Who has two thumbs, is extremely jealous, and kind of bitter, yet also amazed, while thoroughly intrigued? This guy. Right here. I'll admit a tiny part of me is jealous to see the San Antonio Spurs advance to the NBA Finals for a fifth time since 1999. Oh, how I wish that my favorite team were able to achieve even half the glory as the Spurs. Oh how I yearn for a front office who's shown the ability to "get it right" far more often than not. I long for the day when my team has a coach who is not afraid to go to the drawing board, trash almost every method that’s gotten him to where he is today, and start over.

Question for you. At any point since 1998, have you looked at the Spurs and thought going into a playoff series, "Man, those guys don't have a chance."? Most likely your thoughts on the matter ranged somewhere in between, "They're going to dominate" or "Popovich will figure something out". I think Coach Pop has etched his name into the Mount Rushmore of coaching greats with this latest achievement. As great as Tim Duncan is and has been, the Spurs success in my opinion starts with Popovich. It would be easy to dismiss his career with the typical cynicism we have towards coaches who are blessed with the privilege of having Hall of Fame Players. But then you have to account for the players whose games have elevated while playing with the Spurs. (For the sake of this article pretend that Richard Jefferson thing never happened.) Then you have to consider how the Spurs used to be a slow grind it out team centered around Tim Duncan. Now, they play a much faster pace, they shoot more three's, and Tony Parker has become the focal point of the offense. Most coaches cling to their "methods"; scoffing at the idea of change. History has shown that way of thinking only gets you canned.

Better dust off the ol' resume

Another question for you. How many times have you, amongst friends, made a list of top players in a certain position? More than a few I bet. It often starts with Chris Paul, then some combination of Rajon Rondo, Derek Rose, Deron Williams, or Russell Westbrook. But we always seem to forget Tony Parker. Perhaps I'm still in awe over his 37 point close out game against one of the best defenses in the NBA. But I'm just gonna call it now. Tony Parker is the most underrated player in the NBA. Maybe he's overshadowed by Duncan, and Popovich. Maybe European players get overlooked. I'm not sure what it us, but in terms of most unappreciated stars, Parker is right at the top. Even when he won Finals MVP in 2007 it didn't seem like he was viewed as the team’s best player at the time. He didn't get that distinction until 2010 at least. Tony Parker has the superstar game with none of the superstar baggage. Well, expect for that time he got beat up while hanging out with Chris Brown. Oh and this...


Popovich has mastered the art of getting guys to buy into the system. San Antonio has got to be one of the most selfless teams in the NBA. Anyone who comes in with an ego is quickly removed before being allowed to fester in the locker room. (Hey Stephan Jackson, keep your head up man.) Every guy on that team only cares about winning. Take Dejaun Blair for instance. At one point he was a starter. During the regular season he got a decent amount of time in the rotation. But during the playoffs he's barely sniffed the court. Most players would have bitched their way onto another team. Instead he waives his towel and cheers from the sideline. How about Danny Green? When he was drafted, one of the guys on the ESPN set, I don't remember who, but the first thing he says is, "Danny Green out of North Carolina......He's a really good dancer." He did nothing in Cleveland. The kid was practically out of the league when he suddenly pops up on the Spurs roster. Now he's playing a major role on a potential championship franchise. Gary Neal, Boris Diaw, Patty Mills; the Spurs take these guys off the garbage heap and resurrect their careers. If we could somehow get Gregg Popovich and RC Buford to run for president I think this country would be in great shape.

I must confess, there wasn't a single part of me that predicted the Spurs winning in a sweep (although my spleen came close). In order for the Grizzlies to go down that badly, a lot had to go wrong.

Zach Randolph led the way to the fishing docks. Over the series, he averaged 11 points per game on 13 shot attempts. As if that wasn't bad enough, he never reached 40% in a single game this series. About the only thing he had going for him was that he didn't do this again:

Yeah, I just needed an excuse to revisit that video. Truth be told, he did do at least one good thing in this series, grabbing 12 rebounds a game. Even more impressive, was his 6 offensive rebound per game average, but don't get too excited about those numbers because he probably missed over half of those putbacks.

The rest of the Grizzlies frontcourt didn't exactly pick up the slack. Tay also had less points than field goal attempts per game, but nobody really expects him to bring much offense. Marc Gasol, on the other hand, is expected to average more points than attempts, which he didn't. Nor did Mike Conley, or Jerryd Bayless... In fact, it's fairly hard to find a single player on the Grizzlies who actually had more points than shot attempts.

That, and the subsequent fact that the Grizzlies only shot above 40% once in this series, go a long way toward explaining why they got swept. Yet, there is a fact that should be far more disturbing for Memphis fans, that I think really puts things in perspective.

Quincy Pondexter was their leading scorer in this series.

Need I say more? Checkmate, Gregg Popovich. Checkmate.

The Pacers had this one. They had gotten a 30 foot three pointer, three free throws on a questionable foul, and a Ray Allen miss at the line. All they needed was 2.2 seconds of defense.

They didn't get those 2.2 seconds. What can I say about this play that hasn't already been drunkenly suggested at a bus station? About everything that could go wrong went wrong. West's defense on the inbounds pass was terrible (watch him literally turn his body away so Battier can get a passing angle to LeBron). Paul George, a typically great defender, made a terrible choice to assumably go for a steal, letting LeBron get right by him with his miscalculation. Absolutely nobody rotated or protected the basket.

Then there's the whole Roy Hibbert controversy. Why wasn't he in the game? Who can say. I've heard it theorized that they wanted a smaller, more agile defender on Chris Bosh. LeBron had just gotten to the hoop on a play where he was guarded by George Hill, with Hibbert watching from the bench. Still, this wasn't taken as a sign to have the team's best (and possibly the NBA's best) rim protector in the game.

What do you think of the decision, Roy Hibbert?

