Some random post-game thoughts

Shut up KG

Kevin Garnett: Did anybody else notice KG tongue-lashing an impassive Ben Gordon last night (as beautifully illustrated above)? Way to stay classy, Kevin. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure there are rules prohibiting a player on the bench from verbally abusing an opponent who happens to be strolling by. But you know, the refs have a history of turning a blind eye to Garnett’s “intensity” in Boston. Just ask Jose Calderon.

Ben Gordon: He gets full marks for logging a team-high 51 minutes on an injured hammy, but damn, that dude is a straight-up gun. A lot of times, an injured player will try to work himself into the offense. Not Gordon. He’s more likely to grab the offense by the throat and try to wrestle it to the ground. Ben discharged eight shots in the first quarter, two of which hit the target. Hey, sometimes the only bad shot is the one you didn’t take, right? I don’t know why I’m complaining, though. That’s the Air Gordon package. Complaining about his gunnery is like using a pack of wild, angry dogs to protect your home and then feeling guilty when they maul somebody.

The Celtics’ front line: How about those Boston big men, huh? Without Garnett, the Green Monsters were supposed to be vulnerable up front, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Kendrick Perkins had 19 rebounds and 7 blocks. Those are game-of-your-life numbers. And then there’s Big Baby. Forget the 21 points on near-perfect shooting (7-for-11 from the field, 7-for-8 from the line). Davis made great decisions, took advantage of mismatches and set some seriously brutal picks. Trying to get around Baby is like trying to break into a bank vault with a stick of butter. There’s no “wicked-awesome picks” column in the box score, but if there was, Glen Davis would stuff it full. Oh, he also had a game-high plus-minus score of +16.

The end-of-game defense on Paul Pierce: Remember that 15-footer he knocked down to send the game to overtime? Thanks to a defensive switch, Pierce was able to shoot it over the shorter Derrick Rose, which means he might as well have been shooting over a traffic cone. After the game, I went back and watched a slow-motion replay of that sequence, and it sure looked like John Salmons was super-quick to switch off of Pierce on that play. I see that kind of thing a lot in pickup ball. Not many people want the responsibility of defending the last shot. I’m not saying Salmons was ducking his duty, but that’s sort of what it looked like from the danger-free comfort of my easy chair.

When asked about the defense he used on Pierce in overtime — during which the Truth blasted the Bulls with three straight jump shots — Vinny didn’t exactly dismiss the question, but he essentially let it pass as a great player hitting tough shots. And that’s pretty much true…to a point. But you know, Ray Allen (who fouled out in the fourth quarter) was out of the game. That meant the Celtics had an offensive non-entity on the floor (Tony Allen, who went scoreless in 17 minutes off the bench). So why didn’t Vinny use Tony’s man to trap Pierce, or at least force him away from that little area around the free throw circle he loves to isolate and shoot from? I understand that Del Negro has had a lot of success in this series letting Salmons guard Pierce one-on-one. However, he basically let Pierce have the shots he wanted to take. And sure, Paul had to hit them, and they were difficult, contested shots, but I would have much rather seen Tony Allen with the ball than Pierce.

The “non-flagrant” foul: The NBA’s official rule on flagrant fouls states: “A flagrant foul-penalty (1) is unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent. A flagrant foul-penalty (2) is unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent. It is an unsportsmanlike act and the offender is ejected immediately.” Well, Brad Miller was bleeding from the mouth, had a tooth knocked loose and looked like he would have had trouble spelling his name. Brad needed stitches to close the wound and, for all we know, he might have even thought he was the Batman. That sure sounds like “unnecessary and excessive contact” to me. But it wasn’t a flagrant. Also, notice the closed hand, which is nowhere near the ball, looks almost fist-like.

apparently not a flagrant

It’s funny. Back in March, Trevor Ariza hit Rudy Fernandez in the head from behind and got treated like some sort of deranged serial killer in the media and across the blogosphere. A flagrant was assessed on the play and Ariza was ejected (though not suspended from any future games). But I guess that play was different because Rudy, who was airborne at the moment of contact, got injured, and because Ariza is bigger than Fernandez. In this case, Miller was the big man, and he’s certainly not a threat to leave the ground unless launched from a very sturdy catapult. Oh, and the Ariza-Fernandez incident occurred during the regular season, whereas this is the postseason, which made Rondo’s mugging of Miller just a good, hard playoff foul, right? Riiiiiiight. And I’m sure that seeing double at the line didn’t affect Miller’s free throw shooting, either.

