "If they go this route...Celtics in 3 because they'll cancel the last game to pay respects to Redick's smoldering corpse."
Well, Redick did get big minutes in Game 2, and for the most part, he delivered. But...he also made the second-biggest eff up of the game.
After Carter bonked those foul shots, the Celtics used their full 24 seconds before missing a shot. Redick grabbed the rebound, but instead of calling time out, he took off toward half court. Not only did he run crucial seconds off the clock, he never made it over the half court stripe before finally calling for time. This meant that not only were the Magic left with only 3.5 seconds, they had to take the ball out from beyond half court.
Okay, maybe that was the biggest eff up of the game.
Said Van Gundy: "[Immediately calling timeout] would have made a big difference. We said in the thing to call a timeout. We didn't make the right play there at the end."
Added Redick: "I made a mistake. I didn't hear the whistle initially. When I didn't hear it initially, I just kind of went, then I realized we should have called a timeout. So that was my fault."
Pretty much, yeah.
I expect him to start smoldering soon...
Rashard Lewis: Back in 2007, a lot of people had a mini-freakout when the Magic decided to give Lewis a six-year, $110 million contract. I mean, how do you pay that much for a guy who can't create his own shot, doesn't generate offense for his teammates, never rebounded well for his size and doesn't play much defense?
But the Magic have gone 170-76 and made an NBA Finals since Lewis arrived, which forced people to kind of back off. But, well, the dude has been lost against the Celtics. Take last night's performance: 41 minutes, 5 points, 2-for-6 from the field, 1-for-3 from downtown, 4 rebounds. If Jackson and Van Gundy hadn't kept saying that the Magic needed Rashard to do something, I honestly would have forgotten he was even out there...that he was even still alive.
For God's sake, J.J. scored over three times as many points as Lewis did!
Mark Jackson, quote machine: As Basketbawful reader Luke pointed out: "Incredible! Mark Jackson just suggested that given the foul trouble of the Celtics big men, Brian Scalabrine could come in and guard Dwight Howard." That was a truly frightening moment for Boston fans. Fortunately for those fans and Scal himself, it never came to pass.
Amar''''''e Stoudemire: When Lamar Odom outrebounded him 19-3 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, well, that should have been a wakeup call, right?
Said STAT: "I'm not giving him no hype right now; he had a lucky game in Game 1. We just got to make sure we box him out. I think I focused so much on [Pau] Gasol and [Andrew] Bynum to where he snuck in there and got 19 boards, so now we just got to make sure there's three guys out there that can rebound well [when] adding Odom. So, we got to do a better job on them."
Luck, huh? See, to me, rebounding is more about hard work and determination than luck. Do you know who leads the Suns in defensive rebounding during the 2010 NBA playoffs? It's 37-year-old Grant Hill with 59 defensive boards. Meanwhile, Stoudemire has only 41 defensive rebounds despite playing 75 more minutes than Hill. What's more, Stoudemire barely ranks ahead of Steve Nash in Defensive Rebounding Rate in the playoffs (12.5 to 10.3). Hill leads the team in DRR at 22.2.
There are several things that bother me about Stoudemire as a big man...and rebounding is one of them. I watch the Suns play a lot, and it seems lik Amar’e isn’t a big fan of going after contested defensive rebounds. And at times, he doesn’t do a great job of boxing out. Again, Lamar Odom outrebounded him 19-3.
Luck has nothing to do with it.
The NBA Draft Lottery: I'll leave this one to the readers:
2. Aaron Brooks for forgetting his pocket protector.
3. The guy interviewing John Wall for giving me the most awkward thing I've seen since I-don't-know-when.
The wizards were gunning for that #1 spot and hit the target. Good for them. They had John Wall in their cross-hairs and took aim at turning their team around and shot for the stars. Shoot, with a little bit of luck, every team has a shot to turn around their fortune. No more riding shotgun for them in this league. Now lets see if they pull the trigger on Wall or shoot themselves in the foot and go another direction. Couldnt have happened to a better team. David Stern has to be happy Arenas will be a mentor to the NBA's next big star. Go Wiz!!