Frank Vogel had this to say afterwards:
I know everybody's saying I screwed the pooch on this one, but you gotta understand it from my perspective. Yeah, my defense might've let the greatest player in the world waltz to the front of the rim for a layup, but I personally succeeded in my ambition not to let Chris Bosh beat us. I really hate that guy. I dunno, maybe it's his face or something. Anyway, the point is, it's not whether you win or lose, it's just whether or not you thwart Chris Bosh's attempts to feel good about himself or look good, and I did that. I stand by my choices 100 percent.
The real question I have is for Roy Hibbert: which hurt more, watching that game winner from the bench, or Battier kneeing you in the nuts?

The people demand to know, Roy. The people demand to know.

I'm back to doing the live blogging. As before, keep tapping that refresh button. It's been too long since I've done this, so without further ado:

3 and a half minutes left in the 1st half. The score is a woeful 38-30. Kawhi Leonard just hit a 3 to make it 41-30 in the Spurs favor. One of these teams might actually reach 80 points tonight. I'll let you guess which one.

Zach Randolph is 1-6 so far, making him 2-14 for the series.

Make that 2-15. Duncan is everywhere on defense right now. Meanwhile, Jerryd Bayless is trying to put the Grizzlies on his back. Not a great sign for Memphis. Neither is the fact that they just missed 7 shots in 1 possession before pointlessly fouling Tim Duncan underneath their own hoop. Watching him now, I can't believe Tim Duncan is 37. Randolph is now 1-9 for the night, and 2-17 this series.

As the buzzer sounds for the half, the Spurs prove that the Grizzlies don't have a monopoly on stupid mistakes. Splitter fouls Bayless on a runner that would've never gone down with .5 seconds left. Bayless hits 1 of 2 from the line.

Did Popovich just call time to draw up a play with half a second left? Of course he did. Jeff Van Gundy says he, "prolongs this agonizing half". The time-out play is poorly executed, but the Spurs lead by 15, so Pop will probably only chew them out for the first 10 minutes of halftime.

Halfway through the 3rd quarter, Memphis has 10 assists and Tony Parker has 13. No wonder the Spurs are still up by 15 as Z-Bo steps to the line. He misses his first free throw. He misses his 2nd as well.

Tony Parker and his mid-range jumper are giving me flashbacks to all those times they knocked the Suns out of the playoffs. If I half close my eyes, I can almost picture the Big Cactus standing out there dejectedly.

Boris Diaw may not be able to one hand a rebound, but he can use that hand to smack Mike Conley in the face and delay the game. If Conley hits both free throws, the Griz are actually within a dozen. The Griz are within a dozen. It feels like it should be 30.

Bayless does it again, getting fouled with 2 tenths of a second left in the quarter. Popovich bites off a small piece of his tongue, momentarily refraining from assaulting Gary Neal. The Spurs lead by a dirty dozen going into the 4th.

The camera is fascinated by T-Mac in the 3rd Round

Memphis got within 10 points, then Tony Parker hit a three on an assist from Tim Duncan. Remember when Parker didn't have range on his shot? I'm guessing Lionel Hollins is pretty nostalgic for those days. 

Randolph is 2-7 from the line, almost making his 4-13 from the field look good. Mike Conley brings the team to within 10 on a nifty steal and assist. Pondexter just threw down a "thunderous jam" on Diaw to bring the game within double digits. Pondexter hits a three (also from a Conley assist) making it a 5 point game with 5 minutes remaining.

It's amazing how quickly momentum shifts. Just when it seemed the Grizzlies were going to storm their way back into the Western Conference Finals, they go cold, missing on several trips. A little vintage Ginobili later, the Spurs look comfortably in control of the series.

Somebody should be keeping track of how many of these Z-Bo misses just barely roll off the rim. I know that feeling, and it's incredibly frustrating. The and-1 he just got against Matt Bonner should make him feel better. At least until the Griz lose this game. The Spurs lead by 4.

Ginobili just sent Tony Allen crashing to the floor hard. Maybe he was a bit upset after getting the ball picked by Zach Randolph. Allen steps up for some big free throws and...

Knocks em both down. A 13-2 run for Memphis gives them a chance to tie or take the lead after a flagrant is called. Conley hits a floater. Tie game. So much for the Spurs looking comfortably in control of the series.

After a deep, off-balance turnaround from Duncan misses, this game is headed to overtime. It looks like I'm not going to catch the end of Speed on HBO.

A penitent Duncan draws first blood in overtime.

Tony Allen has a block and a field goal so far in overtime, so he can probably be forgiven for being a foot short on a three point attempt. Duncan scores San Antonio's 2nd overtime basket with a putback, maintaining a lead for the home team. He follows it up with a block on Gasol and a floater. San Antonio leads by 4 with a minute left. So this is what greatness looks like. Thanks Big Fundamental. Like Stockton said in the comments section, I'm torn between wanting to see the Spurs go down and respecting the shit out of them.

The Spurs win Game 2. I'm kicking myself for not predicting that the Griz would almost steal home court, but then Jerryd Bayless would badly brick a 3 pointer with 10 seconds remaining. It seems so obvious in retrospect.

Death in the West: The stars aligned for the Thunder at the end of the game. After a 14-6 run, they were within 2, and when Zach Randolph missed both freethrows, they had possession of the ball with 10 seconds left. The ball found its way to Kevin Durant, and he got free for a long jumpshot to tie it.

Brutal. Kevin Durant will be watching that one looping in his mind as he tries to sleep. That shot's easier for him than anyone it the league. It's right in his FIBA range, where he demolishes the world from deep. Maybe he rushed it a bit; maybe Tony Allen distracted him; it doesn't matter to him. It's a public failure he can't expunge for at least a year. Last year's heroes are usually the first to be thrown under the bus, but KD's such a nice guy, I'm sure the usual suspects will take it easy on him.

Cue Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith... Apparently, Skip has lost all respect for Kevin Durant. It's fitting that Bayless should lack respect for someone; considering that nobody's ever respected him. Maybe if he just squints hard enough through his disturbing orange tan, he'll get there one day.

