The Question

You asked questions on twitter, time to answer them

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Welcome to a new feature here at PBT, where we answer your twitter questions regarding basketball, food, comics and just about everything else. Well, no food questions this week but maybe in the future. Basically, if you ask it we’ll try to answer it.

I admit to stealing this column idea from Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra, so the first question ties in to an occasional HBT topic.

Q. In honor of Calcaterra, I’m contractually obligated to ask for your thoughts on Aquaman. (@hurricanept)

I know bald bloggers are supposed to stick together. And I love reading Calcaterra and his baseball brilliance, plus ability throw high and hard at Gleeman. But dude is flat out wrong about Aquaman. Maybe because Craig is stuck in the 1970s, maybe because he fears the color orange, or most likely because he loves seafood and desperately wishes he could talk to fish. He’s just jealous.

People blame Aquaman but he isn’t the problem — he is the King of Atlantis, can speak to fish and control the oceans. Those are bleeping awesome powers unless you live in Nebraska. The problem is Aquaman has been written poorly, especially back in Craig’s ‘70s. For me, the Peter David Aquaman of the 1990s flat out rocked. Anyone with a harpoon hand has my vote. He was an Arthurian warrior king on a quest. He had a mission. So, you know, that storyline died. But Aquaman can be great in the right hands.

And when they make an Aquaman movie, Adrian Grenier must play the lead or I will be disappointed.

Q. If there is a season, will the Bulls have a chance to tinker with the roster? We’re still a player or two away. (@JTILLMAN9693)

Hey, you agree with Dwyane Wade, he says you are just one player away, too. What Bulls fan doesn’t want to agree with Wade? By the way, I’d say one starter and some depth, actually, but I think we’re all basically on the same page here.

What player? Has to be a wing player who can create shots and take pressure off of Derrick Rose. If you’re up for a little gamble on health (and his recovery), maybe Caron Butler is a guy to make a run at. Also depends on who is on the trade block once we see the new CBA.

As for time to tinker, NBA post-lockout history says yes but not much. Back in 1999, training camps and free agency were condensed into one hectic month. My guess is we will see something like that again, and the front offices that come in with the best preparation and think fastest on their feet can get some steals and deals. The question becomes, is that the Bulls front office? I have my doubts, but we shall see.

Q. Are the Lakers the most annoying team in the world, or second, behind the Yankees? (@ZachLowe_SI)

Fifth. The list goes: 1) New York Yankees (I think we all agree on that, even Yankee fans); 2) USC Football; 3) Boston Celtics; 4) Manchester United; 5) Lakers (Sorry Zach).

Q. Do you see the Pistons parting ways with Ben Gordon? (@WhatRobSaid)

Frankly, that should be up to Lawrence Frank. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.) Gordon can put the rock in the hole efficiently, and that is a valuable commodity, but he needs to be put in situations that suit his skill set (good spot up shooter, can create in isolation, works well off the ball). Nothing with Jon Kuester ever seemed to fit. So, to paraphrase John Lennon, “give Frank a chance.” But if Gordon is still square peg round hole, then you should try to move him. There will be some interest out there, but not as much as Pistons fans dream.

Q. Is it ever appropriate to wear socks with crocs? (@dailythunder)

Mario Batali does it and he seems fat and happy. So, if it makes you fat and happy — and you never want to get laid again — go for it.

Q. What’s wrong with including some provision for games missed to injury in new CBA? Like 50% pay for injured games lost? (@jazzingitup)

A couple of things, really. One is that accidents are what your insurance industry friends would call “acts of god.” Most of the time. Sometimes there are conditioning issues or whatever, but most of the time injuries are like what happened to Blake Griffin (throws down a dunk lands normally and his knee just doesn’t like it so he misses a full season). That’s part of the risk to players and should they lose money because of such a fluke?

More importantly, if a player gets paid more for playing, they will rush back and play through pain. Good you say, and you might be right if it’s the playoffs. But what if it is February against Minnesota? Do you want a player to rush back to make more money and in doing so suffer a longer term injury? It does not benefit the team.

Also, remember that for big contracts teams have insurance against injuries, so they don’t fork over all that cash.

Dwyane Wade’s determination outlasts Kyle Lowry’s buzzer beater

Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade controls the ball as Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) defends during the first half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Toronto.  (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Dwyane Wade was helpless as Kyle Lowry‘s halfcourt heave sailed through the air (though Wade cocked his head back and leaned to the side, as if changing his view could alter the ball’s trajectory).

Wade was helpless as the referees swallowed their whistles despite Cory Joseph crashing into him on an inbound. (Haven’t we had enough incorrect no-calls on late inbound plays?) That led to a Heat turnover that preceded Lowry’s miracle shot.

Wade was helpless as the referees again swallowed their whistles despite DeMarre Carroll tugging his jersey on an overtime inbound. (Haven’t we really had enough incorrect no-calls on late inbound plays?) That also created a turnover and gave the Raptors another chance to tie.

So, Wade took matters into his own hands.

Wade snatched the ball from DeMar DeRozan, went to his knees to recover it and charged for a three-point play with 1.8 seconds left – finally clinching a 102-96 Miami Game 1 win in a second-round series Tuesday.

The game went to overtime on Lowry’s long-distance buzzer beater. When the shot fell, Wade dropped to one knee and buried his face in his hand. But he didn’t stay on the mat for long.

The Heat scored first eight points of regulation, and Wade (24 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) outscored the Raptors himself in the extra period, 7-6.

