Sports Medley: Two of the Worst Games in NBA Playoff History?
by Tony Medley
Sunday saw two of the worst games in NBA playoff history. It started
with Chicago Bulls v. Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James certainly didnít
look like the best basketball player in the world as he gave a Russell
Westbrook-like performance, missing on 20 of his 30 shots for a 33%
average. The entire Cleveland team was little better, with a 38.7% field
goal percentage. Chicago was even worse from the field at 36.7%. Both
teams went eternities without scoring, each at different times.
The game ended in farce. With both teams out of timeouts and Chicago
leading by one, the ball went out of bounds with about a second left. In
a normal world, Cleveland would have to inbound the ball immediately and
hope for the best. But the refs decided to spend five minutes reviewing
the play to see how much time was actually left, giving Cleveland time
to come up with a play. It also gave Chicago time to figure out a
This is where it really became ludicrous. If Iím Chicago I am going to
double team LeBron James to keep him from getting the inbound pass to
make sure he doesnít beat me. The refs put 1.5 seconds on the clock.
Chicago didnít double team James and, giving one of the smallest head
and shoulder fakes in the history of basketball (just a shrug, really)
towards the basket before taking a couple of steps the other direction
into the corner, he completely faked out the Bullsí lone defender,
easily got the inbound pass and was wide open for the winning three
pointer from the corner. Chicagoís stupidity deserved the last second
loss, especially when they had five minutes to come up with a defense.
How long does it take to conceive, ďLetís double team LeBronĒ?
Apparently for the Bulls, longer than five minutes.
But the NBA needs to put in a rule that if there are no timeouts left
for the team with the ball, there is no review of a questionable call
and the teams will just have to go with the call on the court. What
happened was a travesty.
Worse, James revealed immediately after the game that he ďtrashedĒ his
Coach David Blattís proposed play (which, unbelievably, had James
inbounding the ball so he would have no chance to score himself; which
is akin to putting in a pinch hitter for Babe Ruth). Worse for Coach
Blatt, he had tried to call timeout, not realizing he didnít have any,
which would have been a technical foul and basically lost them the game
right there, but the refs didnít see his attempt. This coach is not
ready for prime time, but James was out of line calling him out publicly
on the ridiculous play call proposal.
As to the other game, Los Angeles Clippers v. Houston Rockets, it was an
equal travesty with Houston constantly fouling Clippersí center DeAndre
Jordan whose inability to shoot free throws is a disgrace for a
professional basketball player. Alas, this strategy not only ruined the
quality of the game, it destroyed Houstonís pace and they were
annihilated by the Clippers as the Clippers were able to set up their
defense while Jordan was shooting free throws. The only bright spot in
the game was the continued emergence of Clippers' reserve Austin Rivers
(Coach Docís son) as an animated scoring machine. He sparkled off the
bench for the second game in a row.
People are talking about changing rules to put an end to the ďhack a
Jordan,Ē but that should be nonsense. If a team has someone so inept he
canít shoot free throws, thatís their problem. Clippersí Coach Doc
Rivers kept Jordan in the game despite the constant fouling and missed
free throws and won a big victory. Rules should not be changed simply
because there are two or three players in the league who canít shoot
free throws. Thatís like having a shortstop who can hit but not field.
The manager has to make a decision whatís more important, fielding or
hitting? The basketball coach has to make the same decision, which is
more important, Jordanís rebounding and defense, or free throws? Rivers
chose the former and won big.
Donít change the rules. I doubt if any Clippersí fan came away
disappointed from a 128-95 victory just because the entire first half
seemed to be Jordan missing free throws (he took 28 in the first half
alone, 34 for the game, missing 20).