Incredulous Clocks

While chatting up the Denver/San Antonio game with my colleague, Shoals, he asked, "Why am I surprised that Denver knows how to manage the clock?" I felt the same way--The Nuggets should be stupider than that. George Karl, for all his postseason experience and motivational tact, is a playoff moron. When the Nugs were going on their run toward the end of the season many times they had brain lapses and almost blew leads late in games. A.I. is really the only guy on the team with half a brain, and even he is guilty of, say, not feeding Melo in the post when dude is being guarded by Jacque Vaughn. I guess this what the 2007 playoffs are really all about broad-scale Savant Syndrome. Or maybe, moreover, this playoffs is proof that smarts matter, and the winners and losers can be divided into the stupid, and the would-be stupid but apparently genius.

The stupid:

--At the end of the half in the Cavs/Wiz game, down by 4 and with 11 seconds left, the Wiz had a chance to cut the lead to 2 or 1. They put up a shot and left too much time on the clock, Larry Hughes came down the other way and hit a 3 to put the Cavs up 7.

--During Kobe's dry spell in the 4th against the Suns, the one thing that broke the Lakers' scoring drought was when he attracted two defenders, decided NOT to shoot, and caught Bynum on a cut to the basket. He spent the rest of the 4th jacking up shots while being double-teamed.

--Avery Johnson couldn't recognize--during a 48 minute span--that his best player, a 7-footer was being guarded, single-teamed even, by 6'6" guys like Mickael Pietrus and Jason Richardson. Also, you might want to throw some different looks at Baron Davis (THE BARON RULES). Devean George bumping on the baseline isn't getting it done. Let the quicker Terry match up with him, or how about the longer Josh Howard.

Yes, I'm stating that Avery Johnson, the god-ized Avery Johnson, demonstrated the lowest basketball IQ of the weekend.

Let's take it one step further. You start Devean George over Erick Dampier. This does two things:

1) You take a guy out of the game who is known for knocking guards on their asses. Maybe Diddy doesn't get to the hoop so much if he has something to fear down there.

2) You are basically admitting that you're scared. You're gonna let the Warriors gameplan dictate how YOU play the game? [I started writing this before Hollinger's column came out today, by the way]. According to a direct quote from Nellie, he LITERALLY laughed when he heard you were going to start a big man at center. You need to stand pat and man up. He is not scared of you. He is a huge man dressed in all black wearing no tie. Like Brando, Johnny Cash, and Frank Layden all wrapped into one.

At Free Darko, stupidity is many times favored to calculated thought and basketball IQ. However, it is a special brand of stupidity that can be considered Savantism, as we now turn to praise a shortlist of those who displayed gamesmanship so crazy that it was actually genius.

--Darko motherfucker. That same confounded "where am I" look is still plastered across his face, but the guy has game. On Saturday, Darko was all at once directionless, yet consistently right-place/right-time. It's almost like he hasn't learned how to translate BOOOOO into Serbian yet. Gangster.

--Matt Barnes' THE WARRIORS ARE WHO YOU THOUGHT THEY WERE three-pointer after J-Rich's "We just want it more than you do" block on Devin Harris. Sir Charles called it a terrible shot, and fine, we agree. But that shot was really the difference between these playoffs' ruling vs. sucking.

--Scott Skiles' willingness to play his rookies. The normally conservadox Skiles showed some extreme trust in his young dudes, Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha (can Andriuskevicius can at least get some hack-a-Shaq facetime in?). Much has already been made of Thabo's defensive prowess in Game 1, so I'll spare you any additional glorying. I will, however, point you to this, as definitive proof as to why you should care about TYRUS THOMAS IN THE PLAYOFFS:


At 4/23/2007 2:47 PM, Blogger nerditry said...

this is one of the few times in sports that you can count on personnel matchups being as important as the player matchups.

nelson vs. johnson is equally as important as whomever guards dirk or vice-versa.

i think that nellie is confident in the billy donovan approach of playing the best five guys on his team and sub in as needed. the heat will start to do the same hopefully tonight.

how do you scout against five guys going in with assignments, some plays and a pass from their coach to go out and beat the mavericks by running them out of the building.

At 4/23/2007 3:36 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Seriously, why is "tall ball" suddenly scared of "small ball" in the playoffs? Has "small ball" ever won that matchup? Go big, Big D, and like Walton, Sr. says "throw it down, big man!" Dampier dunks are a more reliable offensive option than Baron's bombs from three.

Also, is it too early in the Spurs-Nuggets series to point out I predicted the Spurs would be out in the first round over two months ago? If the Lakers weren't such a mess I'd almost think that any team in the West playoffs could beat any team in the East bracket this year; but due to injuries and the above-mentioned Kobe stupidity the Lakers can't be included in that sweeping statement.

At 4/23/2007 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Spurs Fans,

Well the haters are out in full force now. Before the playoffs even started, there were rumblings about us. But you guys, sheesh, you had plenty of expert opinion on your side. Hell, we both have plenty of experience (though Shoals might argue its meaningless). But something is awry. These gentlemen of style are bearing furious SUBSTANCE. Is our grand plan coming to an end?
Anyways, it WAS only a game for each of us, so if were planning that little picnic in the 2nd round, care to help us out with some directions?

