Should Game 1 of the NBA Finals have even been played Thursday?
With the temperature near 90 degrees in the Spurs home arena, it’s a question worth asking. And apparently the league actively considered how to proceed in the unusual heat.
NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn:
What you are looking for is to make sure that the conditions on the court are fine, and in this case there was no one slipping. Once the game starts, it’s in the hands of the referees. Had the referees felt at any time or had I felt at any time ‑‑ I was sitting the second row midcourt ‑‑ were such that the game shouldn’t be continued, then they would have come over and said something to me. Never did, I never said anything to them regarding the fact that the game should be cancelled.
You know, again, in live sporting events, sometimes things transpire that you don’t expect. Obviously the conditions were the same for both teams, and it’s just one of those unfortunate things.
The National Basketball Players Association didn’t find that explanation good enough.
Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg (hat tip: James Herbet of Eye on Basketball)”
Klempner is probably correct that the NBA should have communicated better with the players and their representatives. Thorn and the referees shouldn’t unilaterally make a decision that puts players at risk in their workplace.
And they should have considered more than just whether or not the floor was slick. The extreme temperature also increased the players’ risks of other maladies like heat exhaustion and cramping, the latter of which hit LeBron James hard.
All said, the game should have been played. As Thorn noted, conditions can’t be perfectly set during live events. Competing athletically at that level carries an inherent risk, and though the heat increased the risk, it probably didn’t extend it beyond an acceptable level.
But the players union probably should have had more voice in that decision, even if the conclusion would have been identical to reality.
The Bulls suffered a rough loss in Boston last night.
It didn’t get better afterward.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge – who played for Boston in the 80s – pleaded ignorance to any nefarious plumbing:
I think the idea that teams plot to shut off the visitor’s hot water is often overstated. Arenas have complex infrastructure, and things can go wrong on their own. Sometimes, the home team loses hot water, but that never gets remembered.
But reasonable excuses don’t make a cold shower in the moment any more tolerable.
Robin Lopez had reason to be upset from the Bulls’ Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
This miss was all on him.
Dwyane Wade (26 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) was the Bulls’ best player in their Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
But the 35-year-old guard clearly didn’t go all out on every possession.
Players can justify not closing out by claiming they were prioritizing rebounding position. Wade clearly has no such excuse.
The Los Angeles Clippers dropped Game 5 to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, and find themselves down 3-2 as they head back to Salt Lake City for Game 6. The Clippers have had to deal with Utah’s formidable defense, so much so that they’ve built in counters to Jazz defenders overplaying shooters like JJ Redick.
One example of this countering method could be found in Game 3, when the Clippers ran a split cut for Redick. Instead of fighting endlessly around screens for a 3-point shot as you might expect, LA took the easy route and simply cut Redick to the basket for an easy layup as a means to take advantage of an overeager defender.
We’ve talked about the Split Cut here on NBA Playbook before. The Los Angeles Lakers used it earlier in the season to beat the Golden State Warriors, the team that uses the split cut perhaps the most out of any team in the NBA.
Other teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, have adapted the Warriors’ use of the split cut as a counter for their own offense this season, which is a testament to just how useful it is.
If you need a reminder, a split cut all about a screener coming up to screen, then cutting toward the basket before his screen action fully takes place. It’s about timing, and catching defenders off guard when they go to set up their recover positions for screens.
For a full breakdown on the split cut and how the Clippers used it, watch the video above.