The Dark Lord

Gatinho —  June 9, 2008

Previously unheralded outside of hardcore hoops circles, Tom Thibodeau is now being feted as a defensive genius and the architect behind the resurgence of the Boston Celtics. As Karl Rove was to GWB, TT is to Doc Rivers. How else do you explain it? A bottom rung defensive team, populated with defensive sieves like Paul Pierce, supplemented by the likes of Ray Allen transformed into the basketball equivalent of the Steel Curtain. Sure KG had been a fine defensive player and Posey certainly helps. But it takes talent, tactics, and time to become a great defensive team. How can any coach take a brand new group of guys and implement a defensive system in one training camp that is more effective than the vaunted Spurs defense who’ve played together for years?

You have to cheat.

Michael Johnson had supreme talent, and dedicated a decade of hard work to become the best sprinter of our age. In a few short years Trevor Graham juiced up an undersized sprinter in Tim Mongomery, deficient in raw talent, into a world record holder. Much like Trevor Graham, Thibodeau weighed his options. “I don’t have years to turn this team into a defensive juggernaut, their window is too short. I need a short-cut”.

But of course in Thibodeau’s case, he didn’t really cheat. He gamed the system. We’ve been there before. A new tax code comes out. It is clear what the spirit of the code is, the intent. Still, only a fool doesn’t try to find the inevitable loophole to defeat the law’s intentions. Tom Thibodeau is no fool.

Imagine, as the statistician-turned GM Daryl Morey has done, that you digitized every possession of every game. Tagged every sequence and ran it through a massively parallel computing environment. You could search for the most effective plays versus certain defensive schemes, the most efficient player combinations, or other helpful metrics. But this would still require long-term, painful work to improve personnel incrementally. You need a faster solution.

What if you could run the following query through Morey’s machine – as Thibodeau had ample opportunity to do while at Houston. Which fouls are optimum? In other words, which fouls are the refs most likely to call and which fouls are they least likely to call. Even more subtle, which actions that are not really fouls draw fouls and which actions that are really fouls not draw foul calls?

Can such a query be performed on Morey’s server farm? Undoubtedly. What would the results be and would a team trained on fouling without being called have an advantage on defense?

The results might show that statistically speaking the refs tend to call fouls (whether actual contact was made or not) where a defensive player makes an obvious swipe at the ball. Our hunter/carnivore past has blessed humans with a cerebral motor control areas and an occipital lobe designed to focus on motion – much like cats. A wide swipe at the ball whether for steals or blocks (read, Ronny) draws attention and fouls – contact or not. Thus the Celtics rarely swipe at the ball. What they do is grab arms, wrists, jerseys with the minimum of motion – much like a master jujitsu artist. Kobe gets by Pierce on his way to the hoop. Pierce doesn’t swipe, he grabs Kobe’s right wrist. That Kobe twists in air and shoots and scores with his Left hand is a testament to Kobe. That Pierce almost stopped Kobe’s score and didn’t pick up a foul is a testament to Thibodeau.

Contact with the hands, however incidental on a player with the ball draws a foul. Swiveling your hip into the player to throw off him off stride rarely gets called. In fact, on the play, you can clearly see Paul Pierce swiveling his haps ala Shakira into Kobe’s torso as Kobe rises for the running jumper. Maybe Karma rewarded this display by depositing Perkin’s heft onto the back of Pierce’s knee. The Celtics don’t hand check. They hip check.

Morely’s computers might show that off-the ball moving screens are rarely called. In fact, if Ray Allen and Pierce are running around screens. Don’t just set a stationary screen. Like a pulling guard, jut hips, elbows, and shoulders to pick off the defender. If you lay him out great. If he has to fight extra hard or take a more circumnavigatory route, acceptable. Now on this play every once in awhile you’ll be called for a foul. Do it every single play and the percentage of calls drops to a basis point.

These are only the obvious differences between the Celtic’s defensive tactics than others. Undoubtedly Master Thibodeau is employing many more subtle tricks. Of course, while not being illegal (going by the dictum that if the refs don’t call it, it is not a foul – unless Derek Fisher is landing on Brent Barry) this gaming of the system is insidious and ugly. San Antonio actually played great defense against Kobe without fouling him. What if you could play great defense AND foul him without being called. Wouldn’t the Spurs have won a few more games then?

Maybe it is the sign of the times. Belicheck coaches the best football team of the decade but still feels the need to cheat. Yeah, you can play great zone defense (disguised but still zone) with great late help. But isn’t it nice to be able to hip check or hold if all else fails?

Phil Jackson alluded to this in his post game press conference. The Celtics defense is “illusory”. A foul doesn’t appear like a foul and isn’t called one. Just because you didn’t see the ninja doesn’t mean a dagger isn’t in your belly.

So where do you go from here? The NBA is full of copy cats. In the zenith of 7 Seconds or Less, a dozen teams were busy remaking their teams to emulate the Suns. If the Celtics win the title, how many teams will study the tape and incorporate the off-the ball moving screen, the wrist hold, and the hip check into their defensive repertoire?

Much like the success of the Detroit Bad Boys heralded an era of ugly, brutal defensive ball – exemplified by Riley’s Knicks, Thibodeau’s success might lead the league, unexpectedly, into an period of low percentage shooting. The hope is that the server farm is a force for good and light as it has been a force of darkness, that the league office will notice the blatant subterfuge and instruct the officials with video tutorials for next season. A little too late for the Lakers this season. They just have to be twice as good.

-Bill Bridges

Gatinho

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164 responses to The Dark Lord

  1. But we know that the Celtics haven’t completed the journey to the dark side. They do not flop, whine, and DuncanFace.

  2. The Dude Abides June 9, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    This didn’t get posted in the previous thread, so I’m trying it here. Well, here’s The Blowtorch’s analysis of the inner thoughts of the players during the Powe coast to coast dunk. It definitely cheered me up. That was the single weakest play of the Lakers during this postseason…might as well have a laugh about it.

    http://theblowtorch.blogspot.com/2008/06/inner-thoughts-with-leon-powe.html

  3. Wow. Thanks for the laugh. Insightful, but is that bitterness I detect?

    Phil Jackson doesn’t use “blatant subterfuge”? Isn’t “blatant subterfuge” an oxymoron anyway?

    The Evil Genius isn’t Thibodeau–it is and always will be Phil Jackson. He manipulates the game, the league, and the refs, better than anyone and for that I’d have him coach my team anyday. But to portray him (and the Lakers) as some kind of innocent victim is laughable. These Lakers are getting beat, and it is time that Lakers fans quit whining about the refs, (which they were so quick to criticize Jazz fans for doing after the Second Round), whether explicitly as in, “the refs stole the game from us”, or implicitly, as in the post above.

    PS I still think this series is going seven.

  4. Nice read. I was actually going to write something about the Patriots (Belicheck) spirit being chanelled into the Celtics due to the “illusory” nature of their defense and their tendency to misappropriate injuries (See: Pierce “Willis Reed”, Perkins being a “game time decision, Cassell being day to day now)

    I never did consider how Thibedeau could have had acess to Morey’s extensive attempt at tracking various factors on the floor though.

  5. 2- If you call last nights game anything other than what it was (a complete jobbing) you simply don’t understand the NBA.

    Bill SImmons didn’t even try to defend that game. Just stop.

    I didn’t care about the Mavs/Heat, but that was a complete jobbing as well. There is no bitterness about that series. I know the Mavs were the superior team and probably deserved to win that title. But we’ll never really know. The only thing we DO know is the the Heat have a VERY tainted title. And they aren’t the only ones.

    Once the NBA does this to a series it just puts a cloud over the whole thing for people that get basketball. It is RUINING their product in the eyes of the hardcore fan. I guess that won’t matter as long as people seem to just sort of dismiss everything as “conspiracy” and “whining”.

  6. I agree that the NBA needs to review the officiating–but my point is that Lakers fans (and the Lakers coach) are acting like this is the first time this has happened, or that unfair officiating is the exception, not the rule. This kind of officiating happens more often than it does not, the only difference about this time was that it happened against the Lakers, a team that has reaped the benefits of one sided officiating maybe more than any other.

    While everyone is asking the officials for some consistency, why don’t we ask the fans for some as well. If the Lakers lost last night because of bad officiating, then surely they won a few (series) because of it as well.

  7. great post, wanted to allude to something like this but didn’t have the data :)

  8. Game 6 of the 2002 WCF’s is considered by many to be one of the worst reffed games in history. The free throws in that game was 40-25. Almost half of the differential from last nights game. Outrageous!

    We were down 2 points under a minute last night, I don’t care how bad the lakers played, 28 free throws decided that game.

  9. This post had me gnashing my teeth. Thanks for pointing out the facts, and putting into words what’s been in our mind’s eye. Great post. Every so often I want to send the insights of some of the better posters here to Kobe, Phil, Mitch, or David Stern. This is one such post.

  10. This is such a phenomenal post I can hardly stand it. You simply aren’t gonna get this type of coverage from the LA Times, ESPN or any other source. Instead you’ll get how Leon Powe (who?) “overcame adversity” and you’ll get Mike Wilbon glossing over last nights jobbing and somehow insinuating it’s okay because once the Lakers get home things will change (why Mike, because the refs will artificially prop THEM up?).

    The Utah Jazz were masters of illegal screens off the ball in the Hornacek, Stockton backcourt days.

    First they came for traveling and carry-overs, and nobody said anything. Next they came for illegal screens and flopping and some radically dubious touch foul calls and nobody said anything. Then they came for overt manipulation of entire series and there was nothing left of the game we used to know as NBA basketball.

  11. Interesting post, although the phenomena of fouling as much as possible without being called is part of defense and part of any competitive sport, really. When i first was trained to be a soccer referee, my “defensive skill” increased tremendously. Why? I knew where the officials would be positioned at any given time, and could easily grab, hold, kick, and clip at angles I knew they couldn’t see.

    In soccer, the counter to overly physical (and often illegal) defense has become offensive flopping, which in the NBA is often called “selling the call.” You get a hand on your hip in the penalty box? Go flying forward, sprawl out over the floor and pretend you’ve been hit by a truck (after the play you get up and play like normal – this is called the paul pierce maneuver).

    The problem is, the refs have not been buying ANY of the calls they usually do – in fact, they’re not even calling painfully obvious fouls. The only recourse the Lakers really have at this point is adjusting to the foul – see the hip checking coming, and run so that it totally sends you flying. Try to force the refs to call it and hope for the best.

    I can’t watch game 3 because of an exam, but I have a feeling the the C fans will be complaining too if and when they see the calls tilted towards the Lakers in games 3-5. Everyone knows Stern wants a 6-7 game series, but he could at least try to make it less obvious.

  12. Sven (5)- I can’t speak for Lakers fans or their coach, but I’m not acting like this has never happened before. It isn’t okay to dismiss this as “whining” or that things will “work out in the wash”. We cannot accept that. You can’t say “well the Lakers won Game 6 of the WCF in 200whatever, so it’s all working out” or “then surely they won a few series because of it as well”.

    The extent in which sports should be judged in a subjective manner should be reserved for times when there are a few bad calls, or even when there is a questionable call at the end of the game. That’s totally expected. That jive happens. But it’s totally different when there is a systematic and blatant inequity in a game. In these cases fans that care to take the time to post something on the Internet should be unified in their outrage whether it helped their team or not. If we don’t we’re gonna get to the point where the NBA is completely hopeless.

  13. mister bridges…i’ve teased you before for your old-school ways…but that’s just high-end insight…

  14. Game 2 of the Second Round against Utah. LA shoots 43 FTs, Utah 16. (As an aside–Jerry Sloan gets a lot of bad press about complaining–but after that atrociously officiated game he took it like a man and gave credit to the Lakers. After last night’s game Phil took it like a boy and started whining right off the bat, without giving the Celtics any credit).

    Sure, this is the Finals. But I seem to remember a lot of rationalizing going on by Lakers fans at the time, and a lot of higher than thou talk towards Jazz fans instructing them not to whine, etc etc. Funny how your perspective can change when it happens to your team.

  15. I better see Bennet Salvatore as an official. How do you check who is reffing the game tomorrow before the game starts?

  16. the sad part is, despite this knowledge, nothing can be done…

  17. If I were Phil Jackson, I would put DJ Mbenga on Ray Allen and ask him to run into Garnett/PJ Brown real hard when they set a moving screen. :)

  18. 12- No doubt fans generally accept bad calls that go their way. Or even willful manipulation of a game that helps their team. I don’t think anybody would deny that.

    However, specifically speaking to that game: Utah is allowed to get away with more physical play on that court. That’s been true since I’ve been watching the NBA. The fouls that were called in that game were fouls. And the Lakers don’t play a style like the Jazz where if they call a game tight and don’t allow a “physical” team to do things like routinely push-off for almost every rebound like Carlos Boozer did all year, but started getting called for it in that series. Now, it is totally valid to ask WHY the Jazz were suddenly called for things they did all year in that building.

