Boston Moves onto Conference Finals in an Odd Finish

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Don’t worry, PP. I got this.

What a weird game… Iggie hits two free throws and a three pointer to cut it to three points after being ice cold all game. Pierce fouls out on an offensive foul call that doesn’t even look like a close call in slow motion. Young was moving AND he was leaning. That’s not a charge on Pierce. That’s a text-book blocking foul. Then Rondo gets three quick baskets including a three-pointer and a pair of free throws after looking allergic to the rim over the past three quarters.

As an aside, I find the way the game is called very odd these days when it comes to giving fouls on dribble drives. Strips of the ball are almost never fouls anymore. It’s like either nobody can protect the rock anymore or every defender has magic hand-eye coordination and gets clean swipes almost every time. In the 90s when it was close or the ref wasn’t sure, he’d whistle that contact. Back then it was annoying the other way because so often they’d call anticipatory fouls when the defender even moved to try to strip the ball (on drives that is, not on post-ups where teams like the Jazz and Rockets hacked away with impunity). Today the foul that’s called when a dribbler is coming at the rim is hand contact on the body, which was actually legal in the early 90s and completely ignored in the late 90s. I guess it’s not better or worse that refs are lenient to the defense on strip of the ball attempts, but it’s very different.

Back to tonight’s game: I didn’t think either team played very well. They both missed a ton of open shots and botched lay-ups. Probably nerves and fatigue played a hand, but I give the defenses credit as well. They really did a good job taking away each others’ first and second options in this game, unlike game 6 when the Phili guards got whatever they wanted. The teams stayed physical and chased each-others’ scorers off pick and roll plays very well. I felt like Boston let the Sixers off the hook a little bit by not working Garnett in the post more. When they did try to get him the ball down on the block it was with no weakside action or set-up play to get him easier catches. Now some of that is of course Garnett, who has never really been one to demand a lot of touches in the paint, but against the much smaller Brand, KG had the advantage.

Me? Post up LeBron? Oh, man.

KG needs to get them paint points against Miami, especially if they put LeBron on him when the Heat go small. Bron is a great defender, but he’s too short to contest Garnett’s hook shot or his turnaround jumper. Even Haslem is too small to really impact KG’s release. Rondo needs to absolutely dominate Chalmers. Defensively the Celts will pack the paint and overload the strong side on pick and rolls like they always do. This series will probably be just like the Heat vs. Celtics series last year. LeBron and Wade will kill it in transition, and if they don’t hit tough shots, they will probably have limited impact in the half court. Not having Bradley to defend Wade is going to be really rough through. On the other end the Heat’s great scramble and recover defense will really cut down on open looks for the Boston role players who, along with a hobbled Ray Allen, need to be set up for their shots. James has basically shut down Pierce the last couple years, and Paul’s hurt on top of it. It’ll be tough for Boston if KG and Rajon don’t play great.

Stat-note: Rondo is now only two playoff triple doubles behind Jason Kidd for most among active players.

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3 Responses to “Boston Moves onto Conference Finals in an Odd Finish”

  1. boyer Says:

    After watching the Pierce charge in slo mo, I thought it was a block, though still close, yes, it was very close, and this is in slo mo. However, slo mo is terrible to use in this particular situation. For certain plays, it’s great, such as if the defender hits the shooter or not. But in other situations, like charge/block calls, it’s usually worthless to use. It could seem like a charge every time or vice versa. You need to watch the play in full speed in order to try to determine what the correct call is, and even then, it might be very hard, as charge/block calls are probably the toughest calls to make.

    After watching it at full speed again, it looks very obvious that it should be a charge. And remember, the defender can still be moving, and it could be a charge. Also, Young was not setting up to take a charge, but he switched to guard Pierce on the play, and is moving laterally, guarding Pierce initially, perfectly legal defensive position. And then Pierce lowers his head and shoulder and tries to bulldoze through Young. You cannot do this as an offensive player, and it will be a charge called almost every time. This is an obvious charge. If Pierce doesn’t lower his shoulder, then he may have gotten the call, but once he put his head and just blindly lowered his shoulder into Young, a charge is the only call the officials can make. There’s really little gray area here. And this is why I mention slo mo being worthless here. On slo mo, it looks like a block.

    I doubt the c’s have much a chance against the heat, hopefully I’m wrong. At least they look like they’re playing hard and physical, which has given james big problems before, and he has been known to fold against teams like this.

    • jpalumbo Says:

      I completely disagree on this point. Young was moving and he was leaning. In my opinion, it was clearly a blocking foul, and it is much easier to see that call in slow mo. Any time you need to determine the position of two players in simultaneous motion, slow mo is going to be helpful. The players are just so damn fast.

      Speaking of which Westbrook got called for a charge last night that made me wonder about something. Gary Neil got in great position on the Westbrook drive and got the call. However, after Russ hit Gary, Duncan hit Russ with the body ( Tim brought his arm down too, but I don’t think that connected). The play reminded me of the old Pistons where a driving player would get undercut by one defender and then clobbered by another. Not that Tim had evil intent, but I wonder if, in cases where the charge is taken and then a second defender gets a hit in, the refs might want to call a double foul. Just to try to protect the offensive player.

      Jason Palumbo

      Sent from my iPhone

      • boyer Says:

        Yes, young was moving, which is allowed when moving laterally with a defender, and you can be moving and still draw a charge, which is what happened. The offensive player, Pierce in this case, just can’t put his head down, lower his shoulder, and bulldoze through an opponent. If the offensive player does this, it’s nearly always called a offensive foul, as it should be. If Young had reached in first, then it would be a block probably, but he didn’t, thus, the correct call. Even if you disagree, it’s still a very close call, and nowhere near as blatantly bad as you painted the call.

        Understandable what you’re saying about Westbrook, but that’s hard to call a foul on Duncan, even if you could. I suppose they could call a flagrant or a technical, but it’s just like travel/foul calls, whichever came first during the play, you have to go with that one.

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