Yesterday's officiating tirade: Yesterday, I wrote a thousand-word post about why the Phoenix Suns got blasted in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Nowhere in that post was officiating mentinoed. Officiating got brought up in the comments section, I made a non-comment, and then things went berserk...leading to the following comment in the BAD comments by Basketbawful reader Fishy:
According to just about every fan, their team would be 82-0 during the season and 16-0 during the playoffs if it weren't for the refs.
When my team loses I tend to remember all the missed free throws, turnovers, bad shots, bad defense, mental lapses, non-box-outs, and all the things MY TEAM DID TO LOSE and THE OTHER TEAM DID TO WIN....
... not a few bad calls that went against us, because there for sure were a few bad calls that helped us too just like every damn game. Every. Game.
Naturally, most fans don't see the calls that go their way, just the ones that didn't.
It gets old people! The refs suck. We know. Now go focus on your team.
Here's what gets me about the whole situation. I never said the Suns lost because of officiating. AnacondaHL, who opened the can of worms, never said the Suns lost because of officiating. All that was said was this: There were some iffy calls on Grant Hill, and based on the numbers -- the Lakers were only +2 on the night when Hill was in the game, and they didn't break the game open until Hill got sent to the bench with his fourth foul and subsequent bogus technical -- that had an impact on the game.
Nobody said the Suns would have won had Grant not been the leading actor in The Phantom Foul Menace. Seriously, go back and reread that thousand-word post that doesn't mention officiating, then read all the comments. Nobody said the Suns would have won...and plenty of reasons were given for why they lost.
Which brings me back to why I didn't bring the officiating up in the first place: I didn't want some Lakers fans freaking out. That fact is, officiating has been brought up on this site -- both in posts and in the various comments sections -- many times during these playoffs. In fact, here's a bad call that went the Suns' way during their first round series with the Frail Blazers...a call, I would like to point out, that was prominently featured on this very site:
Amazingly, even shockingly, there wasn't a big deal made about that or any other crack on playoff officiating. Everybody has been able to either agree that bad calls are made sometimes or they shrug it off. End of story. Because, by and large, Basketbawful attracts a reasonably intelligent crowd of basketball fans who realize that there are countless factors that go into each and every win or loss.
I mean, if there was ONE REASON a team got beaten, my Worst of the Night posts would be pretty damn short, wouldn't they?
So please, as the leading provider of free basketball humor on the Interwebs, I'm asking everyone to do me a favor. Before you start labeling people as "pathetic" or "whiners," do me a favor and just read the posts. If I or somebody else clearly and sincerely states that Team A only beat Team B because of bad officiating -- that lousy calls were the only reason for a win or loss -- then by all means correct that person. But going on a bitter rant about nothing accomplishes, well, nothing. We're all here for a good time, not a war of words.
Update! Joe DeRosa: Talk about crafty: Mr. DeRosa tossed a basketball to an angry fan, and when the fan threw it back to him, Joe signaled for security to throw the fan out...and they did. Well, not really. The Orlando Sentinel says the fan is Wyndham Vacation Ownership CEO Franz Hanning, who was simply moved to another (probably not quite as good) seat. The Sentinel also says Hanning is an acquaintance of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who lives in Orlando.
Maybe they'll use swords in game 3, or a battle axe. That would be pretty sweet.
The refs really are letting things go in this series...which always leads me to wonder why the call the fouls they do call. Howard, Perkins and KG tend to move on every screen, yet Perkins barely moved on the screen that resulted in his sixth foul. And as far as I can remember, that was the only moving screen called in this game (Perk got called for them twice in Game 1).
Meanwhile, in the first half, Rondo slipped and fell with the basketball but wasn't called for a travel, leading Breen, Jackson and Van Gundy to discuss the particulars of the rule on traveling when a player falls down with the ball (apparently, it's only called when the player "gets and advantage"). Then, in the fourth quarter, the same play happened but Rondo was called for the travel...despite getting no particular advantage for falling down (he probably would have been tied up by Howard, and no way Rondo's winning THAT tip).