    There was a clear inequity in the box score of that game, but was there a clear inequity if you WATCHED it? Certainly not to the degree of last nights game. That wasn’t a game that was called closely on both sides and one team benefitted. That was a game where on team was allowed to do certain things (overtly foul the other team on shooting attempts and drives) and one team was barely allowed to touch another team without a whistle blowing.

    Again… the appeal to the past is fundamentally flawed logic. Technically it is an “appeal to tradition”. You could also say it falls into the “two wrongs don’t make a right” category.

  19. Btw, great work Bill Bridges. This is one of the best posts I have read in some time.

  20. LoL @ the “blatant subterfuge” oxymoron.

    I don’t get the point here. Every team commits countless fouls that aren’t called. How many more could the Celtics possibly be getting away with than the Spurs, Pistons or Lakers?

    Why are conjuring these whiney conspiracy theories when the Lakers haven’t even lost the series (yet)?

  21. Powe will probably not shoot single a free throw for the next three games, but you better believe Kobe’s free throw average will increase. That’s home court advantage for you. I think the Lakers have a great opportunity to win the next three, where we haven’t lost since March. Our bench is confident after the great three point shooting of Farmar and Vujicac, as well as those energy filled alley-oops from Kobe to Ronny.

    Very interesting and entertaining post. Good job Mr. Bridges.

    I can’t wait until tomorrow!

  22. 16 – Mentally challenged…hahaha. I think the forum rules say “no personal attacks.” Although the Laker-fan inside of me would concur…

    Great point on other teams who changed their style of play to the Suns, Bill. They end up underachieving (ala Denver). It really tied the whole point of other teams changing their identities together in order to compete.

    If the comeback last night was any indication, the Lakers have some momentum going into Game 3. That momentum I hope will lead to a win, otherwise they’ll be in a pickle. And it could turn out to be pretty sour (pun or no pun intended, you decide)

  23. Bill Bridges, interesting post and good timing for it. I’ve absorbed alot of written info the last two day’s from the internet and the hatred for the Lakers and their fans is unbelievable. I kinda expected it I guess due to the history of these two franchises, I’m looking forward to game 3 and a Lakers win.
    Go Lakers…

  24. interesting perspective and great article. for what it’s worth, i don’t think it’s the subtlety or the craftiness of the boston players led by Thibo but simply attributable to human error aspect of the game.

    the beneficiary of the error will stand firm by “fair officiating” and the other side will cry foul, “whine” and “moan” about it.

    yes, game 2 of utah and lakers series, lakers benefitted from such human error and finals game 2, lakers got the shorter end of the stick. yes, everyone complained all the way from the head coach to fans through the internet. still, at the end of the day, nothing will change the fact that we are down 0-2.

    it is time for lakers to really think about whether we are really that much more talented than the other team, and apparently it is obvious that our talent alone can’t carry us far. it is time for the lakers to work for it and claim what many claimed as theirs to lose.

    one game, one quarter, one possession at a time. let’s go lakers!

  25. 15 – It is hardly a conspiracy theory. The point is, as has been made balatantly clear in various sources from FB&G to The BAsketball Jones, that the refeereing was quite overtly inconsistent in that what was being called in one end was not in the other (which arguably led to an advantage for one particular squad as it impacted how the other team played)

    It’s not a conspiracy theory. Stern did not cook up a Celtics game 2 victory. It was simply horrible refereeing.

  26. http://38pitches.com/2008/06/09/manny-jd-papi-lester-and-the-nba-finals/#more-178

    stuff Curt Shilling said in his blog regarding Kobe made me go and read the whole thing. any thoughts? I can see Kobe getting angry after being down 20 or so, but if all of this is true (i really don’t have reason to believe otherwise) then our success this season has much more to do with the team maturing than Kobe maturing…

    … but then again, I never believed Kobe changed one iota, so it seems to be an accurate assessment ;)

  27. wow, I guess I can see what would push someone to write this stuff, but wow

    trying to make this into Spygate II is just sad

    every coach worth anything has always schooled his players to get away with what they can get away with – it is just intelligence to use game tape to do it (which, by the way, every team does, completely legally)

    completely disagree with the premise of this article

  28. I have to kind of agree with Jeff. Nothing really illegal or wrong with what Thibodeau did here with the Celts D. Its just good coaching. Sloan has been doing basically the same thing in Utah for years, his current team just isn’t as good at it, as the Celts are. It makes for some ugly basketball at times. It can be very frustrating to watch. My guess is that Stern will sit down after the season and try to figure out a way to stymie this trend a little bit before next season, because offense sells better than defense. You’ll have higher ratings for a game that goes into the 100’s then one that is always in the 80’s. Last years finals are a good example. Some of the worst basketball I have ever seen.

  29. I think this article speaks more to the point that the ref talent pool and organization is lacking. In this case you just have smarter people on the coaching staff than the refs. It’s a compliment to the celtics and Tom T. As far as the premise, then we’re talking about motivation. What person wouldn’t cheat if given the opportunity to do so, knowing full well they would get away with it? I don’t think that’s any different from finding a loophole in the rules to exploit.

  30. The problem with most team-oriented blogs is that they just cannot give credit where credit is due. Instead of acknowledging that Tom Thibodeau is an excellent defensive coach (as almost all NBA experts have), you must point to his manipulation of the system as the reason for his excellence and not the novelty and executions of his ideas. Great unbiased analysis as always.

  31. 21, I don’t think it’s really trying to call TT and the Celtics cheaters or anything, but more about the redefinition of what constitutes good or great defense. The 90’s and early 00’s tauted physical defense a la bad boys/knicks’ hawking aggressive ‘don’t even try to come into the lane’ type of defense as being ideal. But much like how offense is being shifted towards a more ‘euro’ 3-point/speed oriented type of game, defense is also being shifted into a much different philosophy

  32. Wait a sec… so which was it: the refs cheated the Lakers or Thibadeau played the refs for idiots (all year, I might add)? If, as LOWLUT, SHARKY and others have said, you believe the refs are “jobbing” the Celtics, then you disagree with Bill Bridges’ point of the post–that Thibadeau just ran a simulation and figured out how to beat the system. You’re in a conspiracy theory zone, and I wish you and your straight jacket all the luck in the world.

    On the other hand, if you think, like Bill Bridges, Thibadeau figured out a way to beat the system, then you aren’t buying into the conspiracy, so stop griping about that. Complain that the rules of the NBA are bad, not that there is some conspiracy to screw the Lakers.

    Sheesh!

    (LOL at the poster claiming Pierce’s injury was just a ploy. HAHAHAHA)
    (Oh, and I’m not a Celtics fan.)

  33. I wish the tone were a little more analytical, but this is the one of the best posts I’ve seen on Game 2. It avoids the wackiness of the conspiracy theorists on one side and the Celtic fanatics on the other, and instead it attempts to explain the facts:

    1) This was statistically the most lopsided case of Finals officiating in recent history.

    2) Tthe Lakers took far more shots in the paint and yet drew far fewer fouls in the process.

    3) Phil Jackson alluded to the “illusory” nature of the calls.

    4) To date Phil has not been fined for his direct criticism of the officiating, suggesting the league is aware of the problem.

    I think the immediate solution is clear. Let’s get an independent commission of basketball experts to review Game 2 and to precisely detail which fouls were called and which were not. The best way to motivate the NBA to improve its officiating ( a very challenging task, to be fair to the referees) is to honestly and openly make the public aware of the extent of the problem. Anything less will allow the conspiracy theories to flourish and undermine the appeal of the game.

  34. Warren Wee Lim June 10, 2008 at 7:26 am

    I am skipping reading the comments to emphasize something. Bill Bridges, this is one of the most well-written pieces I have ever read. In my background as a (well sort of) frustrated journalist, being the editor-in-chief from my High School days, this piece has got to stand out as one of the more thought-provoking yet obvious messages. Props to you man.

    Aside from the fact that I agree with all the super physical play, Boston is indeed “shadowing” some plays that it becomes sort of “guiltful” to call it a foul and excuse it for “letting them play” in the playoffs – finals no less. Boston has now mastered the art of “shadow”.

    Granting the Celtics were the more aggressive team in games 1 and 2, isn’t it a little strange that Leon Powe gets more foul shots than the whole Laker team? that KPerk is hobbling and yet their interior D (supposedly) is not reduced one bit? or that Paul Pierce (I swear he got a gram of morphine in the locker room) would emulate Willis Reed in his “hobbling” performance back in game 1?

    Maybe we should all believe about em Leprechauns after all. Or, this could just be the Dark Lord’s doing.

  35. 24 – As far as the Pierce injury being a ploy, just out of curiosity, when was the last time you saw an NBA player carried off by his teammates? If you actually get injured to the extent you shouldn’t walk (a la Shawn Livingston), you get wheeled off on the cart because you can get hurt having someone who is not trained to carry you jostling around your knee. They isolate your knee as to not cause damage to your meniscus from a destabilized knee.

    Incidentally, thanks for the insight Bill. I had always assumed that Gregg Poppovich hired an acting trainer to help sell fouls. It only makes sense that teams would do their best to skirt the rules as close as possible in order to gain all the competitive advantage they can.

    This doesn’t make the Celtics cheaters. They are perfectly
    within the rules to commit as many fouls as they chose. And certainly, no one would question that the refs miss plenty of calls throughout any game. The question is how to solve that. Perhaps add another ref or two to the mix, so the referee on the floor doesn’t have watch every player at once (impossible!). No one want to make Spygate II out of this.

    We want Spygate II to feature that cheater, Bill Belichick.

  36. Hey Jeff from CelticsBlog and others, I don’t propose to speak for BillBridges but I think this was more of a tongue in cheek piece written out of frustration than a real accusation of impropriety. I mean, the piece eventually calls him the Dark Lord in hyperbole. This is more Onion than Boston Herald. That isn’t to say you should dismiss the whole thing as absurd, but it’s about sports. Let’s not treat it like life and death. BillBridges flexed his writing muskles and did a pretty bang up job. Let’s go Lakers!

  37. While I might agree w/the overall tone of the posting,I don’t think Mr Bridges gives credit to Jerry Sloan and his staff. What Boston is doing w/better athletes is what Utah has done for past couple of yrs.
    The computer crunching may have been no more than reviewing Utah’s Playoff run last yr. The grabbing,hip checks,jabs,moving screens,quick shoves,etc. are staples of the Jazz. Boston is simply using better athletes who are older and wiser in the ways of not getting caught.

  38. Ryan from Boston June 10, 2008 at 7:49 am

    Lakers fans should actually watch some other series but their own. When the Celts played the Hawks in the playoffs, there were games where Josh Smith would take more attempts than the entire Celtics team but yet the Celts would win by 20. Actually in almost every game in the Celts/Hawks series, the Hawks took many more free throws than the Celts but yet the Celts were able to pull it out. The Lakers problem is that they don’t play any defense and allow people to go coast to coast for uncontested dunks. And speaking of “cheating” defense, Kobe and Fisher get away with reach ins almost every time.

  39. well, it is amusing, I’ll grant you that

  40. So now if somebody on this site criticizes the analysis, or, god forbid, the Lakers he is suddenly a “celtics fan” and “mentally challenged”? Nice work lowlut.

    FYI – I am NOT a celtics fan. Just somebody who has noticed a bit of a double standard when it comes to how Lakers fans view the officiating. I.e. “it’s just part of the game” when they win, but when they lose it is suddenly “the NBA is going to hell” and “the system is being gamed” and “conspiracy”.

    I hate to say it LA fans, but you guys are making Utah Jazz fans look objective and rational at this point.

  41. LA and Boston.
    Passion for the game.
    Forget logic and facts.
    Rivalry is not about that.
    It’s about emotion and boy do we have it.

    Let’s enjoy the rivalry and forget the spin and the excuses and the conspiracy theories.

    This series is Zen vs Heart, pure and simple.

    Whose bench will show up every night?
    Will it be LA’s highly touted bench or the C’s up-and-coming bench?

    Will the starters do what they do best or will the defence “get their number””?

    I’m a Celtics fan but I am also a basketball fan.
    Both teams have fantastic strengths.

    Let’s enjoy them and look forward to the “rematch” for the loser!

    LA fans, I’m hoping for a 7 game series !
    Are you?

    CHILL EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Hardwood fan!

  42. i actually started the series surprised at my own level of the respect for the laker’s and their fans…

    i was even impressed with the level of thought and discourse on this site, but only few days later you’ve lowered yourselves down into the same paranoid homerism that renders most nba-fan blogs unreadable.

    i suppose you’re really only following the example of your coach and best player-refusing personal/team responsibility and assuming the pose of the victim.

  43. Thought provoking, funny, and extremely well-written…

    nomuskles described it perfectly…

  44. Great post and good data to backup your hypothesis. It’d be cool to have some some youtube videos to illustrate some of your findings.

    I’m currently reading Freakonomics, and this post is very similar to that book in questioning why different things occur (e.g. why do crack dealers still live at home with their mom?) with the answer using data and its analysis.