This isn't the first time these two have had trouble. Tensions were raised when Durant launched allegations that Skip is "brainwashing" people with his ignorance, and Skip is just generally an asshole, so that tends to get people mad at him.

Durant made it all too easy for the critics however, saving the worst for last. He had more turnovers than assists, shot only 24% from the field (his worst percentage for the whole year), and couldn't hit the big shot. According to his game log at basketball reference, it was literally his worst game of the season.

Despite his troubles, Durant still led the team in scoring, which probably was a bad thing. Reggie Jackson was right behind him, followed by Serge. Derek Fisher played 31 minutes and attempted 11 threes, his only attempts of any kind. He hit 3 of them. Kevin Martin played a minute less and only attempted 6 shots, hitting half of them. It's clear that the Thunder lost their game plan long before they lost the series. For most of the playoffs they've seemed without clear direction, riding Durant's consistent excellence. When that abandoned them, there wasn't enough left to take them any further.

Especially not against these Grizzlies...

Death in the East: The Bulls may have lost, but there is a silver lining for their fans. I hear Derrick Rose might be returning for Game 6.

The unholy revenge of the Heat lasted 4 straight games, this one was the most merciful. Even so, it's got to hurt to have a lead halfway through the 4th, only to end up eliminated. The last bucket for the Bulls was a Nate Robinson three. It brought the Bulls to within 3 points, which is where they stayed. In the end, the stitching on the patches came undone and the Bulls couldn't cheat fate any longer. Solid nights from Rip Hamilton and Carlos Boozer aren't going to get it done anymore. It's LeBron's league now, just like Tim Duncan told him it would be after sweeping him in 2007.

Or maybe it's Lance Stephenson's league. Could even be Tay's. Possibly Duncan's. I guess we'll be finding out...

It’s Friday, and my fiancé is out with her friends having ladies night. I sit here alone with my laptop, the TV, and about a 2/3rds bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey. We’ve got a pair of game 3’s tonight. The Bulls take on the Heat, and then the Warriors face the Spurs. If Glenn doesn’t mind, I think I’ll try my hand at this play by play commentary thing. All evening I plan on transferring my thoughts and reactions straight from my brain and into my computer. Analysis and rapid reactions. Totally unfiltered. Ready? Here we go…


1st qtr.

  • OH MY GOD! Mike Breen’s head is enormous! 
  • Joey Crawford is reffing tonight’s game. Someone will be ejected. 
  • Jeff Van Gundy makes note that none of the opposing players are shaking hands before tipoff. Someone will be ejected.
  • Miami has two turnovers in less than two minutes. 4-0 Chicago. 
  • Are the fans chanting “These refs suck.” While Belinelli, their own player, is at the free throw line? 
  • Haslem hits his second mid range jumper to tie the game 10-10. 
  • Boozer barely draws iron on a jumper, but Noah gets the rebound and flips it right back to him. He then two hand slams it in Bosh’s face. 
  • Nate Robinson drives and kicks to a cutting Noah for an easy dunk. 16-14 Chicago. 
  • Chalmers shoulder fakes Boozer on a drive and lays it in for an and-1. 
  • Lebron is getting booed every time he touches the ball. 
  • Joey Crawford calls Jimmy Butler for his second foul because…I mean it’s the King. How dare you attempt to play defense on him? 
  •  Robinson loses the ball while driving to the rim. Runs back to get it. Then splashes the mid range shot. 
  • And here we go. Nate blows by Lebron and gets to the rim. Birdman meets him in the air and blocks his shot. Birdman then lands on Nate. Not on purpose or anything, he just had nowhere to land. Noah aggressively shoves Birdman off of Nate to help him up. A mini scrum ensues along the baseline and players are separated. 
  • Noah is hit with his 1st technical. A stupid one at that. 
  • First quarter ends tied 25-25. 

2nd qtr.

  • Norris Cole hits a jumper off the dribble while being fouled by Marcus “Not Jeff” Teague. 
  • You know that French guy from the movie Leon: The Professional. Marco Belinelli looks like him. 
  •  Fight! Fight! Fight! 
  • Nazr Mohammed for some reason fouls Lebron as he tries to wrap him up at half court. Lebron then throws Mohammed to the ground. (Damn I knew Lebron was strong and all, but geez!) Mohammed gets off the floor and shoves Lebron to the ground. 
  • I called it. Nazr Mohammed is ejected. 
  • Belinelli nails a three. 34-28 Chicago. Miami timeout. 
  • Wade being covered by Belinelli. He’ll probably murder him. 
  •  Wade hits a turnaround jumper over Bellinelli. 
  • Rip Hamilton looks bored. 
  • Bosh does what he does best and hits another mid range shot. 41-38 Chicago. 
  • Belinelli gets the ball in the open court and it’s him vs. Lebron on a “fast” break. Poor Marco is running on all cylinders trying to get to the rim as Lebron casually jogs up the floor. He then elevates for the dunk and but back rims it. Probably shouldn’t have tried to cock it back, Marco. 
  • Bosh with a tip in to bring Miami within 3. 48-45 Chicago. 
  • Battier ties the game with a corner 3. Timeout Chicago. 
  • Halftime 52-50 Miami. Dwyane Wade has attempted just one shot. He’s currently leading both teams in not giving a damn. 

3rd qtr.

  • Wade scores on Belinelli again in the post. He can get that all night it he wanted to. 
  • Butler banks in a prayer while being covered by Lebron as the shot clock buzzer goes off. 
  • Boozer is yelling at the refs after every play he’s involved in. Tech coming at some point tonight. 
  • Nate Robinson launches a shot from about 3 feet beyond the arc. Bulls lead 61-60. 
  • Butler gets a steal and goes coast to coast for a lay in. 63-60 Chicago. 
  • Belinelli flops 3 times and still gets a foul called on him. I love this guy. 
  • Bosh is tearing into Chalmers over their last turnover. It’s like watching an old married couple. Guess which one is the woman. 
  • Noah stands by clapping and cheering them on. I love this guy. 
  • Bosh jab steps on Noah and splashes a jumper in his face. 68-66 Chicago. 
  • Nate Robinson just blocked Lebron’s layup attempt. Amazing. Naturally he flexes afterwards. 
  • Lebron ties the game 69-69 with a corner thee. 
  • 70-70 tie game. 