Update! More on this situation from TrueHoop: “Doc Rivers raved about the foul, and rightly so: If that’s not going to be called a flagrant — a common call for blows to the head that are not plays on the ball — it’s amazing. How else could a player who was well and truly beaten both prevent a wide-open layup, and reduce a player’s likelihood of hitting his free throws? As it was called a regular personal foul, Miller had to shoot the free throws himself, or be replaced by a Bull of Doc Rivers’ choosing. Miller shot, and missed, while blinking again and again, apparently impaired by the fumes of the compound used to close the wounds in his mouth. If it had been called a flagrant, Vinny Del Negro could have specified the shooter of his choice (in the playoffs, Ben Gordon, John Salmons, Derrick Rose and Tyrus Thomas are all over 80%), and the Bulls would have had the ball after the shots. With a flagrant, the Bulls would have been favorites to win. Without a flagrant, a blow to the head of the guy shooting for the game is a savvy tactic.”

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15 Responses to Some random post-game thoughts

  1. k.markham@live.com'
    inspectorboyd April 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    I think K.G. was just asking Ben if he had any nose hairs sticking out. The more intriguing part is Scalabrine imagining he sees a sniper in the 300 level pointing at Pierce. If he can’t help them on the floor he’s going to do everything he can to protect his teammates off it.

    You just know the coaches opinions would be diametrically opposite if the roles were reversed on the last foul. Playoff coaches are about as objective as bar owners.

    Thanks for all the great posts Matt, I always enjoy reading.

  2. k.markham@live.com'
    inspectorboyd April 29, 2009 at 3:01 pm #

    The Celtics comments are funnier if you add “…to the face” after they say “good hard foul”. Kind of like when you add “…in bed” to the end of a fortune cookie. Doc Rivers: ‘It was a great foul (to the face) by Rondo. You always talk about playoff basketball, no layups.”

  3. hiphopresurrected@gmail.com'
    DocBoone April 29, 2009 at 3:45 pm #

    Good points here. As a basketball coach myself, these are some of the same things that I was yelling at the television. If you noticed, Boston made proper adjustments. Last game, and some this one Rose abused the Celtics when they switched a big man on him. Late in the game they stopped switching as much. We continued to switch, and Salmons, or “Fish” as I call him was surely quick in leaving his assignment for that crucial shot that Pierce hit. The biggest thing that bothered me was the final play. It was a great play… probably the best thing that I’ve seen drawn up by Skinny and his staff. But why couldn’t Tyrus Thomas been subbed in for Brad Miller? Thomas attacks the basket way more aggressively. Brad Miller air balled the layup, and it reminded me of Patrick Ewing against the Pacers in the playoffs a while back. Thomas would have surely went to the basket looking to dunk it… and it would have been too high for Rondo to punch him in the face. At the end of the day… another close one for the books, and I’m not settling for moral victories either.

  4. k.markham@live.com'
    inspectorboyd April 29, 2009 at 4:06 pm #

    I’m no CIA agent but check out Rondo’s postgame interview: Clearly at 1:14 as he’s explaining the foul on Miller, the pitch of his voice rises slightly, as though he’s about to tell a well rehearsed story. Then at 1:21 when he claims to have “went through his arm first” he clears his throat and begins a series of rapid blinks, tell-tale signs of deceit, if me lying to my Mom at age 16 about smoking pot is any indication. I’ll be submitting this damning evidence to Mr. Stern via strippergram and $13.57 dollar bribe and ask for a 1 game suspension.

  5. APaschen@gmail.com'
    Loop April 29, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    Matt,

    You saw Salmons get torched by Pierce three times in a row with that jump shot in OT. Just tossing this one out there, and feel free to send it back. But if you KNOW they are going to Pierce ann Baby and Perkins are in the line-up (along with Tony Allen and Marbury) Why not lineup with Hinrich, Rose, Thomas, Miller and Noah and put Thomas on Pierce? I would rather have Thomas on him than Salmons, who clearly isn’t the same player with a bum groin.

    Loop

  6. bscholtens@hotmail.com'
    Brad April 29, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more with DocBoone. I have been thinking the same about the really imaginative misdirection of that play. For a moment it felt like we had “good” Skiles back. Kudos to VDN for having enough guts to put the game in the hands of an unlikely hero.

    I feel just awful for Brad Miller. (shouldn’t we start refering to him by his initials like we do the other guys? BM ;) He is given the public distiction of goat after getting hammered like that. You know he makes those freethrows if unimpared. I hope he is able to get past it, and I hope that most Chicago Bulls fans appreciate him and his effort.