    You make a great point about the less-noticeable (but still) fouls that the Celtics commit. I play bball in a league and the old people do these sorts of things all the time (i.e. pull on my jersey so i can’t get away from them [i’m younger and faster], step on my feet so I can’t jump up for the rebound, grab my wrist so i can’t run around the screen, delay the fast break outlet by slowing the person taking out the ball from going to the baseline, etc.). These all add up and definitely frustrates a team, esp when it’s not being called.

  45. I thought NBA basketball has always included pushing the limits of what you could get away with on the floor. Not that I advocate that, because it goes against the ideals and spirit of sport, and wouldn’t happen among honorable Gentlemen, but we’re not really dealing with sport here. The old term for all this is “skullduggery.”

    I think most instances of skullduggery are ad-hoc and freelanced and small-scale. If Thibodeau has figured out how to do this systematically (and that’s a big “if”), I would not say “more power to him” but “it’s a crying shame.”

  46. I still haven’t heard any Laker fans who blindly throw out the 38-10 number as proof of evil from the refs answer for the 43-16 difference in their own favor in G2 against Utah.

    Here are some comments in this very site after that game…

    =====

    “I think there were a few fouls that could have been called on the Lakers that weren’t but I’m not sure it would have done a ton to close down the 27 free throw differential”

    “…, the whole idea that the Jazz are getting screwed by the referees is simply comical. They play a hard style and foul often because of it.”

    “Add me to the list of people sick of Sloan, Boozer, Jazz fans, etc whining about the foul trouble.”

    “As far as refereeing is concerned, there are 10% of calls that was wrong and against your team, 80% that was fair and right, and 10% of call that was wrong and was in favor of your team. I’m sure there has to be at least +/- 10% on each of the categories. (There’s no mathematical/statistical data to support this. I’m just estimating to make my point.) However, the fans of each side will remember the 10% that went against their team more than the rest.”

    “I’m sure officials have blown few calls here and there, but there’s no way the officials helped DFish knock down 4/5 3 pointers [Note from me: Pierce was 4/4 3 pointers by the way] or allowed Pau to get easy looks inside [Note from me: How many dunks did Powe have?] or made Kobe’s acrobatics shots easier [Note from me: But it surely would make Rondo’s acrobatic passes easier, right?].”

    “My main point is that number of free throws do not always reflect impartial officiating as some Jazz fans claim.”

    =====

    All this is not to say that the situations are necessarily equivalent, mind you… Only that any Laker fan simply presenting the disparity and acting as if it alone is unjustifiable flies in the face of the same fans finding cause to justify it when they are on the other side of the coin.

  47. Good column by Hollinger:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dime-080610

    He makes some good points about the fouls.

    To win tonight, the Lakers need to:

    do better on Rondo’s penetration
    reach less
    get physical away from the ball
    move the ball better
    get the ball inside to whomever Garnett is not on (Odom or Gasol)
    Attack the rim if the triangle is disrupted. Garnett will get a few blocks, but they need to go to the rack anyway.

    And the Celtics, particularly Pierce, need to start missing a few shots.

    But, it may be that the Celtics are just a bad matchup for the Lakers, and they can’t beat them. They haven’t yet.

    As to the Celtic fans coming here, I understand the irritation. You just sort of want people from the other side to say “we got beat.” But, this is a Laker site, not a news outlet, and most Celtic fans I have interacted with who are over the age of 35 will still tell you that the Bird teams were really better than the Magic teams and ’87 was about injuries. If the series turns in LA, you can show some class by just saying “we got beat.”

    As to the Bridges piece, he makes some good points, and it seems plausible, but I can see how it would bug a Celtics fan.

  48. Great stuff Bill. In the midst of the constant rehash of nothingness that we read on every basketball site, it’s refreshing to read something fresh and well-written.

    And Jeff, how do you not read this as a back handed compliment of your team?

  49. Complaining about the refs is as old as sports itself. And it goes both ways. Some one mentioned the Heat’s title as “tainted” because of the game 5 calls ( I agree). But why don’t you also mention game 6 2002 WCF? Were the Lakers the better team that year? Even Bill Plashke says no. Politicking the refs is part of sports especially the NBA. Now shut up and go to the hole more and you’ll get those calls.

  50. It is a funny back and forth, but keep in mind a couple of things when complaining about the FT disparity.

    1 Hollingers Shot charts, shooting long jumpers will not often earn you freebies.
    2 Actually fouls called for the first two games 28-21 in favor of Boston game two, 29-22 in favor of Boston game one. Certainly an advantage, but not out of line with H/A splits.
    3. Whom would you rather drive the lane against, KG who’s never more then moments from snapping like a mad man; or Gasol, who is Spanish. Boston’s post players outweigh LA’s by 20lbs a man and the men in purple need to stop playing afraid of the paint. Maybe someone should lock Odom, Gasol and a cougar in the lane together so they can learn to love the fear.

  51. Tony (BleedGreen17) June 10, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Wow. I was going to peek to the other side and see how the LA fans are doing. This piece is over the top and hilarious! Gave me a chuckle. Lakers have gotten calls throughout the playoffs. The Cs were just a more physical team (period). How does any pro-team allow Leon Powe to dribble 3/4 court and dunk the ball? How does Lakers allow a seldom-playoff-used bench player have the game of his life? LA played soft. Don’t blame the refs. If you do, there are plenty of LA games that should have an asterisk. Most likely the game 3 will go to Lakers tonight since they (should) will play better and want it more. Lakers lost because Cs were more physical and played better defense – “disguised” or real. Cs have played plenty of games where their opponent have been aggressive and more physical and lost – hence the 2 game 7s. The Eastern C playoffs were more physical and teams played better defense than the Western C. Nuggets don’t play D which was a cake walk. This is still going to be a game 6 or 7 series. It’s still anyone’s game; however if LA continues to try to play finesse vs PP & crew I can’t see why the Cs won’t win it in 6.

  52. Interesting how the Celtics fans thought this piece was another whine-post about officiating. You could have interpreted this as an hommage to a basketball tactical genius.

    Who knows, I could be a devil worshipper and have adopted Lord Thibodeau as my new deity.

    The truth is I’ve followed TT for a while and respect him. I mean, you might not like the Borg, but you gotta respect them, right? I’m not happy about the style of play of his teams. To me the style is ugly. But that’s me – my standard is the Showtime Lakers.

    What does upset me and the point that some of you got is that I don’t like the slippage into rewardng teams who are the best at gaming the system. The descent to flop-hell started with the Pistons and now is so unbearable that the NBA is trying to address it. What is a flop? It is deliberate act of trying to get a foul called on the opposition when no foul was committed by (over)acting out a reaction to a valid foul. By allowing flops to permeate the game, the NBA has validated that gaming the system is an acceptable tactic. And that some coaches try to exploit other deceptive measures seems a natural by-product.

    Do I know if TT actually ran simulations? No. My contention is that if gaming the system were a goal, that such a project could be undertaken. What I see is that his teams do the things I described. And the Celtics do these things well.

    The bigger message is this: we all love this game. What kind of game do we want to have? My contention is that the game that the Celtics (and to be fair other teams too) play bear no resemblence to the games we saw in the last LA vs Boston final and more poignantly, the games we play in pick up ball. Has any of you flopped in pick up ball? If you grab the shooter’s wrist what do you think happens?

    You might retort back that the officials are there to call the games and if they miss calls – or a team causes them to miss the calls it is not the fault of the team. In fact, a smart team takes advantage of the (deficiencies of the) rules. This is a cynical attitude that believes in the worst of people.

    I would point to golf where honor and truth are paramount. Do you think any player would swiftly kick a wayward tee-shot to a more favorable lie if he knew he couldn’t be caught? Absolutely not. Never happen. Is it really being naive to ask that basketball players and coaches also act with similar honor?

    And yes, the small end of my tongue brushed against my inner cheek as I wrote the piece but I stand by the meta-message of this piece.

  53. “And Jeff, how do you not read this as a back handed compliment of your team?”

    won’t speak for jeff, to me it seems obvious that stating the celtic defense plays outside the rules of the game and “cheats” is all back hand no compliment.

  54. Very entertaining read Bill.

  55. Bill your post did not appear to be the same timeless, my team got the raw end of the deal, the NBA is rigged rant, which I’m sure is the reason its been linked and highly viewed. However I made the mistake of reading all the comments that followed, which no surprise piled on those subjects to no end. Sadly the feedback wars, as they often do, have gone a different direction then the posting itself.

  56. You lost me at “defensive sieves like Paul Pierce.” There have been a lot of times in the last ten years when Pierce didn’t play defense, but he’s always been capable of great defense. Now that he’s not shouldering all the offensive burden, he’s got energy left to do it.

    Great players learn quick. One could also say “hey, how come Phil Jackson was able to teach the Lakers the triangle offense in one short year and instantly win a championship?” But the answer’s the same in both cases: good coaching and great players.

  57. Pawtucket Pat June 10, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Wow. What a hack job. If you want to complain about the refs, why not complain about Radmanovic taking about 32 steps on that breakaway dunk? The guy looked like Walter Payton on that one. You Lakers are such a bunch of whiners, right down to your coach and your best player.

  58. A few comments –

    1) I don’t buy the premise of this post. Sorry, Bill. It’s very well-written, but if Tom Thibodoeau’s defense was so good at foulding without getting called, why were the Celtics one of the most oft-penalized teams during the regular season and the playoffs up to this point? They were in the top 3rd of the league in most free throw attempts by opponents (despite playing a slow pace). They’ve given up 30 FTAs a game to date in the playoffs. And the “they were saving it for just now” argument, in addition to being a bit silly, fails when confronted with the fact that in the Cavs series, the Celtics allowed Cleveland to shoot 35 free throws in the deciding game 7 (when, if they DID have this technique saved up, they certainly would have employed it given how close the game was). I do agree with nomuskles, the post was at least partially tongue-in-cheek, and possibly fully. But if it IS serious, it’s… uhh… it just doesn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny given the numbers.

    2) That having been said, given the above fact (Celtics one of the worst teams in the regular season AND playoffs at avoiding giving up free throws) that just makes the free throw discrepancy all the more out of sorts. People mention the Utah game – sven, you’re right, LA shot a lot of free throws. You know why? Utah’s defense is DESIGNED around fouling. It’s not just that they foul a lot – they specifically use fouls to prevent teams from getting shot opportunities. Utah allowed the 2nd fewest field goal attempts in the league this season, despite playing at the 10th fastest pace. Jerry Sloan made a conscious decision to set up his defense in that fashion. The Lakers give up very few free throws attempts (19th in the league despite playing at the 6th fastest pace), and shoot a ton themselves (5th in the league). The two series are in no way comparable given that the defensive structures of the two “jobbed” teams are so significantly different with regards to fouls and free throws allowed.

    3) lolwut, if you haven’t seen any Celtics fans contributing, you haven’t been paying attention – must be hard around all those insults you’re throwing around. Several – sven included – have been plenty polite, and laid out their arguments just fine. There have been some trolls – but that shouldn’t reflect badly on their whole fanbase, given some of the Lakers “fans” I’ve seen stalking the web.

    4) jasonfrank – Though I disagree with the premise of this article, it’s not for the reasons you’ve given, because what you claim to be mutually exclusive actually isn’t. It’s fully possible that IF Thibodeau was to employ some trickery, it would -fool- the refs into ‘jobbing’ the Lakers, which is different than believing there’s a league mandate – heck, it doesn’t even preclude subtle conspiracy. I’ll explain. One can believe that the officiating was horrible and decided the game (which, as I’ll note in more detail below, I actually don’t) without blaming an overt conspiracy. If one was to believe in, say, David Stern slightly pressuring the refs with regards to the importance of Boston winning its 2nd game at home, they would be more inclined to see LA fouls than Boston, yes? If that were combined with some sort of ‘magic’ defense that allows for fouling with less likelihood of getting caught, the effects would be magnified, and cause results not unlike Sunday’s. I don’t think that’s the case, but simply categorically claiming “you can’t have conspiracy plus Thibodeau” isn’t a good reason why not. I’m looking for a little intellectual honesty from BOTH sides of the argument.

    5) Ryan – It doesn’t surprise me that the Hawks shot more free throws. You know why? Again, because the Celtics FOUL A LOT. They’ve done so ALL SEASON. The Hawks and Lakers are excellent analogues for each other – both draw fouls at a very high rate (LA is 5th, Atlanta is 7th) and commit fouls rarely (LA is 19th, Atlanta is 21st). Please explain to me how, with the SAME Boston team, suddenly LA is getting doubled up on FTAs? Even though the Hawks and Lakers have almost identical stats with regards to fouls, free throws taken, and free throws allowed?

    6) To bring this whole thing home – I’m actually kind of disappointed to see so many fans here agreeing with this post (not that I don’t appreciate its construction, but the points within just don’t hold up to any scrutiny). It reeks of sour grapes. Look, I’ve been back and forth with plenty of Celtics fans about all the fouls – Jeff can back me up on this, I went into the ‘lion’s den’ at CelticsBlog to do so. But it’s never been about whether or not that cost the Lakers the game. It didn’t – and EVEN IF it did, complaining about it now won’t change the fact. We all had better hope that the team is less caught up with this free throw stuff than the fan base still seems to be (myself included, admittedly). Because if they come out and they’re not totally focused, they’ll lose again, this time at home and without the benefit of the scapegoats in gray.

