Thursday, May 22, 2014
Behind The Scoreboard
NBA playoff happenings
A couple of games into the Eastern Conference playoffs and Charles Barkley prophetically stated that “when the Heat meets the Pacers in the finals,” and Sir Charles went on to finish his assessment of the topic which he and his cohorts were covering. As much as it pains me to have to say that I agreed with Mr. Barkley (it’s a long story), I had already reached that conclusion. We are not going to fast forward here because at the time of both of our predictions the two aforementioned teams were locked in other deadly battles.
And, of course, there were a lot of happenings during these playoffs and to call them distractions or detractions would not be entirely true. There were a lot of us who just blended these asides into the fabric of the very entertaining playoffs. There were coaches being fired and rumors of coaches still on the carousel. And Sir Charles’ prophesy was not the only one to prove true. However, it didn’t cost him in the five figures. Not so in the case of Doc Rivers. Years ago in the MLB, there was a coach/manager of either the Yankees or Dodgers who was prone to utter the phrase “we wuz robbed” when he wanted to assign blame to the zebras.
Well, in game five Doc Rivers and the Clippers “wuz robbed,” twice. The coach went on a berating tirade after the second call, prophesying that the call and ruling would cause them to lose the game and possibly the series. He was right. He was not “teched” in the game but the next day a $25,000.00 fine was levied by the NBA.
Anyone who has put on an official’s cloak in any sport will tell you that it is never without flawed calls or rulings. However, to make two such similar calls in the same game is a bit much. The Clippers have to share a little culpability in the loss because they had led for most of the game and made some critical errors in the last minute. But there is no doubt that the calls had a demoralizing taint on that game and the subsequent one (game six) at the Staples Center which dropped them from the competition.
The Conference finals began on the weekend with the Pacers and Heat meeting on Sunday in Indiana. This was not one of those “throw-away” games for the Heat, but I don’t think they are in any real trouble. They have won four straight series after losing an opening game. One has to consider their playoff record, which includes the only sweep in these playoffs and closing out Brooklyn one game short of a sweep.
By the time you read this the San Antonio Spurs and the OKC Thunder will have played their first game. We will see if the aging Spurs have what it takes to hang with the upstart Thunder.
It is interesting to note that the number one and number two teams from both conferences are meeting in the finals. Will the final showdown feature “ones” or “twos”?
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