NBA Recap : Sep 4th

The day that defense died.

That’s it. I’m taking my fandom to a different league. Any one, I don’t care. EuroLeague, CBA, NBL, NCAA, take your pick. I’m open to suggestions. Either way, I’m out! Not really, but man, I am getting sick of how this game is called. Especially this post season. I really hope it’s addressed in the off season because this is just ludicrous.

Are you really going to say that’s a flagrant foul on Jimmy Butler? As is the new standard, I was once again stunned that they decided to even review that play. As soon as they did though, I knew it was going to be ruled a flagrant. They shouldn’t of even looked at it, they only did because Middleton complained. Players may as well complain on every play and the referees will go and look at it. And, when they look at it, they always find something. Defense is officially dead. You can’t play it anymore, it’s been outlawed. No more DPOY awards. No more blocks. No more steals. No more guarding. It’s over. Mike D’Antoni is the happiest man on the planet.

Of course, there was more than one hostile act review in this game. They are multiplying. For the sake of consistency, I knew Bledsoe was going to get called for a flagrant after the review. I was wrong. Apparently, consistency is too much too ask for from the officials as well. I agree, it was just a common foul. But that isn’t the way they’ve been calling it. It’s like the referees decided they’ve been calling too many and decided not to on this particular play. I don’t know anymore!

What a fourth quarter performance by Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. I thought it was over for sure. Nope. Miami outscore the Bucks, 40-13 in the final quarter. 40-13. All night, it felt like Milwaukee was going to win this game. Miami’s previous inside dominance was missing and Milwaukee were managing to keep up with Miami’s long range shooting. It felt like Miami had no advantages.

In the fourth quarter, they turned it all around. They locked in on defense. The 3 ball started to fall. And, most importantly, they started to score inside the paint and draw fouls. Jimmy lead the way and made important plays, time and time again. He finished with 30 points, 7 boards and 6 assists.

Buckets wasn’t the only one though. Big time game for Jae Crowder, pouring in 5 triples. He was making it rain! Bam Adebayo had another double/double. 20 points on 88% shooting (he only missed one shot) and 16 rebounds. Like always, his presence was made known on defense.

Dragic struggled tonight. He still had an ok game, but he wasn’t nearly as effective as driving in the paint. In the previous games he was lethal inside. Look for him to get that aggression back in game 4. Robinson and Herro both struggled from long range, combing to go 4 of 14. With those 3 struggling, Miami must feel invincible considering they still got the win.

You can make excuses for Giannis because of his injury, but at the end of the day, he just wasn’t good enough. I’ve said this all series long, when he is moving in transition, he is basically unstoppable. Why doesn’t he try and get out more and use his speed? He settled for way too many 3 pointers in this game and he didn’t hit a single one. Every time he attempted a 3, he was doing Miami’s job for them. If you look at the box score (21/16/9) Giannis had a pretty good game. But it was overshadowed by poor decision making and scoring inefficiency. Giannis needs to step up.

Lopez and Middleton were once again the best players for the Bucks. At the end of the day though, Milwaukee collapsed. The whole team choked and let the game go, and likely now, the whole series. Coach Budenholzer is not doing a good job and neither are his players. It’s been a very disappointing showing for Milwaukee, in both series so far.

What a game for James Harden and the Houston Rockets. They outplayed the Lakers in just about every way imaginable. I thought Houston would win today, but it’s a little worrying for Lakers fans how they got the win. They didn’t just bomb away from deep and hope to catch fire. Houston and L.A. each shot the same number of three’s, but Houston had a higher percentage. The Lakers had more offensive rebounds, but the team tied at 41 boards each. The Rockets had more points in the paint, more steals, more assists and less turnovers. Admittedly, all of these stats were very close, but the fact that Houston had the edge in all of them is worrying if your a Lakers fan.

Harden was fantastic tonight. He did not settle for stupid threes or even stupid shots. He picked his spots well to finish on 36 points, 60% from the field. Westbrook was also solid for the Rockets. Eric Gordon added 23 points to help the Rockets to the 112-97 victory. The only downside for Houston was a knock to the head of Daniel House Jr. He looked shaken up after it and is hopefully ok moving forward.

LeBron James had a very strong performance for L.A. but he shot the 3 pointer very poorly and too frequently. He finished with 20/8/7 and a few monstrous blocks. Anthony Davis posted 25/14, but once again didn’t play as big as he should. He looked dominant when he was in the post, I would like to see him there basically every possession. Alex Caruso was good in his limited minutes. Nobody else could really score consistently for L.A., which has remained a problem throughout the bubble.

As I mentioned, Houston had basically every statistical advantage. They made smart decisions on offense and scored the ball at a decent percentage. What impressed me most of all though, is how engaged they were on defense. They are really starting to look good on that end of the court. Both teams turned the ball over too much, but Houston was the only team to capitalise on the extra opportunities. I’m curious to see what happens next in this series. Great win for the Rockets!

P.S. I saw they used a little Jack Nicholson video at one stage in the game. Awesome.

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