Welcome to the NBA Roundtable! This week we are going to look at the NBA Playoffs, Stern, Coach of the Year awards and THE STEPH CURRY EMERGENCE! This week we have the full starting lineup: Bill on the wing, David in the post and the J brothers in the Backcourt breaking the press.
EJ: No. It’s actually reminding me of the playoff series of my youth in the 80’s and 90’s. The Bulls are at a disadvantage. No Rose, no Hinrich, Luol Deng has been out with injury and the Bulls are relying on Jimmy Butler playing 48 minutes a night. On paper the Bulls missing key players should be blown out every game by the Heat. However, by playing this gritty physical game they are keeping the games close. Now, the only problem I do have with the Bulls is that they lose their composure fairly easily. Mohammed’s shove of LeBron in Game 3 was just wrong, and so was Noah’s shove of Chris Andersen once he was on the floor. I also find fault with Joakim Noah’s and Taj Gibson’s freakouts in Game 2. You can be physical and still maintain some control. The technicals and flagrant fouls are making the games ugly at times. If Coach Thibodeau can rein his team in a little then I would have no beef at all with this Bulls-Heat series.
David: This is like someone driving 50 in a 45 complaining when someone passes her. ESPN and their ilk have done an AMAZING job on keeping the lid on the foul discrepancy, and how certain players are getting away with things that would get lesser players fouled out in 6 trips down the floor. Basketball is supposed to be a little on the rough side when you get down low, thats why God made outside shooting. If you are 6’3, stay out of the paint in halfcourt. That being said. There is a problem. The refs are too slow in reacting to problems that anyone can smell coming.
Bill: No. At face value, it’s not all that surprising seeing as how these two teams have a genuine dislike for one another. Like EJ stated, it reminds me of when hoops was played by men and players weren’t nearly as protected as they are in today’s NBA. The problem with all the physical play is that it only plays to the strength of the Heat seeing as they actually have extra players to take the floor should someone get injured or ejected. The Bulls don’t have that luxury seeing as they’re already down so many. I remember watching that blowout loss in Game 2 and seeing the frustration of the Bulls coming to a head. What I didn’t expect was to see just how much control of the game was decided by the game officials. There was no reason for there to be 9 techs and two ejections in that game. Just let them play and settle it on the court. It’s a MAN’s game, last time I checked… but that doesn’t mean I agree with the amount of seemingly dirty play caused by frustration and humiliation.
DJ: No. It’s just 2 teams playing with a lot of intensity.
2. If you were Stern, what would you do on that series, and would you have fined Coach Tibs 35K?
EJ: My nostalgia for tough playoff basketball is leading me to feel that the fine is inappropriate but in today’s NBA, I have to agree with Stern here. There is nothing wrong with the physical play, but as I stated in my answer to the last question, Coach Thibodeau has to bring his team back under control. Nazr Mohammed’s shove of LeBron looked contrived. As if Thibs said “go out there and knock that man out”. You just can’t have that. Can’t have the mouthing off to the refs, and using my amateur lip reading skills, you can’t have the profanity either. Gibson dropped some serious F bombs when he was kicked out of Game 2. I understand that these teams are battling, and Basketball isn’t exactly a gentlemanly sport, but at the same time you have to maintain some control and right now instead of calling out LeBron for flopping (ridiculous accusation in my opinion) he needs to be instructing his team to play tough, not stupid.
David: He had to fine him. You cannot bash what little control the game has. What to do for the series?
You cannot ask the refs to change the mindset from game to game.
What he needs to do it start replacing the refs. If you reffed for Oscar Robertson, you cannot ref for LeBron James. In this era of positionless basketball, they really do need to change some rules or the NBA will become the NCAA with 76-81 scores and players going 3 for 16 regular basis.
Bill: A fine was a given seeing as how he was calling out the officiating of the game; however, seeing as how said officiating has been rather questionable at times, I can als0 see his point. Physical play is an expectation come playoff time, and the coaches and league need to let it happen to a point but only to a point. I, too, believe it’s time that some of the officials be re-evaluated and/or replaced. Joey Crawford has some of the thinnest skin out there and he’s a senior official with as much power as anyone to vastly alter the outcome of a game. I’m not going to go so far as to place him in the same place as Tim Donaghy or anything, but you sometimes have to wonder if he’s on the take. It may be a ridiculous assertion t0 make, but I doubt I’m the only one to think it.
EJ: I’ve been selling Steph Curry short since his draft night. Maybe it’s because I thought the Wolves should have taken him instead of Jonny Flynn (imagine Curry and Rubio playing with Love right now) or I hoped he would have fallen to the Knicks (who could surely use Curry’s shooting prowess). Anyway, he’s a Golden State Warrior and as much as I still undersell him and the team at times, he really is this good. He’s deceptively quick, he has the needed swagger, and he has his Dad’s jump shot. Steph definitely learned from the former Charlotte Hornet, Dell Curry, that the only way to make a long career for yourself is to be a dead-eye shooter. Steph’s ankles might be his only weakness but as long as they hold up and he can deal with the physical pounding he’s going to receive for running off screens, he’s going to be the Reggie Miller of his generation. A player that shoots his way into stardom and his team into the playoffs on a consistent basis.
David: Reggie Miller wasn’t this good. Yeah, I said it. I still worry about how he is going to handle success. I wonder if Mark Jackson is going to get better. I almost think that he is destined to be a Laker eventually. Hopefully he improves on defense and becomes a star on the West Coast. But if he can roll out 20/5 for 70 games for the rest of the decade I’ll be happy. But do keep in mind who is guarding him these last two series.
