Friday, April 18, 2008

The Playoffs Are Here

Every year, for as long as I've been banging out columns and blogs on the Interwebs, I've posted my NBA playoff picks. Prognostication, it turns out, has not been my strong suit. Let's run down the messy list:

2002 - Kings over Pacers (Actual: Lakers over Nets)
2003 - Mavericks over 76ers (Actual: Spurs over Nets)
2004 - Kings over Pacers (Actual: Pistons over Lakers)
2005 - Heat over Suns (Actual: Spurs over Pistons)
2006 - Pistons over Mavs (Actual: Heat over Mavs)
2007 - Rockets over Cavs (Actual: Spurs over Cavs)

If you are keeping track, that makes me 0-6 since I started writing these things down. Even worse, I've only correctly picked two of the 12 teams that have even reached the Finals, let alone won it. At least the Mavs and Cavs were in the last two years - maybe I'm warming up.

Normally, this kind of track record would make me think twice before posting any future picks. However, this is not a normal situation. You see, I am in possession of a complex secret formula that helped me win my NCAA office pools and identify Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, Davidson, and UCLA as the best teams in the tournament (in that order). Try arguing with those results.

So this year I am going with my formula and the list it spits out. Of course, because I like to indulge the worst elements of my nature, I am still going to add some "gut feeling" to the write-up part of things. In effect, I am going to argue for and against my own system.

Here is my Power 16, in reverse order:

16. Cleveland. The Cavs project as the worst team in the field, although Washington and Atlanta certainly give them a run for their money. I expect this fact to result in a "thrilling" series with the Wizards.

I Concur - Cleveland is a putrid team. The midseason trade to bring Ben Wallace's exoskeleton to town is the new Mistake by the Lake. A few key guys haven't been able to stay healthy. No one other than LeBron is all that good at basketball. The bottom line is that this is not the same team that went to the Finals a year ago, nor is this the same horrible Eastern Conference. Lost in the excitement of the Wild West is that the Leastern Conference has turned into the Big Three with a trio of very formidable squads sitting atop total squalor.

I Disagree - Any team with LeBron has to be better than this, right?


15. Washington. The Wizards are probably better than the matrix projects because they are now healthier than they've been all year. It's okay though, because the matrix still has them getting past Cleveland and then losing to Boston, so I wouldn't change anything.

I Concur - They are still trying to work in Gilbert off the bench, so there could be some alpha male issues down the stretch. Not to intentionally agree with Charles Barkley, but they've also been running their mouths a bit too much. So despite their talent, the availability of three elite scorers, and an improved defense, the sum might not be as good as the individual parts.

I Disagree - This is probably more like the fourth best team in the East, not the seventh. But who's counting?


14. Atlanta. The Hawks better prepare for another round of "they should reseed the whole league for the playoffs!" stories.

I Concur - I think a coaching change is in order in The A, because they have too many pieces to settle for below-.500 results.

I Disagree - If anything, I don't agree that they are better than anyone in the playoffs.


13. Philadelphia. A few weeks ago the Sixers were soaring and looked like they might get the fifth seed and a date with Cleveland. Unfortunately, they did not.

I Concur - They are better than these other weak sisters, but still light years behind Detroit, their first round opponent. They can be dangerous in bursts because of their attacking defense, but even Flip Saunders can adjust for that in a seven-game series.

I Disagree - I think Philly is better than Toronto but no one else that is ahead of them. (Note: not only am I quite happy with the results so far, but the matrix spit out the bottom five teams in the East as the bottom five teams in the entire playoffs. No surprise there - all the power is concentrated at the top.)


12. Toronto. The Raptors are a mess. They are starting the wrong point guard, they don't have a small forward, their coach is kind of brainless, and Rasho Nesterovic is suddenly their second best scoring option.

I Concur - They have some playoff experience from a year ago, Chris Bosh is terrific, and Jose Calderon can take over in "winning time," but Toronto is an otherwise rudderless ship. As I mentioned in a previous post, I think this is going to be a brief T.J. Ford Showcase and little else.