  59. this is an amusing farce that makes some good points about the state of the NBA game, I’ll grant you that as well

    but painting this as anything but sensationalism is disingenuous

  60. Bill, I agree with you about hoping that the more honest and entertaining forms of the game are the ones that are the norm, but let’s not make it seem like the Lakers are completely innocent here… :)

    Complaining to referees in order to get make-up calls and expecting reputation to get you calls both fall squarely in the same category as flopping and creative fouling in terms of “working the system”, and few if any practice these tactics more than our very own 2008 MVP, or the Spurs team you mention as one of the good guys in your article for that matter.

  61. 50 – Do you really want to go play-by-play, foul-by-foul in game 2? To insinuate that one missed call makes up for the disaster that was the officiating in the first half is ludicrous.

  62. I find it curious that you play up the virtues of a Spurs’ defense that has been characterized by dirty and deceptive play. For example, part of Bowen’s genius is not his ability to play “pure defense” (whatever that means) but to subtly shift his body and legs in ways that at best force the player to take an awkward shot and at worst increase the risk of serious injury. I imagine if the Lakers lost to the Spurs we’d have a similar column about Pop.

    I think the general point, not limited to the Celtics, is probably correct. But what you fail to recognize is that the Celtics had some strong and underutilized defenders before this season. Rondo, Powe, and Perkins are all superb defenders that were employed haphazardly under the old regime. The addition of Allen and KG gave Thibodeau the necessary pieces to implement a solid defense.

    I think the analogy to Michael Johnson is totally inappropriate. This is the NBA! Teams have dramatic turnarounds all the time with the addition of a player or two. In fact, I believe the Celtics’ Finals opponents had a similar turnaround this. Must have been the result of underhanded tactics, though. After all, no middling offense could turn around that dramatically, even if they employ the triangle effectively.

  63. A bunch of comments were just approved. You may want to reread the comments for this post if you have the time. Some comments were also unapproved. Please be respectful of everyone posting on this site.

  64. One other quick thing – Chris, according to the shot charts of Game 2, LA was in the paint MORE OFTEN then Boston was. The Celtics shot just as many jumpers as the Lakers did. The ‘lack of aggression’ is a cop-out explanation used by the national media when they don’t feel like actually examining why a game was called a certain way. Look at KD’s poat-game recap over at BDL – he’s normally excellent, but he falls into the same trap. In the same post he writes (I’m paraphrasing):

    ‘The refs called the game extremely tight for the first half’
    and
    ‘The Lakers stopped being physical.’

    Know what happens when you’re physical when the refs are calling a tight game? USUALLY, you get called for fouls. I should know, I’m a UCLA fan, and there’s no major college team more similar to Boston this season than the Bruins (statistically as well, I might add).Keep in mind, in college, there are huge advantages for some teams in athleticism that don’t translate to the pros. Certainly not by the time you get to the NBA finals, at least. Boston and LA are much closer together than UCLA and Southeastern Louisiana Tech School and Laundromat, for example. However, despite their excellent defense, UCLA allowed a lot of free throws. Why? They’re very physical. I’ve yet to hear somebody explain to me how being MORE physical causes you to get called for FEWER fouls.

  65. Also, there were two dominant paradigms in the 2000s: run-and-gun Suns and the grindout Spurs/Pistons. I think if you surveyed the teams across the league, there are more that patterned themselves after the Spurs than the Suns. I think we just survived the grind-out era (where final scores were routinely below 100), and the Suns were an anomaly that helped, along with some rule modifications, fuel the offensive rennaissance that we are currently witnessing.

  66. nomuskles, I hope the bad apples weren’t folks from my site, they should know better – I’ll remind them now

  67. Please be respectful of everyone posting on this site.

    ***

    Yeah, it is getting a little loose. I have not been to C’s blog since the series started. Are there Laker fans going over there and saying stuff like “Pawtucket Pat?” with handles like “Santa Monica Sam?” I am trying to represent FBG in the spirit Kurt established–it’s his show.

    That said, I am not big on too much focus on the refs. The Lakers need to do certain things to win. The question is whether they CAN do those things against this team.

    WRT Utah–I see the point, but Sloan’s teams, as I said, always play that way.

  68. Wow. Having just read the Hollinger piece, he’s being extremely disingenuous.

    “Fourteen of L.A.’s 17 [4th quarter] shots were 3s or close-in tries, with Bryant in particular finally seeming able to penetrate the defense.” They were 3s, John. Not close 2s. 3s – they shot NINE in the quarter. 5 close-in tries in a quarter is far FEWER than the Lakers attempted in the rest of the game. Proof? Back to Hollinger:

    “Contrast that with the rest of the game, when L.A. again was sucked in by the lure of the long 2. Through the first three quarters, 23 of their 66 shot attempts were 2-pointers from 13 feet or more; while this was an improvement on Game 1, it’s a less-than-ideal ratio.”

    Okay, so LA shot 21 3-pointers in the game. 9 in the 4th, which leaves 12 attempts the rest of the way from 3, plus another 23 from “long 2″ range. That leaves us with 34 (66-23-9) 2-point attempts from inside 13 feet. We know from actually looking at the shot charts (both ESPN and Sportsline) that 27 of those were lay-up or dunk attempts. Add the 5 in from the 4th quarter. 32 total, getting fouled on 3.

    Or let’s be more in-dept. John’s numbers show 34 2-point attempts inside 13 feet in the first 3 quarters.. Add another 5 from the 4th, we get 39 total on 83 shots – 47%. John notes that as “a team, Boston took 30 of 68 tries in Game 2 from midrange.” They also had 14 3-point attempts. So 44 of their 68 shots were beyond 13-feet… Or 24 of 68 were within. 35%.

    Hollinger’s just trying to fit the national narrative of “too many jump shots,” which simply isn’t true. All the more shameful given his reputation as a stats guru.

  69. Bingo T. Klown June 10, 2008 at 9:17 am

    BB – Good article and you are probably right on the general basis that it is the american way to find loopholes…that’s one thing that keeps the rich rich.

    We always fete the successful for a job well done and any attempt to undermine their success is seen as sour grapes. At one time Enron was seen as a successful business model.

    The Lakers have no doubt been on the other end of “whiney fans” and I can see where Celtics fans are coming from to a degree. We have most likely benefited in the past from some questionable calls – though i won’t go as far as to say I have seen anything as bad as Game 2 (not even Utah who are a foul prone team as opposed to the Lakers).

    That said I think you are stating a valid observation. It is like an accountant giving you ways to avoid paying taxes, ways to avoid foul calls while possibly committing a foul.

    And with that said, I wish we could all leave it alone – the game is over, I hated the officiating but it doesn’t change a thing at this point. Boston won and the Lakers lost.

    And to all the conspiracy theorists out there – GIVE IT A REST! This is basketball not politics, big business or government. Yes there is money to be made but not enough to justify such a charade or the possibility of a complete disbanding of the NBA.

    The Lakers need to adjust and win game 3. As a Laker fan I am hoping this happens.

  70. Lakers fans (and players and coaches) should really move on already. The Lakers played badly in Game 2 and they lost. John Hollinger (who picked the Lakers in six before the Finals began) nails it here:

    http://www.nysun.com/sports/lakers-cant-blame-referees-for-this-deficit/79658/

    Focus your energy on Game 3.

  71. I really liked this piece. Your explanation in post #50 just adds more to it for me. Great work Bill.

  72. 65 – From that article: “While L.A. settled for mid-range jumpers or threw up fadeaways in the paint, Powe was going full-bore toward the rim and forcing the Lakers to hack him to get a stop.”

    Argh. Argh argh argh argh argh. THIS ISN’T TRUE! Hollinger KNOWS this isn’t true! There’s ZERO evidence – LA and Boston had the SAME NUMBER OF 2-POINT JUMP SHOTS.

    Celtics fans aren’t the problem. They know better – the game was won because their team was able to hit 3s and score against a soft Lakers defense. The idiotic national media is the problem. They think the Lakers couldn’t score because they were shooting long 2s – NO. THIS IS NOT TRUE.

    Makes me so unbelievably annoyed – Hollinger has to know his numbers just don’t back up this assertion!!!

    “The refs didn’t make Jackson sit all his starters at the start of the second quarter and watch Boston go on a game-changing 10-0 run.” – Kobe and Lamar both had TWO FOULS.

    “The refs didn’t force Kobe Bryant to spend three quarters avoiding drives to the basket, much as he’d done for all of Game 1, before finally attacking for real once the Lakers were trailing by 24 points with eight minutes left.” – Pau and Odom spent all night in the paint. The comeback was fueled by 3s. More strawmen.

    “The refs didn’t force Lamar Odom into another hesitating, shaky performance that saw him benched during crunch time for a second straight game.” – ODOM. IN PAINT. REPLACED BY RADMAN. COMEBACK VIA THREES.

    “The refs didn’t allow Boston point guard Rajon Rondo to get wherever he wanted whenever the mood struck, allowing him to pick apart the Lakers with 16 assists — the second-most in NBA Finals history.” – This is true. THIS is the only fully valid assertion he makes in his bullet points.

    “The refs didn’t allow Powe to shoot 6-for-7 from the floor — more baskets than all but two Lakers made — in his 14-minute-39-second stint. And while Boston’s bench shone (shooting 11-of-16 as a group), L.A.’s vaunted second unit once again floundered.” – He shot 6-7 because a half-dozen of his shot attempts went uncounted as 2-shot fouls. Partially valid statement, because Powe had an awesome game and a lot of those fouls really were valid. But LA’s bench wasn’t terrible – Vujacic and Farmar combined for 17 points on 6-12 shooting, and Turiaf played okay. Luke struggled, but that’s 2 guys playing fine, one guy playing so/so and one struggling. That’s not FLOUNDERING, they simply look relatively weak against POWE’nd. Not their fault (well, little bit Turiaf, but he gets no run from Phil anyway).

    “The refs didn’t surrender to a team with two gimpy starters in Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins, or the ones who played so passively in the first two games that Pau Gasol could only offer, “I thought we were softer in Game 1,” as a defense for his team’s effort in Game 2.” – Pierce. Gimpy. Right. He looks awfully healthy to me – just ask Sasha (I’m not claiming he faked it – but the knee hasn’t hidered him one bit in this series, real or not). And I’ll eat my hat if Gasol’s quote wasn’t in response to a reporter asking him about the difference between 1 and 2, and Gasol’s response was trying to explain how getting 18 fewer foul shots in game 2 seemed unlikely to him given that he thought he played softer in game 1. Hooray for out of context.

    “And early in the fourth quarter, the refs didn’t allow Powe to start dribbling from his own foul line, go straight down the court without being met by a defender, and dunk the ball 60 feet later while three Lakers stood and watched — a play that’s a strong contender for the single-worst defensive “effort” I have ever seen.” – Gasol didn’t step up and take the charge because the Lakers were down by 20-plus at that point, and probably felt like the game was already over (thank goodness Kobe Bryant disagreed). Why were they down 20-plus? Hmm, sure the refs had nothing to do with that. Admittedly, this is a bit of a flimsy argument on my point, but the rest of his article is so laughably bad I refuse to give him ground here – he gets ONE point for Rondo and that’s IT.

  73. Hey, I got deleted. Oh well.

    I agree with Hollinger to a large extent, although not entirely, and he was right about Powe.

  74. The Dude Abides has been trying to post this and for some reason the spam filter has been catching it like ebola.
    —-
    Well, here’s The Blowtorch’s analysis of the inner thoughts of the players during the Powe coast to coast dunk. It definitely cheered me up. That was the single weakest play of the Lakers during this postseason…might as well have a laugh about it.

    http://theblowtorch.blogspot.com/2008/06/inner-thoughts-with-leon-powe.html

  75. Bill,
    You got featured on TrueHoop… Henry used it as an excellent springboard for a really good idea… OnLine DOCUMENTATION.
    Anyhow, good post… I can see why the opposition might not find it as poignently funny… but that’s to be expected…

  76. The key to Laker victory is simple: Physical Ball. I think we need to take a page out of the Celtic playbook of yesteryear and put some of our expendable bigs (Mihn, Mbenga) in the game when the Celts are ralying and have them commit some hard – but clean – fouls. I’m not talking about a Flagrant 2’s or expulsion fouls, but borderline flagrant 1’s. The Celts are walking all over this team and a message has to be sent.

  77. I guess the question is how much body contact should be allowed? Lakers don’t want their guys touched.

    Celtics have done a good job not blatantly fouling, They bump, grind, and push. I think Hollinger has great analysis.

    Look at Rondo taking it to the hole. He has no shot at dunking over Pau or Odom. He tries to do it anyway and by being aggressive he creates the contact. The lakers players feel the contact and then try to get away from it.

