Tag Archives: game 5

15 Footer, 5/30/13: Let Them Play

If you’re here looking for complaints about the officials, congratulations! You fell for my illusion. TO THE AZTEC TOMB!

Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat (8:30 PM, TNT)

The Pacers and Heat are playing one of the most evenly matched, competitive series of the postseason, and I’m not entirely sure it’s been noticed. While these two teams scheme, adjust and execute their way to offensive production unexpected against such stellar defenses, the focus since Game 1’s postgame strategy gab session lies elsewhere. Between poor officiating and plenty of flopping, there’s been every excuse to talk about everything but the game. If you’re upset about the way things have gone so far, I don’t blame you. No one likes to see a free throw contest. No one likes to see a 50/50 call called improperly. No one wants to think they’re being deprived of a better product.

I urge you, however, to consider a different perspective. You have every ability to choose what things are important to you. On any given play between the Heat and Pacers, one might see a half-dozen feats of athletic marvel and mental processing rivaled by few, if any, competitors. Choose to celebrate those moments and let the bad calls and flailing bodies roll off your back, not the other way around.

Yes, there will be bad calls and felonious flops. The act of two evenly matched teams playing at such an elite level, vying for every inch of real estate and every window of opportunity, practically begs for missed whistles and gale force near-elbows. Every advantage must be seized — or created. Any edge must be exploited — or maintained. If there’s a way to conquer one more neuron’s worth of sympathy in the minds of the officials, then damn the means and justify the end. It is the job of the referees to suss out what’s real and what’s not, and sometimes they’re going to blow it. They’re human. It’s not right; it’s inevitable. It’s reality.

The rest of reality is the splendor that awaits us tonight. With so much on the line, each play will make your heart race and your blood boil, let alone what it will do to the teams. Bad calls and unfairly rewarded flops will happen. Question them. Analyze them. Learn from them. Make jokes about them. Laugh about them. But let them live in the moment and wither as the ball changes hands. Trust that things will even out in the end (and no, I don’t mean root for a makeup call). Appreciate the game as it happens, rather than dwelling. You can’t control the way the whistles will go, but you can control whether they affect you. Just like David West and Dwyane Wade!

Image by ctsnow via Flickr

15 Footer, 5/16/13: Elimination Breakdown

For the sake of NBA aficionados everywhere, may at least one of the teams behind in their respective series emerge victorious tonight. A four day stretch without basketball seems a plight unbecoming the current level of play. The landscape is not ready to be barren so soon, to lie fallow for any longer than is necessary. Let the fields be sown with all the niceties of Stephen Curry silver platters and Prigioni peppers. Bring us your finest Tim Duncan aged wines and Tony Parker founts of water droplets pure, the spoils of Roy Hibbert’s hunt for anything airborne, too, NBA playoffs!

But not too much of the latter, because the Warriors and Knicks really need a win tonight.

Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks (8:00 PM, TNT)

What is there to do when you’ve trusted the process and not received any positive results?

By all accounts, the Knicks abandoned much of the stagnant heroball that rendered their first round meeting with the Boston Celtics unpalatable. The fear was the Melo and Felton isolations would continue unabated, forced down our collective gullet like a set piece in the movie Se7en. Instead, the Knicks turned to the pick and roll and fostered a decent amount of ball movement in the halfcourt.

For their efforts, they have a 3-1 series deficit and an elimination game at home. They seem at their wits’ end, forced into unsuccessful gambits such as a big lineup that every Knicks observer in the tri-state area knew was doomed from the start. The Knicks are that kid on Legends of the Hidden Temple who couldn’t figure out how to put together the damned Silver Monkey statue and had you screaming at your television in anticipation of years of sports fanaticism. And the Pacers are that statue. They’re also Olmec, host Kirk Fogg, the Temple guardians and probably the production crew.

They’ve played the Knicks to near perfection, accepting the rolling evolution from New York and refusing any progress from the primordial ooze made by the stack of amino acids that is Mike Woodson. Both Paul George and Roy Hibbert now find themselves at least in the conversation of NBA stars, and Lance Stephenson certainly seems born ready for the role of Indiana’s more productive version of J.R. Smith.

The Knicks aren’t to be counted out — not yet, and not at home. They’ll try everything they can to move on to the next chamber in their journey, but a half a medallion and 36 points from Carmelo Anthony might not save them.

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors (10:30 PM, ESPN)

The Spurs are on the flipside of the process/results coin. They trusted that their process, with enough small modifications to adjust for the opponent, would win out over the long run — that if they could weather the Golden State storm long enough to not be eliminated in a variance-induced tsunami, the Warriors would cool off and enough of San Antonio’s own shots would finally find their way in the basket.

In essence, the Spurs are Danny Green. Green has ample opportunities for open 3s and drives to the rim after closeouts in this series, yet he’s been his typical IcyHot self on most nights. When he and the other floor spacers for San Antonio knock down shots, the Warriors struggle to keep up, often resulting in forced shots on the other end by Jarrett Jack, who somehow continues to make them and earn a payday that stands to infuriate whatever future fanbase has the pleasure of his presence. When Green takes those same shots with the same amount of space and misses, though, Golden State more readily works for decent looks at the other end, especially as the long Green misses often lead to runouts on the other end by the Warriors and easy transition opportunities at the rim and behind the 3-point line.

That variance is more or less out of the Spurs’ hands, especially with the choices the Warriors make on defense. What San Antonio can control is how they matchup on the other end. Coach Gregg Popovich made the tactical decision to switch Kawhi Leonard onto Klay Thompson, giving Green free reign to harass Stephen Curry. San Antonio has conceded looks to Harrison Barnes, guarded by Tony Parker, in so doing, but Green is more than up for the task of limiting Curry. He’s been particularly adept at fighting through off-ball actions designed to free Curry and get him the ball in space and while in motion. As with so many other elite offensive players, much of defense on Curry is prevention of the catch where and when he most prefers.

Yet for all the regression and adaptation, the Warriors have played the Spurs to a near deadlock. San Antonio leads the series 3-2, but with the home crowd rocking at Roaracle tonight, there’s every chance Golden State will give us a Game 7.