I Disagree - They should probably be behind the Sixers. And the Wizards.


11. San Antonio. Pretty low, huh?

I Concur - The Spurs are older, they have dealt with more injuries, and the West is loaded with far more challengers than a year ago. They seem to be at least one player away from a title and they got a tough draw in the first round by landing Phoenix, who is both a superior team and currently constructed just for this occasion.

I Disagree - San Antonio is both the ultimate Vampire Team and the squad most likely to get the benefit of the whistles (due to my "systematic desensitization" theory that I will likely be posting in the coming days, either here or over at HoopsAddict). They feature great ball movement. They are getting Brent Barry back in the nick of time. Plus, did I mention they are like vampires?


10. Houston. Houston is likely going to get the pity vote this year because they lost Yao. They should get the pity vote because they drew Utah in the first round.

I Concur - Houston probably isn't actually better than San Antonio, but otherwise, this seems like the right spot for them. They can play some ridiculous defense and spread the floor, but don't have the lowpost scoring or deep shooting to beat the elite teams in the West. And the Rafer Alston injury just kills them.

I Disagree - This one looks about right as well. Nothing about Houston screams "No, no, they are totally going to beat Utah!"


9. Denver. The Nuggets barely got in, but project as a dangerous playoff team. Had they avoided one of two bad losses late (to Seattle and to Sacramento), they could have snagged the seventh seed and had a very realistic shot of knocking off both New Orleans and the Phoenix/San Antonio winner.

I Concur - Denver creates enough havoc on the defensive end and plays fast enough that they are actually effective at forcing turnovers and misses. Their poor defense is a bit of a myth. Plus, Allen Iverson is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career, Marcus Camby is actually playing better defense this year than last season (when he won the defensive player of the year award), Kenyon Martin and Eduardo Najera are providing solid minutes at the 4, and J.R. Smith is becoming a force of nature from deep off the bench. This team is better than the squad that played the Spurs oh-so-close last year in the first round.

I Disagree - Carmelo Anthony lacks focus now more than ever (and not just the DUI, but also his increasing dependence on bad jumpers), George Karl is half checked out, and Anthony Carter still plays big minutes at point guard. Read that last part again.


8. New Orleans. A month ago I was ready to take the Hornets to the Finals. The matrix advises a different course of action.

I Concur - The lack of playoff experience is overrated. The "weak bench" is overstated (especially now that they have Bonzi Wells and can get quality minutes from Julian Wright). The home crowd disadvantage is patently untrue. Plus, they have the rightful MVP and most unstoppable point guard in the game in Chris Paul and one of the more reliable post scorers in David West.

I Disagree - The Hornets have some issues. Tyson Chandler has really blossomed but if he gets in foul trouble, I don't see how New Orleans can win that particular game. This is because Hilton Armstrong might be the worst rotation player in the postseason. He's truly terrible. Plus, they are over reliant on the pick-and-roll, making them much easier to gameplan for in a long series. I could see New Orleans jumping out 2-0 on Dallas and looking fantastic in the process and then losing four of five.


7. Dallas. They will be in a dogfight with New Orleans and they have a ton of baggage hanging around their necks. Avery might be coaching for his job. Jason Kidd is trying to fend off the Ghost of Devin Harris Future and figure out what in the hell happened to that glowing rep he was strutting around with for Team USA last summer. Dirk is hell bent on redemption (not a bad thing).

I Concur - Dallas is a real snake in the grass. Could they be the best seventh seed of all time? They are adequate defensively and have a great weapon to throw at David West in Brandon Bass. They are hungry. They have Dirk. And, most of all, their actual strength is far greater than their perceived strength thanks to a flurry of close and/or fluke losses suffered against good teams right after the Kidd trade.

I Disagree - They are going to miss Diop in the paint. They have no one to guard Paul and will have to resort to defense-stretching gimmicks to slow him down. Avery gets to cute for his own good when left to gameplan for a seven-game series. They have more pressure to win than any team other than Phoenix.