Oh well. Officiating is what it is...
On the slow version of the replay it looked like he really could have hurt his knee, quadricep, or hamstring.
But no, leave it to Captain Hypochondriac to somehow sustain a wrist injury.
Personally, i think he feigned the injury so that he could have an excuse for missing key shots or clutch free throws, (COUGH COUGH COUGH) later in the game.
Some players shrink in the spotlight, but damn this has to be one of the few athletes who shrinks at the premonition of having to be in the spotlight.
Can we just call him Half Man from now on??
That was part of the joke...plus "steer's testicles" didn't sound as fun.
Oh, also, WotN to ME for forgetting to reference Nick Anderson...a mistake I've corrected with video.
Actually, speaking of MVP failure, my ESPN score app tells me that Nash is the only MVP to have never made it to the finals. That makes me sad.
Well, regular season MVP and playoffs MVP are different things...but I won't go into all that. Besides, I already posted an MVP selection mea culpa when Pumaman couldn't stay on the floor during round one.
...like the Ottawa Senators attempted in an embarassing 2008 NHL playoff game. :D
"Then we will ball in the shade."
And on a side note in reference to Bawful's mention of KG's moving screens, MAN did he get away with a terrible one last night. I don't remember when in the game it was, but he practically walked a semi-circle while screening his teammate.
Vag Carter was tribbon all over the floor
If the Suns still can't win with that kind of help, it's over. Amar''''''e, grab some rebounds and play D. Nash, fucking attack Gasol. Frye, stop spraying fecal matter all over the place. We can steal this game.
Simply moving while screening (or advancing in the same direction as your teammate with the ball) is n't a foul. There has to be some illegal contact (moving toward or laterally into the path of the defensive player).
Redick's play is indefensible, but looking at the bright side, maybe if Redick hadn't played 34 minutes, he wouldn't have been able to screw up the game at the end. Maybe it would have been over before crunch time like almost happened in game 1.
Man, I know nobody likes Vince here, but at least the guy is trying. Those really disappointing in this series are Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson and Michael Pietrus. They can't buy a basket.
As a Toronto fan, it was great to see Vag to again writhe on the floor a minor injury and summon the spirits of Nick "The Brick" Anderson.
Also, Bawful, can we get a best of the night for Joe DeRosa? He chucked a basketball at a fan last night during halftime.
On JJ Redick: last year in the playoffs I, a Chapel Hill resident and UNC employee, grudgingly said to myself, "Kudos for JJ. He worked his ass off to transform himself from the typical whiny white Dookie shooting guard into a real NBA role player." I experienced the same feeling again this year, especially with the D he's playing on Jesus Shuttlesworth. I actually felt myself becoming a bit of a JJ fan, which I usually won't do for Dookies. Then came that brain fart at the end of game 2. Alas, JJ won't be a contender role player, because they don't do stuff like that. And you know what, he ain't a rookie. There's no excuse. You can't teach that kind of stuff. It's a basketball IQ thing, and it's innate.
I will, however, gnaw my own hand off before I ever cheer for Jon Scheyer.
After watching the Wizards play for a number of years I can honestly say the only thing that will give the wizards a shot in the arm is an actual shot in the arm of cocaine covered steroids.
WOTN award should got to the crew in charge of mopping up the blood from Vince's gaping vagina or Howard's multiple stab wounds. Players were just slipping all over the place as if it was the hobo ice capades.
Honestly though the Celtics are just doing what the Lakers did in the last year finals although they are more efficient at it and more likely to cause a concussion. Game plan is put the biggest guy you have, in the lakers case Pau "marshmallow" Gasol and body up on him just out side the paint. While Pumaman tap dances on rollerblades in an attempt to get to the paint, a guard will make a swipe at the ball which has a 50% chance of causing pumaman to commit the turn over. If the swipe doesn't connect with the ball, the guard quickly gets back to covering his guy at the perimeter by the time the guard is back in place, pumaman has already stopped dribbling just outside his comfort zone and with no one slashing in to help him he'll lob his patented "retarded hook" shot which usually will not connect. Plan B, if he already is in the paint just hit him across the arms or swipe the hand down on the ball/howards mittens.
