Rajon Rondo suspended one game

After bumping official Marc Davis, Rajon Rondo pled clusminess, “I deserved the first tech and, as I was walking, I thought [Davis] stopped, my momentum carried me into him — I even think I tripped on his foot. I didn’t intentionally chest bump him. But that’s what it appears to be.”

Watch the tape and decide for yourself. Remember, this is one of the most nimble point guards in the NBA.

You can see he trips a bit on Davis’s foot, but the bump is clearly intentional.

And when the NBA went to the rulebook to hand down a punishment, it’s no surprise they decided on a one game suspension for the Celtics point guard. Here’s what the rulebook says: “Any player or coach guilty of intentional physical contact with an official shall automatically be suspended without pay for one game.”

So ya, that’s a one game suspension. Let the Keyon Dooling era begin!

Perhaps if he had showed up to Game 1 like this, the league would have been more forgiving…

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Jason Collins doin’ work

Here we are in the playoffs, and once again Jason Collins is somehow making valuable contributions to the Atlanta Hawks. Collins had an understated but important role in Atlanta’s Game 1 victory.

In his honor, I proudly present “50 Seconds of Thunder: The Jason Collins Mixtape.”

Actual basketball info: Watch for the final clip, where Collins intelligently screens the rotating Boston defender, allowing Kirk Hinrich to slip easily to the rim (where he blows the layup). It’s these kind of cagey plays that make Collins a useful player, even when he’s not producing big (or any) stats.

When he gives you a few timely buckets to go with his stalwart “D?” Well, that’s just gravy.

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Would you think I’m drunk if I said Nick Young and Reggie Evans led a historic playoff comeback?

Image from BlackSportsOnline.com

I have a rule that goes into effect every time I’m watching basketball and the game starts getting out of hand.

It goes something like this:  Continue reading “Would you think I’m drunk if I said Nick Young and Reggie Evans led a historic playoff comeback?” »

NBA Playoffs: Game 2 adjustments

Some adjustments to look for heading into Monday night’s games:

Chicago Bulls (1-0) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (0-1)

Obviously Derek Rose’s injury is devastating. From this point forward, the Bulls must be nearly flawless if they want to make a run to the Finals. The biggest adjustment is that Tom Thibodeau must have either Kyle Korver or Rip Hamilton on the court at all times. The threat that both those players bring coming off screens is the one surefire way the Bulls can shift a defense and use their excellent ball movement to find the open man for easy looks. With their devastating defense, Chicago may only need to reach the 90-point mark consistently to keep advancing. Korver and Hamilton running opponents ragged through screens is probably their best bet to get there.

Miami Heat (1-0) vs. New York Knicks (0-1)

New York looked nothing like the team that battled Miami tooth and nail during the last regular season matchup. Getting Tyson Chandler over the flu should help immensely. Chandler was in a complete fog during Game 1.

He dropped passes and was consistently a half-second late on rotations he’d normally makes in his sleep. His ability to play 35-40 minutes with the same effectiveness he had in the regular season is a must.

New York’s rotations are also a total mess. Mike Bibby shouldn’t be on the floor and Jared Jeffries playing on half a leg doesn’t do them much good. With Shumpet now out, J.R. Smith should slide into the starting lineup and Baron Davis now has to find a way to provide a relatively productive 25-30 minutes a game. Mike Woodson also needs to hand Jeffries’ minutes to Stoudemire with the hope he can provide some offensive a small-ball five.

On top of that, Woodson should

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J.J. Redick in stereo

As distasteful as it is in theory, using stereotypes to describe basketball players is standard practice. This is especially true in the build-up to the NBA Draft, as huge amounts of information about different prospects is communicated to fans and media members, most of which have only seen each player in a handful of tournament games. Stereotypes are the shorthand of scouting and analysis, an attempt to put the most information into the smallest package; one that’s easily digestible because people are comfortable with the language and concepts inherently contained in these labels.

For a player coming out of college there may be no more limiting a description than “dead-eye shooter, limited athletically” or any of its linguistic variabilities. Throw in any mention of a player’s slightly pinkish skin tone, and you’ve drawn about as rigid a box around a player’s skill set and ceiling as a basketball fan’s grey matter can construct.

This stereotypic template of a “white shooter” drags associated characteristics with it. White shooters shoot. They are defensive liabilities, that need to be hidden. They don’t handle the ball, for fear of having it stripped by a quicker, more athletic player. They stand on the perimeter, wait for someone else to create a shot for them, and with a flick of the wrist do their basketball jobs. Eric Piatkowski, Kyle Korver, Steve Kerr, John Paxson, Jason Kapono; this particular stereotype has a legacy, long and vidid.

Knowing all that, and the place the “white shooter” template holds in popular basketball schema, it’s amazing that J.J. Redick’s slow-motion burst out of the confines of that stereotype hasn’t been trumpted more boisterously.

In terms of perception being reflected by actual events, it’s hard to think of a recent player making the transition from college to the NBA

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In brief: Western Conference playoff previews

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Utah Jazz

There’s an idea that Utah might use a massive frontline (with a very good efficiency rates on offense and defense in over 100 minutes) of Jefferson-Favors-Millsap to pound the Spurs inside like the Grizzlies did last year en route to an upset. They might try that formation, but it won’t help them much because their pick-and-roll defense will be shredded if Jefferson and Favors are the primary P-n-R defenders. The foot speed and acumen that makes Millsap a decent perimeter and thus an option at the small forward spot also makes him the Jazz’s best pick-and-roll defender, so putting him on the 3 is problematic. Expect any advantage the Jazz gain inside to be more than mitigated by the Spurs’ relentless shelling from deep. The black and silver machine rolls on in a classic Gentleman’s Sweep, dropping one on the Jazz’s homecourt. Spurs in 5.