Bill: I won’t lie and say I was fully on Curry’s cape when he was drafted, but I did expect him to be a solid contributor. Davidson isn’t a great school that regularly faces top flight competition and as such, Curry’s abilities were in question in my mind: could he continue to get his own shot, could he adapt easily enough to the more distant three point line, could he compete with his rail thin physique?. Yeah, the kid could shoot just like his deadeye old man, but I had my doubts beyond that. He’s come into his own and proven the doubters wrong, that’s clear. If there’s anyone who is resentful or bitter about Curry’s progress, it’s the Suns. They had a deal on the table to send Amare Stoudemire (along with some other pieces) to GS for Curry and some other pieces to even out the trade. Stoudemire was in his prime at that point and would have given them something to build around for years to come, but apparently the Warriors saw it differently. We can only wonder how Curry would have expanded his already great game with the experience and knowledge he would have acquired from playing along with Steve Nash.
DJ: Curry is a freaking beast and if they ever inject his ankles with some Rhinoceros plasma, he’ll be an MVP one day. He has had a great year and is only going to get better. It might be a little early, but he’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen. Yes, that includes Reggie and Ray.
4. Who is your Coach of the Year?
EJ: Mike Woodson. The job that Woodson has done with the Knicks since Mike D’Antoni took his ball and went home has been incredible. From finishing last season with a winning record after D’Antoni quit, to leading this season’s team to their first Division title since 1994, and the first time out of the 1st round of the playoffs since 2000, he should have been awarded with the Coach of the Year. It’s never easy to be a coach in New York City and Woodson has still been criticized by fans and the media for some of his decisions but the proof is in the pudding. He’s winning here, and the voters for the Coach of the Year should have rewarded that.
David: Mike D’Antoni. Find me a coach that had more of an impact on his season that he did. You take 3 Hall of Famers, the best center in Basketball, and 2 borderline HoFers and lead them to that season? Oh, This is supposed to be a good thing. I’m going with Spo here. Really can’t argue with Karl, or Woodson, and Pop always deserves credit, let not forget the dude in Atlanta- but Spo ran it back again. Took all the distractions, the slow dying that is Chris Bosh, an even older Ray Allen, and made the Birdman look like he deserves to be a 30 minute a night player in the NBA.
Bill: Lionel Hollins. Sure, the Griz have a lot of talent, but moves were made over the course of the season that many saw as questionable for the greater good of the team and that might also bring the team down from their place among the Western Conference’s elite. Rudy Gay is a baller, no doubt; however, looking back at the move many saw as iffy has turned out to be the right move after all. Hollins has managed to keep the team contributing at a relatively high level despite the distractions and get them to within one game of eliminating the very highly favored OKC Thunder from the playoffs despite a team essentially filled with role players beyond two or three keys guys.
DJ: Mike Woodson. I like what EJ said about Woodson coaching in NY, but I have a little more to add. Melo and JR are the only real scorers on the team, but Woody did a great job with the team. Jason Kidd might be declining, but he and Raymond Felton were a streadying influence for this team that was basically the same as last year.
EJ: I have no problem with awarding a Coach of the Year. It’s a recognition of the impact a coach has on his team. However, I find George Karl to be overrated. His playoff record is abysmal. 80-105 in the playoffs is just not acceptable. His two Finals appearances with the Seattle Sonics were over 15 years ago. The man can coach in the regular season, but once the playoffs arrive he just folds. It would be easier to blame the players but as the coach, as the tactician, George Karl needs to fall on that sword. If I were the Denver Nuggets I would give serious thought to letting Karl go. Yes, the Nuggets did have an amazing second half of the season, and yes they were the 3rd seed in the West but they let what should have been a winnable series against the Warriors slip through their fingers. Karl couldn’t win when he had a Nuggets team built around a star, Carmelo Anthony, and now he can’t win when he has a team with no star and for most of the season played well with their team unity. He just can’t get it done, and this should be his last go round with an NBA franchise.
David: The CoY award here lately means “Will be fired in 2 years.” I’m just trying to figure out how much I like Karl. As I said during the playoff previews, He might be the only UNC coach I don’t want coaching my TarHeels. He’s lost quite a few series where he had the better team. Some of that comes down to ignorance of the Stars, some comes down to dumbasses in management (Jimmy Mac!) but a lot of that is on him.
Bill: No issues here. I’m happy to see my old Sonics coach acquiring the hardware and happier that he was able to do it while undertaking one of the toughest periods of his life. I’m still unsure of how the Nuggets let the series with GS get away from them, but I can’t put that on the shoulders of Karl. It’s still the responsibility of the players to put the ball in the basket and to keep the opposing team from doing the same. Strategy for doing so falls on Karl, but that still accounts for very little in the end. I’m somewhat surprised that he’s still around after this post season loss, but who out there is a better candidate to replace him? Karl knows his team and works within their strengths. He couldn’t get it done with Carmelo Anthony, but I blame Anthony for that and feel Karl had little to do with it. Anthony is all about attitude, and his attitude, selfishness, and ego are what got him sent out of Denver.
DJ: I think it was a bad choice personally. Karl is a good coach, but the Nuggets didn’t even win their Division. And like EJ said, he might be a little overrated. I really think Woodson did a better job with the Knicks for the reasons I already stated.
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