4th qtr.

  • Fun Fact: Ray Allen once said of Chris Andersen, “It’s all one tattoo.” 
  • Butler drives scores for an and-1. He gives the Bulls the 1 point lead. 
  • Bosh is ballin tonight. He hits a corner three. 
  • Birdman banks in a shot while falling down to put Miami up 79-75. 
  • Taj Gibson literally pulls and rips Norris Cole’s jersey to prevent him from getting an easy lay-up. 
  • Miami leads 83-78 after a Wade dunk. Belinelli CAN’T guard him. Not only does he have 5 fouls, but he’s Belinelli. Why aren’t they exploiting this matchup? 
  • Bosh with 17 points and a career playoff high 16 rebounds so far. Ballin. 
  • Norris Cole drives and scores on Nate. 15 points for him so far. 
  • Miami up 88-83 as every Bulls fan in the United Center shifts uncomfortably in their seats. 
  • Lebron swishes a deep three to put Miami up 93-86. 
  • Dagger? Norris Cole hits a three to put Miami up by eight. 
  • Battier fouls out by trying to take a charge on Jimmy Butler. 
  • Lebron drives for an and-1. He gives a hard “YEAH!!!” right in two fans faces. They’re mad. 
  • Belinelli fouls out after bumping Lebron as he goes for a rebound. 
  • Miami wins 104-94


1st qtr.

  • Curry gets on a fast break and makes a three in transition. The only other guys who can do that with confidence are Chauncey Billups and sometimes Jason Terry. 
  • Bogut puts in a tip in dunk and tries to wrap his legs around Duncan. Timmy responds but giving Bogut a little forearm shove as they run up the floor. Duncan gets hit with a tech. 
  • Curry almost hits Bogut in the face with a pass. He wrangles it in and hits a short hook shot. Game tied 8-8. Curry vs. Duncan on a jumpball. 
  • Curry effortlessly hits a corner three to put the Warriors up 15-14. Timeout Spurs. 
  • Duncan hits his patented bank shot from the block. 
  • Bogut crams it on Diaw’s head. 21-16 Golden State. 
  • Draymond Green is getting way too many touches. He’s shot the ball 3 times already and Thompson still hasn’t put one up yet. 
  • Ime Udoka is a Spurs assistant? I had no idea. (Huh? No one really cares? Oh ok.) 
  • Parker with a three. 25-21 Spurs. 
  • After Diaw makes a three, Hubie Brown chimes in with, “Anytime you used to play point guard you know you can shoot the three…” *shrugs shoulders* 
  • Parker flips up a ridiculous, almost back handed shot that only he can make while falling down. And-1. Jarrett Jack nails a three at the buzzer to bring the score to 32-25 San Antonio. 
  • ESPN flashes some type of sound meter up on the screen. (It got up to 110.) 

2nd qtr.

  • Jack’s basket is waived off. The ball was still in his hands after time had expired. 
  • David Lee sighting. He grabs a rebound and lays it back in for an and-1. 
  • Sound meter again. (108 this time) 
  • Non basketball note: I’m watching a preview for Fast and the Furious 6. How did we get all the way to Fast and the Furious 6? C’mon Hollywood. You guys need to do better. Who’s watching this crap? How and when did The Rock get involved? Ugh… 
  • Parker crosses Thompson out of his shorts and hits an open jumper. 
  • Spurs go up by 10 after Parker lays it in over Bogut. 42-32. 
  • Parker is on fire. Makes a floater and he’s already got 21 points. 
  • Curry with an air ball. 
  • Jarrett Jack spins Diaw around with a crossover and swishes a shot. 
  • Harrison Barnes throws down a one handed tomahawk off of a nice cut to the rim. 51-45 Spurs. 
  • Ginobili gives Ezeli a flying knee to the stomach as he tries to drive to the hoop. Offensive foul. 
  • Parker with 25 first half points. 
  • 57-48 San Antonio. 

3rd qtr.

  • Thompson has awakened. He’s 2-2 to start the quarter. 
  • Duncan with a turnaround jumper to put the Spurs up 59-54. 
  • Bogut slams a wide open alley-oop from Landry. For someone so brittle he sure is a good dunker. 
  • Parker with a scoop lay in over Bogut. 
  • Klay Thompson thinks he’s Curry (or Billups) and tries a transition three. Doesn’t turn out so well however. Sound meter thingy again after a Curry layup. (Only 105 this time. Lets step it up Warriors fans) 
  • Bogut gets his 4th foul after a B.S. call. Clearly a clean block on Duncan. 
  • Curry ties the game at 65 with an open three. 
  • Duncan going to work on Ezeli. The Spurs will probably take advantage of the rookie. 
  • Ginobili with a three point play after he’s fouled by Barnes. 73-65 
  • Spurs Ginobili with a three. 
  • 79-69 San Antonio. 

4th qtr.

  • Tiago Splitter has permanent dumb face. 
  • Bogut swats Duncan’s shot as he drives to the rim. 
  • Duncan then fouls Dreymond Green in the act of shooting for an and-1. 
  • 10:06 left in the 4th qtr and we get our first Tim-Duncan-palms-up-I-didn’t-commit-that-foul-in-fact-I’ve-actually-never committed-a-foul-look. 
  • Parker with a three. 85-78 Spurs. Damn he’s good. 
  • Duncan with a fall away shot and gets fouled in the process. And-1. 
  • Bogut with 5 fouls. 
  • Spurs up by 11 as Leonard drives baseline for the layup. 
  • We knew it couldn’t last long. Curry comes up hobbling after rolling his ankle. This guy needs to start wearing combat boots or something. 
  • Duncan gets switched onto Harrison Barnes. Barnes drills a 15 footer. 93-88 Spurs. 
  • Jarrett Jack with a turnover. I think I hear a rather large woman singing off in the distance. 
  • Hubie Brown refers to Golden State as “Garden State”. I love this guy. 
  • 102-92 Spurs win.

