Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The tale of two series

By John Gottlieb
The Phanatic Magazine

Can the two NBA Conference Final series be going in anymore of polar opposite directions?

In one series you can't bribe a ref to blow the whistle, while in the other you can't even sneeze without getting T'ed up.

Everyone knows that the Pistons and Spurs are the cream of the crop and are on their way to meeting each other for the second time in three seasons, but do they really need the help of the refs?

It's clear that the NBA wouldn't mind having King LeBron in the Finals but the most attractive matchup is between Detroit and San Antonio.

What was a 63-62 Spurs lead heading into the fourth quarter of Game 4 in Utah last night quickly became a blowout as Manu Ginobili proceeded to get every call on his way to a 15-point fourth quarter, including 11-of-13 from the charity stripe.

Ginobili took nearly seven times as many free throws in the final frame as the entire Jazz team. Utah had a pair of free throw attempts with almost 3 1/2 minutes left to play in the game, and by that time San Antonio had scored its last six points at the line and Utah was down by nine.

The Spurs had 10 more makes (30) at the line than Jazz had attempts (20).

San Antonio's points from the line in the fourth quarter (19) outscored the entire Jazz team (17).
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that when a team connects on 47 percent of its shots from the field, compared to 41 percent from its opponent, that team A should win the game. That wasn't the case last night.

Ginobili is a really good player but I've never seen a player get that kind of treatment since His Airness. And you Manu Ginobili are no Michael Jordan.

The refs gave the Spurs the game and most likely a trip to the NBA Finals.

I'm sure basketball fans woke up and did a double take when they found out that Derek Fisher of all people was ejected from the contest.

The saying goes that a playoff series doesn't begin until a team wins a game on the road, but Joe DeRosa, Steve Javie, and Ken Mauer probably just ended a series in last night's 91-79 Spurs romp.

Then there's the Pistons-Cavs series where you have to be bleeding or have a broken bone for a whistle.

That style of play definitely favors the Pistons, but there is something to be said for letting the action on the court determine the winner.

At least the officials in that series are consistent. It's hard to say that one team has been the recipient of majority of the calls in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Throughout the first three games of the Cavs-Pistons battle Detroit has taken just three more free throws.

However, the story in this series isn't about calls or no-calls, but the play of James, who passed up a shot to win Game 1 and had a poor shooting performance in Game 2 only to come back and take over Game 3.

Who means more to the Association? Is it Ginobili or LeBron? It's always been an unwritten rule that the stars get the benefit of the calls, but James can't couldn't sell a kidney for a whistle.

The number is so astounding that it's worth mentioning again: Ginobili was 11-of-13 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter of Game 4. James, who in Game 1 did not shoot a free throw for just the second time this season and the sixth time in his 342-game career, has 16 total attempts in the series.

And you Manu Ginobili are no LeBron James.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's another way to look at it, which is that the officals doing the Spurs-Jazz game were actually doing their job. If you watched the game you saw that the Jazz were trying to overcome lack of production from some of their team members with physical aggressiveness and raw thuggery that went over the line, thus the calls. But the refs handing the game to the Spurs? I think its more accurate to say the Jazz failed keep the Spurs from scoring by physical assault because the refs just couldn't let it slide, it was that obvious. Too bad the guys doing the other series aren't as diligent.