If you want to skip my ranting and get straight into basketball talk, skip the next seven paragraphs. Yeah, it’s been that kind of day. Otherwise, you may continue.
Sigh. Let’s just get the officiating talk over with. Another great game of basketball, overshadowed by unnecessary reviews, silly flagrant and bad calls. You have to wonder : is it bad officiating or is the rule book desperately in need of some tweaks? Either way, it needs to change. The referees were way too involved in a close game of basketball between Miami and Milwaukee. And no matter which of them you were cheering for, you can’t argue that the referees had a big hand in the finish of this game.
I’ll start on the number of fouls on jump shooters, especially at the 3 point line. There where a lot of them in this game. Obviously, the defenders aren’t always innocent. If contact is there, it should be called. I know on a lot of them it was the offensive player, kicking his leg out to create the contact. From my understanding, that is an offensive foul and should be called on the shooter. Let me rephrase, because it’s not just my understanding, it is the rules. They said that they would stop calling that foul on the defender this season. Yet here we are, in the playoffs and they are still calling it. That was a terrible, terrible call on Dragic at the end. He didn’t force contact against Middleton. He didn’t prevent Middleton from landing safely. He was straight up and down. The defender is entitled to space as well. Dragic was there first. I cannot believe the referees called that and sent Middleton to the line, with 3 free throws and a chance to tie the game. I was so angry! Since when can a defender not defend?
On one possession, about halfway through the fourth quarter, Giannis was fouling everybody. He could of picked up a foul on 3 seperate occasions in about a 5 second span. So of course, the referees don’t blow the whistle and they don’t call anything. Is a little bit on consistency too much too ask for?
I wish that was all the referee talk, but there is more. The flagrant foul. Again. 3 times in this game a play was reviewed for a flagrant foul. First was on a drive, I cannot remember who the Bucks defender was! I must of had my mind wiped during a rage blackout. I had a lot of those this game. It was just a good basketball foul, but for some reason they decided to review it. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and a flagrant wasn’t called. Butler did pick up a technical aa a result of the review though (insert eye roll emoji here).
I think the flagrant called on Kyle Korver was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen. You never want to see a guy get hurt, and I’m very glad that Iguodala seems to be ok. That was not a flagrant though, to be honest I wouldn’t of even called it a foul. Like I said yesterday (and the day before and probably before that too) just because a guy hits the ground, doesn’t mean there is a need to review for rough conduct. If that was a flagrant, we may as well just stop defending all together.
The flagrant called on Adebayo was fair enough (even if I don’t like it). There was clearly contact to the head of Middleton. Bam was doing the old school high elbows to clear a bit of space after a rebound. You can’t do that anymore. I don’t understand why it was reviewed though. The referees called a foul and the game was set to continue. It’s only because Middleton complained and said they should review it, so they did. Since when do we listen to when players complain? Are we going to start reviewing every foul call when a guy isn’t happy about it? On the topic of reviews, one of the officials was yelling at coach Bud for using review time to draw up a play. You don’t often see a coach get yelled at by the official. I understand that the rules state you cannot huddle up on a review, but maybe if the referees didn’t take so long, the coaches wouldn’t get a chance!
Whilst I’m on a rant, I want to talk about something else that annoys me. Then we can get into the game talk. Finally. Look, I love statistics as much as the next guy. I’m a big stats man. I’m always looking at stats, reviewing stats, talking about stats…I love them! But why do the broadcasters feel the need to come up with all these crazy and useless stats and shove them down our throats? “This is the first time since 1996 that the number 1 and 2 seeds of the same conference have each been down 0-2 in the same round of the playoffs” who cares? So what? There was another one but I didn’t write it down and in all my anger and ranting, I’ve forgotten it. Let’s talk some hoops. (post edit ; I remembered. It was something about the first time in Heat history that “x” amount of guys had all scored more than 7 points in the first half)
A lot of guys contributed for their respective teams in this match up. It was honestly a great team effort on both ends, for both teams. I don’t know where to start for Miami. Dragic was a lethal weapon inside the paint. Herro, Olynk, Robinson and Crowder all hit timely threes. Bam was huge in the paint again. Jimmy didn’t score the ball as much, but he was making his presence felt. Those 7 guys all scored in double figures! Very impressive effort when you can get so many people involved on offense. They shot the ball well inside and out. It will be hard to lose when you have that many scoring options. A couple of questionable offensive decisions down the stretch that nearly cost them the game, but they rode out the storm to pick up the win, 116-114.
Defensively, Miami were fairly good once again, but definitely some room for improvement. 12 steals and 4 blocks for the Heat squad was very well done. Milwaukee had a huge rebounding advantage, but it was mainly on the offensive end. They had 17 offensive rebounds in this game. Miami cannot be giving them that many second chances. They are very lucky that Milwaukee did not make them pay for it. Speaking of, Miami fouled the Bucks way too many times. They need to do a better job of defending without fouling. They are very lucky to have still gotten this win, they need to be tighten up for the next one.