6. Phoenix. The Suns went from a mirage-like best in the west to talk of the town to dead in the water to suddenly potent, all in the span of like two months. Wild year in the Valley of the Sun.

I Concur - Phoenix certainly seems good enough to compete for a title and to warrant this spot. They have one of the three best scoring weapons in the game in Amare Stoudemire, leadership from Shaq and Nash, weapons off the bench, and underrated defensive flexibility thanks to Bell's toughness and Grant Hill's smarts.

I Disagree - The Suns just can't get a call or a fair shake when they need it most. See: Spurs, San Antonio and Stern, David. Why should things change now?


5. Detroit. The Pistons are once again rolling into the playoffs with a healthy starting unit and a solid bench that Flip Saunders may or may not choose to acknowledge.

I Concur - Detroit is tested, rested, and ready. No one wants to see this team right now.

I Disagree - I actually thought they would land higher and my gut is telling me that Orlando has no chance of beating them. That said, there are reasons to doubt the Pistons. They still haven't shown they can elevate in the postseason under Flip. The bench is untested (and, as mentioned above, may very well wind up largely unused). Rip doesn't look like Rip. McDyess is going to get eaten alive by Dwight Howard. So maybe they aren't a mortal lock to reach their sixth straight Eastern Conference Finals.


4. Los Angeles. The Lakers are loaded now, loaded for the future, in possession of one of the top five players in the game (and a guy made even better by the fact that 95% of the league's players are scared of him), and coached by possibly the greatest coaching mind in NBA history. Safe to say they are going to be a "tough out" for a few years. That said, they suffered a huge blow when the Jazz tanked at San Antonio Wednesday night, because now they have to play the second-best team in the entire NBA in the Western Conference semis.

I Concur - L.A. has a deep bench, a skilled low post scorer in Gasol, the world's greatest fouler (Derek Fisher) to put on Allen Iverson and other top guards, and, of course, Kobe Bryant.

I Disagree - Their interior defense is soft and their shot selection is putrid. If you ask me, these are fatal flaws unless suddenly and dramatically rectified.


3. Orlando. Never saw this one coming.

I Concur - It is hard to concur with them being the third best team in the entire league and/or ranking ahead of Detroit. That said, they have a built-in advantage on the boards because of Dwight Howard. They suddenly have a closer in Hedo Turkoglu. They can spread the floor and drain threes, which is almost an NCAA tourney-like equalizer. And they have a very competent coach. Oh, and one other thing. They've don't get tripped up by the Barbosa Factor. The Barbosa Factor refers to last year's playoffs, when the Phoenix Suns suffered mightily from the fact that Leandro Barbosa (and Boris Diaw) had never played substantial minutes against the Spurs in a playoff series. The Suns missed San Antonio in 2006 and Barbosa barely played in 2005, so last year's clash was his first. It showed. The NBA, perhaps more than any other professional sport, has a "trial by fire" quality to its playoff system. And while the general concept of "playoff experience" is overrated, there is nothing overrated about going up against the biggest, baddest bully on the block and learning from the experience. The Magic faced Detroit (the bully on their side of the bracket and, really, the biggest bully in the East) last year and actually played them pretty competitively in the first round of the playoffs. Plus, the immortal Keyon Dooling had a chance to get Chauncey Billups and the rest of the Pistons out of his system back in 2005, when he pretty much single-handedly lost the Eastern Conference Finals for the Miami Heat. Now, Dooling is (shockingly) Orlando's best backcourt defender and he should be up to the challenge of defending Billups. Crazy world.

I Disagree - Their point guard play is terrible, Howard doesn't always assert himself, and they are way too reliant on the long ball.


