When the news was released today that Serge Ibaka would be fined $25,000 for his below-the-belt hit on Blake Griffin during the Thunder’s win over the Clippers on Sunday, it wasn’t a shock that a suspension wasn’t handed down, but it was a bit of a surprise.
The league hasn’t been afraid to retroactively drop the hammer after officials during a game came down lightly on a particular offense, as they did in the case of the elbow Metta World Peace landed to the head of Kenneth Faried.
Look a little further back to December, and you’ll see that Dwyane Wade was suspended for a game in the days following a kick to the groin of Ramon Sessions.
Groin shots are groin shots, at least in the eyes of Wade and LeBron James. Neither could believe that Ibaka’s penalty wasn’t harsher, and they each voiced their respective opinions to the millions following them on Twitter.
The confusion is the league’s fault to a certain extent, because public explanations of the reasoning behind these decisions are not readily available, and are rarely published.
In the age where players have direct access to give their opinions on the news of the day via social media, there’s going to be plenty more reactions like this unless explanations are given as to the reason why one play is a suspension, when another very similar play is only worthy of a relatively insignificant fine.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.