This is Toronto’s seventh straight Game 1 loss, including four at home the last three years with largely this group of players. But as the Raptors’ first-round win over the Pacers showed, this series is far from over. Road Game 1 winners have taken the series 53% of the time, hardly an overwhelming clip.

Toronto must better stay in front of Goran Dragic, who led Miami with 26 points. Dragic, who had 25 in Game 7 against the Hornets, had never scored so much in consecutive games with the Heat. They’re thrilled to run their offense through him more often.

The Raptors should also more resolutely attack Hassan Whiteside, who scared them away from the basket. Beyond Jonas Valanciunas (24 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals), the Raptors were 8-for-20 in the paint with Whiteside in the game. It’s not so much the shooting percentage – which isn’t great – but the low number of attempts in 39 minutes. Whiteside is a premier rim protector, but he’s not invincible. That proclivity for the perimeter failed especially with Toronto’s star guard struggling so mightily.

Aside from his halfcourt highlight, Lowry scored four points on 2-of-12 shooting, including 0-for-6 from beyond the arc. More than anything, the Raptors need him to play better.

Otherwise, the shot of the playoffs will only delay the inevitable.

Kyle Lowry sends Raptors-Heat to overtime with halfcourt buzzer beater (video)

Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry makes a pass as Miami Heat's Luol Deng (9) and Goran Dragic (7) defend during the first half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Toronto.  (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Kyle Lowry was 2-for-11, including 0-for-5 on 3-pointers.

Didn’t matter.

He hit the big one to stave off yet another Raptors Game 1 loss.

Video via Kenny Ducey of Sports Illustrated

C.J. McCollum on Warriors: ‘They set a lot of illegal screens’

Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, center, reaches for the ball between Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, top, and forward Andre Iguodala during the second half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, May 1, 2016. The Warriors won 118-106. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts accused Anderson Varejao of being dirty on a particular play.

C.J. McCollum says the Warriors cross the line much more regularly.

via Jason Quick of CSN Northwest:

“They set a lot of illegal screens,’’ Blazers guard CJ McCollum said Tuesday at the team’s shootaround at The Olympic Club. “They are moving and stuff. That’s the respect you get when you are champions, you get a lot more respect from the referees. You have to figure out a way to get around those screens and make it difficult.’’

One underappreciated element of the Warriors’ success is their excellent screening. Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut are two of the NBA’s best. Even the diminutive Stephen Curry wreaks havoc with his screens, leveraging his shooting ability to befuddle defenders.

Do the Warriors sometimes set illegal screens? Yup. Do they do so more than other teams? Yup. Do they do so more than every other team? Anecdotally, probably, though I’d love to see numbers.

But that’s part of Golden State’s strategy. The Warriors screeners so often straddle the line, they move it. It’s a fine line between a good legal screen and an illegal one, and Golden State dares the refs to blow the whistle.

McCollum can campaign for that to change, and his statements might cause the league to instruct referees to watch Warrior screens more closely. But even if Golden State has to harness its movement and arm extensions on picks, the team is more than capable of setting quality clean screens.

Anderson Varejao responds to Terry Stotts’ ‘dirty play’ charge: Not intentional

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State backup big man Anderson Varejao insists he didn’t deliberately trip Trail Blazers guard Gerald Henderson in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal playoff series.

Yet after watching the replay, he understands it sure looked like he did it on purpose – which is what Henderson thought. Varejao said it looked worse than it was.

“When I looked at the play, I was like, `Oh, it looked like I was trying to do that,”‘ he said. “How can I try to do something like that? I’m going down and my foot got stuck. That’s all.”

Portland coach Terry Stotts on Monday called it a “dirty play.” Then Tuesday, the NBA ruled it a Flagrant 1 foul on Varejao.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series was set for Tuesday night at Oracle Arena, and both players involved seemed to be ready to move forward.

The 33-year-old Varejao, a 12th-year NBA veteran from Brazil, said in response to Stotts that he isn’t a dirty player.

“It’s a playoff game, we all know it’s going to be like that. I don’t know exactly what he’s talking about. I just thought it was a physical play,” Varejao said after the morning shootaround. “Got hit in my back, I was going down, my feet got stuck somewhere and all of a sudden, someone else fell. I’m sorry that that happened. Do you think I’m looking for guys to take them out? No. I know how it is to be hurt. I’ve been hurt enough.

“I would never try to hurt anybody, I would never do that.”

He and Henderson were ejected late in the third quarter of Sunday’s game after receiving their second technical fouls. Both were hit with a technical at the 3:29 mark of the third when Varejao tripped Henderson after they collided. Henderson jumped up, pointing a finger at his opponent’s face. They kept jawing a few minutes later and were tossed with 15.1 seconds left in the period.

Stotts was still steamed about it a day later.

“Varejao made a dirty play. It was a leg-whip and I thought it was a dangerous play,” he said. “I thought Gerald’s reaction to being tripped like that was appropriate. Otherwise, no one would have seen it. It was unfortunate that he got tossed on the second, but you have to defend yourself – especially when somebody makes a dirty play.”

Henderson said after the game that he believed Varejao thought the Blazers guard ran into him on purpose.

“I hit him. I bumped him good. But I didn’t, I wasn’t trying to hit him,” Henderson said, calling it “a little excessive” to have Varejao go at his legs.

Varejao said Tuesday he was initially surprised Henderson came at him.

“But looking at the play, he had the right to do it. I understand why he came back at me the way he did, which is OK, guys. It’s a playoff game,” Varejao said. “It’s going to be physical. It’s fun when it gets like that.”