What A Weekend!

This was a great weekend in the NBA. Friday night the Nets & Pistons put on a long but exciting triple OT game. While Minnesota took a 3-2 lead over the Kings. Saturday, Jeff Foster had the game of his career against the Heat, only to be topped by a nightcap of the Lakers eliminating the Spurs.

If that wasn’t enough Sunday brought it’s own brand of excitement. In the early game, obviously with the thoughts of the Roy Jones Jr. fight still in their heads, Peeler & Garnett traded elbows. Meanwhile the Pistons, on the road in a “must win game”, beat the Nets in a tight game. It was so tight, the Nets were down by only 2 with less than a minute left.

So Monday morning everyone (at least those at my work that follow basketball) will be talking about at least one of these great games. So with basketball fresh on everyone’s mind, what does the NBA have scheduled for Monday night? Nothing.

That’s right folks, with three series still going on, and basketball on everyone’s mind, the NBA has decided to show nothing. By 8pm on Monday, the Pacers & Heat will have gone at least 48 hours since their last game. There is no Monday Night Football to compete with, Frasier’s series finale was last week, and the Friends finale will be on Thursday.

It’s possible that the Spurs/Lakers game 7 would have been shown (if nec.), but couldn’t the NBA switch things up a little bit in lieu of that series ending early? Oh well, Monday I will have to find something entertaining to do. Maybe something with money, humor, mystery, international intrigue & sex?

(OK there is no sex in that link, but I’m trying my best to get you to read it. It’s well worth it, especially if you use Ebay, or fall for scams. If you’re the impatient type, just scroll down 1/3 of the way until you see the pictures & you’ll understand what’s going on.)

RIP 2004 Spurs

Last night the San Antonio Spurs were eliminated from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers. There are a few important ramifications of this. First is that the defending champs won’t repeat this year. Second is that the #1 defensive team has been eliminated. At least one more of the top 4 defensive teams will be eliminated when the Pistons & Nets series is complete. Third is that the 03/04 NBA playoffs has it’s first upset (for an entire series). Finally, the Lakers will have to get a bigger bandwagon, because everyone will be jumping back on.

Well not everyone. Even though I was incorrect his round, I’ll stand by my predictions that the Yellow & Purple won’t be holding the big trophy by summertime. They still have two more series to win on the road, and taking the entire field seems to be at least even odds against a single team.

As for the Spurs, their defense looked fine, but their offense fizzled out. Their 32% eFG% was indicative of their poor play. Despite having a huge edge with 21 offensive rebounds to 8, the Spurs were worse in three other important categories eFG% (51% to 32%), getting to the free throw line (41 to 26 FTA), and turnovers (14 to 11). The Tony Parker that was excellent on the scoring end in 3 of the first 4 games disappeared. Thus the Lakers just needed to double team Duncan to hinder San Antonio’s offense. The Spurs tried to react giving more time to Ginobili, Horry and Brown, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the poor shooting of Nesterovic, Turkoglu, and Parker.

Just a little follow-up on my last column. Average baseball games are near 3 hours, not the 4 I exaggerated to make my point. Although I’m not alone in my feelings that baseball games are too long.

Basketball Flavored Nyquil?

This comes from an ESPN baseball chat:

Brian (New York): Hey Jerry! What did you think of Derek Fisher’s game winning shot last night?!

Jerry Crasnick: Brian,

I think the NBA is a great cure for sleeplessness. There was more action in the final second of that game than in the other 47 minutes, 59 seconds combined.

I’m sorry, but Jerry is off his rocker in this case. I love baseball, but if I had to choose one sport between the two that’s an aid in slumber, it’s not basketball. Baseball has become bloated over the last century. Games used to be quick affairs, two hours beginning to end. Now they are stretched to 4 hours long. It’s like turning a Ramones song into an Opera by adding an hour and a half of commercials in between. I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to listen to Sheena that way, as much as I hate watching a pitching coach slowly plod out to the mound and wait until he gets there to bring in his LOOGY, only to take him out for the next batter.

Baseball was a sport of speed & skill, as much as hand-eye coordination. Today, players are more specialists than athletes. If you’re quick enough to recognize if a pitch is a 80MPH curve or a 95MPH fastball, and you’re strong enough to hit the ball 400 feet, then who cares whether or not you can run or catch? If you can throw those two pitches and maybe a changeup, who cares if you can’t hit (or run)? There are a few guys that can do it all that resemble athletes, but they seem to be the exception rather than the norm.

If you didn’t think the second half of the Spurs/Lakers game was exciting, then you must have been watching something else. It was certainly one of the best playoff games I’ve seen, right up there with (or better than) the overtime game the Wolves & Kings had last week. The Spurs were fighting to keep their home field advantage in a pivotal game 5. Down at halftime, San Antonio battled the whole second half to try and regain the lead. Their defense was superb down the stretch, as it was their offense that had trouble with hitting open shots & turning the ball over. The final seconds didn’t overshadow the game, as much as it added an exclamation point to the end of it.


Last night, one of the announcers said something to the effect of “It’s a shame that no one on the East Coast will see this game, since it’s almost 2am over there.” Well, I hate to prove announcers wrong, but I was watching from my NYC appartment. I’m certainly part of the minority, since I’m sure not everyone has an understanding boss & flexible time schedule as I do.

His sentiment was correct, since it was a shame that virtually half the country (or more) is basically shut out from watching what was the most entertaining and hard fought game I’ve seen so far. If it was 2am over here, that means it was 11pm on the West Coast. Isn’t the NBA depriving itself of viewers over there by having the game on so late? I’ve always been a nightowl, but I know a lot of people that don’t stay up that late, especially children. Wouldn’t you want to appeal to as young a viewer as possible?