2. Utah. The secret is sort of out already, but Utah looms large in the West.

I Concur - They have an awesome inside-outside combo with Boozer and Williams. Okur is rounding into shape at the right time. Brewer is sneaky good. Korver spreads the floor and hits killer free throws. They have some great role players. And their home court advantage (both the crowd and the officiating) is enormous. In fact, while much has been made of Utah's home/road splits in a negative light, I don't think enough has been made of the positive implications that has for their chances. Think about it. They were 37-4 at home, which is a winning percentage of over 90%. On the road they were 17-24, for a winning percentage of just over 41%. Not to state the obvious, but 90 is a lot closer to 100 than 41 is to zero. In other words, isn't it far more likely that Utah will win all of its home games in a given series than it is that they will lose all of their road games? Which scenario would you rather bank on?

- A team with a 41% chance of winning road games going 0-4 on the road
- A team with a 90% chance of winning home games going 2-1 at home
- A team with a 90% chance of winning home games going 3-0 at home and with a 41% chance of winning road games going at least 1-3 on the road

Me, I'm taking the third option because it hews closest to the established percentages. Going 100% at home (+10%) and 25% or 50% on the road (-16%/+9%) seems more in keeping than going 67% at home (-23%) or 0% on th road (-41%). Sorry to throw all those numbers at you, but sometimes you have to swap in math for common sense.

I Disagree - Utah isn't all that good defensively and they have a walking landmine in Kirilenko and his fragile ego. But those are the only real chinks in the armor.


1. Boston. They have been the best team all season, so this comes as no surprise.

I Concur - They have the best leader in the game, the best defense, the best assistant coach, veteran players, and a really solid bench. They have home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

I Disagree - They could have problems with the Barbosa Factor if they play Detroit and they have stars with some mental hurdles to clear. Those psychological elements, coupled with Rondo's youth (and Cassell's age), give me pause. But not enough pause to disagree with my baby.


So there you have it. The interesting thing about this list is that the playoff pairings produce some really close matchups according to this ranking system. Cleveland and Washington square off in a battle of the bottom. New Orleans and Dallas are almost too close to call. Detroit-Orlando and Utah-Los Angeles loom as massive second round collisions. Using the disparity in the rankings (and in the secret, underlying data) to aid in predicting how close each series will be, here are my projected results:

Western Conference
First Round
(1)[4] Los Angeles over (8)[9] Denver in 6
(4)[2] Utah over (5)[10] Houston in 5
(7)[7] Dallas over (2)[8] New Orleans in 7
(6)[6] Phoenix over (3)[11] San Antonio in 5
Semis
(4)[2] Utah over (1)[4] Los Angeles in 6
(6)[6] Phoenix over (7)[7] Dallas in 7
Conference Finals
(4)[2] Utah over (6)[6] Phoenix in 6

Eastern Conference
First Round
(1)[1] Boston over (8)[14] Atlanta in 4
(5)[15] Washington over (4)[16] Cleveland in 7
(2)[5] Detroit over (7)[13] Philadelphia in 5
(3)[3] Orlando over (6)[12] Toronto in 5
Semis
(1)[1] Boston over (5)[15] Washington in 4
(3)[3] Orlando over (2)[5] Detroit in 7
Conference Finals
(1)[1] Boston over (3)[3] Orlando in 7

NBA Finals
(1)[1] Boston over (4)[2] Utah in 7

19 comments:

Brandon said...

Both you and Hollinger have Utah going to the Finals. Both of you use numbers.

Utah is a weird team.

1. They lost a lot to bad teams on the road.

2. They beat a lot of great teams on the road.

So the numbers are going to be weird.

As a Jazz fan, I'm scared to death of the Spurs and Lakers. Each has a lethal combination of talent and the ability to get the whistles (such an important factor in the playoffs).

Go Denver and Phoenix.

jsuns1 said...

adam,

great posting as normal, I feel like a kid at Disneyland on the first day of a 10 day visit!

Anonymous said...

Whatifsports.com also predicts Utah going to the Finals after simulating the playoffs 10,000 times. Another number-oriented method.

www.whatifsports.com/beyondtheboxscore

DKH said...

(This is posted following the first Suns-Spurs game)

Here's one reader hoping you look at each play again, at least for the overtimes of this first game.