It was a historic loss for the Bulls

I must admit, despite writing for a site that specializes in the worst of professional basketball, I didn't stick around for this one. I tuned in a few times once the rout was on, saw that the Heat had reached 100 before the Bulls reached 60 and found something else to do. I mean, if I wanted to see a Bull getting tortured that badly, I would just watch Reservoir Dogs. At least then, I'd get to listen to some Stealers Wheel.

The Bulls enjoyed their last lead of the evening with 5 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter. After that, the Heat made them pay for each and every ounce of joy their losses to Chicago may have inspired.

With 7 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter, Miami reached its first 10 point advantage on a Chris Bosh free throw. A Nate Robinson 3 pointer briefly made it seem like things would be OK, sparking a rally that brought the Bulls within 4. After that, LeBron and Wade threw a flurry of shots into the Bulls' ribs to get a double-digit lead back. Then Nate hit a three, blood beginning to drip from his mouth, bringing the Bulls within 8 points. That score, 41-49, was the closest the Bulls would get for the rest of the evening.

Norris Cole countered Nate with two threes, one assisted by Wade, one assisted by LeBron; Bosh got to the line; Chalmers found his range; the Wade-LeBron highlight reel began to roll. By the time the Bulls got past 41, the Heat were already at 60.

Less than halfway through the 3rd, Miami's lead was at 20. With 30 seconds left in the quarter, a Ray Allen three brought it to 31. The 4th opened with back-to-back threes from Battier and Cole. A highly frustrated Taj Gibson lost his composure when he felt the Birdman got away with a goaltend on him. Moments later, he had the good fortune of no longer being on the floor.

Noah was in the locker room even before Gibson, after arguing on his teammate's behalf from the bench. By the time Ray Allen got done shooting technical free throws, the Bulls were down 40. With 8:28 left in the 4th, a Birdman free throw made the score 104-58, signifying the apex of this ass kicking. 

From there, the Bulls made an 18 to 11 run, just so they could eventually finish within 40. The game may have been a wash, but at least the world got this picture out of it... A picture that will be seen by far more people than the game.

She volunteers for the Miami Tourist Board

Before you judge the woman too harshly, you should know that she's a widow. Granted her 4th husband's brothers filed a civil complaint that he was drugged by her before drowning in that swimming pool, but there's no clear reason to assume the worst about this woman. After all, her daughter told the Palm Beach Post that her mom is embarrassed about the sensation the photo has caused, a clear sign of deep remorse and personal growth. To learn more about this woman, and to hear as many puns about the middle finger as you ever will in your life, you should check out this fine example of investigative journalism.

And, uh, oh yeah... the Spurs can't contain shooters. More on that tonight...

Maniac Monday:

Is it hot in this room? Or is it just me?

I know that technically Sunday precedes Monday, but for some odd reason I felt like starting with this game...

The Heat: Are these Bulls beginning to like playing the Heat? It feels that way to me. First they broke Miami's winning streak 6 games shy of history, and now they've halted their playoff ascension mid-victory lap.

How've they done it? Simple. They gave 40 minutes a piece to Jimmy Butler, Nate Robinson, and Marco Belinelli. Chaos. The Heat simply aren't prepared for that explosive mixture of unstable elements.

So far in the playoffs, the Heat have distinguished themselves by being able to take control of games in the 4th quarter. They led this one at home by 6 points with 6 minutes left, then the three-headed hell hound of Nate-But-inelli was released. The hellacious hound combined for 22 points over those last 6 minutes, and assisted on several others. When the spray of blood cleared, the Heat were down 0-1, and the Bulls had a 7 point victory.

Stay tuned for the Heats' unholy revenge. 

Fairytale endings: Since Westbrook went down, the conventional wisdom has been that we're destined for a Spurs-Heat finals match-up. Wouldn't it be fitting then, if on the same night that the Bulls beat the odds, the similarly beleaguered Warriors managed to do the same? And wouldn't it be extra amazing if Steph Curry scored 44 points and the game went to double-overtime? So close, so very close. Instead, the Spurs made up 16 points in 4 minutes to send the game into overtime, and the Warriors lost in San Antonio for the 30th consecutive time.

Perhaps you've met this man. Manu Ginobili?

Warning: This video might be hazardous to your health if you've had traumatic experiences with Manu Ginobli in the past. Viewer discretion is advised.

The Warriors got close, but we must remember, nobody kills dreams in this business better than the Spurs. The Heat are still relatively new to our nightmares. The Spurs have been doing this shit for over a decade now.

Still, as the poet Keats said, a thing of beauty is a joy forever. I don't normally reprint box-scores but I think Curry's deserves it. 57 minutes and 56 seconds, 18-35, 6 of 14 from deep, 44 points, 11 assists, and 6 turnovers. It might not be the world's most efficient box-score, parts of it are sloppy and perhaps overly ambitious. But it's a thing of beauty, grandiose and unabashed, full of longing for something even greater; the Warriors continue their search tonight, we have only to watch.

Sudden Sunday:

The Knicks spent a lot of time looking up at Hibbert

The Knicks: According to the box score Melo only got blocked 4 times, but it felt like twice that. Perhaps, they weren't counting deflections or the time Hibbert forced him into a jump ball. Hibbert was a potent obstacle to the Knicks, as he blocked 5 shots and altered many others.

Like many teams this season, the Knicks have experienced the benefits of playing a natural wing as a power forward; this works against most teams in today's NBA, but the Pacers have one of the largest frontcourts in the league. As a result, Carmelo found himself guarding David West most of the game. Carmelo's erratic shooting could've been a result of this, or perhaps it was simply a byproduct of taking so many difficult shots against an elite defense. Either way, the result was a loss for the Knicks and some critical tweets from Bernard King's soon to be deleted Twitter account.