If Pau "the guy who looks like the stork that delivers babies" Gasol can do it then Perkins should have no problems doing it (which he does quite nicely). But all this can be negated if Jameer Nelson can get Howard the ball before the Celtics defense is set. There were 5 or 6 times during the game where if Jameer had just looked up to Howard a second or two earlier, pumaman would would have gotten an easy dunk. Instead most of Howards points came from muscling through a series of body blows that would make the characters of "Mike Tyson's Punch out" wince.
And if Howard can be reasonably contained there is no need to double team. With no double team every other player the Magic team is covered and so no ball movement and no stretching the floor with 3 point shooters.
So my advice to the Magic (i'm sure Van Gundy is reading this while taking notes and wondering what kind of basketball genius I am) is to get the ball to Howard early, and fucking move without the ball instead of having Howard work while Rashard Lewis breaks out the popcorn and the 3d glasses. One thing they should also try is putting Pietrus on Pierce, he did a half way decent job on Kobe last year and both their names start with P so its win win. As far as getting the rest of the team involved...well there's no easy formula. Lewis will probably contribute the same amount that scal is doing for the Celtics. Vag should keep attacking the rim and to stop pretending each bump is the equivalent of a shotgun blast to the face. Reddick will continue to play with energy but his inexperience will cause him to fuck up a few more times. Jameer's court vision isn't really top notch and I don't see how you fix that by the next game.
Other than that, this game was close through out instead of the Celtics making a break early and the Magic having to claw their way back into it. Plus the Celtics tend to get the yips at home. So it all bodes well for the Magic right? Right?!?!?!?!
your post regarding vince carter sounds very familiar. let's just visit my post from last nights after dark thread......
i was watching the magic game tonight and got to witness the extreme choke-age from vince. it was sad sorta. after he missed the first one the camera did a close up on his face and you could see all confidence had evaporated instantly. i called the next miss exclaiming he was going to choke out loud in the bar i was in. thankfully vince made me look good while sacrificing himself and his team.
anyone got that playback from espn? it was epic watching him go from pumped and confident to scared at the drop of a hat. reminded me of another magic player at the free throw line....
and not to bring this up in another thread, but the officials are just out of hand. the ref ousting the fan tonight after the ref threw a ball at him, only to have the fan throw it back and then be tossed for his behaviour was insanely uncalled for. fans are allowed to heckle, the ref threw the ball at him (from what i saw, correct me if i missed something, remember...croweded bar :) )and the fan threw it back and got tossed for only doing what the ref did first????
i think it's funny, that close up gave it away. good to see i wasn't the only one that saw it! you did manage to say it better though, :)
.....and if anyone can i can't find vid of the ref tossing the fan from last night when i look on youtube. anyone find a link? i'd like to rewatch. thanks.
At least the reason why she was swerving wasn't because Delonte West was going down on her.
As a Laker fan, of course I'm ecstatic. The Celtics will be feasted upon. They have no way to guard the Lakers. "Stay at home on everyone" does not work on the Lakers. Artest will shut Pierce out.
I'm literally getting giddy.
The Big Voskuhl of course is the namesake, but then we have Nick Anderson, Dwight Howard, and now Vince "I was 84% on the stripe before tonight" Carter.
This is getting as painfully repetitive as the Frail Blazers' big man draft history.
CAPTCHA: "thybo," as in "She checks out Mozart while she does thybo...reminds me that there's room to grow." LOL.
BadDave: So, when you have a situation where the alpha dog is out (think the Bucks against Atlanta this year, or last year's Celtics-Magic matchup, or Knicks-Bulls in '94), then the "Jordan Rules" without the "Jordan" type become THAT much more effective!!!!
Assuming its a Celtics - Lakers battle royale, if Ron guards Pierce then Kobe has to guard Allen and somehow I don't see kobe chasing Allen around the court.