    Gasol had a couple of dunks, and then disappeared. He was aggressive on a couple of plays and look how successful he was. But, he just didn’t want to mix it up for 40 minutes.

    You can’t just become physical.

    When Celts fans and media people say the Lakers are soft, it doesn’t mean we are calling them a bunch of girls and other things.

    Lakers don’t like playing with contact. The Lakers remind me of a FIBA basketball team. They have shooters, great skill guys, and a high post center. It’s beautiful basketball, but the Celtics are so much stronger. They don’t allow easy cutting through the lane.

    If you had a weight lifting contest, who would be the top 5 power lifters? I find Boston just some much stronger. It’s a soft and skilled front line. What are you going to do?

    Anyhow, as I said in another thread, the key for Lakers is stopping Rondo. Shut him off, and make the Celtics struggle offensively. That, and get aggressive. It’s not just driving to the hoop, it is attacking the hoop.

  78. Underbruin (and everyone else), I can only share your frustration about the jumpshot issue.

    Everywhere I look discussing this, people look at the FT disparity and say “well, they should drive the paint more”.

    That’s what I was thinking at halftime, and then in the 3rd I saw LA come out and aggressively go to the rim, and get no calls.

    Then I look at the shot charts, and I see reality.

    But I still hear kneejerk statements like “they settled for jumpers”. This is rhetorical laziness, the worst kind of sports bar quasi-knowledge. This is exactly the kind of professional sports “accepted wisdom” that sites like TrueHoop and the new wave of stat-geek/Moneyball-inspired analysis is supposed to debunk.

    I mean, it’s so damn simple. Look at the shot charts. It just takes a single click for people to see they’re talking out of their ass.

  79. I linked over from celtics blog (life long bostonian). I will give props to a new take on things – its an interesting concept. Hoever to label it as cheating is inaccurate.

    Facts
    Each player has 6 fouls to use.
    Refs will miss some fouls (false negatives)
    Refs will call some by accident (false positives)
    Refs are inconsistent, and will intentially sit on a whistle. (ie a star with five will not get called for a ticky tack)

    A team is well within the bounds of regulations to use their fouls the way they deem optimal. Each player is allowed to keep fouling until they hit the limit.

    Every team is allowed to view video, and if they wanted to extrapolate data from that video into a massive database of possessions, play style and personel than they can do that to. Its legal. Its also an enormous manual effort. Further to get true value and increase the sample size to truly provide value you would need to enter data for all games in the league. Further you would need to correlate playing style among similar players. A massive AND legal project.

    As some have mentioned, good coaching is applying scouting (which the above is) to the game plan, on a team by team, series by series, season by season basis.

    Even if we accept that all that is mentioned has happened (no evidence) – how is that cheating? how is committing a foul and not being called for it cheating any different than commiting a foul and being called for it? The players don’t know they will not be called, and while there may show trends for any partiular style of foul to be a no-call, it is not a pure correlation.

    Fouling is part of the game. Ask Lambeer. Its up to the league to officiate better – we have been begging for it on C’s blog for a number of years already.

  80. This Little Pinky June 10, 2008 at 10:01 am

    You can see Allen do the hip check as Kobe drives. The Lakers staff should make a DVD and send it to the NBA.

  81. Well all i can say is that inconsistency in the refeeing didnt cost Dalllas the title neither did it cost Shawn Kemp and Charles Barkly alike the title against the Bulls. The Lakers didnt know hwo to play defense and then again they were acting clueless at times. Kobe inclusive. Now everyone is saying drive to the hole, shoot close to the rim. Bottom line is, if you cant defend! you can;t win here. Check out the Suns these past years. Nuff said.

    Peace

  82. This was a very well written piece. It was also a remarkable bit of fantasy.

    Every experienced professional athlete’s job includes determining what the officials call and don’t call. Pitchers and batters learn the strike zones of the umpires. Offensive linemen learn what is called as holding and what is not. Likewise basketball players learn soon enough what is considered a foul. If they don’t, they don’t stay in professional sports for long. Not only this, but they also lobby and cajole the officials – they have a sales and marketing campaign going over the course of their careers with the various officials in an effort to try to get their styles of play accepted. Look at the call of ‘balk’ in baseball. Is there anything more subjective? Pitchers hone their move over their career and sell that move to the umpires as legal and part of their pitching style.

    It is quite disingenuous to associate that with ‘cheating’. Coaches must assist players in their efforts to establish their play as legal in the eyes of the officials. It is part of their job. If TT is doing a good job at this, he should be recognized as a good coach.

    Part of the reason that it may appear that an experienced player gets calls that an inexperienced player does not get has to do with this process.

    In the end we have to recognize that sports are games played by people, and that their relationships between each other do, and SHOULD have an impact on the game.

  83. The third quarter says a lot about the Lakers mindset in Game 2. If you rewatch it, or just look at the game log, you’ll see that the Lakers got the Celtics in the penalty with almost EIGHT MINUTES left in the quarter. (How could this be? The Dark Lord apparently had taken a break from “gaming the system” in the first four minutes of the second half. Snatch.) What did the Lakers do for the rest of the quarter? They drove towards the hoop a few times, but mostly they shot contested jump shots and threw bad passes leading to turnovers. The very first play after the C’s were in the penalty was a contested Radman three (that missed). Kobe then drove to the hoop a couple of times, but then there was only one or two other times the rest of the quarter where he or any of the Lakers did so again. Otherwise, it was jump shot city.

  84. The main problem with the article is posting it after the debacle of Game 2. It makes points that need to be addressed but, some of the wrist grabs were pretty obvious. Three officials couldn’t see them?

    There is no way TT can coach players to foul so that three officials can’t see a wrist grab. The Farmar drive in the 2nd quarter is a case in point.

    In some ways this series reminds me of the Showtime Lakers vs. the Celtics – a finesse team being pushed around by a physical team. Why did Pat Riley always have to say, “no rebounds, no rings?” At a certain point you have to roll up your sleaves and COMPETE! Use your quickness to advantage. Fight.

    Enough is enough. Win or go home Lakers.

  85. I just hope that PJ has actually told his players by now that the game is being called like the 80´s somewhat and that they´ll have to get adjusted to that. I think this is why the Lakers have been struggling. They just have to adjust to the calls. No conspiracy or anything like that, so Celts fans please stop blaming us laker fans of being whiners or conspiracy theorists. if TB coaches like that, that´s fine. If they get away with it, fine. It´s just a shame because the Lakers are not schooled in that type of defense, but it´s no conspiracy. It´s just a legitimate style of defense. But one can´t disagree with the fact that non-calls frustrate the hell out of a team and can take their spirit away, like I think it did during the game. It was unbelievable to me how the Lakers were able to come back. I, as a fan, was demoralised already but for some reason I kept watching awful basketball and I was rewarded with a hilarious Radmanovic travel non-call. It cracked me up. But anyway, hopefully the lakers will adjust to the tough calls from now on.

  86. I’d rather not start a ‘who can screw up the other team the most’ war with the Celtics. For one, PJ Brown is almost as dirty as Robert Horry and they’d definitely trade him for Kobe (I think it comes from being on the wrong side of 35). For two, KG would probably be able to knock out half of the Lakers on his own… Though Mbenga’s probably pretty tough.

    New plan – Pollard and Mihm face off in a duel of “big white guys that never get to play” to determine the true champion.

  87. 76, and others.

    I think the Celtics would love for the Lakers to try to emulate their style. It would mean the Lakers would abandon their strengths as a team, and to try to play a way that they are not familiar or comfortable with.

    The end result would be a very quick end to this series in the Celtic’s favor.

  88. This Little Pinky June 10, 2008 at 10:21 am

    The biggest gripe with the refs is the IMPACT of calling those two quick fouls on Kobe, sending him to the bench.

    Kobe’s plus/minus was +13 in Game 2.

    As you know, the Lakers lost by 6 points.

  89. It was a horribly called game. There is no getting around that. People can say, “The Lakers have benefited as much as anyone”, but that doesn’t change the fact that it shouldn’t be happening. It certainly shouldn’t be happening in the finals. I agree with Bill’s article and if you watch the game the Celtics appear more controlled until you see that swiping has been replaced with grappling and holding. It’s clever, but it is still fouling.

    As for conspiracy theories, I do think the finals have been kind of theatrical. Paul Pierce getting injured to return a minute later and torching the Lakers. The Lakers’ improbable comeback to “make things interesting”. Leon Powe playing probably his best game of the year during the game they just happen to be running a special on him. I hate stuff like that. I’m not a conspiracy nut, but let’s not forget that this is the most anticipated finals ever. I could totally see the league manufacturing a few storylines to keep the casual fans watching. When it looks suspicious, it just garners more attention from casual fans and higher ratings.

    It may all just be amazing coincidence, but I think the game has taken an amazing step down the last 5 years.

  90. Jeff from celticsBlog… can you please explain why you found this article disengenious??? I am on the buble about the article and would like to know more about your opinion.

    Explain in actual technical language… addressing the poitns made in the post rather then using summary statements.

  91. 88 – I agree with you that this is not the same level of basketball as in the past. Just consider the previous time these two teams met in the finals. Who on either team could have made those teams starting lineups? Kobe, and that is about it.

  92. I agree on many of the points made by underbruin. Boston is a team that give up a lot of FT. They have all year including the playoffs (and game 1). So are we supposed to believe that all of a sudden during game 2 they just never fouled the lakers on any of their shot attempts? It was a horribly officiated game, and to say that it wasn’t is disengenuous.
    But I don’t think thats why the Lakers lost. The Lakers played horrible defense for most of the game, that is why they lost.

  93. I just cringe at the possibility that now the Lakers will go home and take all 3 because of either one-sided officiating or a manufactured agenda. We’ll see what happens, but I have a feeling that the Lakers will win all three and the national media will be on about how they stepped up their game and now we “have a series on our hands”. Give me a break and just let them play basketball. It’s a beautiful sport with some of the greatest athletes on Earth. The last thing it needs is a big pile of BS on the side taking away from what should have been an amazing contest.

    I think the Celtics very well could have won game 2 if it had been evenly officiated. I think it cheats C’s fans as much as it does us.

  94. otbricki – I don’t know about that. Kobe, sure, but KG and Pierce likely would have had shots at a starting gig at the very least – Garnett potentially over an aging Parish, and Pierce would have given Ainge a run for his money, I think. As for non-Kobe Lakers, you’re forgetting that AC Green was a starter in ’87. I’d rather have Lamar for that season (Green’s first full one, and one in which he really wasn’t super-productive).

    Though you’re certainly right that the level of play is lower, given how difficult it is just to find 2 or 3 other players that might have gotten a chance to crack the starting line-ups, out of 9.

  95. If the officials haven’t been calling KG for illegal screens all season how are they going to be able to justify calling it in the Finals?

    You saw how angry Doc Rivers was when KG was called for the moving screen in the 1st quarter of game 2. Rivers was livid. Superstar big men without rings just don’t get called for an illegal screen in the NBA finals. At least they’re not supposed to.

    You can’t change the refs. What can you change? You can change the level of aggression from the Celtics. Make them angry. Make those arm tugs, wrist grabs, and hip checks more noticeable. An angry Celtic isn’t grabbing a wrist in the same way a calm Celtic would.

    GET UNDER THEIR SKIN.

  96. Trieu – incorrect. The play immediately following the 5th Boston foul was a dunk by Kobe. Then two wide-open jumpers off penetration. Then Radmanovic decided to clank a contested 3 – but his turnover was off a drive at the hoop, ill-advised though it was. Of the 8 possessions following that turnover, 4 were drives at the hoop. They resulted in a missed Farmar layup following some contact, an offensive foul on LA, and 2 turnovers following some contact (one of which was admittedly just a really bad pass by Vujacic). Still, the Lakers went right at the hoop from moment 1 after they got in the bonus (6 of their next 13 possessions were drives at the rim), but were rewarded with 0 foul shots.

    Again – people have selective memory. Shot charts and numbers don’t.

  97. we need sasha to get under ray´s and paul´s skins

  98. “But I don’t think thats why the Lakers lost. The Lakers played horrible defense for most of the game, that is why they lost.”

    It’s almost impossible to disconnect the Lakers defensive aggression from the way the officials were calling the game. When the refs call everything against the Lakers defense and very little against the Celtics defense it does make the Laker players roll back their intensity. Not only do they have to consider the ticky tack calls, but they also risk personal foul trouble.

    The Lakers still could have played better defense. A lot of rotations were missed, were slow, and were too late to make an impact. But a lot of other plays were awful Celtic shots that ended up slowing the tempo to their advantage. Shots that had little chance of falling were now two free throw attempts and little chance of a fast break.

  99. “It may all just be amazing coincidence, but I think the game has taken an amazing step down the last 5 years.”

    The points noted about the fan’s use of technology to see more of the same plays is an important one. With DVR a whole buch of fans are replaying questionable calls. Factor in Donaghy, Game 5 of the 2006 Finals, and YouTube and the NBA(and other leagues) are staring at the perfect storm that likely creates the fourth official. That official will probably be a ref that watches a television screen to add a perspective to enforcing the rules that isn’t presently in place except at the end of the first and second half.

