5-24-2007 - Pistons 79-76 Cavaliers - Up 2-0, ECF
Apparently everyone has beaten me to the punch: Yes, that was a a foul. It was a fouly foul made out of 100% foul. Kids love it because it comes with 100% of the recommended daily allowance of foul.
I can see the argument being thrown about by some Piston fans that the game was being refereed like a cage match and that in the waning moments of a playoff game it would require a chainsaw and some bloody stumps to get a call, but... man, that's a foul. Maybe you don't call the friendly, constant bumping from behind. You definitely don't call the arm-straight up stuff at right, but in between Rip brought his arm down and raked Lebron's elbow as he went up to shoot. That is not permitted. Of course, this is the NBA and so "not permitted" is wildly inconsistent unless you wander a few feet from the bench when a Spur does something dastardly, but... foul!
(the best video I could find is up at the Fanhouse but is not conclusive.)
On the other hand, I think everyone associated with the NBA except Manu Ginobli and his loathsome floppy ilk experienced a private moment of delight when Anderson Varejao allowed a Rasheed Wallace shove to send him into low earth orbit and the referees watched impassively as 'Sheed turned and hit a dagger. I speak for everyone on the planet when I say that Anderson Varejao could never get a call again and it would be too soon. People should be allowed to punch him in the face as he shoots. They should be allowed to charge into a stationary Varejao like they are crash-testing a car against a stupid Brazilian walls with ridiculous haircuts. If a Cavalier is injured and cannot take foul shots that are assigned and he is chosen to replace that Cavalier at the line, the referee should throw the ball at his nads and call him for a technical. (I don't like Anderson Varejao.)
So, yeah. Fouls and non-.
Non-conspiracy conspiracy! A theory: sick of the constant conspiracy theories thrown around by NBA fans, David Stern and his Illuminati cronies hatched a conspiracy to make it obvious to everyone that there were no money-generating conspiracies in the NBA. Oden and Durant were carefully shepherded to the Pacific Northwest to franchises no one really cares about that start most of their games at 10:30 PM. Not coincidentally, both of them are in the Western conference, further unbalancing the level of play between East and West. The hugely entertaining Phoenix Suns get thugged out of a series against the Spurs, a team everyone in the country would like to see deported, thanks to the most tone-deaf, inane suspension in NBA history. And Lebron James, of all people, can't get a call in the Eastern Conference Finals, presumably setting up another Spurs-Pistons Finals that no one, not even Pistons fans, wants to see.
The inescapable conclusion: only an idiot could possibly screw up a conspiracy this badly. There must be no conspiracy. And that's the conspiracy! Truly, David Stern is the Machiavellian puppet master for our time. "Dance!" he says. And we dance!
Sheed. I figure most people who have to deal with Rasheed game-in, game-out have conflicted feelings about the guy on a regular basis. He was the guy who left Marshall oh so wide open in Game 1, and if anyone on the planet should know better it's him. But he had seven blocks that game. This game: 7 for 10, 16 points, 11 rebounds, stiff defense, one dagger -- dagger! -- that was as clutch as the Lebron foul was foul.
And then he goes and says this in the postgame:
Ohhhhh, amen. Let's all punch him when he shoots! Then give him a technical! Yesssssss.
I will bring you fresh baby. Maxiell must be hungry. Feed him. Feed him baby.
Bulls! When I posted on game 1 of the ECF, Chicagoans in the comments lamented that the Bulls series was ignored in this space. I have good reasons: book, Canada, missing game 3, and the overwhelming dullness of the constant blowouts. I have opinions on the Bulls, but nothing you haven't heard before:
- Ben Gordon is a terrifying offensive player but such a defensive liability that he should resume the super-sub role he had when he entered the league. You should still give him starters minutes but try to get him soft minutes when, say, Chauncey Billups is on the bench.
- They should try giving Sefo... Sefa... the Swiss guy a ton of minutes next year in an effort to find out just what they have in him. He's big, a decent shooter, and seems like he's got the skills to play. Anything that gets Duhon out of the lineup is good and if Guy Who Is Swiss Guy can play, really play, that lets Gordon do the super-sub thing.
- I want to headbutt Scott Skiles.
- Deng good, still a couple years away from being a real star.
- As everyone said, the Wallace signing was complete nonsense that is probably going to kill their chances of putting together a championship-level core until it expires. I was ambivalent about the Pistons bringing him back at $13 million per year when they were exercising their Bird exception -- ie, when they couldn't have spent that money on anyone else in the entire league. Dropping $15 million per when that 15 million is precious, precious space actually under the actual cap was insane.
You can blame "back problems" for his performance in the last game, but where was he the rest of the series? The Bulls had no advantage on the boards and, though Wallace blocked a couple shots here and there, no real defensive advantage because of his presence. If Tyrus Thomas could go ten seconds without dribbling the ball off his foot he would have been a clear upgrade over Wallace.
I mean, honestly, game six was bittersweet. It was good to see the Pistons had made the right decision, but watching Ben Wallace limp and clatter through a playoff game he had no impact on was sad. Mostly I felt bad that I didn't feel worse, though. Wallace was the reason I started following the NBA again and now he'll end his career a cap albatross at the end of Chicago's bench with an entire city sort of hating him for costing so much and sucking so bad. Was it worth eight million to give up a retired number and demi-godhood in a city that loved him? I don't think so, and I don't think Ben does either.
- They seriously f-ed up if there was any way to swing a Gasol deal that didn't involve Deng/Gordon/Hinrich. That's debatable, but you don't think Memphis would have gone for Thomas, the Knicks pick, Nocioni, and spare parts to make up the salaries? I mean, if Baron Davis proved anything it's that you don't mess with a guy who can grow a killer beard in the playoffs.
- I'm not afraid of the Bulls passing the Pistons the next couple years. Just don't see the growth potential. Gordon is who he'll be, same with Hinrich. Deng will improve, but Tayshaun is always an equalizer against those sorts of players. If Thomas gets much better very quickly -- possible but unlikely -- they'll be a threat. Otherwise... not so much.