Spurs played smart, especially in bringing it down for that last second shot, but to my eyes they got a lot of help from the refs in the overtime. (I didn't see anything but the last quarter and overtime.)

To my eyes, Barbosa was undercut by Bowen on the final play of regulation. Diaw was shoved on the final play of the first OT, and then he was undercut by Duncan on the second-to-last Suns play of the second OT.

On Duncan's big 3-pointer (which was, admittedly, amazing), it looked to me as though he took two steps after catching it. Couple that we a Ginobili drive earlier in which he held the ball, took two steps, airballed it and caught his own miss. I don't believe the ball came into contact with anyone else on the play, making it a travel before the shot, which became a particularly egregious travel after the airball. I know the NBA doesn't call much traveling (I'm sure Duncan and Stoudemire both got away with a lot during the game), but those are calls that I don't believe the Suns would (or should) get.

Then there was the play where Ginobili ran into Thomas on the screen. It's possible that Bell hooked Ginobili on the play (couldn't tell on the replay), but they had been letting any hooking like that go all day.

In the interest of fairness, I will say that it looked to me like Shaq had 9 lives of his own that game. I don't know how many times he committed his sixth foul.

There were some good calls in the game. I thought the charging calls were consistent both ways (Bell and Amare into Thomas, Duncan and Ginobili into Nash). Also the goaltending on Shaq was a good call.

Anyway, overall message is that I hope you'll do your call cataloging again and give me some objective confirmation or denial.

DKH said...

Let me make clear that I think the Suns had several plays where they didn't help themselves, but I hate letting refs off with a "such and such team had their chances" defense. No denying there were tactical errors made by Phoenix, but a team is entitled to use all of their chances, not have the refs take away some of them and give them to the other team.

Critical seconds were when Amare charged Thomas and fouled out (good call, Phoenix used up one of their chances). Turning it over with that much time left gave the Spurs too much time on the other end to dribble around, where Ginobili passed to Duncan for the open three pointer (after he picked up his pivot foot and set it back down) (bad call, the refs used up one of Phoenix's chances).

I have several criteria for when a game is poorly called, and this one fits the "refs used too many of one team's chances" criteria. Fouls on three Phoenix plays to end periods, Duncan's travel makes at least four chances burned by the refs.

Anonymous said...

Ok, enough whinning about the Spurs receiving calls. Fact is, every team recieves calls. When is Nash EVER going to get called for a travel? Amare (he never dribbles on the roll) and the guy before me was dead on that Shaq was very lucky with not receiving his 6th... Did both teams receive calls? Yes. Were there bad calls... most likely... was it pretty even... hmm... I would say yes.

Anyone can argue that Spurs received calls today but then again, from a homer standpoint your team "NEVER" receives calls.

I said this last year, when you want a team to lose (Spurs) then they always receive the calls. Suns superior than the Spurs? Are you crazy? Manu is a closer, he won that game. Spurs long in the tooth, Duncan abused Diaw and Amare and Shaq for 40+, 10+ board and 3 blocks. Vampire? Hell yes, because they suck the life out of Spurs haters like yourself who wish the Suns were better... or delude themselves into believing it...Yes as a NBA fan who hates the Spurs... I can see why you state that... but then again... if you are a Jazz fan then you hate Jordan for his game winning push-off in game six. What call?! Reality check, when the team that loses is inferior (but you want them to win) and you do not like it... then in the NBA one resorts to blaming officiating. Oh yeah, the Suns are so great... Nash (MVP but cannot stop Jaque Vaughn for going off for 19 earlier this year), Amare who is 1st team but cannot defend and oh yeah, Shaq who quit on his team (Miami) and is amazing clutch player at the line (Suns up three and he defended manu who was going to the line for 2 - but left Duncan open for the three).