  100. I don’t think Bill Bridges is someone who started watching basketball a year ago but that read like the whinings of someone who did. Thosw tactics are used on all levels and by nearly every championship team. Comparing it to juicing or out and out cheating on any level is absurd. If you want to call it poor officiating then do so.

  101. Simply put, regardless of how the refs are calling the game, all that is requiered to be satisfactory is consistency.

  102. “Make those arm tugs, wrist grabs, and hip checks more noticeable.”

    You think the Celtics are arm tugging and wrist grabbing? I strongly suggest you watch some Rip Hamilton footage from the Eastern semis.

  103. Beautiful, beautiful! Game 3 hasn’t even started and already Celtic fan (and I’m-not-a-Celtic-fan Laker hater) are already on the defensive just like Laker fans were after games 1 and 2. The difference is we reacted to the games instead of already predicting what would happen in game 3. If that doesn’t confirm the on-point article by Mr. Bridges, I don’t know what does. If the Feltics were really playing good defense, there definitely would be more comments like the ones made during the Utah and SA series. Instead, we’re being implored to remember VladRad got away with a travel, hahahahahaha! That’s like saying a murderer had a terrible manicure instead of commenting on the corpses all around and bloody axe in his hand. Good stuff, I look forward to Stern’s next chapter, since he has to allow the Lakers to win too to ensure his long series… that is unless he’s only interested in ensuring a meltics series victory since their window with this team is so small. I wish I could somehow get my hands on that script, or does Stern just have it all memorized? Well, at least the farce of game 2 didn’t disillusion me or anything… die Stern.

  104. 95 – Good point. I felt that the Lakers fans were kind of cheated by the Fisher no call against San Antonio. L.A. was the victim of some bad calls that allowed Barry the opportunity to win/tie the game (ie the 24 clock not resetting), but even if they had called the last foul, the worst thing that would have happened was overtime. Instead, we had to listen to all kinds of conspiracy theories for days, despite the fact that nobody denied L.A.’s dominance in that game (don’t forget, they were playing on the road).

    The game 2 situation was very different, though, because it went on for an entire game. The ref’s really dictated the style of play for the Lakers, and that is different from missing a call here and there. Laker Pauer is right that the Celtics fans have been cheated, because we will never know who was the better team that night (the Lakers were more than holding their own before Kobe picked up his second foul). If the tables had been turned, L.A. would have run away with that game (and probably wouldn’t have given back 22 points in the fourth quarter).

    Finally, it is the height of irony when Celtics fans come here and talk trash about our whining. If you look up “whiny fan” in the dictionary, you will see a drunk dude in a Bird jersey with a backwards Sox cap. The entire sports culture in Boston is built around complaining–even when their teams are doing great. It’s part of the fun and Bostoners are known for their extreme loyalty, but with that type of fan culture comes a responsibility not to be a hypocrite when you are the beneficiary of suspicious officiating. If the tables were turned, we would never hear the end of it.

  105. Underbruin — No, you are wrong. The fourth foul occurs at 7:33 (foul by Rondo on Kobe). After the fourth foul, the Lakers were in the penalty. The next play is Radman shooting a bad three. Also, the Lakers WERE awarded FTs, when Kobe made one of the Lakers few forays to the rim that quarter. And as you yourself pointed out, the MAJORITY of plays were NOT at the rim, even though the C’s were in the penalty very early. I do not have a selective memory, you do.

  106. I wasn’t deleted–was confused on which thread was which.

    77–

    Yes and no. Gasol cannot turn into Leon Powe, but he can play more aggressively if he chooses to. The Lakers need to do some of that tonight.

  107. “I strongly suggest you watch some Rip Hamilton footage from the Eastern semis.”

    Please. Even the referees know about Rip Hamilton’s games. The supporting evidence is his perennial top 5 appearance in the number of technical fouls awarded in the regular season.

  108. The Celtics took 2,176 free throws this year. Celtic’s opponents took 2,160.

    In 82 games, Celtic’s opponents took 16 fewer attempts, That’s right, just 16 fewer attempts in an 82 game season.

    If TT did come up with some sort of complicated system of “illusory” fouling during training camp, I’d be hard pressed to believe it actually worked.

  109. 105. You may be correct, I know the Lakers played horribly after they got the lead to 9. THey had a bad shot (vlad) and a turnover (vlad) immediately afterwards. And they might not have attacked the rim after that in the 3rd quarter. But one quarter (or half a quarter) does not make an entire game. The lakers were aggressive in the first half attacking the rim, they just were not getting any calls. On the other end of the court, Boston was attacking, and the Lakers were not able to keep any one in front of them so they resorted to reaching in. But the difference was that Boston was getting all the calls. The officiating was horrendous in that game there is no way around that fact.

  110. Whats so hard to believe about market manipulation? The NBA corporation literally has BILLIONS of dollars in TV, merchandise, and ticket sales riding on this series! So its not impossible to think that a corporation such as the NBA would act in its own best interests for the benefit of the corporation! There are countless instances of publicly traded companies doing the same thing. The refs are basically the NBA’s military arm when it comes to important games with high ratings in ensuring that the games are played out in dramatic fashion, but when coruption sets in (see Donaghy) its hinders the NBA’s ability to do this! The NBA corporation doesn’t want even the remote possibility of being investigated on the integrity of the game because if people found out otherwise they would be finished! That is why I believe anyone who complains about the refs publicly gets a fine (which by the way violates our constitution) because the NBA knows that the complaints eventually leads to audits and investigations and that …they simply just can’t afford to have!

  111. Underbruin — By the way, it’s funny that you thought a team goes in the penalty after the FIFTH foul, when it’s after the FOURTH foul. Maybe you should learn the rules of the game before spouting on about it and telling others that they are wrong. That your analysis is based on such a fundamental misunderstanding of the game tells me everything I need to know about your “analysis.”

    And again, it’s strange to me how the Celtics ever get in the penalty, given the Dark Lord’s powers. I gotta’ make sure to talk to him about that.

  112. Bill Bridges,
    By the time I got down to your response I was tired and scanned through the rest of the comments, but I want to comment on what you said in your reply.

    Our society is fairly radically different from what it was in the 80’s. With 24hr new cycles on tv to maintain and the internet to compete with, no one has the time or luxury of being completely factual or fair. What fair means today is something completely different from what you were talking about. Golf is a modern day aberration with only the personality and presence of Tiger Woods to keep it from sinking from our consciousness. Golf is our gentleman sport for our amusement, not our passion. For our passion we feel that whatever gets us to our goal – and keeps us out of jail – is good. We don’t need sports to tell us this; just look at our government or business practices.

    Time and time again we have seen people get as close to the legal line as possible to get where they want to go. This is true even if they don’t really need to go there (Patriots). We give all kinds of excuses (money being the most frequently mentioned) for our behavior, but we do it all the same.

    Yes, I am tired and cynical – who wouldn’t be. However, the only way to change this is for each of us to define our own set of ethics and then try to live by them. I think both you and I try to do this. Hopefully, people will see the cesspool awaiting them and follow suit. If the people change the teams will follow.

  113. The officiating played a factor in Game 2. But that doesn’t mean much. Officiating always plays a factor. A visiting team must expect the home squad to get the calls. To not do so is insanity.

    The Lakers lost Game 2 because the only players who showed any fire were Kobe and Fish. That has to change before LA has any success. They lost Game 2 because they stopped running the Pau-and-roll, and the triangle too for that matter. Special note: whenever you see the Lakers running iso after iso on offense they are going to lose that game. They lost because they gave up on defense as not one, but two Lakers waved the matador flag for Powe as he went coast to coast in supposed garbage time. Those two points became huge at the end of the game.

    For the record, I am a Lakers fan and infrequent contributor to this site. I want them to win. But can anyone seriously have watched the Lakers play Game 2 and think they deserved to win it? The refs might have cost them a “steal” in Boston. But they didn’t cost them a “win”.

  114. The Dude Abides June 10, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Referees for tonight’s game are Joey Crawford, Bennett Salvatore, and Mark Wunderlich.

  115. I politely plea that we end the talk of “conspiracy.” It is at best, a slightly ridiculous idea, and serves only to detract from BB’s post as well as other intelligable comments.

    As for the lack of disparity during the regular season, there are several explanations that could, together, be plausible.

    -Celtics grabbed even more and more fouls were called.
    -Referees were more liberal in blowing the whistle in the regular season.
    -Home Court Advantage
    -More time to prepare
    -More focused planning
    -Stylistically differenr
    -Different rotations / minute rationing.
    -Different levels of intensity

  116. The Dude Abides June 10, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Normally I’d post a link to the referee assignments, but whenever I do, my posts get caught up in the spam filter. Just go to nba.com and find the menu bar at the top. In one of the tabs near the right-center, it has referee assignments when you scroll down.

  117. For those of you thinking “conspiracy” or “fix”, you need to consider that the same “logic” could be applied to the Lakers getting to the finals.

  118. “Just Because You Didn’t See The Ninja Doesn’t Mean The Dagger Isn’t In Your Belly.”
    Great Quote. I Strongly Agree With The Illusionary Defense, however, I believe that Jackson could do with some more Veterans on his team like Doc. Lakers Aren;t Young, But They’re Young.

  119. Those grapes sure are sour.

  120. I saw something very interesting on espn.com’s most recent Daily Dime. In the #4 box, it showed a few clips of Kobe from Game 2. Two of the five were good defense (one a miss and the other a lay-up) and the rest were clips of Kobe being blatantly fouled while, obviously, none were called.

    Clip #1 – Great defense by Perkins to contest a Kobe jumper (that missed). KG rotated to prevent a lay-up and help on defense. [Good defense, miss by Kobe]

    Clip #2 – Kobe drives the lane and is subsequently bumped by Ray Allen’s hip (Hip check? Definitely not a “natural” movement) and shoots a tough, hanging contested shot (and makes it). [FOUL]

    Clip #3 – Kobe attacks off of a Pick-and-Roll with Pau right into the teeth of the defense. Ray Allen was deterred by the screen and Kobe spins pass Perkins for a lay-up. *Note: The Celtics didn’t even bother to switch on the P&R, Gasol would have been wide open for a mid-range. [Good defense, lay-up by Kobe]

    Clip #4 – Kobe drives past Paul Pierce down the middle of the lane. Pierce, being behind, grabs Kobe’s right wrist and Kobe has to lay it up with the left hand over two defenders. *Note: When they paused the clip to highlight Pierce’s foul, a referee seen at the bottom of the screen is clearly looking -directly- at the play. [FOUL]

    Clip #5 – As Paul Pierce is boxing out Gasol for a rebound, he uses his left hand to grab Kobe’s jersey (on the chest) blatantly. Once again, the referee was staring -directly- at it. [FOUL]

    I’ve always tried to look at every Lakers win/loss objectively. However, the clear disregard by the refs of the Celtics foul has me puzzled, because I’ve never been one for conspiracies. This series, though, I have no doubt in my mind the series is “fixed,” not by a lone player or referee betting on the game, but on a greater scheme, namely Stern. Say what you will, but the fouls were blatant and -seen-, just ignored.

  121. As Kurt always says, “If you lose by more than 10, it wasn’t because of the officials.” I agree.

    Lakers lost by 6 while outscoring the Celtics in the categories of: paint, perimeter, and 3’s. The clear advantage that the Celtics used to win was freethrows. Outscored by 18 on freethrows, not due to misses or great percentage by the other team, but by the limited chances to even go there.

    As tired people are of hearing “conspiracies” and “fix,” I’m just as tired of hearing people dismissing it as “ridiculous.” Seems as if people are either on the “conspiracy” side or on the “Lakers played bad” side, but you know what? I’ve never agreed with a single conspiracy regarding the NBA and I watched the game and replays objectively, and it seems like bullsh*t is the only conclusion I can extract from why these fouls were so lob-sided and inconsistent.

  122. 120- Yeah, I agree.

    For anyone who still is trying to justify the sanctity of that game here’s a hint: if you didn’t immediately know what you were seeing by the 4th or 5th insanely awful call, you don’t know what you’re watching.

    So please don’t write about what you thought you saw. Or do. And know that David Stern loves you. I give up.

  123. Celtics fan here so dismiss it at will if you like.

    I will say there were some bad calls favoring the Celtics and that affected the game – more on that in a minute. But hear me out first.

    That was not the most statistically lopsided officiating in a big playoff game. The difference in foul calls was only 27-21. The free throw differential was largely a result of your team refusing or being unable to get to the rim. Your team was called for more fouls because they were repeatedly out of position on defense. The Powe coast to coast dunk was just the most obvious example of a trend that characterized the Lakers’ performance through most of the game. The Lakers kept hacking Leon Powe because they were not paying any attention to him whatsoever and tried to recover late by fouling. He was shooting when those fouls took place.

    On the other end, the Lakers were not taking it to the basket, which is how you get to the line. That’s not the fault of the officials or the Celtics (though Boston’s defense certainly deserves some credit for that). That’s the fault of your team playing mentally weak.