Yeah, I already put it in the comments.
I know the NBA has been liberal in its officiating of Euro-type moving screens now. (The secret to Sarunas Jasikevicius' success in Europe and FIBA play, BTW. Did you realize he literally moved as fast as molasses until he went to the NBA for a few seasons?) But Karl Malone took the moving screen to a whole new level - from "subtle" and prolonged hedging, to something familiar only earth-moving equipment.
The Curse of Pervis Ellison strikes again.
Probably wouldn't have been so much pomp and circumstance if they knew beforehand that there will not be another #1 pick in Sactown for quite a while.
CAPTCHA: "concent," i.e. "With the concent of Nick Anderson, the Magic practice missing their free throws on a regular basis."
As a Laker fan, of course I'm ecstatic. The Celtics will be feasted upon. They have no way to guard the Lakers. "Stay at home on everyone" does not work on the Lakers. Artest will shut Pierce out. I'm literally getting giddy.
Really? Worked on 'em in '08 as I recall. But maybe the Celts should leave Ron open for the three...he's shooting 22 percent in the playoffs (13-for-57).
But before you start getting too giddy, you should probably wait until your team actually makes the Finals. And you should also consider the fact that L.A.'s biggest challenge in the playoffs so far was against the best defensive team they've faced...the Thunder. And -- assuming a Celtics-Lakers Finals -- Boston has an even better defense. And although Wild Yams' theory is that the Celts will be spent going through the Cavs and Magic, it's possible the reverse is true. That is, the Celtics have been far superior against better teams than the Lakers have faced. I mean, the Cavaliers and Magic looked pretty unstoppable until they faced Boston.
But hey, by all means, continue to gloat and feel giddy.
I say Bollocks! to the whole cow's testicles business.
Someone needs to show Matt Barnes how to wear an Ab Zapper properly.
Played pick-up at UNC with Vag too, and he shows about the same interest and toughness now as he did then.
Although as a Laker fan, assuming we get past the Suns, we would want Orlando instead of Boston. I don't care what the defensive efficiency stats say, Boston's defense is better. Plus they have something that's very very dangerous; Perkins can defend Gasol 1-on-1. Orlando has nobody to defend Gasol from the PF position and if they stick Howard on him, Gasol will foul him out in 15 possessions or less. The Celtics also get that ref bias for "physical play" meaning that they make it clear that they foul on every possession and eventually the refs just stop calling the minor fouls. Say what you want about Kobe being physically tough (he is without a doubt) and mentally tough (he can be), but when Kobe feels like he's not getting calls, he goes directly into the tank and starts taking awful jumpers. Even though the Lakers would give up home court advantage in an Orlando series, Orlando can't guard our bigs and Kobe will inhale Matt Barnes/Vince Carter in a big game situation.
That's presuming we get by the Suns though. Unlike Yams and other commenters, I think the Suns are far from done. Odom tends not to have 2 good games in a row, Kobe's knee is guaranteed to be worse today than on Monday and Phoenix can't possibly play that bad 2 games in a row. For as big a beatdown as there was on Monday, if Phoenix takes this one, they become the favorites to win the series again.
I've been a big Bulls fan since before they won their first ring, and even though it's popularly believed that Hue Hollins phantom foul call on Scottie Pippen cost them a berth in the '94 Finals, deep in my heart I know that those Bulls' tendency to blow double-digit leads is what really did them in.
Some folks like to say that the refs handed the '06 Finals to Miami by calling a foul whenever a Dallas player as much as gave Dwayne Wade a dirty look, but the truth is that Avery Johnson was outcoached and the Mavs are as clutch as Vince Carter.
Generally speaking, the better, mentally tougher team prevails in a playoff series. If the refs were really part of some master plan to make only big-market teams successful, then the Knicks would be in the playoffs, don't you think?
Look at that... a Lakers fan with a sense of humor...