    I also have been thinking that the play may have worked with either Noah or Thomas in there. It’s unfortunate that VDN could not have trusted Noah or Thomas with that assignment as both would have been able to drive quicker and finish with a flush instead of the lob. I hope they are able to understand that their lack of b-ball IQ forced VDN to call Miller’s number instead of theirs. …and subsequently lost the game. If the off-season is next, they need to make it priority to be that guy next year.

  7. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale April 29, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

    inspectorboyd — “You just know the coaches opinions would be diametrically opposite if the roles were reversed on the last foul. Playoff coaches are about as objective as bar owners.” Man, ain’t THAT the truth. That’s why I couldn’t help but laugh over the hole Tony DiLeo versus Stan Van Gundy flap going on in the Sixers-Magic series. Van Gundy is the self-styled master of the passive-aggressive officiating jab, but when DiLeo did it last night, Stan was all like, “WHAT?! WE’RE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE OFFICIATING NOW?! IS THAT WHAT WE’RE DOING?!” Of course, Van Gundy has never done that…

    DocBoone — “But why couldn’t Tyrus Thomas been subbed in for Brad Miller?” That’s a good question, and I totally agree with your assessment…in theory. But I’m guessing that the main reason Vinny went with Brad is because he (like many Bulls fans) simply does not trust Ty’s decision-making abilities at this point. Maybe Tyrus would have swooped in for the ramjam, or maybe he would have taken a jumper instead, regardless of what he’d been instructed to do. That’s the problem with him: You just don’t know. Like when he didn’t pass it to D-Rose at the end of Game 4 and then missed the free throw after getting fouled. It’s all those little mental lapses that have Vinny thinking, “Brad might be limited physically, but at least he’s not an idiot.”

    Bonus points for remembering Pat Chewing’s bonked layup. That play still sticks in my mind: Patrick swooping in for a finger roll and having it kick off the back iron…if memory serves me. I bet that’s a moment he’d like to have back.

    inspectorboyd — Okay, seriously. You’re CIA, aren’t you?

    Loop — The problem with putting a cold Tyrus on Pierce is that Paul would just walk right around him. Personally, I’d try to put a good defender on Tony Allen and have that guy rush at Pierce the minute he gets the ball and then trust my defensive rotations.

  8. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale April 29, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

    Brad — Oh god. Don’t get me started on calling Miller “BM”…I won’t be able to stop.

  9. macalo07@gmail.com'
    Mike C. April 29, 2009 at 9:29 pm #

    good point on the kg thing; i wondered aloud several times last night how he hasn’t gotten a tech yet this series.

  10. michaelcuculich@hotmail.com'
    mc April 29, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    “But why couldn’t Tyrus Thomas [or Noah] been subbed in for Brad Miller?”

    I can only explain it that the play was designed (or at least, open to the possibility) for an open jump shot, not a dunk. I’m not sure they expected the lane to be SO wide open. So keeping that in mind: Noah can’t shoot WHATSOEVER, and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES do you put the ball in Tyrus’s hands at a moment like that- his bball IQ is just way too low. I agree with you that they are quicker and better leapers (and in retrospect would have closed that distance to the rim), but Miller is such a smart passer and a good shooter that his skills allow for a certain flexibility on the play. If that lane is not open like that Miller would have to shoot (most likely a wide open jumper) or pass, two things he excells at as a big man. I can only assume that’s what’s going through their minds when they call his number on the play.

  11. danzollner@gmail.com'
    Dan April 30, 2009 at 1:43 am #

    I think it’s also worth noting that Trevor Ariza’s foul occurred with his team trailing 83-55 at the end of the 3rd quarter. The game was not on the line, it was out of reach. I think this played a huge part in how Ariza’s foul was received.

  12. mam004@drake.edu'
    msquared April 30, 2009 at 4:30 am #

    Let’s look at a hypothetical: If it’s Rondo (or Pierce) who goes up for the layup, and Thomas or Noah (or Salmons) are the ones fouling, is there doubt in anyone’s mind that it gets called a flagrant?

  13. hiphopresurrected@gmail.com'
    DocBoone April 30, 2009 at 10:43 pm #

    Yes… BM (or Bowel Movement) is the big with the better bball IQ, and I can totally see why I gets his number called in that situation. I think I’m just frustrated with BM, and how bad he’s stunk up the joint in prior games. Turnover prone, slow, unathletic, etc. He has made some big plays in the same token though. It’s just time to be witnesses tonight people. Game 6… let’s get it.

  14. ishlifyhead@yahoo.com'
    ishlifyhead May 5, 2009 at 1:24 am #

    Is the entire Celtics THAT pissed at Brad Miller? It seems like while Miller is getting hammered by Rondo, Pierce is giving him the finger at the same time.

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