Friday, May 19, 2006

Stu Jackson, Meet Common Sense.

Stu Jackson is an idiot.

After Jason Terry got a suspension for giving Michael Finley a beeper (you know, little love tap to the cookies), I have no idea what the baseline is for getting suspended for a game. What does Stu use for criteria?

God, Stuart is an idiot. Let's compare Jason Terry vs. Reggie Evans, shall we? Reggie tries to rip off someone's manhood and gets a fine. Terry barely grazes Finley's jewels and misses maybe the biggest game in Mavs history. I mean, for all intents and purposes, this is the Western Conference Finals. Whoever wins this series will be the heavy favorite to go to the Finals, and probably win it all. Its that important. And little Stuey thinks its a clever idea to suspend the Mavs second-best player for something that probably wouldn't even make you that mad if it happened in a bar. It would be an "alright, man, you made your point" moment. You aren't getting kicked out, and a fight certainly isn't breaking out.

Can we use a little common sense here? Yea, there's a rule that says if you throw a punch, you get a game. But that really wasn't a punch. Just because your fist is closed, that isn't a punch. If you showed that tape to 100 people, how many people would characterize that as a punch? One, maybe (and that's if you polled Stuart).

The Jason Terry fiasco, to me, is a microcosm of the NBA's refereeing (is that how you spell that? I have no idea) and discipline issues. The NBA is horribly, awfully, painfully inconsistent.

First, the refs: atrocious. Plain and simple. I'm not well-educated enough on the topic to know whether its the NBA's influence or just something the refs decided to do, but the ticky-tack fouls have to be at an all-time high. If you drive and jump into your defender - in other words, if the offensive player creates the contact - you'll get two shots. How are you supposed to play any defense?

And when the offensive player pump fakes and gets his defender in the air, all he has to do is launch himself into the airborne defender, regardless of where that defender is, and he'll get the foul call. If the defender jumps in the air and runs into you, fine. But should the offensive player be allowed to go out of his way to create contact and then be rewarded for it?

(Not to go off topic here...but I'm currently watching the Spurs/Mavs game...and Snapper Jones is an idiot, maybe on par with lil Stuey. He is the Paul McGuire of NBA broadcasts. His latest gem: "Everyone is talking about small ball...but its not just small ball, you have to have skill, too." Oh, really Snapper? You don't say? Five Vern Troyer's couldn't beat the Spurs? Hmmm, point well taken. I never thought of it like that. Excellent insight. I hate you.)

And the reffing of Shaq is an issue completely unto itself. Jason Collins is on the all flop team with Ginobili, Rip Hamilton, and everyone who played in the Arsenal/Barcelona game. Can the refs really not tell the difference? I never thought I'd feel bad for someone of Shaq's stature, but its borderline unfair.

Now, I understand the NBA wants higher scoring. But high point totals aren't exciting; the way the points are scored is. When Player A scores 24 points on 18 free throws and a pair of threes, that isn't exciting. A parade to the free throw line is not exciting. If offensive players are going to be allowed to use their off arm to guide their way to the basket, should they also get the call for creating contact, too? Why don't we just give them a lance and a shield, too? Perhaps a club? Maybe all defenders should have to wear roller skates.

The foul call situation, even though it is a serious issue, is nothing compared to the suspensions the NBA is doling out. Inconsistent is being generous.

Remember when Kobe elbowed Mike Miller in the regular season? He got two games for that. Had that happened in the playoffs, he would have only gotten a game. That's a fact. Inarguable. So the NBA is clearly saying that playoff games carry more weight than regular season ones. So if you follow that logic, shouldn't elimination games carry a little more weight? If you aren't going to differentiate between levels of games, you might as well go all the way.

It is also ridiculous how minor and major incidents each get the same suspension time. Tap some one in the jewels? One game. Clothesline someone? One game. Throw a mouthpiece? One game. Drill someone in open court? One game. These are all wildly different infractions and all garnered the same punishment. Inconsistent, inconsistent, inconsistent. Imagine of you ran a red light, punched someone in the face while walking down the street, robbed a bank and murdered someone. And you got a day in jail for all four offenses. Doesn't really add up.

(Oh, a nugget from Walton: "In a big game, never waste a time out on possession. You can always get possession back." Wow.)

