2012 Conference Finals – 4 Games in and All Tied Up

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WCF:

So the Spurs have decided to force Westbrook to be a passer. San Antonio is clogging the lane and taking away the space he needs for his driving game. How’s that working out so far? As one of the many fans and commentators that gets to watch a lot of Thunder games, I’m regularly calling for Russell to pass the ball more. Scott Brooks couldn’t get him to do it, but apparently Greg Popavich can! Now Westbrook didn’t have a lot of assists on Saturday, but the way the Spurs were defending him did lead to a lot of opportunities for his teammates and certainly contributed to Serge Ibaka’s incredible game. San Antonio hung tough and did a nice job despite losing Manu and SJax to foul outs, but they couldn’t find a way to stop Durant in the 4th when he dropped 16 straight points on them, and that was their night.

Stat-note: Surge Ibaka scored 26 points on 11 field goal attempts. He made all his shots from the field and all four shots from the free throw line. He is the only player in the last 26 years to score 25 or more points while shooting 100% from the field and the stripe.

ECF:

YESSSSSSSS!!! YES! YES! Y-E-S, YES! When Norris Cole his that driving layup to take the lead, I thought the Celtics were doomed. By the way, can we all make a collective pact not to inform the Heat that they are much harder to guard when Chalmers and Cole drive aggressively. If they ever figure that out, they will become a real nightmare. Conventional wisdom says you can’t drive your PGs with a team like the Heat because you need them to space the floor. However, since Boston is double-teaming Wade and hedging the defense behind LeBron, they are not well-positioned to defend penetration from any other Miami players. Thankfully the other Heat players rarely put the ball on the floor.

Back to the celebration – YES!!! Oh, one more hiatus here –

Dwyane Wade Hack Watch: Wade’s streak of never getting called for fouls on block attempts continues unabated! He got away with a tremendous body blow and follow-up elbow to the head foul on Pierce while leaping up to take a two handed grip on a ball firmly in Paul’s possession and wrestle it away from him. The refs could have called the foul when Wade smashed into Pierce with the body, or they could have called the foul when gravity brought his elbow down on Pierce’s head. They could even have called the a jump ball for the time when both players had contact on the ball. No whistle. Credit a block or a steal to Wade (hey, why not both?). Let’s make sure he gets credit for that in his career playoff PER.

Okay, now that celebration… Well wait. Okay, so I’ve got to get this off my chest here… These Celtics terrify me. They are totally reliant on two inconsistent players. Rajon Rondo, who looks like the very best point guard in the league on some nights and drifts passively other nights, is more than just the engine that drives the Celtics’ offense, he’s the brain that organizes them and the talent that gets everyone else easy looks. And Kevin Garnett, the only player on the team capable of getting rebounds, scoring post buckets in the paint, and blocking shots and intimidating drivers in the paint, is 36 years old and often reluctant to shoot. If Kevin and Rondo don’t have better than good games, the Cs have no shot.

Now, back to celebrating… well maybe we should talk about Pierce fouling out again, and whether James is just too fast for us to expect 40+ minutes a night out of Paul… Or we could talk about how the Cs keep seeming to run out of gas and get lit up in transition in the second half of these games… ah hell… Let’s can the party. I’ll celebrate if we win game 5.

Stat-note: Miami was -11 in the 15 minutes that Joel Anthony played in this game. The Heat lost by 2 points. That means that they were +9 when Joel Anthony was not in this game. Spoelstra might want to worry less about going big to rebound and more about staying small because it seems to work against Boston.

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8 Responses to “2012 Conference Finals – 4 Games in and All Tied Up”

  1. High Above Courtside Says:

    I’ll party anytime. I am right now

  2. boyer Says:

    I thought the c’s had no chance. Now, that game 2 debacle sure hurts. Bosh is coming back, will be interesting to see how effective he is or how effective miami is. James/wade still have a hard time incorportating bosh into the offense.

    Pierce almost looked a bit dazed after wade jumped on his back to hack the crap out of him.

    The officiating at times was brilliant last night, but at the other times, it was horrible. Kennedy made a bogus call on the c’s, but then correctly overturned the out of bounds call to ‘off of haslem’ right after that. Pierce had some bad calls, but then james’ 5th and 6th foul calls were bogus. Pierce definitely was inside the restricted area. James and KG got tangled, they both go down, maybe james pulled them both down, and james got the call, but pietrus did the same thing to james in OT, and amazingly pietrus got the call.

    Do you remember when pierce drew the offensive foul on james on the right wing? Pierce guessed correctly where james was going to dribble, and pierce was still moving, but got the offensive foul on james, which was the correct call. This was much less blatant than the young/pierce play in the sixers/celtics series. James didn’t lower his shoulder much or at all, and then didn’t bulldoze through pierce. Pierce just guessed correctly, and beat him to the spot, even while not set, which isn’t necessarily for this type of play.

  3. jpalumbo Says:

    Yeah, overall I thought this was just a very tough game to officiate. Tons of contact. I actually didn’t see that charge on James as an offensive foul. He may have pushed off a little with the off hand, but like you said, I didn’t think he really rammed in there with the shoulder, and to me it was not egregious enough to call an offensive on. The thing about the Pierce / Young call that bothered me wasn’t that Young was in motion, it was that I didn’t think Young was completely squared up. I felt like he was turning / leaning. The call against KG seemed correct. He locked James’s hand in so that he couldn’t help on Rondo’s drive. James only pulled him down because he was trying to break away from Garnett’s hold. At full speed I it looked like a foul on James or a double foul, but in slow mo you could clearly see what KG was up to – and the ref was right on top of it. Pierce got hit with two fouls that I didn’t think were right (a strip on LeBron and the flop by Battier) and so did LeBron (the double foul in the paint with KG and charge). I felt like Boston got the benefit of the doubt a lot more in the last two games than they did in Miami.

    Bosh coming back, whenever it happens, will be interesting. They need his rebounding and length more than his scoring right now, but if he’s timid because of the injury, KG could really make him pay for it.

    • boyer Says:

      Well, we disagree on some calls, but some bad ones both ways. I thought it was fair overall, both teams were shafted some. The thing is, with these last 2 games, yea, boston has gotten more of the benefit of the doubt than the first 2 games, but it would be hard for boston to get shafted more than they did in the first 2 games. I think it’s been pretty fair for both teams the past 2 games. However, in miami, it was clearly one-sided with miami getting by far the more benefit of the calls. At least the rest of the series should be very interesting now. Now that the pressure is back on miami, it’ll be interesting to see if lebron continues to play hard. This is the time of the series when we’ve seen him completely fade away.

  4. pmadavi Says:

    Both these conference finals might stretch out to 7 games the way all four teams are playing at home. Intense matchups for sure. One thing to worry about if you are the C’s. Pierce, Rondo, and Garnett have logged the most minutes in the playoffs thus far by a pretty wide margin. Even with a day off in-between, this might start to take a toll. In a series this tight, even 10% extra fatigue than usual might be the difference – we saw last night some pretty flat jumpers being launched by both squads in the 4th.

    • jpalumbo Says:

      Very true. KG doesn’t have the best recent history with back to back stellar performances anyway (ironic since from 2003-2006 he was the most consistently great player in our fantasy league). I’d also be concerned about LeBron, who might not gas out in this series but very well could in the Finals.

  5. High Above Courtside Says:

    TEQUILA!

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