    I will fully admit Kobe should have gone to the line a few more times (at least 2-3 more trips), and there was a stretch in the second quarter where I felt like we were on the receiving end of what Bennett Salvatore tried to do to the Celtics in Game 6 against Detroit. Difference was, we overcame in that Game 6, and Paul Pierce carried us to a win in enemy territory. A good team can overcome a horrendous stretch of officiating. Your team, and your star, didn’t do that.

    And don’t be fooled by the 6 point difference in the end – the difference between those teams was substantial. The Lakers started scoring in the 4th when the Celtics defense let down after taking a 24 point lead but made no noise for most of the second, the entire third, or beginning of the fourth, when the game was called evenly or in the Lakers’ favor. Had the Celtics continued playing to win, and not just to ride out the rest of the game, the point differential would have been closer to 30 than to 10.

    I live in SoCal and even one of your local stations, ESPN 710, called it a “108-102 blowout.” Your boy JA Adande pointed out you guys got “extended make-up calls throughout the second half” (terrible foul calls against Rondo and Allen, Odom pushing Brown out of bounds with no call, Radmanovic pulling a Duncan and running 5-6 steps without a dribble), but allowed themselves to be mentally beaten by admittedly poor officiating. Again, that’s the Lakers’ fault.

    To me, the officiating didn’t decide the game, the players did, but I am not so naive as to think the officiating didn’t affect the game. As a sports fan above all, I HATE that officiating had any sort of affect on the outcome of an important game, it’s not fair to the players and fans who invest in the games. And it just makes me know that a snow job is coming the Celtics way in LA (I believe they’ve already announced Bennett Salvatore as a Game 3 official). I think we’d all agree it would be much better to have no doubt the game is decided on the court. Every time the officials give one quarter to the Celtics and one to the Lakers, it robs us of more chances to see a phenomenal series between two great teams – the best offensive team in the NBA and the best defensive team in the NBA.

    As a Celtics fan, I’d rather have all good Lakers fans (and I’ve been to games in LA, you guys have a lot of excellent fans) admit the Celtics beat the Lakers soundly. The Celtics were, officiating or not, the better team in Game 1 and Game 2. The Lakers coasted so easily through the playoffs they didn’t expect resistance from the Celtics. Problem was, while the Celtics didn’t look as good during it, their playoff run prepared them much much better for the Finals than the Lakers’ run did.

    Now, it will come down to the Lakers’ ability to react. I’ve seen a lot of this team, and know that they have weaknesses but are an excellent team. Nobody else who the Lakers faced in the playoffs exploited those weaknesses (inside play, defense, rebounding, the tendency for Kobe to veer from the game plan when things get tough) the way the Celtics can. Phil has his chance to prove his pedigree by countermoving and exploiting the Celtics’ weaknesses (turnovers, schizophrenic bench performances, KG’s tendency to settle for midrange shots instead of taking it to the hole).

    These are two great teams, I think we fairly and squarely won two, most of you obviously disagree, which is a shame. But I would love to see how you all reacted to 2002 Game 6, which was so bad that numerous impartial national columnists pointed out the preposterousness of the calls in the fourth quarter of a game that should have ended the series for the Kings, and even Ralph Nader, with no stake in the matter, felt prompted to write the NBA about it.

    Remember, there was no such outcry nationally by impartial fans over this one – all the outcry is from LA fans – because the game was not stolen by officials; it was won by the Celtics and lost by the Lakers.

  124. Don’t get me wrong. I think the Lakers have some legitimate beef with the officiating in game 2. However, given that in the playoffs the Celtics are averaging fewer FTA than their Opponents (26.1 vs 28.8), I find it hard to believe that they are “cheating”. Game 2 was poorly officiated and it mostly benefited the Celtics (there were some terrible calls that went the Lakers way too). That happens in the NBA. There is no cheating or conspiracy going on. It’s just a function of how awful NBA refs are. Sometimes you wonder what game they are watching. It happens to every team all year long. It’s not the Celtics fault. I expect that there will be a game this series where the officiating favors the Lakers.

    For example, I didn’t watch these games, but the Lakers had 43 FTA to Utah’s 16 in Game 2. In game 3 of that series, the tables turned and Utah had 45 FTA to the Lakers 25.

  125. 98 – Let’s get real her. While the Celts shot a lot more free throws, the foul disparity was nowhere near as large as the FT disparity. Boston was called 21 times, the Lakers 28 times.

    The officials were NOT calling ‘everything against the Laker defense, and nothing against the Celtics defense’.

    This BB article was actually quite offensive if you are a Celtics fan. Not only did it imply that TT, one of the most capable coaches in the league brings nothing to his job but the ability to teach how to foul without getting caught, but it also gives no credit to the capabilities of KG, the NBA defensive player of the year for his contributions toward improving the Celtics defense. And then it tries to ties in the Celtics injury report into what is the joke of the NFL – it’s injury reporting system.

    I don’t see how any rational basketball fan can take it seriously. It is just a hatchet job pandering to Laker fans upset at the Celtics getting the calls falling their way in Game 2 of the NBA finals.

    It is kind of sickening to see all of the people on this blog buying into that baloney.

  126. 121 – if the Celtics don’t stop playing because of a 24 point lead with 7:40 left, it’s much more than a 10 point win, and the Lakers don’t end with those advantages you’re touting. If you didn’t watch your team’s horrendous offensive and defensive performance, you were not watching the game impartially.

    If you want to say the early calls in the Celtics’ favor (and I admit there was a strong stretch) made the Lakers quit mentally, I will accept that and have no disagreement with you saying the refs decided it. I won’t agree, but I won’t argue.

    But if you think the Lakers outplayed the Celtics and had it stolen by officials, you’re not holding your team accountable for their performance or lack thereof.

  127. 121 – The Lakers were essentially blown out in this game. Yes the final score differential was 6, but that was ONLY because the Celtics stopped playing 4 minutes into the forth quarter. If there were a more disciplined team the score would have ended up Boston +25. There is no evdence whatsoever that a few free throws would have altered the outcome.

    So not fall into the fallacy of the predetermined outcome.

  128. 89 – I totally understand suspicion of the timing. But you should be aware that Powe has been an important bench player for us this year, even in the playoffs – see Game 2 v. a Cleveland interior defense much better than the Lakers’ D. And honestly, the Lakers just didn’t defend Powe (I’d probably focus less on him and more on known quantities, too) and got caught with fouls trying to recover. Regardless of skill level, you cannot let a man be wide open within 3 feet of the basket. If Turiaf kills us the same way tonight, I will say the same thing about the Celtics. The calls seemed pretty legit.

    And even if the officials wanted to let him have a few points at the half when they ran his special, explaining some of the first half calls, I will reiterate, it was the Lakers defense that let him complete three enormous dunks late in the third and early in the fourth, including an inexcusable coast to coast dunk. If there was a conspiracy, then your own team’s defense must have been in on it. And at that point, ABC had no interest in promoting him.

  129. I fail to see how the NFL injury report comparisons are invalid. Seriously, not even an MRI?

  130. Game 3 post is up

  131. And back to the original blog. Pierce was not a defensive sieve before this year. Especially early in his career, he was an outstanding defensive player. I’m not saying he was Kobe, but he was more than capable. It went downhill when he was his team’s only offensive weapon for about 5 straight years. This year, with the offensive help and new defensive focus of the entire team, he has again stepped up his defensive intensity tremendously. Plus, three of our starting 5 – Rondo, who should have been First Team All-Defense, DPOY KG and Perk – bring much more defense than offense to the table, and a 4th – Pierce- is a high quality defender, as is our 6th Man, James Posey. Our backup big man, PJ Brown, plays strong, smart, veteran defense, and Powe plays very good man defense (although his playing time is limited mostly because he is a subpar team defender). It’s an entire team mentality and a team that was built and put together with that focus in mind. Not too surprising since we are the team whose success was built on the defensive prowess of Bill Russell.

    The defensive improvement was the result of a coach bringing in good schemes and a new leader making accountability on that end a priority. To call it cheating is an absolute insult, especially coming from a team that has actually won at least one title (I still think Game 7 of the 2000 WCF v. Portland reeked of one-sided officiating, but I’ll focus solely on the one game/series, along with Mavs/Heat, that all impartial fans agree was an officiating snow job – Game 6 in 2002 v. Sacramento) as a result of one-sided calls by officials.

  132. 128 –

    Read this article, written by the ESPN sports injury expert.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs2008/news/story?id=3429080

    Now tell me why an MRI is needed. The fact is sports trainers can tell a whole lot about what is injured and what isn’t by the symptoms of the injury.

  133. Mark Z- and why would you supect that if you didn’t believe that the officials were manipulating the games? To say that the officiating would be favorable to the Lakers for game 3 Is just admitting to the fact of the horrible lop-sided officiating in game 2. WE ALL KNOW HOW THE GAME WILL BE CALLED TONIGHT! And thats what makes us sick! It’s gotten to the point where money has distorted everything and I mean EVERYTHING! From the athletes desire, hunger, and passion for the game to the leagues choosing who gets the calls and who don’t to the overall sanctity and purity of the game. NOW YOU REALIZE WHY PEOPLE PREFER WATCHING COLLEGE OVER THE PROS! The money hasn’t taken over the college game yet (although its coming dangerously close) This series in my opinion is set up to be a 2-3 yr rivalry down the road with the Celtics winning the 1st one, followed by the Lakers next year with Bynum. I’m so disgusted with game 2 and it’s clear to me what this is all about. Some of you will continue to be naive and think that the NBA is not a business of entertainment and thats ok. Sometimes it’s better to be blissfully ignorant than to know the pains of the truth (see WWF)

  134. “121 – The Lakers were essentially blown out in this game. Yes the final score differential was 6, but that was ONLY because the Celtics stopped playing 4 minutes into the forth quarter.”

    No offense, but everything that happens is the result of both teams’ performance or lack thereof. Emotional fans tend to interpret what goes wrong based “only” on what their guys are doing, and to ignore the other team.

    As I said, there are certain things the Lakers need to do to get back in this series. But I added “if they can” because the Celtics will have plenty to say about that as well.

    The Lakers made some changes and hit some 3s, and the underlying reality is that while the Celtics have been the better team, they are not 20 points better than the Lakers. Hence the comeback.

    Again, I see the frustration–Celtic fans may feel like the Laker fans are not owning the losses–but also again, this is a Laker board.

  135. 129 – All of us Celtics fans are waiting to see what the postseason MRI reads. My guess is Pierce knows this might be his one chance at a title, why sit it out for a surgery that would take a few weeks to rehabilitate and end his first and potentially only Finals appearance? Maybe he’s like one of those old men who thinks you only get sick if you go in a hospital. What you don’t know won’t hurt you?

    Remember, this Inglewood kid was stabbed eleven times in the face, back and neck in late September 2000, and went on to play all 82 games that year, averaging 38 minutes, 25.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals (yeah, defensive sieve). Next time you want to talk about how weak he is and how he must not be hurt because he’s playing and playing well, think about that fact and realize, maybe he’s just playing hurt and effective.

    But if the roles were reversed, I would totally be ripping on Kobe right now, so go ahead with that. I just think turning it into a conspiracy theory is absurd. If you think your team would be affected by such a ridiculous ploy, it just shows a complete lack of faith in your team’s focus and mental toughness.

  136. 128 – Exactly. No MRI for a player like Paul Pierce on a team like Boston in the FINALS? Are you kidding me?

  137. 135 – No matter what, you do all you can to know the extent of the damage. Either Boston management is increeeedibly stupid by not performing the MRI, or they know there is nothing wrong. Pretty sure they’re not stupid.

  138. 133 – I agree with some of the things you are saying,

    but the point is that in a closer game I think it is very unlikely the Lakers would have scored 41 points in a quarter. The circumstances are dependent on BOTH teams play, not just the Lakers.

  139. 134 – You’re right. Sorry to impose. I have personally loved seeing opposing fans visit our site. As you all well know, based on the amount of us living in Southern Cali, Boston fans can be really overbearing and difficult to deal with, so I prefer getting away from that every once in a while and just talking hoops with good fans, regardless of affiliation.

    To show I’m a good sport, I will say a few things in support of your team:

    1) I think Pau Gasol can really go off if the Lakers consistently feed him the ball. He impressed me a lot at the beginning of Game 2 and I’m curious to know why he turned into a non-factor the remainder of the series.

    2) Ball movement is the way to get inside our defense and the Lakers have the best ball movement in the NBA. We simply stop penetration which is why Kobe’s current strategy isn’t working. When Lebron switched it up in Game 3, the Cavs, an inferior team to the Lakers, beat up on us. If the Lakers do something similar, you guys can put us on our heels and make up that free throw differential.

    3) I expected Odom’s inconsistency based on history, but I expect him to show up tonight.

    4) Rondo’s shakier on the road than at home.

    5) I expect your shooters to blow up at least once at home. If and when that happens, the Lakers can blow out the Celtics at least once.