(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks

Assuming James Harden is healthy, the Mavericks will have to come up with some pretty special to push the Thunder in this series. These two went five close ones last year, and have headed in opposite directions since. The loss of Tyson Chandler, and the discipline he brought to their defensive adjustments (namely making Russell Westbrook make 15 footers) last season will be sorely felt. If the Mavericks can slow the pace of the game and make a ton of 3’s, they can stay in this series. But it’s more likely the Thunder will run the Mavs out of the gym more often than not. In just about every facet of the game, the Thunder are simply better. Still, Dallas has enough juice and the right coach to make this one interesting. Thunder in 5.

(3) Los Angeles

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NBA Playoff Preview: Potential wrinkles

For Knicks to beat Heat, Amar’e must be used sparingly

The last matchup between these two teams became an unmitigated iso-fest. If the series goes the same way, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony essentially taking turns trying to breakdown the opponent’s defense, the outcome of could very well be decided by which of those three has the most impactful set of games (a fact that obviously tilts in Miami’s favor). A few other key things would have to break New York’s way (like the Heat’s supporting cast continuing to miss their fair share of open looks), but the biggest ones all center around how head coach Mike Woodson’s structures his rotations.

The Knicks should be playing a tight nine-man rotation this series and two of those nine (Baron Davis and Jared Jeffries) should have their minutes limited to no more than 10 or so a game. Woodson and his staff must also search for every opportunity to sneak Steve Novak and his game changing shooting onto the floor. With James and Chris Bosh manning the opposing frontcourt, those spots could be hard to find. But when situations arise that Novak can find a decent matchup, like say an odd cross-match that assigns him to Joel Anthony, Woodson must get him into the game.

The final (and perhaps biggest) piece of the rotation puzzle for Woodson all centers on his use of Amar’e Stoudamire. Much has been written about the defensive shortcomings that arise when Amar’e and Melo share the floor, a problem that will be magnified when the Heat go small with LeBron at the four.

Woodson could counter by drastically altering his use of Stoudamire. While it sounds extreme, limiting Amare’s minutes to somewhere around 15-20 may actually improve New York’s efficiency on both

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HoopSpeak Live 46: The Clips

PLAYOFFS! PLAYOFFS! PLAAAAAAAAAAAAYOFFS! Excited? We are, so we had a playoff preview show with three of our favorite guests: Rob Mahoney, Brett Koremenos and Tom Haberstroh. Here’s a YouTube playlist:

  Here are the individual clips:

:00 – :04 – Intro + Frozen Planet [Did you read this?]

:04 – :11 – Take the Bacon [Rondoooooo.]

:11 – :14 – Audience Question [Most/least interesting playoff matchups.]

:14 – :27 – Person of Interest: Rob Mahoney [Part 1, Part 2]

:27 – :41 – Person of Interest: Brett Koremenos [Part 1, Part 2]

:41 – :59 – Person of Interest: Tom Haberstroh [Part 1, Part 2]

:59 – 1:05 – Dagger/Smash/Noted [Battier, this, this, and Ethan trusts the Hawks.]

Note: You can find the audio-only version of HoopSpeak Live on iTunes. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that all of your playoff predictions will be correct.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Thursday right here on HoopSpeak.com. You can follow the show with the #hoopspeaklive hashtag, and you can follow our guests at @RobMahoney, @BKoremenos and @tomhaberstroh.

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HoopSpeak Live 46: Rob Mahoney, Brett Koremenos and Tom Haberstroh

Today’s guests:

Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game, Off The Dribble, Court Vision and ProBasketballTalk

Brett Koremenos of NBA Playbook

Tom Haberstroh of The Heat Index

To submit text questions or hang out in the chat: just click “join event” and fire away!

To video chat with us and our guests: Find a spot without too much background noise, sign in, fire up the web cam, and be sure to have your headphones (to eliminate echo)!

If you’re having trouble viewing HoopSpeak Live here, try it on Vokle’s site.

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Frozen Planet Playoff Preview!

It’s the event of the spring and summer. A colorful backdrop burnishes the primal battle for survival on our television sets. Bodies move with a grace so commanding as to appear intrinsic, god-given. It’s stirring, it’s inspiring, it’s competition at its best. I’m talking about Discovery Channel’s Frozen Planet, of course. It’s running concurrent with these NBA playoffs, and I suggest you check it out between games. The Planet Earth sequel is narrated by Jack Donaghy, if that sweetens the deal for ya.

The nature series has captured my brain, everything in life seems analogous to wonderfully shot life in extremis. And I’m obsessed enough to find parallels to the 2012 NBA playoffs, my other TV preoccupation.

Just know the athlete-to-creature analogies aren’t demeaning to players because I’m anthropomorphizing these Frozen Planet animals to the fullest.  It’s not that I’m so delusional as to think that complex human beings are on the base, instinctual level of animals; it’s that I’m so delusional as to indulge myself in the fantasy that a surly penguin just needs a good shrink. So here are the following FP-Playoffs parallels:

Criminal Penguins: Memphis Grizzlies

Oh, how I love the awful penguin in this clip. He waits till his neighbor leaves to find nest-building rocks, then calmly steals rocks from that neighbor’s nest.

Such an enterprising, amoral little bugger. The little sneak reminds me of the Grizzlies, they of the turnover-forcing defense. While it is easy to conceive of their approach as simple aggressive, pressure D, there is a sly deftness to this thievery. Way back when Monta Ellis was playing for the Warriors, I noticed how Memphis would jump passing lanes the second Monta left his feet. They were willing to cede a layup, just to capitalize on Ellis’ frequent blind passes. The strategy

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