Author: John Krolik

Clips Griz Game 7

NBA Playoffs: Clippers dominate 4th quarter, win Game 7


Through 27 quarters of basketball, the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers played each other to an absolute standstill. The two teams had traded blows throughout the playoffs, and the Clippers came into the final quarter of Game 7 with a 1-point lead in a hostile arena.

Then, after 36 minutes of profoundly ugly basketball, the Clippers finally got some offense going — and it didn’t even come from Blake Griffin or Chris Paul. Los Angeles’ two superstars combined for a grand total of two points and zero assists in the fourth quarter, and those two points came when Paul was intentionally fouled with the Clippers up eight points with 28 seconds remaining in the game.

The Clippers won game 7 by beating the Grizzlies at their own game — the team known as “Lob City” forced the Western Conference’s best defensive team into an absolutely abysmal offensive performance.

The numbers are ugly for the Grizzlies, who only managed to score 72 points on 32.5% shooting from the field. The team didn’t make a single three-pointer all game, and Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, and Zach Randolph combined to shoot 6-36 from the field. Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay both had solid games, scoring 19 points apiece, but the Grizzlies really had no chance of getting any offense going with Randolph and their entire backcourt shooting so poorly. Through most of this series, the Grizzlies looked like a better team than the Clippers, but they simply melted down on their home floor when it mattered most. After their fantastic 1st-round upset last season, this is a team that will have a lot to stew over this offseason.

The Clippers now have a date with the Spurs, who will, to be frank, tear through them like a wet napkin if the Clippers don’t bring their absolute A-game. That means that Paul and Griffin have to get back to 100%, the role players will have to step up, they will have to get tough on defense, and they’ll most likely have to get a little lucky. The Spurs will go into their series with the Clippers as heavy favorites, but the Clippers showed in this game, which they were heavily favored to lose, and the 4th quarter of Game 1 that betting against them isn’t always the best idea.

NBA Playoffs: 76ers hold on, end Chicago’s season

Boozer Attempt

Normally, when an 8-seed upsets a 1-seed, like the Golden State Warriors did in 2007 or the Memphis Grizzlies did last year, NBA fans are generally thrilled for an underdog team that beat the odds and prevailed.

This time, however, it’s hard to feel anything but a sense of melancholy for the Chicago Bulls, who did everything right all season long only to see it all go catastrophically awry when Derrick Rose made that ill-fated jump stop in Game 1.

The 76ers deserve a lot of credit for taking care of business and beating the Bulls, particularly in a tightly-contested 79-78 Game 6. Especially since Chicago played well without Rose in the lineup all year. But it’s hard not to put an asterisk on this series when the Bulls were without their best offensive player for the final five games of the series and the leader of their defense for the final two.

With the win the Sixers will face the Celtics in the next round in a series that will begin on Saturday.

The Bulls gave the 76ers everything they could handle in game 6, holding them to just 79 points on sub-40% shooting from the field, but without Rose and Noah they simply couldn’t muster enough offense to bring the series back to Chicago for a Game 7. Carlos Boozer will be a likely scapegoat for the Bulls after this game, as he was only able to score 3 points on 1-11 shooting in a game where the Bulls needed him to provide some offense. Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton were able to provide some offense for the Bulls, but with Boozer melting down and C.J. Watson, Rose’s backup, only managing 6 points on 2-11 shooting, the Bulls simply didn’t have enough scoring to get past the 76ers’ tough defense.

To the Bulls’ credit, they hung tough after falling behind early, and actually had a great chance to win the game late. With a 1-point lead and the ball, Omer Asik went to the line with a chance to put the Bulls up 3 points with 7 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for Chicago, Asik, a 45.6% free throw shooter in the regular season, came up empty at the line, and 5 seconds later Andre Iguodala was able to hit two free throws and end the Bulls’ fantastic season before they had a chance to make a true playoff run.