You obviously haven't been paying attention. Pierce and Artest go way back. When Artest was with the Pacers Pierce gave him no end of grief with solid defense and straight up shooting. It used to be one of my favorite matchups to watch when the Pacers were in town... Artest has game, to be sure, but Pierce has his number.
I'm not sure Pierce has Ron-Ron's number, although according to BBR's head-to-head finder, PP has averaged 20+ points on 44 percent shooting against Artest over his career. But honestly, the Celtics don't rely on Pierce to score 20 anymore...just look at the Cleveland series. Guys step up when they need to step up.
Totally saw that, totally laughed. Also laughed at this: When Pierce fouled Vag with 30 seconds left, he looked like he'd just accidentally knocked his grandma down the stairs. Then, when Carter bonked the freebies, he looked like he just won the lottery. Good times.
In '08, the Celtics were younger and more spry. They had a way better bench. They had home court advantage.
If Lakers/Celtics happens again this year, I guarantee you the results will be different.
But you're right, I won't say another word until the Suns are gone, because they pose a much bigger threat than the Celtics do.
The only time all the guys turn it on is on defense. Celtics take pride in it and EVERYONE plays D. But offense? I think they just rely on the mismatch.
This has to be one of the funniest quotes of all time, there is absolutely nothing sneaky about grabbing 19 rebounds in a game. That is about as sneaky as nuclear bombing China of the face of the earth.
While that's essentially true, it's also essentially true for all NBA teams. However, Rondo hit a couple tough/uncharacteristic jumpers last night, KG hit a difficult fadeaway J over Dwight Howard, etc. Sometimes it's Rondo, sometimes Pierce, sometimes Allen...that's the kind of stuff I'm talking about, and it's happened repeatedly in this series.
And, really, isn't that how the truly great teams operate? Isn't that what the Lakers do? Sometimes Kobe is going to go crazy, sometimes Gasol, sometimes Odom. Artest had an uncharacteristic shooting day in Game 3 of the Jazz series.
Ash, I can't tell if you're a trolling Lakers fan or simply misinformed. During their championship season, Boston ranked 10th in Offensive Efficiency. Last season, they ranked 6th despite losing KG for half a season. Two top 10 finishes are hardly "terrible." By contrast, the Lakers finished 11th in O-Rating this season...would you consider them a terrible offensive team? Because they are by the crude standards you've outlined.
Celtics were again in the top 10 in O-Rating for the first half of this season, but plummeted to 15th by the end, thanks to a truly bawful second half slump.
And while Boston's O-Rating for these playoffs aren't great, they've also faced the 7th, 6th, and 3rd best defensive teams in the league (based on D-Rating). Against those three teams, and without homecourt advantage in the last two series, the C's are averaging 98 PPG on 47 percent shooting. And they're barely behind the Lakers in playoff eFG% (50.9 to 51.6) despite playing superior defensive teams.
Meanwhile, the Lakers have yet to face a team as good defensively as the Celtics. The closest they've come is the Thunder, who ranked 9th. They held L.A. to 95 PPG on 43 percent shooting.
As always, just sayin'.
"So first off, I would like to know, who injured Lebron's elbow?"
Puzzled looks all around from all the lakers.
"Well, I know one of you HAD to put T-mac's syndrome in his coffee or something, right?"
Lord Vega, AKA Pau Gasol steps forward "My Lord, it was our understanding that any attacks on the chosen one would commence after we made it to the finals and were certain of our opponent."
The Dark Lord is baffled, "Wait, so nobody sabotaged Lebron? What about the elbow? He seemed limited and injured? What about the experimental Carter syndrome, the one that causes players to lose all heart and shy from contact? I thought for sure we had tried that out on the Cavs, judging from how they folded!"
Gasol shakes his head, "we had planned to do so, my lord, but only until AFTER we had both reached the finals. We had no interest in helping the Celtics win, after all."
Gasol goes on, "It seems that Lebron simply has a low pain threshold, which allowed the elbow to have such an effect, and as far as his teammates giving up is concerned, they did have Mike Brown as their coach, and Sith Heel O'Neil as a backup, so there was plenty of room for dessension in the ranks."