Like other large market teams we know, the Knicks can rarely simply lose a game with dignity. The Bernard King angle is sad and strange. We've heard all season long about how Melo grew up idolizing him, we've seen commercials with Spike Lee drawing parallels between the two, and we've watched as Carmelo chased down some of King's scoring records. Yet now, when the Knicks are facing adversity again, the dysfunction returns. What was posted on King's account wasn't particularly objectionable, and it was more or less accurate. The strange thing is that King afterwards claimed he never wrote it at all and his account was being used by someone else.

As always, a loss is never just a loss for the Knicks.

Tenuous Tuesday:

The Pacers: A win for the Knicks however, is just a win. Home court advantage is already out the window, but the Knicks made a difficult climb to the Eastern Finals seem possible again with a late scoring burst. With three minutes to go in the third quarter, the game was tied at 64. Less than 10 minutes later, the Knicks had added 30 points to that total, while the Pacers had added....2.

The Knicks ended up winning by 26.

The Thunder: This Grizzlies team is beginning to remind me of playing against Joe Frazier in Fight Night. You may think you're winning at first, but by the end of the match those body blows take their toll.

The Grizzlies ended up getting twice as many offensive rebounds as their opponent. There were several possessions where the Thunder would play decent defense, but their efforts would be rendered useless by Memphis grabbing 3 offensive rebounds in a row. It's very difficult to win that way, and the Thunder demonstrated as much, losing home court advantage in the process.
Close out Friday:

Boston: The Celtics resoundingly won the 4th quarter, disguising the pounding they had been taking most of the evening, and bouncing them out of the playoffs with an 8 point loss. It was a loss emblematic of the state of the team, heading into the offseason with new uncertainties but still able to finish without real embarrassment. After all, the Knicks were actually supposed to win this time.

The Knicks advanced for the first time since the year 2000. You might remember that as Patrick Ewing's last year as a Knick, where they eventually lost to the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Carmelo continued his recent trend of less than stellar shooting, but it just didn't matter because for most of the game the Celtics had fewer field goals than they had turnovers.

The Hawks: The Atlanta Hawks started out in St. Louis, where they won a Finals and lost three (all in series with the Russell-Cousy Celtics). In 1968 they moved to Atlanta. They were an odd group, with a 37 year old Richie Guerin coaching, and occasionally throwing aside the clipboard and subbing himself in. Their stars were Zelmo Beaty, Lou Hudson and Bill Bridges (taller brother of Jeff and Beau). In '69 they went to Western Finals and lost to the Wilt-Jerry-Elgin Lakers, something there's no shame in. The next year saw Zelmo jump to the ABA and the arrival of Walt Bellamy, but the team once again fell to the Lakers in the Western Finals.

That must have seemed like a good moment to come East, which is exactly what the Hawks did in 1970. Since then, things haven't exactly worked out; over the next 43 years the Hawks made the Eastern semi-finals 15 times, were bounced in the first round 12 times, and didn't even make the playoffs 16 times.

So with that in mind, this recent first round loss to the Pacers was nothing out of the ordinary. Indiana put on the defensive pressure and added just enough offense. Lance Stephenson had 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and refrained from shooting the ball too much. David West and Paul George each threw in 21 points, while Roy Hibbert was downright respectable with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Meanwhile, the Hawks pretty much just had Al Horford.

The Clippers: One of these close outs had to actually take place on the victor's home court. The final score was Memphis 118 to Clippers 105. That feels about right. While I wouldn't call it a beatdown, the game never felt like the Clippers were in it. Jamal Crawford has been bailing out the Clippers all season long, but was left rotting on the bench after being cold early. Chris Paul was pointlessly ejected with about 2 and a half minutes left.

It's not often that Chris Paul gets thrown out of the final minutes of a playoff game and it simply doesn't matter, but I think this fit the bill. Moments later, Joey Crawford kept the feeling of being a big man going by tossing Randolph. Z-Bo wasn't going to let the NBA's answer to the principal from the Back to the Future movies rain on his parade, so he threw his headband to the stands and skipped off dramatically to the delight of the crowd. As an interesting side note, each time a player got thrown out, Matt Barnes would assume it was him and get in Crawford's face. Yet, he never actually got thrown out. Total mindfuck. On the final day of their season, Matt Barnes led the team with 30 points.

Grant Hill made his first appearance of the playoffs, and perhaps the last of his career. He played 20 minutes and had a +/- of 0.

The Rockets: This one was always going to happen, right? The Rockets may have delayed the inevitable somewhat, but I'm not sure if anyone outside of James Harden's mother had them in this series. Kevin Martin and his funny looking jumpshot did all they could to keep Sam Presti's cat alive, providing 25 points that were more efficient than the bearded one's 26. Harden had more assists and rebounds etc... but that's to be expected. Bottom line: the Rockets did what they could, but even on a so-so night, Durant is still going to put up 27, 8, and 6. All he needed was a little help, and Friday night he got it.

Shut out Saturday: 

The many faces of victory

Watching the Nets lose this game, it was hard to tell that it was in Brooklyn. Occasionally the crowd would chant the borough's name, but besides that there were few indications. The Bulls certainly played with more energy, which is why they won the game. When you're playing without most of your backcourt and Luol Deng is flirting with meningitis, extra energy is a must.

Due to his limited mobility from plantar fasciitis, Joe Johnson had mentioned before the game that he was going to function as "a decoy" and "a spot-up shooter". Perhaps he should've leaned a little harder on the decoy role, considering he only made 2 of his 14 attempts, including 8 misses from deep. Usually, the guy on the team with the biggest paycheck isn't best used as a decoy, but the Nets would've likely been better served spreading the ball around.

Joakim Noah loomed large with 6 blocks, most of them absorbed directly by Brook Lopez.

In the words of the Great Captain Kirk, "KHAAAAAANNNN!!!!!". The David Kahn era of the Minnesota Timberwolves has finally come to a close. Today it was announced that owner Glen Taylor would not renew David Kahn's contract. He was President of Basketball Operations from 2009 until today. During his four seasons, the team had an overall record of 89-223. They would fail to make the playoffs every year. As is tradition here at Basketbawful, I'd like to highlight Kahn's lowlights while he was the helm of the T-wolves.

