Monday, June 19, 2006

Evaluating Game 5 and Extra

Well, what can you say?  Fantastic game with a somewhat dubious ending.  A few thoughts:
  1. Home cooking has been a part of basketball for as long as the NBA has been around.  Joey Crawford dances onto a court tweeting his whistle to get attention before making a call, Dick Bevatta is very loose and veteran-favoring with his calls, Jack Nies aims to T up no less than 3 guys on any given night, and the home team in a tight series is going to lap up all of the calls.  It is what it is.  It’s an outrage when you’re receiving it, and it’s sour grapes from the opposition when you’re reaping it.  Dwayne Wade earned about two thirds of his trips to the line last night, but Dirk steals just as many in Dallas.  What should worry Miami is how dependent Wade has become on the leap-into-traffic aspect of his game.  His jumper is atrophying, and when the calls don’t come, they’re all left high and dry.  

  2. I don’t know for sure what went on with Josh Howard’s timeout.  On one hand, he did make a bone-headed TO call in college and the refs were pretty adamant that he called a time out with no mention of “if the next FT goes in.”  If Avery tried the “what else would we be trying to do” card, that’s not going to fly.  Icing the shooter is common enough if a team has extra timeouts.  It’s not up to the refs to interpret your intent.  On the flipside, speaking as a one-time ref from my 4 years in college, in a stopped clock situation like last night, all the ref had to do was clarify.  This wasn’t in the middle of play with the clock running down.  He had freedom to ask “Howard, you calling for time?”  Asking “hey, I really don’t think you want to call a time out right here, you only have one left” would be out of bounds, but the former request for clarification gives Howard the chance to say “after the free throw.”  Once the TO was given, however, Salvador and Crawford dug in their heels and wouldn’t wave it off (rightly so).  

  3. It’s tough to say that Stackhouse’s suspension downed the Mavs.  Terry and, surprisingly, Howard rose to the occasion and put up 60 points.  Dirk has yet to have one MVP showing in this series, being kept well below his regular season scoring average and shooting percentage (26.6 and 48% becoming 21.6 and 37%).  The story of the 3-game Miami streak is that Wade has broken loose while Dirk remains bogged down.  

  4. As previously mentioned, the team that breaks a 2-2 series tie eventually wins the series about 85% of the time.  

  5. No names mentioned, but Avery Johnson has hinted that a few Mavericks have succumbed to South Beach Party Disorder, the Heat’s bigget homecourt advantage.  Avery is irate, switching hotel accommodations to Fort Lauderdale and forcing the team to sleep two to a room to knock out what he’s described as a “vacation mentality.”  I would have to lay some suspicions that Nowitzki has been one of the culprits, given his notorious party habits.  

  6. Riley has certainly reined in Walker (26 minutes), instead playing Posey 44 minutes.  Walker only tossed up 7 shots last night, making his FGA a big stat differential in the wins and losses.  

The Extra:
Richard Jefferson is said to be available in trades and has a declining relationship with Jason Kidd.
Also to be added to the trade block list (according to rumor): Iverson, Ben Wallace, and Carlos Boozer.  Yep, Ben Wallace.  His obvious sulking and disinterested play during their playoff run not only conveyed his displeasure with his role on the team (Flip doesn’t call plays for him to nurse his sensitive ego like Larry Brown did), it ticked off Joe Dumars and the owner to no end.  With Wallace asking for a silly 6-year max contract, the team might be secretly hoping that a S&T opportunity arises.  
There’s a growing number of Jay Williams comeback stories starting to circulate as he works out for numerous teams, but I’ve yet to see a single report that indicates that he’s anything close to what he was before his bike crash.  He’s worked hard, but his lateral quickness and leaping ability may never come back.  Add that to the fact that he was a disaster in his rookie year and I get the feeling that he may have the same destiny as fellow alum Bobby Hurley.  
The Denver Post is in the midst of a three-part report on the behind-the-scenes drama that plagued the Nuggets this year, focusing on the division brought about between George Karl, Kiki Vandeweghe, and owner Stan Kroenke as well as Kenyon Martin’s immaturity.  Put simply, no one comes out looking all that well.  It’s a spectacular gloves-off report based on actual interviews instead of conjecture, maybe the best since Phil Jackson’s book on the Lakers.  I highly recommend:


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