The point is, its too easy to get suspended. Basketball, especially at the NBA level, is a physical game. Things are going to happen. The NBA is the overprotective parent who ends up turning their kid into a huge wuss. Things should get a little chippy. That's fine. Its almost embarrassing how big of a pansy the NBA is being lately. These are adults. Let them play like it.

And Stuart is a moron.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Hope is a Bad (Good) Thing.

I'll admit it: I'm scared.

LeBron - and what he is trying to do - scares the hell out of me. See, I was all set to watch LeBron make his playoff debut against the Wiz, tear 'em up, give us a handful of memorable moments, silence all doubters, etc. But that was it. That was as high as I let my hopes get.

Now, don't get me wrong. I wanted The LeBrons to win an NBA Championship with The Chosen One averaging a trip-doub the whole way there. But baby steps, right? First time in the playoffs, lets get our feet wet, play well, and win a hard-fought series before falling to the eventual champs. Considering the supporting cast around LeBron, it wasn't even remotely realistic to consider anything beyond that. And after Game One - and much of Game Two - it was all too obvious that the Pistons had a superior team. A sweep (maybe the Cavs steal one at the Q) seemed all too likely. But that's OK. First time in the playoffs, memories and moments galore, just ran into the better team. No shame in that this early in his career. I was content.

And then LeBron went and did this.

Three striaght wins. Against the best record in the NBA. Uh oh.

Still, throughout the not-a-chance-in-hell three-game run, I kept my doubts sky high. Hope was kept at a minimum. Remember what Red says to Andy the first time they discuss hope? "Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

And you know what? Red is absolutely right: hope is dangerous. And it wasn't about to drive me insane. Disbelief (and well...rational thought) trumped everything. Rationalizations were rampant. After Game Three, well, that was LeBron's one moment before the Pistons snapped out of it and realized who they were playing. After the Game Four win, well...Detroit is heading home - and when have they ever lost three in a row? Then, after the Mistro (Does Bron need another nickname? Probably not, but this one is to apt) conducted another masterpiece on Detroit's home court...hope started to eek its way in.

Which brings us to that whole "I'm scared outta my mind" thing. When nothing is invested, its easy to just sit back and watch. But now that something - everything - is on the line, that's scary. Plus, if I start hoping, won't that jinx everything? I mean, not hoping has gotten it to this point - why change now? Its like sitting in the same seat through all 47 minutes of a game, then sitting on the floor for the last minute. Why would you ever do that?

Still...things are looking pretty ideal for Cleveland, are they not? The game is in Cleveland, who's homecourt advantage has been second to no one's this postseason, if not the flat-out best (I always wanted to say "flat-out." I'm happy). Sheed is a little banged up, which gives the Pistons a minimal advantage in the post. Couple that with Detroit's guards not playing particularly inspired basketball right now...And LeBron is playing OK, too.

The last three games have raised an interesting question, and the answer to it decides who will win the series: has Cleveland won the last three games or have the Pistons lost them?

Cleveland could not have played any better the last three games. With LeBron being the constant, they have gotten step-up performances out of unexpected guys. Anderson Varajeo? Are you kidding me? A week ago, he couldn't have caught a golf ball with a first baseman's mitt, and now he's snagging dimes from LeBron and finishing in traffic. The LeBron/Varajeo pick and roll has been surprisingly effective. Actually, a pick and roll with anyone and LeBron is a good thing - Donyell Marshall pick and pop? Buckets.

That said, though...Detroit clearly isn't playing its best basketball right now. And it all starts with Chauncey Billups. He looks like he's trying to prove he can get a win and not try hard. Like playing all out is an admission that the Cavs are kinda good or something. If he give the Cavs his top effort, it shows that they are an equal, which I'm sure he feels they aren't (actually, I think all the Pistons feel this way; from Sheed on down they have been ridiculously dismissive of the Cavs so far). In Game Five, when Billups started asserting himself, the Pistons got back into it. If Billups wouldn't have fouled out...who knows what would have happened.

Which gives you the feeling that the Pistons have kinda lost this thing. Taking nothing away from the Cavs, if the Pistons play hard, and smart...they should win. But you know what? They haven't, and there really is no evidence that they will in Game Six either.

Like Andy said to Red, "hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies."

(Oh, who am I kidding? This series has been killing me for five games now. Game Six may give me a heart attack.)

Read the Rest After the Jump...