Reality? Phoenix should not give up TWO 3 pt leads with less than 10 seconds left in the game. They do not deserve to win. Amare is a defensive liability as is Nash. There you go. They did not want to win as much... so, again, blame the officials because you allow your "emotions" to overule any sense of logic because you want the the "superior" suns to win... or should you just re-title the column "please Gawd anyone but the Spurs because I hate them..."

BTW, that game was one of the BEST NBA games I can remember... seriously.

DKH said...

Err...are you responding to me? You seem to be contending that some of the Spurs had excellent statistical games; therefore, they are better than the Suns.

Consider this situation: the last couple possessions go differently, and the Suns win. I could, equivalently, point out that the Spurs let six Suns score double figures (defend much?) at that Stoudemire had 33 excellent points.

Could you, Mr. Anonymous, point out five or six equivalently close game changing calls that all went the Suns way? To paraphrase you, "anyone can argue that the [Suns] received calls today" and "were there bad calls...most likely." So go ahead. Make the equivalent counter-argument for that situation.

I suspect it would include some fouls on Shaq (one on Tim Duncan, maybe the time Ginobili got served that everyone complains about). After that, I'm not sure.

That's what, 5 or 6 against 2 or 3 on game changing calls? Also, pointing out every single travel is a little useless. By the book, Nash and Amare travel, but so do Duncan and Ginobili. If it's a travel, at least make it a travel that the other team would get called for.

Anonymous said...

to DKH...

Yes, I was responding to some of your points and to the article that these comments are attached and other posters as well.

Game changing calls? How about in the fourth when Shaq hammered Manu on a lay up (no call) which would have fouled Shaq out? How about Tony barely touching Nash who got a whistle (two points)? How about Amare jumping away from the basket into Thomas which was called for a foul... If I thought the game was going to turn out that great I would have tivo'd it and had much better examples. But because I was at the sports bar with the fellas downing whiskeys then my memory is not as sharp... but can swear that on every NBA play there are probably 10 examples of a missed call... Here is one... next Utah game, watch Matt Harpring on offensive away from the ball... he runs into 3 guys and hammers them with an elbow. Thought an example from a team not related to the current conversation would help provide an example.

The entire undercut thing on Diaw driving? That happens to most players driving to the hoop. Part of the game. But, having watched the replay about 30 times... it was not an undercut... is that actually a foul in the NBA? Agree the Bell call when he ran into Kurt was terrible.

Ok. You said the refs burned up the Suns chances... throughout the game there were a number of calls that were against the Spurs. In particular, a Duncan lead fast break where he went around Nash leading to a charge. Nash is push off on Bowen (no call) where Nash fell down (could not execute properly) and Hill had to call a time out. Could have been a turnover…

Listen, my entire point is that anyone can point out "bad" calls in an NBA game. What complicates it is that when you are cheering for the team that loses and you passionately despise the opposing team... then yeah, they receive a ton of calls. Esp when your team loses. When games are close, it is natural to make excuses that your team did not lose unless the refs were against them. I swear that Fisher's shot with 0.4 seconds was a conspiracy... but others would say it was a legit shot. Perspective...

Want to watch calls? Watch Kobe play... how many trips to the line is he going to have? LeBron? He is drives to the lanes runs into 4 guys and throws up some sick layup and then there is a whistle... Dwayne Wade... he is captain whistle after the foul. I HATED the Lakers during the recent 3 peat? Why? Why, Shaq is captain travel and offensive charge and Kobe is king of layup and one... How about the Mavs? Dirk is so uncoordinated that every time he goes to the rim and misses the whistle comes (after he misses) for a bailout because he is flailing around like a puppet.

My reference was to the column (Vampire spurs)... the article stated that the Suns are clearly the superior team. Teams win, players earn stats.

Again great game in what should become a great series.

DKH said...

Well, Mr. Anonymous, we'll have to agree to disagree. I actually disagree with your interpretation of the Bell charge. He hit Thomas in the stomach; that seems like a charge to me.

But you'll have to explain why Shaq's block of Ginobili was a foul. Shaq hit the ball first, and got all ball. However, I even counted that as a game changing call that went against the Spurs in my rough count.