The big question facing the Bulls coming out of this series is whether they will be willing to stand pat and chalk their disappointing playoff run up to the Rose and Noah injuries or make a big move, one that would likely involve Carlos Boozer. Boozer is a great rebounder and can fill it up in the regular season, but great defenses have given him trouble in the playoffs: he shot 42.2% in this series,  40.7% in last year’s series against the Heat, and 44.6% against the Lakers in the 2010 playoffs. The Bulls have a great young core, unmatched depth, and one of the best coaches in the league, but it may be time to ask if they can win a championship with Carlos Boozer playing a major role against top-level defenses in a 7-game series.

As for the 76ers, they showed why they shouldn’t be overlooked in this series — they play tough defense, they have a lot of depth, and they come to play for the full 48 minutes. They’ll certainly be the underdogs when they play the Celtics or the Hawks, but they shouldn’t be counted out either.

For now, they should celebrate their 1st-round victory, even though most NBA fans are probably feeling more sympathy for the Bulls than excitement for the 76ers right about now.

Quote of the day: Frank Vogel hopes the Heat don’t get too many whistles


From our own Ira Winderman, here are some fighting words from Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel, whose team will meet the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat in Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs on Sunday:

“It’ll be very interesting to see how the referees officiate the series and how much flopping they reward. . . . Every drive to the basket they have guys not making a play on the ball, but sliding in front of drivers. Often times they’re falling down even before contact is even being made. It’ll be interesting to see how the series is officiated.”

Clearly, Vogel is already trying to “work the refs” a bit here. Given that he didn’t get very specific with his officiating complaints, I’d be surprised if Vogel got fined for his comments, but you never know when somebody makes a comment about NBA officiating.

Miami Heat apologize for PA announcer’s “extinguished” joke

Miami Heat v New York Knicks - Game Four

Our own Ira Winderman has the story:

One lapse in judgment apparently led to another during the Miami Heat‘s opening-round NBA playoff series against the New York Knicks.

A week after Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire injured his left hand when he struck it against a fire-extinguisher case following New York’s Game 2 loss at AmericanAirlines Arena, Heat public-address announcer Michael Baiamonte announced Stoudemire had been “extinguished” when he was disqualified with his sixth foul during the Wednesday Game 5 loss that eliminated New York.

Thursday, the Heat issued a statement apologizing for the call:

“Last night at our game, our PA Announcer had a momentary lapse of judgment and used a poor choice of words in describing Amare Stoudemire’s fouling out of the game. This is not who we are as an organization or who he is as an announcer. Both the Miami Heat and Michael Baiamonte apologize to Amare and the New York Knicks for the inappropriate choice of words.”

Bialmonte was previously best known for his signature “DOS Minutos!” call that comes with two minutes remaining at the end of each quarter, which NBA fans do not love as much as Bialmonte seems to think they do. Stoudemire shrugged off Bialmonte’s joke after Game 5, but it was in poor taste and unnecessary, so it’s good to see the Heat apologize to Stoudemire.

Dwyane Wade is historically good at shot-blocking

Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade listens to the national anthem before their NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in Miami

The Heat Index’s Tom Haberstroh has a great article up today on how Dwyane Wade’s unprecedented shot-blocking (Wade is the only guard to average at least a block per game over the course of his career) impacts Miami’s defense. Because Wade can block just about anybody’s shot, including a 7-footer’s, the Heat are able to defend the rim extremely well despite not having much size of their own up front:

Wade rarely shies away from shot-blocking opportunities, and that’s partly by design. In the Heat’s mechanical defense, which was orchestrated by Pat Riley and sharpened by Spoelstra, Wade must make his presence felt underneath the rim. The Heat’s defensive blueprint requires guards to act like big men underneath and wall off penetration.

It’s something that newcomers in the Heat system have to get used to. Even a player like Shane Battier, who has studied defensive principles his entire career, needed time to adjust to Wade’s shot-blocking talents.

“Earlier in the season,” Spoelstra remembers, “Shane Battier was in a situation where Dwyane Wade was a low man and the big man caught it right at the rim and Shane went to foul. We told Shane, ‘No, that’s not a fouling situation. Let Dwyane go up there and be a playmaker. That’s not a given even against a center.'”

I encourage you to read the full article, which is quite fantastic. Wade’s next chance to get some highlight-reel blocks will come in the Heat’s second-round series against the Pacers, which begins on Sunday.