The Dark Lord ponders, then has a revelation "So the Celtics just.............beat them. My minion, J.A. Andande, informed me this was impossible."
Gasol smirks, "ESPN 'experts' rarely get it right my lord, why they once had us picked to beat the Celtics in the finals if you remember?"
.."Yes, Lord Vega, I remember, and I can't tell you how much better that makes me feel."
True enough and although KG and Allen were in the offense (though Allen's performance was awful), you can feel that most of the offense was being funneled through Pierce due to the fact that they guarded him lightly (with the exception of Howard who mistook Pierce's head for a basketball). Of course that may change game to game but the Celtics tend to see who has the weakest match up and drive their offense through that player. I have a feeling that they don't really have 1 person that can be guarded tightly but turn it on at will if everyone else is having a rough night offensively. I get that maybe that's considered "hero" basketball and thats gaiant Doc River's philosophy but there are times when you just need a guy to take over offensively and lead by example. Kinda like an insurance policy.
Seriously, though, they lost to the Nets. At home, in late February. And they are going to be the NBA champions?
"Minas Mamba"...I love it!
I get that maybe that's considered "hero" basketball and thats gaiant Doc River's philosophy but there are times when you just need a guy to take over offensively and lead by example. Kinda like an insurance policy.
No, they don't have a "turn it on at will" player. Will that come back to haunt them? I guess we'll see...
To be fair, Lakers defense is ranked 4th, and the Celtics defense is 5th. It's no guarantee that the Celtics are going to score 95 points a game against the Lakers. Although if they can, give them the title.
Well, in their last eight games -- versus the 6th and 3rd best defensive teams respectively -- the Celts are averaging just a shade under 99 per.
Also, in the playoffs, the Celtics are giving up 99.8 points per 100 possessions, which is second among playoff teams (the Magic are first at 99.1). Meanwhile, the Lakers are giving up 107.9 points per 100 possessions, which is 7th among playoff teams...
Seriously, though, they lost to the Nets. At home, in late February. And they are going to be the NBA champions?
It should be abundantly clear by now that these Celtics are a different team than the one that lost to the Nyets.
I'm getting tired of hearing about how old and creaky the Celts are.. Pierce is 31. RonRon is 30. Any slowing down that Pierce has, due to age, can't be applied selectively... Vinsanity is 33. Kobe is 31, the same age as Pierce... and he came into the league two years before Pierce. Odom is 30. How come Pierce has to dust and creaks that come with age and the rest of these pikers don't?
Pierce dropped 28 on Orlando last night, played great defense against Cleveland and isn't so selfish and entitled that the has to put up shot after shot in order to pad his stats.
MJ dropped 60+ on the Celts in a playoff game in '86. in fact, MJ made, what, four or five playoff trips before grabbing the brass ring? Why...? 'Cause it wasn't until they decided to actually build a effing team with guys like Pippen, Grant and Rodman who could, you know, actually do something other than stand around and gawk at MJ.
Basketball is a team sport.
Doc got these guys to believe when others had written them off. I think it is safe to say that he is one of the best coaches in the league right now.
OMG Kobe rulz lol!
"I'm not giving him no hype right now; he had a lucky game in Game 1. We just got to make sure we box him out. I think I focused so much on [Pau] Gasol and [Andrew] Bynum to where he snuck in there and got 19 boards, so now we just got to make sure there's three guys out there that can rebound well [when] adding Odom. So, we got to do a better job on them."
Now, Bynum can't play too many minutes (<20mins) because of injury. So there is only Pau for him to stop. And he focused on Pau so much that Gasol averages : 25 points at 67%, 6.5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks.
I think the real lucky one is not Odom but Gasol, being _efen_e_ by Amar'e must be charming.
It worked for them recently, if I remember, and Nelson offensive rebounded a free-throw soon before, too.
That's what the closeup on Carter's face reveals, he what hinting at someone on his right that he was going to miss it on purpose. He hit the wrong side of the back rim though..