When I was a very young, and had to go to bed early, my father would stay up to watch the hockey game. Sometimes I would sneak out & try to watch a little bit, but as soon as they caught me it was back to bed I went. If hockey was on earlier my father and I would have been able to watch together, and maybe I would have an appreciation for the sport, that I now find just plain awful.

Back to the game, I understand Bibby being upset after fouling out, but didn’t he see the 3 (or was it 4) one and a half calorie calls against his counterpart in the 4th?

If the Twolves lost, how many columns do you think would be out there questioning Kevin Garnett’s playoff experience (never made the second round until this year) after he couldn’t get a shot off in regulation?

I mean he doesn’t have that “game 7 pixie dust” that the Heat players all have, right SVG?

Not that the Heat will see another game 7, and that’s a shame. If they did manage to go 7 against the Pacers & no one writes a column questioning the existence of “game 7 pixie dust” that would be an easy entry for me.


Last night the NBA had one whole playoff game going on, but it was the marquee matchup of the second round. The Lakers and Spurs went at it again. In case you were out busy celebrating, you can find out easily who won the game, by looking at the score. But how they won is a different story. What statistics are the most important in relation to winning?

An article by Dean Oliver titled “The Four Factors of Basketball Success” discusses exactly this. In it he outlines the four most important team stats that lead to victory. They are (with weight in parenthesis):

1. Shooting % (10)
2. Turnovers (6)
3. Offensive rebounding (5)
4. Getting to the line (3)

So how did the two teams compare yesterday?

1. Shooting percentage (eFG%)
LAL: 53%
SAS: 56%

Both teams shot exceptionally well, although the Spurs had a slight advantage here. Watching the game I can tell you this was caused by a lot of layups from fast breaks for the Spurs & dunks by Shaq.

2. Turnovers (TO)
LAL: 16
SAS: 8

So far everything seems to be in the Spurs favor. To me these first two stats says something about the Lakers defense, or rather lack of. Not only did the Spurs shot at a high percentage (see above), but they only had 8 turnovers. It doesn’t seem that the Lakers did anything to stop them from scoring.

3. Offensive Rebounds (OReb% = oReb/attempts, where attempts = opp dReb + oReb – opp oReb)
LAL: 12/(33+12-6)=31%
SAS: 6/(6+42-12)=17%

Well here is one place the Lakers dominated. Most of the credit goes to Shaq who was nearly unstoppable at times. Not only did he have 6 of the Lakers’ 12 offensive rebounds, but he shot 15/21 (71%)!

4. Getting to the free throw line (FTA)
LAL: 18 (39%)
SAS: 30 (60%)

The Spurs dominated here as well. They had almost twice as many chances from the charity stripe, and they also converted at twice the rate. Duncan himself hit 10 (of 14), which is more than the Laker’s entire team (7 FTM).

Easily it was a contest dominated by the Spurs. Right now it doesn’t appear that the Lakers added the right players. Malone and Payton are great players, but when they’re not the focal point of the offense their contribution to their team is diminished. Why would you need Gary Payton, when your offense is primarily lobbing the ball into Shaq, or letting Kobe loose. They would be better served with a few guys that can’t create offense, but instead can do things like shut down their opponent, rebound, or hit their shots at a high percentage.

Sorry Bulls Blog

Special apologies to Matt from bullsblog, because I totally forgot to update his stats in the KnickerBlogger bracket tournament. I have no excuse for this oversight. It’s not like Matt has given me some extra hits for mentioning my blog not once, or twice, but three times in a row. And it certainly isn’t because he said this in his column the other day:

With apologies to Knickerblogger, I hate the Knicks. Like, a lot.

Matt only made one mistake in his first round picks, predicting a minor upset in Miami. Other than that his picks were right on target, earning him 7 points, good enough to be tied for second place. I’ll edit the previous post to reflect Matt’s participation.

Round 1: 2004 NBA Bloggers Bracket

Thanks to the stubborn Hornets, Round 1 is finally over. Here are the updated standings for the KnickerBlogger 2004 Bloggers Bracket:

Me 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8
Jon 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 7
Ron 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 7
Matt 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 7
Michael 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 7
Kevin 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 6
Scott 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 6
Tim 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 6

Alone in first place is yours truly. Being spineless has paid off for me so far, because I didn’t think there would be any upsets in the first round. Jon and Michael had Dallas bumping off Sacramento, while Ron showed his home team pride by sticking with the Hornets. Three contestants thought there would be 2 upsets, with the popular upsets being Memphis & Dallas.

Interesting enough, the bottom 5 guys not only have the Lakers (down 0-1) upsetting the Spurs in this round, but they have the boys in yellow & purple taking the trophy back home to L.A. If the Lakers lose, there will be a big divide between those two groups. Nobody has the Pistons (1-0) nor the T-wolves (0-1) getting upset this round. However I will be affected if Minnesota’s playoff hopes end against the Kings, since I have them making the Finals.

This morning while groggily watching ESPN, I heard the Miami coach Stan Van Gundy at a press conference say something to the effect of it being ludicrous that the Heat had any kind of advantage being at home. (I was a bit too tired to remember the quote in it’s entirety). This is just baffling to me, because Stan watched every second of a series where the home team won every game. Not only that, but the Heat have been a 71% team at home this year, better than the NBA average (about 60%-65%). They are riding a 16 game home win streak, and he doesn’t think his team has any advantage at home?

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s doing it as a psych job for his players (“don’t get lazy at home!”), and not because he really believes it.