I don't think you can complain about the call against parker. If you're refering to the play that I think you are, he hit Nash on the arm during the shot, and it clearly affected the shot.

I recognize that in every game you can point to some calls that went against your team; I'm looking for calls that I don't believe the other team would get. Marion got called pretty often the past couple years for traveling on the perimeter, so when I see Duncan take an extra step to set up his shot, that is a violation I have seen get called against the Suns.

Overall, my main point is that I believe the refs significantly altered the probabilities of outcomes of the game. This doesn't necessarily mean a conspiracy (see the past article on this blog about "systematic desensitization"), but this author has looked at the issue in the past, and I'm hoping he does it again.

Anonymous said...

dkh..

Fair enough agree to disagree. I agree the refs can affect game outcomes and one can count of the points in one direction or another. However, the teams that win more often adapt to the subtle difference between officiating crews. Savy teams in fact tract trends on the officiating.

Interesting... I saw the Duncan 3 pt replay about 150 times in the last 14 hours. He lifted his heel and not his toe... thus no travel. ESPN only has shown about 500 angles since the game.

My point was to only show that based on the "bias" of the looking glass one can obviously count differently. The examples from non Spurs/Suns games was to demonstrate that... and demonstrate how a "homer" perspective really skews everything up.

However, in the NBA we can only ask for consistency of officiating during the game. This is the fundamental heart of your comments. I am sure that the two of us could sit down ad re-watch the game and have multi disagreements on certain plays as to what was called.

I respect your points of view.

Brandon said...

As a fan of neither team, I can only comment that Saturday's Spurs vs. Suns game was a flopfest the likes of which I hope to never see again.

It got so bad that every time anyone drove to the hoop, anyone around the rim (from both teams) would fall down, hoping to get a whistle.

I blame the influence of South Americans and Europeans for this crap. They need to leave their soccer-playing strategies home and play straight-up basketball.

DKH said...

@brandon:

Agreed. Bell has always been there for the Suns, but Amare was particularly egregious with his flops.

My favorite flop of the day was when Bell drove in from the perimeter, and Ginobili clearly grabbed him around the waist. Easy call, whistle blows. Ginobili and Parker immediately fall on the ground. I swear it was an involuntary response.

The problem is, there is no disincentive. As long as there is a decent probability the other player will get called for a foul, it's best to be a flopper. There is a nearly 0 percent chance of something negative happening to the flopper.

@Mr. Anonymous:

Thanks for the discussion. Your viewpoint is valid; I'm just not looking forward to another Suns/Spurs series where the borderline calls will default to the Spurs. We'll see how the series progresses, particularly when the Suns are home.

Brandon said...

Here's my solution to flopping:

After each game, a team of refs review the game tape. If they can identify a clear case of flopping (ie. the player fell the ground despite receiving no contact from anyone, and did it an attempt to draw a foul), that player is suspended for the next game.

Make it two games for the next violation, and so on. Obviously this can not be determined in-game. The game moves too quickly, we don't want to spend minutes looking at tape for something so controversial, etc.

I'll file this under my "logical steps David Stern will never take, because he is too interested in instituting dress codes and experimenting with new balls," along with "if you initiate the contact, it's your foul."

DKH said...

I like that solution, brandon. But then the next Suns-Spurs game would be missing at least Ginobili, Thomas, Parker, and Amare (those are the floppers I saw in the final quarter + 2 overtimes; not saying there aren't more). That wouldn't be very exciting, especially if you're a Spurs fan (hey, they'd be missing Oberto, too, if Charley Rosen is correct).

As an aside, there is someone who is arguing that the Suns were favored by the referees: Charley Rosen, who argues that the Spurs were favored by 1 call, while the Suns got an incredible 8 (!) calls.

http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/8052374

As you'll probably gather from my previous comments, I'm not sure what game he was watching. While the count of calls favoring the Suns may be accurate (I'm not qualified to say), I'm pretty confident the Spurs got more than one call (or non-call) to go their way.