 "Guys, I think its safe to say, we've got a bright future here."

***Disclaimer: I'd like to note that some of the following transactions were not solely David Kahn's fault. However, in the interest of comedy I will place each and every one squarely at his feet. Enjoy!***

  • June 24, 2009 - Minnesota trades Randy Foye and Mike Miller to Washington for the 5th pick in the 2009 Draft. (Awesome)
  • June 25, 2009 - Minnesota selects Ricky Rubio with the 5th pick in the Draft. (Rubio, still in his contract with his Spanish club, would not make his NBA debut for another two years. No worries because...)
  • June 25, 2009 - Minnesota selects Johnny Flynn with the 6th pick in the Draft. ( -__-)
  • June 25, 2009 - Minnesota selects Ty Lawson with the 18th pick in the Draft....Yet they trade him to the Nuggets in exchange for Wayne Ellington. (I..I don't even...huh???)
  • August 11, 2009 - Kurt "My offense is too complicated for this simple minded roster" Rambis is hired as head coach.
  • June 24, 2010 - Minnesota selects small forward Wesley Johnson with the 4th pick in the Draft, passing up on the three times as talented Paul George. They also passed up center Demarcus Cousins. (No worries because...)
  • July 1, 2010 - Minnesota apparently agrees to a 4 year deal with The Darko Milicic.
  • July 12, 2010 - Timberwolves acquire Michael Beasley from Miami for two second round picks. (Would have been a great move had Beasley not been so...ya know...Beasley-ish.)
  • July 13, 2010 -Timberwolves trade Al Jefferson to Utah for...Uhh...Kosta Koufos???
  • July 28, 2010 - Minnesota agrees to a 3 year deal with Nikola Pekovic. (Awesome) 
  • June 23, 2011 - Minnesota selects Derrick Williams with the 2nd pick in the Draft. (I'll give them a pass because taking anyone else at number 2 that year would have been too high. And Williams tires hard.)
  • July 12, 2011 - Kurt Rambis is taken behind the barn and put out of his misery. 
  • September 13, 2011 - Timberwolves hire Rick Adelman as head coach. (Awesome)
  • January 27, 2012 - Kahn decides to roll the dice with the franchise's future and offer Kevin Love a 4 year deal with a player option after the 3rd year. (In other words, K. Love is opting out in 2015.)
  • July 15, 2012 - Timberwolves sign Nic Batum to a 4 year offer sheet worth more than $45 million. (Luckily the Trailblazers saved Kahn from himself and matched the offer sheet. No worries because...)
  • July 27, 2012 - Timberwolves sign Andrei Kirilenko for 2 years $20 million. (Ehh...)  

There you have it. David Kahn's greatest hits. I for one am going to miss ol' Davey. This florist of failure has provided me with many chuckles over the years. I can't wait to see what franchise he'll screw up next. In the meantime, let us enjoy the inevitable comedy that new president Flip Saunders will bring. 

I decided to give myself a healthy head start before putting down any predictions. A few series have already been decided, but it seems most of them are 3-2 at this point. Who's going to beat the odds and win a series they are trailing in? No NBA team has ever won a series after trailing 0-3? Do the Celtics or the Rockets have a shot? Let's pretend to find out.

Eastern Conference:

Bucks vs. Heat: Call me crazy but I'm gonna go with Bucks in 6.

Hawks vs. Pacers: I never expected this one to last as long as it has. I know that Atlanta has a lot of talent. We've been able to see what Josh Smith and Al Horford can do for several years now. For all of Kyle Korver's 'tickle-me-elmo' defensive tactics, we all know he can hit a three. Jeff Teague is getting too good to ignore. They're a capable team. Yet somehow they don't seem to be going anywhere, unlike their opponent.

These Pacers can be a maddening team to watch. At times they look like a legitimate contender. Then they'll go cold as a day old fish for a game or two. Roy Hibbert seems to personify this. If it was just Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill, Lance Stephenson, the Hansbros, and Gerald Green, being counted on to get the job done, I might say the Hawks could pull it off. But there's David West out there, and in an insane, volatile world, that's enough.

Nets vs. Bulls: Will lightning strike twice? Can the Chicago Bulls count on Nate Robinson doing this again?

If the Bulls were relying on Nate Robinson to score 23 in a quarter again, I'd say the Nets were about to win twice in a row. Luckily for Chicago, that's not the case. The Bulls are however putting a dangerous amount of weight on Little Big Man's shoulders. How much is too much?

I think we can refer to game 3 for that. Robinson did not look ready to lead the Bulls in minutes while trying to slow down Deron Williams. Nate had a nice offensive game, 20 points and 8 assists, but Deron had a nicer one and the Nets cruised to victory.

For tonight's game, Hinrich is still listed as doubtful, while both Deng and Gibson are questionable with illness. I suspect the latter two will play; and even if Hinrich is absent, I expect Thibs will make an adjustment so Deron has somebody bigger on him.

Bottom line: The Nets may be able to put more talent on the floor (they do have Andray Blatche afterall), but the Bulls seem to know what they're doing and who they are. As the Lakers have shown, talent isn't always enough, especially when your opponent has an identity. I'll take the Bulls in 6 ...or will I?

Celtics vs. Knicks: If teams coming back from a 3 game hole wasn't such a rare occurrence, then a team in the NBA would've done it by now. In baseball, the Boston Red Sox in 2004 famously became the first MLB team to do it, against the Yankees of course. But that was about a century in the making and had the whole 'curse of the Bambino' weight behind it. The Yankees had been destroying the dreams of the Red Sox since World War 1, what could the Knicks possibly have done to build up such bad karma?

I'll take the Celtics in 7.

(Although this really messes with my Knicks over the Grizzlies in 7 games NBA Finals).

The West:

Lakers vs. Spurs: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Spurs in 4.