    6) In the original blog, you’re probably right about the Celtics making it a strategy to commit more hidden fouls. Sometimes we get called on it, sometimes we don’t. With our nemesis Bennett Salvatore in uniform tonight, I think this will be a game where we get called on it.

    Unlike many Celtics fans, I objectively see this as a very even matchup. I said before, even if the Celtics win in 4 or the Lakers roll off 4 straight, I expect them to be good, competitive games for the most part. We have exploited your weaknesses for two games, but you have just as much ability and firepower to exploit our weaknesses, especially at home. While I hope you don’t do that, I do hope all of you Lakers fans, like me, enjoy the ride. And I think we can all agree we do not want the officials deciding the series, whether it’s for our team or against it. May the best team win. Hopefully it’s mine but if it’s yours, my hat will be off to you.

  140. 133 – The refs certainly do have an effect on the game (call it manipulating if you like), but my point is that it affects all teams, positively and negatively, throughout the year. The reason is b/c refs are widely inconstant with what they call from game to game. If you look at the college game, I would be willing to bet that lopsided officiating happens just as often. Basketball is an incredibly difficult game to officiate and sometimes you feel like you are fighting an uphill battle the entire game (See Celtics in Game 6 of the ECF). I do not know how the game will be called tonight, but my guess is that the Lakers will get their breaks b/c they will make a concerted effort to score in the paint more often and force the issue on the officials. Playing at home helps, but I think what they learned from Game 2 will help them more.

  141. We appreciate the post Paintitgreen. Welcome and enjoy the healthy debate of FB&G. Darius has a great new post on tonight’s game here

  142. in any sport, leaving the outcome of a game/match in the hands of a ref is just asking for trouble. regardless of how good or bad the refs are, lakers just aren’t playing very hard (or smart). i hope the lakers are holding themselves more accountable than we are…

  143. My problem with the whole officiating issue can be totally summed up by this conversation. The Celtics fans have actually really acquitted themselves nicely for the record. With that said, we wouldn’t need to have this conversation if the game was properly officiated. The better team would have won as it was in game 1. I fully recognize that as a legitimate win for the guys in green. I honestly don’t know who won game 2. In the NBA finals, that is inexcusable. I want this series to be epic and hard fought like our rivalry used to be. I don’t want to hear whistles every two seconds on incidental contact and I certainly don’t want it to favor one team. If the Celts win, I’ll be pissed, but I’ll get over it. I just want a fair contest.

  144. Sorry, Boston fans. You may have ESPN and their general east-coast bias which spans all media, but you can’t have this space. You can comment all you want about how it’s not the reffing and that this series is on the up and up, but that indoctrination doesn’t work here like it does at your local pub. I’m a Laker fan, obviously, and I think the argument being made here is not even that the Lakers got jobbed, it’s that all the jobbing (regardless of who ends up benefitting) does not build up the NBA as a product. It turns it into muck and WWE style entertainment, where we KNOW what will happen, it’s just a matter of how. Bring up the past if you like, but keep it all in context: game 6 of the WCF in 02 was a farce, but so was game 5 in Sac when Webber played lead blocker for Bibby to free up for his shot. The NBA was ensuring that series went 7, and was forced to show their hand when Horry hit his big shot. We all use history and stats to make whatever point we want to conclude, but nothing can change the fact that the refs, not the celtics, are in control of this series, dictating tempo and aggressiveness. Now it’s just a matter of whether a long series is more important to Stern than guaranteeing a Celtic championship since this may be it for them, whereas the Lakers have a foreseeable future of contending.

  145. 143 – I’m right with you. I think what we both want as fans of our teams is for our teams to be recognized as the best (why we want that is a whole other topic…), and as fans of sport is for the best team to win. Hopefully it goes like that the rest of the series (I’ll look the other way if we get a quarter that feels to me like I’m sure the second felt to you the other night). When it comes down to it, there’s much more pressing things to talk about, it would be nice if officiating wasn’t an issue. It’s sad that it always seems to be in the NBA particularly.

  146. To all those citing the Jazz series as evidence of zlaker fans being inconsistent critics of the refs, think on this.

    The Jazz were called for more fouls precisley because of their physical play. Conversely, even though the Celtics play very physical defense there are’t calls?!?

    Aggressive offense generates fouls for your time. Physical defense should generate fouls against.

    It realy isn’t that difficult to figure out.

  147. 144 – Agree 100% with the muck/WWE/farce comments. And for all I remember you’re completely right about Game 5 in 02. I disagree on the refs being in control of this series and I get aggravated when people call opinion fact as you did (it is my opinion the Celtics are outplaying the Lakers – that is not fact). But there’s no point in arguing; it’s your opinion and unlike many occasions, I cannot dismiss it off hand since you do have some support. We shouldn’t even have to talk or debate about it. I also wonder whether you bring it up when the Lakers get a string of bad calls thrown their way.

    We all agree the officiating as a whole sucks.

  148. 146-

    You forgot one thing. GOOD defense prevents the other team from scoring without fouling.

  149. the tears in this thread are delicious.

    my only hope is that your coach and players bought into the ridiculous excuses la fans have been making the last 2 games. if they did, i’d say celtics in 4.

    since they don’t, and probley are working to correct thier horrid defense and rebounding, i’ll say celtics in 6.

    good luck tonight, be pleasently shocked if you guys don’t win this one.

  150. The comments re Lakers fans are justified in whining about free-throw disparity while Jazz fans are not crack me up. I thought for sure Lakers fans would be able to see the irony, but I guess I overestimated them.

  151. I think the refs abused the Jazz a little bit, but the Jazz also foul more than any team in the league which makes it impossible to compare them to the Lakers who do not. Also, about 8-10 FT were coming at the ends of those games when the Jazz wouldn’t just allow the ball to be dribbled out.

  152. to 148) The Celtics play GREAT defense, not just good defense. But it is still physical. The point is that the Jazz series really doesn’t seem to be that good of a comparison.

    The Knicks played excelent defense as well. But they still fouled.

  153. 147. Yes, you’re right that the refs being in control of this series is my opinion. That will never be proven since doing so would finally out the refs and the whole charade. Still, even you guys are fairly certain the Lakers’ll pull a win out tonight… how can that be if your team was playing SO well? The easy answer is to say that the Lakers are a good team too and will bounce back, but that just reminds me of the WCF against SA when I was fairly certain the Spurs would win game 3. It wasn’t because they were a good team and I expected them to rebound, it was that underlying knowledge that the calls would swing their way once they got home. This so-called home court disgusts me even when it favors my beloved Lakers, only because I believe they can be successful without it. But this series is not being played in a vaccuum, so outside factors play in heavily, unfortunately. It cheapens the game on the whole, and I had the same nauseous feelings after game 6 of the WCF in 02 just like I do now. It definitely sucks less when your team comes out on top, but it still makes me puke that the NBA feels it needs this to be popular and marketable. Barf.

  154. My opinion is that bad officiating is just a part of basketball. You see it happen at every level. There are always going to be controversial games throughout the playoffs. Sometimes you have to fight the officials to get a win. Sometimes they get the best of you. It’s part of the game.

    The frustration on the part of Lakers fans is warranted, but this post calling the Celtics a bunch of cheaters in light of the bad calls in game 2 is completely over the top. ESPECIALLY when the Lakers clearly benefited from dubious officiating in the WCF. The Celtics have won 80 games this year (so far) and deserve more respect than most people here (esp. the author of the post) are giving them. Blaming the officials is a tired hat. Both sides will have legitimate complaints when it is all said and done. Championship teams prevail. Whether that is the Lakers or the Celtics this year remains to be seen.

  155. The difference Mark Z, is that, while I agree that it was an awful call in game 5, it was one call. The entire last game was bogus. I include the Laker comeback in that too. The Lakers got a bunch of BS calls late in the game. I think the officiating needs to get better and hopefully all the attention this game got will force something of an overhaul. They need to implement something to keep the game honest and indisputable. There’s a poll on nbc.com that has 57% of people thinking the NBA is rigged. That’s a huge problem for the sport in general regardless of whether it is true or not.

    I think game 2 is even more damaging because of the enormous stage it is on. This is for all the marbles and the officiating needs to be accurate here. Donaghy was a huge deal and things like this just feed the fire. Even the Celtics and Lakers making it to the finals is a pretty suspicious turn of events for people on the outside.

  156. Here is one Laker fan who will admit what he was thinking during the Lakers-Jazz game so many people are citing:

    “Wow, they are really calling every little slap and bump by Jazz players, if Sloan goes haywire on the refs soon, I wouldn’t blame him. As a Laker fan I’ll take those free throws, but it makes me feel a little guilty inside knowing many of those fouls were incredibly weak”

  157. You can always rely on Laker fans to be watching a different game than you are. I saw maybe 4 or 5 problematic calls the whole game, which is par for the course in an NBA game, although that 2nd one on Kobe early is probably what set the paranoid gears turning in your heads. Anyways, I just wanted to congratulate you on finding a way to whine about the missed call on Derek Fisher in a post whining about the missed calls on Celtics. You’ve clearly learned from the Spin Master, Phil Jackson. Funny that the Celtics have run this same defense all season and all post-season, and his vision has been the first to grasp its “illusory” nature.

  158. 4 or 5? you’re kidding- http://youtube.com/watch?v=IUtf6-avo2c

    The Celtics are playing great and I won’t take that away from them, but the last game was a joke. I’m freely willing to admit that the Lakers have been given games as well. LA/SAC game 6 in 2002 is a perfect example.

    That kind of crap hurts the game for everyone. It sucks that C’s fans have to come in here and defend their victory. It shouldn’t be up for debate. Unfortunately, it is and you have the refs to blame.

  159. It has to be pretty darn unnerving when all the pundits pick your team to roll through the opponent and then BAM, you find out that these guys are for real. Next thing you know you are down two and making excuses out of whole cloth. Your about to play your first home game and the gnawing anxiety that if we lose this one, something surely has to be out of whack in the cosmos must be at play here. Don’t for one minute attribute the sucess of the other team to hard work and desire. Yep it must be cheating. First the officials and now the coaching. Pathetic.

  160. 153 – I have been a bit upset about the fact that a lot of fans on our blogs are chalking Game 3 up as a loss because of the Salvatore-Crawford-Wunderlich assignment (particularly Salvatore). The thing is, I expect something similar to Game 2. I thought there was one overwhelmingly bad stretch of officiating in the second quarter, which can be attributed to incompetence, corruption, conspiracy or home cooking. Whatever the reason, I expect one for the Lakers tonight. But if it happens, the Celtics need to show mental strength, like they did in Game 6 v. Detroit, and play through it. Hopefully (for me), they pull through and win.

    I agree with you and Laker Pauer (and probably others), it really sucks that we have to defend the last win, you have to respond to comments about the Barry call and past championships, and we all expect officials to make up for any bad calls against the Lakers in Game 2 by making bad calls against the Celtics tonight. We all want the same thing – consistency, and for the NBA to stop treating us like we’ll only watch if the series/game is kept close. We want to see the two best teams play. And that doesn’t happen nearly enough in any NBA series. Whether it evens out or not, it sucks.

  161. Laker Pauer I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  162. Anyone notice that Perkins thinks he has never committed a foul in his life.

  163. I really do love watching odom play, being a Laker. But I just don’t know if he is that impact player – every night – type. That was Pippen, is Marion..And I honestly have a feeling like Artest would be motivated by playing in LA; alongside Kobe, Fisher, Gasol, and Bynum – they make one expectional lineup. Then Farmar, Machine, Luke, Vlade, Turiaf, and Rahim coming off the bench. Still a strong bench – this 2nd unit we currently have, but one would perhaps have to go if we wanted this deal. Draft Pick is always an option.

    Or if we had to, maybe they’d be crazy enough to take on Vlade – he’d be balling in Sac haha. We could also catch Shareef in that deal.

    Anyways, i’m just thinking outloud. The idea of Odom coming off the bench – with Ariza starting – is probably the best TEAM we’re going to put together. I like it – to those who all said it earlier. This team really is going to have grown by next year, especially with Big Bynum. He’s that fire that we need on the court when it’s lacking. I have supreme confidence in his abilty to do what we need him to do. I wouldn’t even put it past him to develop a little jumpshot game about 8-10 feet out. And we should give him a nice contract, as Kurt suggested earlier.

    My only question is – Do we want another guard or do we want a big body in the draft / free agency or something? I say the latter – one that complements Turiaf; little low post game. Rebounds defends well. That would solidify our bench to the ninth degree.

    Lakers will be holding that trophy – and I’m pulling for LO to be there. He definitely

  164. Wow – Mr. Bridges, that summed up exactly what I’ve been thinking the past 2 weeks. I just have not been able to find the right way to articulate it. Well done.

    All I can say is that i hope that something is done with it by the league. Stern & Co implement new rules and by laws every year it seems, so why not add obvious off the ball ambiguous friends of the flop?

    I guess they are instituting a “flopping fine”, which is kind of ludicrous, seeing as it won’t have too much effect on the games.

    But this off the ball squelly waggin that Thibodeau is all about is not legit. Make a move, Mr. Dave