Nate said...

I think its nonsense to talk about how Suns fans want to bolster their team as being "better than it really is." It is a pot-shot that has no value in the discussion. I could easily make the claim that Spurs fans ignore their teams deceptive and questionable tactics (as well as those of Popovich) because they do win games. Both are invalid ways of discussing the game. The fact is, there were some bad calls (I agree that most of them went the Spurs way) but it was a great game. I could also say (concerning the flopping) that the Suns don't flop often against other teams. Only when they play the Spurs does this occur, likely because they are fed up not getting any calls (and if you notice, though Phoenix flopped more than usual this last game, the calls were surprisingly close in terms of general fouls.) What I did notice was how infuriated Duncan and PArker and Ginobili were almost the whole game. I mean, cmon, you almost get beat in game one at home against a team you are supposed to be kryptonite against?! Seriously, that has to be emotionally draining. I expect a great game tonight and a Suns victory.

Anonymous said...

I am still confused as to the comments regarding that the game was decidedly officiated the Spurs way. DKH even posted a 3rd party objective analysis that shows the Suns received the bias…

Calling the Spurs whiners and crybabies may make any hater feel better but reality is that EVERYONE in the NBA complains and moans... has anyone EVERY watched D'Antonio??? For gosh sakes follow this link:

http://www.broadbandnewsnet.com/newsmanager/anmviewer.asp?a=4665&z=1

WTF?! How much bigger of whiner is there? Of course Shaq learned from Phil Jackson whose post game passive aggressive comments at the officials are legendary. Once Phil was through the league would go out of its way to make life better for Michael, Kobe and Shaq.

The entire debate on flopping has merrit but the reason it came into existence is because of the NBA’s refusal to call charges on Shaq. Am I the only one who remembers when Shaq just ran people over to dunk?!? Yes, remember the 76’s/Lakers series where Mutumbo aged 10 years in six games? That was because Shaq simple “moved an offensive player with established position” out of the way (with his elbow). Divac flopped because he valued his body and wanted to retire with decent posture and all his teeth. It is basketball not hockey… Shaq really complains about flopping because he cannot do it. Seriously, it is physically impossible for man that fat to fall to the ground and not hurt himself.

The second aspect of flopping is because not everyone is a LeBron where hard fouls on him equal Flagarant II’s…. oh that is protect super stars…

Now if there is anyone in the playoffs who should belly ache and moan about flopping it is the Houston Rockets… AK47 did not cry but waived his arms and prevented Bobby Jackson’s game tying three to count… that is a bad flop.

Brandon said...

Anon.

Andrei was fouled. Did he exaggerate the effect? Definitely. But Scola (who was clutching and grabbing and pushing all game) extended his arm and pushed AK off his path as he was closing on T-Mac in the corner. FOUL.

A flop is when there is no foul.

Andrei was fouled.

And the reason Jackson was wide open is because the ref blew his whistle and stopped play when he called the foul.

The reason Houston lost that game is because they missed 10 free throws, McGrady scored 1 point in the fourth, and the Jazz outrebounded them when it mattered.

To put the loss all on one play is ridiculous.

And to say the loss is due a flop by Andrei and a horrible call is flat-out stupid.

Brandon said...

And to dkh:

That's why you get started with the new rules in the regular season. Maybe after a couple times playing without Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker, the Spurs realize flopping doesn't pay off.

I'm only advocating suspensions in cases of clear-cut flopping... ie. where there is obviously no foul committed but the player 100% fakes that there was in order to get a whistle.

Anonymous said...

brandon

That is the point... AK47 was fouled all game and so were the Rockets. All of a sudden call that a "foul." BTW, the replay shows that "crybaby-47" flopped. Scola did not force anything that was consistently not called throughout the game.

DKH made points about calls affecting play... that was one.

Yes, I agree to blame a game or a series on "flopping" or "bad calls is flat out stupid." That is what I repeated over and over... Spurs win and will continue to do so... to suggest otherwise, is stupid.