Rockets vs. OKC: The Thunder win ...eventually. Kevin Durant is averaging 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists in this series. It doesn't feel like he's about to stop doing that. Team chemistry is a fragile thing and Westbrook's loss has the Thunder searching for an identity, but count on Durant's brilliance to guide the ship into the 2nd round.

But if not... It's Tracy McGrady's fault somehow.

Nuggets vs. Warriors: I had the Nuggets from the beginning in this series. Then Lee went down, and I really had the Nuggets. As we all know, the Warriors went on to win the next 3 games. I had the Warriors at that point.

Now it's getting interesting again. The Warriors are up 3-2, but the Nuggets are showing signs of life. My prediction is that the series finally conforms to the initial odds, but in a way that's a long shot, with the Nuggets winning 2 in a row.

In the beginning of the series, the Nuggets felt like they were adjusting to injuries. Now the Warriors got the shit end of that particular stick, with Curry and his ankle coming back to earth, and Jarrett Jack nursing a sprained ankle of his own. Those two have been great in victories, but it's unclear if they'll be able to sustain it. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are getting back to their game and attacking the paint. Early on in the series they seemed content to be lured into a game of small ball; if they're over that, they got a real chance to win this series.

Grizzlies vs. Clippers: Will the Staples Center see the 2nd round this year? My vote is no. This series was evenly matched to begin with, perhaps as much as any first round series. With Blake hobbled and the Grizzlies gelling, the task seems too tall for the Clippers.

There were moments this season when everything was working for the Clippers and they played some beautiful basketball. The lobs were flowing, steals were a'plenty, and Jamal Crawford ended any lull in scoring with his theatricality. As the season wore on, the frequency of these moments diminished somewhat, and I don't see it magically rushing back at once for the final two games. That is, if the Clippers' season has more than one game left...

It's a shame that either one of these teams must get bounced in the first round, but it does make the West more interesting for the Grizzlies to advance. I'm skeptical that even a healthy Clippers squad could have made it past the Spurs, whereas the Grizzlies have shown they match up with them well.

Even Chris Paul's, otherwise impressive, box-score from Game 5 can be seen as a gloomy harbinger. 35 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists on 11 of 24 shooting. It's as if he's reaching beyond the playoff grave to put up the numbers Kobe never got to. Probably not a good sign. Grizzlies in 6.

It was a Tuesday afternoon in Albuquerque. Merle Douglas was sitting behind the table at the sports apparel store where he worked. It had been a slow day so he was gazing at nothing in particular; he almost didn't notice as a young, well dressed customer approached him.

"Excuse me."

Merle was startled for a moment and then settled into his professional demeanor.

"Hi there. What can I do for you?"

The young man paused for a moment before saying, "I'd like a Jason Collins jersey, please."

Merle once again was startled. He had a hand in picking the merchandise for the store and couldn't remember ever ordering anything for a 'Jason Collins'. All the same, he thought he'd check.

"Jason Collins, huh? What is he a hockey player or something?" He asked while typing the name into the store computer.

"No, he plays basketball." The customer responded.

Merle stared at the results screen looking thoughtful. "I'm sorry, I'm not seeing anything."

"That's OK. Thanks anyway." The customer said before walking out of the store. Merle watched him for a moment as he merged with other mall customers outside. He thought for a moment about the strangeness of the encounter, but quickly was back to staring vacantly ahead.

The next few hours were more normal. He sold a few Kevin Durant jerseys and football helmets. The memory of his unusual encounter had almost vanished, when around 5 o'clock a tall, lanky teenager walked up to his desk.

"I'm looking for a Jason Collins jersey." The young man said in a deep voice.

"Did you just say you were looking for a Jason Collins jersey?" A startled Merle responded.

"That's right."

"Uh, we don't have any of those."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah somebody just asked for one. He's a basketball player, right."


"Say, what's his deal? Is he a rookie or something? I've never heard of him."

"No. He's been in the league for over a decade."

"Huh... That's odd. Well, what team does he play for?"

"He doesn't play for a team."

"He doesn't play for a team?"

"No, nobody really wanted him. He's a 34 year old free agent." Said the youth, leaving a stunned look on Merle's face. The lanky customer turned and walked towards the door. Merle snapped out of his momentary stupor.

"We got LeBron James jerseys!"

"Don't want 'em." The youth called back. With that, Merle watched as another customer was out the door and swept up in the tide of shoppers—this time, with a head bobbing along seemingly a foot above everyone elses.

"This is getting kinda weird." Merle muttered to himself as the phone rang.

"Hello, Shady Grove Sporting Goods how may I help you... A what? A Jason Collins jersey? What the hell...were you just here? ...And I suppose this isn't some prank you and your friends just came up with? ...What's that? ...Oh sure, everybody just wants a Jason Collins jersey all of a sudden. Well, we're all out, sorry." Merle hung up the phone.

Out of curiosity, Merle decided to do an online search for Jason Collins. Maybe that would clear things up, he thought. When he entered the name into a search engine, he saw that most of the results he got back were from a site called Basketbawful. He'd never heard of the site, and started paging through the results.

Staring intentally at the screen, Merle eventually muttered out loud, "What the hell is a Voskuhl?"   

At this moment, another customer had approached his desk unseen. He cleared his throat, which caused Merle to look up and see a heavy-set man dressed like a biker with a long whispy white beard. His arms were covered with tattoos and he was wearing sunglasses despite being inside.

"...Yes?" Merle asked, with a somewhat tentative tone is his voice.

"Yeah, I want a Jason Collins jersey."

Merle could hardly believe it. "You're kidding."

The biker leaned over the desk, getting within a whisker or two of the now terrified clerk. "Do I look like I'm kidding?"

"Uhm... we're out, but let me call the NBA store for you and see if I can order one."

"Yeah, you do that."

Addendum: The NBA store informed Merle that they had never bothered to make a Jason Collins jersey, which led to him getting his ass kicked in the parking lot. However, the next morning he ordered some from a Chinese supplier he found on the internet, saving him further bodily harm from the bikers, and making history in the process.