The officiating has overshadowed some bad basketball and some really great finishes to start the second round of the playoffs.
I’ve never seen a finish like the last 13 seconds of Game 2 with San Antonio and Oklahoma City, where there were so many violations and missed calls, the league almost issued an apology for it.
Manu Ginobili embellished the contact from Dion Waiters on the start of the wild finish, but there shouldn’t have been contact in the first place. His reputation could’ve hurt him...
Or it was truly possible the official wasn’t looking at Waiters’ upper body, only counting off the five-seconds.
I talked to numerous officials in the aftermath, with each in agreement they’d never seen a play like that before, from start to finish.
We as viewers have the benefit of replay. The officials don’t have that luxury in the moment, and therefore it makes us as the public more skeptical about what we see compared to what they call.
By and large, though, the NBA refs do a pretty good job of catching calls, while also understanding nobody wants a whistle-fest for 48 minutes of basketball.
And we say we want the refs to swallow their whistle and not to decide the games, well, they did that in the finish of San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
After all that controversy, it’s hard to remember the Spurs beat the brakes off the Thunder in Game 1...remember?
Russell Westbrook catches a lot of flak that should be aimed in the direction of his coach, teammates and front office. Yes, that includes Kevin Durant.
But I’m not sure you can truly “win” with Westbrook, given his style of play doesn’t lend itself to late-game execution because he can’t slow down.
But being frenetic is what makes him special, right?
Who cares if Draymond Green is a superstar or not, he certainly is extremely valuable to Golden State, which maximizes everything he does so well. Green doesn’t make other players better in the traditional sense, but he enhances what you do well, which is just as important.
Winning Game 2 should buy the MVP, Stephen Curry, an extra few days of recovery before pushing him back to action over the weekend.
Nights like Game 2 between the Warriors and Trailblazers make me rethink my voting on Defensive Player of the Year.
My ballot was Kawhi Leonard, Green, and Atlanta’s Paul Milsap.
But speaking of Atlanta, I can’t see them challenging the Cavs for anything beyond a game in this series.
It looks like the Cavs realize that, too. And it should be a sweep. Why? The Hawks just don’t have enough. On the floor or the sideline.
With Kyle Korver’s struggles, one should know the easiest thing in the NBA to find is perimeter shooting, and no team should be married to it in the form of one player or another (Hint, hint, Chicago Bulls management)
During the season, I talked to a personnel man in Los Angeles, who said the Cavaliers wouldn’t win a title unless LeBron James took a step back from doing everything and allowing others to flourish.
By “others”, he meant Kyrie Irving and made the comparison about Dwyane Wade deferring to James starting in 2012, which lead to the Miami Heat winning two titles.
More on Wade in a moment.
Would James’ ego and game work without being a high-volume, high-usage player, especially ceding a spot in the hierarchy to the likes of Irving? That’s the most interesting development that will come out of the Hawks-Cavs second-round series.
Moving back to Wade. Whenever you think he’s done, he pulls another rabbit out of his hat—and the Heat look poised for a meeting with the Cavs in the conference finals.
If there’s a team to truly challenge Cleveland, Miami’s length on defense and shot blocking could be an interesting antidote to Cleveland’s high pick and rolls.
Not only with Wade but Goran Dragic and Joe Johnson, the Heat has three supreme shot creators down the stretch of games, who can facilitate, get to the rim and make free throws.
That makes them beyond dangerous.
Not as dangerous as Chris Bosh seems to be to his own health. He desperately wants to play, but the Heat won’t give him clearance.
Think about how rare that is, a team that desperately wants to win, but will not put a player in danger to do it. Sounds simple and humane, but think how many franchises in all facets of sports would try to take every precaution but letting a player make his own decision about playing.
I commend Bosh for wanting to play so badly, he’s going to the union so he can risk his life, potentially.
Think about how that sounds.
With his health situation sprouting in two straight years, one wonders if Bosh should even think about playing beyond this playoff run.
That said, the Heat almost gave one away to the Raptors, a team nobody believes in for good reason.
A team led by DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry seems like it has a very low shelf life—the second round.
Speaking of Lowry, it’s past time to call him a playoff underachiever. He’s played over 30 playoff games and isn’t shooting 40 percent for his career.
That desperation triple that sent game 1 into overtime was three of his seven points.
That desperation triple shouldn’t have counted considering he stepped out of bounds before picking up his dribble.
The officials will get another round of derision after the NBA releases its two-minute report Wednesday.
One wonders how bad the Bulls feel watching the Raptors, a team they’ve dominated the past two years, being in the second round while they’re at home.
Lowry’s probably still shooting in the bowels of the Air Canada Centre after hours.
And it probably won’t help.