After last night’s Memphis loss to the Clippers, I asked a couple Memphis players if the Clippers’ theatrics and flopping bothered them. Nobody would go near the topic. Well, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins called Chris Paul a flopper on national television, but even off the record the Memphis players would shake their heads to acknowledge it and say they didn’t want to talk about it.
But everyone else is.
The Clippers have become the poster children for flopping in the NBA. It lit up twitter Monday night. Blake Griffin gets the brunt of it because it contrasts with his physical, almost confrontational style of play. We have video of Chris Paul flopping when a referee touches him. It’s not a simplistic situation — Griffin and Paul draw a lot of contact in part because they attack the rim. They get fouled more than they get calls. But they are trying to play the gamesmanship card now of selling that contact to get calls with the kind overacting usually reserved for bad dinner theater.
And there may have been no more vocal critic of the way Griffin is handling this than Charles Barkley. He ripped Griffin on the TNT postgame show Monday and said the same thing on the Dan Patrick Show (via Sports Radio Interviews).
“(Griffin) made me so mad last night. I called him Vince Carter last night. Because Vince Carter was a great player — we used to joke he got shot like three times a game. I called him that on the show last night, I said ‘Blake Griffin has turned into a new Vince Carter.’ … He gets shot three or four times a game and just goes down. He better stop that flopping. He gotta stop that, because you can tell all these players are taking cheap shots because he’s getting to be annoying with all the flopping.”
Will he lose the respect of players for flopping?
“No they just gonna enjoy hitting you more. Because what the mentality becomes then is, ‘OK, if you’re gonna flop I’m gonna knock the hell out of you.’ That’s actually the way it goes. They won’t lose respect because he’s a terrific player.”
What the Clippers are doing is not new — even players with a tough reputation like Kobe Bryant sell calls. And that’s part of it — when your team does it, they are just trying to sell the call because the referees don’t respect them; when the other team does it, they are flopping and why doesn’t the referee call that?
What I fear is the second round when the Clippers (assuming they can close out the Grizzlies) take on the Spurs, who have the king of all floppers in Manu Ginobili. It’s going to look at times like there are snipers all over the arena picking guys off. Yea! NBA Basketball, it’s fantastic!
DeMar DeRozan sounds like he wants to re-sign with the Raptors, and Toronto wants him back.
But what about those Lakers rumors?
Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, via Noah Coslov of Bleacher Report Radio:
I’m breaking up with you.
No, I’m breaking up with you first.
The Warriors went an NBA-record 73-9.
And the Thunder massively outplayed them in Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference finals.
No, Golden State wasn’t at full strength. But Oklahoma City reached a level the Warriors hadn’t all season. Even if Golden State had hit peak performance, I’m not sure that would’ve been enough. The Thunder were that good.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were their superstar selves. Steven Adams defended inside and out. Serge Ibaka hit timely shots and moved well defensively. Andre Roberson made open 3-pointers and cut. Dion Waiters read the floor to make the right shot or pass. And everyone rotated correctly throughout entire defensive possessions.
Oklahoma City was awesome, handing the Warriors 28- and 24-point losses.
But Golden State rallied to force a Game 7 tonight. If the Warriors win, they’ll become just the eighth team in NBA history to lose multiple games by more than 20 in a series and still win it. The seven to do it:
- Houston Rockets lost to Los Angeles Clippers by 25 and 33 in 2015 second round
- Atlanta Hawks lost to Miami Heat by 29 and 26 in 2009 first round
- Houston Rockets lost to Phoenix Suns by 22 and 24 in 1995 second round
- Philadelphia 76ers lost to Boston Celtics by 40 and 29 in 1982 Eastern Conference finals
- Denver Nuggets lost to Milwaukee Bucks by 31 and 28 in 1978 Western Conference semifinals
- Los Angeles Lakers lost to Milwaukee Bucks by 21 and 26 in 1972 Western Conference finals
- Minneapolis Lakers lost to St. Louis Hawks by 34 and 30 in 1959 Western Division finals
The Warriors never stopped believing in themselves, even when getting routed. That mentality has them one game from a comeback for the ages.
DeMar DeRozan sounds like he wants to re-sign with the Raptors.
But does Toronto want to give max money to someone who 39% from the field and 15% on 3-pointers in the playoffs?
Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri, via James Herbert of CBSSports.com:
This is probably the right course. I don’t know whom the Raptors could get if they lets DeRozan walk, but if he signs elsewhere, they would have just about $19 million in cap space – less than a max salary. I doubt they could land a better replacement.
I’m not sold on DeRozan as a playoff player, though he legitimately took the next step this regular season. But I’d rather keep him, hope he learns to handle the challenges of the postseason and possibly use him in a trade down the road. It’ll cost a max salary if DeRozan isn’t willing to take a discount, but that beats the alternative of losing him for nothing but cap space.
At 30-11, the Cavaliers had the best record ever while firing a coach during a season. Cleveland was the first team in a decade to fire a coach that took it to the NBA Finals the year prior.
Maybe firing David Blatt was the right move, but on the surface, it seemed outrageous.
Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:
In speaking with numerous sources close to “The Call,” cleveland.com learned the details. There were no initial pleasantries. Griffin got right to the point — David Blatt was being relieved of his duties.
Lue’s response was candid and immediate.
“This is f—– up, Griff.”
That didn’t prevent Griffin from calmly asking Lue if he could take over. Hired as the associate head coach a year and a half earlier, becoming the head of a franchise was Lue’s eventual goal. But this didn’t seem right.
Lue pleaded with Griffin, arguing for several minutes that firing Blatt was an excessive move for a team carrying a conference-best 30-11 record. Griffin listened to Lue’s pleas. When they ended, he told Lue the decision has already been carried out.
Griffin circled back to his original question.
“What’s done is done. I’m asking you if you can lead this team?” It had taken a few minutes, but Griffin got the response he sought.
“Yeah, I can f—ing lead this team.”
Griffin then congratulated him.
I’m not sure I buy all this. It’d look bad if Lue undermined Blatt in any way.
But the Cavs asked for this situation when they hired the runner-up in their head-coaching search to assist the winner. Lue didn’t have to do anything for that call to happen. The situation opened the door for it.
And it worked out. Lue has done a masterful job guiding the Cavaliers back to the NBA Finals. We’ll never know how Blatt would’ve done if he remained on the job, but Lue has set an excellent bar. I’m not yet sold Lue is a great head coach, but for this team – and the difficult task of communicating with LeBron James and elevating Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, who’d be featured stars on many teams – Lue has been aces.