There were also a lot of guys involved on offense for the Bucks. After a rough start, Giannis got rolling, he finished with 29 points and 14 boards. Once again, he proved to be unstoppable when he was out in transition. Milwaukee really need to utilise that more, they don’t go to that nearly enough. Lopez hit some big shots early and then basically disappeared. Middleton had another strong game, 23 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assissts. Bledsoe made his presence felt and was a welcome return to the lineup. George Hill also poured in 14 points.
Miami looked to have the game away early, but the Bucks always brought it back and kept it close. As I mentioned, they had a huge rebounding advantage, but it wasn’t enough to get them over the line. Turnovers were an early problem for them and came back to plague them late. Once again, Miami made them pay for their inability to defend the 3 point shooters. The officiating was poor on both sides, so neither team can use that as an excuse. Simply put, Milwaukee just need to be better. It felt like they had a lot of advantages and chances to take this one, they just failed to capitalise on them.
What a very entertaining game 7 of basketball. Right up until the last 60 seconds. Then we had to sit through a highlight reel of almost everything wrong with the game of basketball. Incompetent officiating, horrible flopping, incessant complaining, questionable decision making and instead of ending on a game winner, we finish with a missed free throw and a turnover. Ew. Houston advance after a 104-102 victory. Let’s break it down.
In one of the earlier games of the OKC/Houston series, Jeff Van Gundy jokingly said something about how a lot of people in Oklahoma would be naming their babies “Dort”. Sure thing JVG, whatever you say. Yes, Dort was playing pretty good defense and was contributing well enough, but he wasn’t having the kind of performances you would name your children after. Trust me, I know about naming your kids after sports teams. Well, I’m starting to think maybe Jeff can see into the future! How good was Dort tonight? It was a 30 point game, including 6 triples. A few too many turnovers for my liking, including a crucial one in the dying seconds. That one wasn’t his fault, he was very well defended, but it looked like he still blamed himself. I like it when a young guy takes responsibility.
We may as well continue on OKC players. CP3 had a triple double with 19/11/12, but he also had 6 turnovers. On a night when OKC was plagued by carelessness with the basketball, they really needed better from him. He still had a very good game though. SGA shot the ball well, but he was about the only Thunder guard to do so. I am also going to rip into Steven Adams, he did have some big rebounds down the stretch, but otherwise he was largely ineffective. I don’t think he performed well in this series. It’s like he had no idea how to play with a size advantage. He was lazy on rebounding, a lot of the time he just stood and watched. He wouldn’t box out, he could barely defend, he passed out of the paint when he should of scored….I could go on a while. When you can go back and look at this one, OKC have no one to blame but themselves. 21 turnovers. That’s all you need to know.
Way to step up, Russell Westbrook. He owned up to his horrible outing last time and he more than made up for it tonight. 20 points on 45% shooting and 9 rebounds. He was aggressive and playing with confidence. Early in the game you could spot him “rocking the baby” and on a later play shouting “you can’t guard me”. You could see winning this game meant a lot to him. I don’t like the Rockets, but I’m glad to see Westbrook have some post season success.
James Harden struggled scoring (I’ll get to him in a bit), but Gordon and Covington filled the void he left. The two of them each had 21 points and shot over 50% from downtown. Jeff Green also had a few triples of his own. In a night when their go to scorer was ineffective, I cannot state how crucial it was that the other guys stepped up.
On the topic of Harden, he shot the ball horribly. However, he did a good job of finding his teammates in a position to score. He also had the biggest play of the night, when he blocked Dort on a potential game winner. Harden made a few big defensive stands tonight, it’s good to see him continuing to put in effort on both ends of the floor. Harden finished with 21 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks! He will certainly need to get out of this scoring slump for the next round.
Let’s talk about the final 60 seconds. Harden’s block aside, I did not enjoy any of this. Firstly the flop sequence. First Tucker goes down trying to get a board against Adams. Then Adams dives for the loose ball. CP3 gets the ball. Then he flops. Then Adams flops. Then Harden gives it a try. Kudos to the referees for not blowing the whistle. That was absolutely disgraceful to watch. This is game 7 of the playoffs and instead of playing hard basketball, we have guys just shamelessly throwing themselves around and trying to get a whistle. Secondly, there were 2 occasions when the referees seemingly changed their minds because they were getting yelled at by players and coaches. I’m really tired of hammering on about the officiating but I’m more tired of it ruining good games of basketball. It felt like the coaches and players were deciding the calls down the stretch. All you have to do is yell at them enough and they will change their minds.
We had two very good games of basketball today, both plagued and overshadowed by officiating. I really hope that changes moving forward.