Mavs Fans

At 4/23/2007 4:33 PM, Anonymous Jack said...

--Yams- Yeah, like what we talked about a while back: The East is so weak, it seems almost anyone can win out of it. Making it NCAA-esque like that does increase the intrigue, but I still don't give a shit.

--Bad decision making for Kobe. I realize that he's the best (and sometimes only) option, but he's gotta pass when it is OBVIOUS he's gone cold and isn't feeling his shot. Throw it to Turiaf or Odom or Walton down low. Try to get something else going. I'm a Suns fan, so I love his kind of play like in the 2nd half, but I am still depressed to see it.

--"But that shot was really the difference between these playoffs' ruling vs. sucking."


--TYRUS THOMAS IN THE PLAYOFFS. It was the story in college, and is the story in the NBA. Holla'

At 4/23/2007 5:17 PM, Anonymous iverson fan said...

What a sunday. A Nuggets win and a Lakers loss. I'm not even gonna talk about Kobe's performance. It spoke for itself. But here is my prediction for the rest of the series:

In game 2 or 3 Kobe has a good all around game (which means that Cook and Smush hit some open 3s), everyone talks about how Kobe is really starting to become a facilitator, and then by game 4 or 5 the Black Mamba is back to taking 37 shots and shooting one handed fadeaways falling out of bounds with two hands in his face. And when he misses people say, "Well if anyone could have made that shot, it would have been Kobe Bryant. He just doesnt have the teammates he needs yet. Plus the injuries during the season really hurt their chemistry."

Then this whole cycle repeats itself year after year until Phil can't take it anymore and they are forced to hire Rick Adelman.

But yeah, go Nuggets. Got a win and they didn't even play that well. All of a sudden AI is not a has-been anymore, huh? And Melo's face up 18 footer is pretty money these days.

TNT was actin like this was Diddy's first go around or something. Don't call it a comeback.

At 4/23/2007 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Matt Barnes' THE WARRIORS ARE WHO YOU THOUGHT THEY WERE three-pointer after J-Rich's "We just want it more than you do" block on Devin Harris."

the most on point shit i've ever read on freedarko.

At 4/23/2007 5:38 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

Damn you, Iverson Fan, I preemptively posted my agreement with your analysis of Kobe in the previous entry's comments (go check em out), and you don't even see them. I think you're wrong about the rest of the series for Kobe though, he's not gonna go all facilitator on us, he'll continue to jack shots. It's all the Lakers have been doing for the last 2-3 months and it's not gonna stop now. Tune in next season to see if Kobe gives facilitating another shot.

Your propping up of Iverson at this point is a little silly though. Sure he looks good when he's got teammates like that to go with him. We saw how he did with junk like Kobe's got, so don't think AI's seen some light that Kobe hasn't. Keep in mind that Kobe won three rings facilitating when he had some teammates to pass to.

Anyone got a prediction on where Smush Parker ends up next year? Since he's played two years in the NBA, is he even eligible for the D-League? My money's on a second European tour for the Smusher.

PS - Can someone please take the NBA away from ABC? That awful camera angle coupled with the fucking Pussycat Dolls is almost enough to make me turn the channel. Does ABC have any idea what they're doing or who their audience is? Where's John Tesh when you need him?

At 4/23/2007 6:28 PM, Blogger Brendawg said...

Darko's post-game comments: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070423/SPORTS03/704230342/1051/SPORTS

On the boos in Detroit compared to the boos in Serbia: "I don't really care. Back home fans used to throw the baseball (bats) and stuff at me -- everything. They tried to kill me back home. That's why I don't really give a (expletive) about it."


At 4/23/2007 8:50 PM, Blogger Barnesgasm said...

Face it: Matt Barnes just might be the be-all end-all: Mohawk + hustle + shoots 3s? sometimes its good, sometimes its an absolute rock + possibly a crackhead + Warriors + wait, definitely a crackhead + sometimes runs point = exactly what you're looking for. Math, folks, just solid math.
I rest my case.

At 4/23/2007 8:52 PM, Anonymous iverson fan said...

yams, I just looked back and saw your post. Yeah AI definitely has a team to play with, but I've been watching him for the last three years and he constantly set up Webber and Korver and the rest of those scrubs. If they coulda hit a shot he would have averaged 10 assists. I can't count how many times he let Webber take the big shot only to have that choke artist throw up a line drive brick. Good riddance. I hope he fails in Detroit. And Fuck Glenn Robinson too.

The East is boring me to tears. I don't care if it's wide open. Bad is bad.

At 4/23/2007 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a huge fan of ABC but Hubbie Brown is still one of the best guys doing basketball games right now.

At 4/23/2007 9:29 PM, Anonymous crzy said...

Dwight is soft. There I said it.

At 4/23/2007 10:32 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Yo, message to T. - just caught the stat that the Rockets have 4 guys who hit over 100 3PTs this season. That's your 32 points right there - those guys can score enough threes to get the Rockets to 95 (not that they need that much anyway - this is a Van Gundy team; if the other team breaks 90 I'll be impressed).

But yeah, I can see Battier, Rafer, Head and Howard, plus Hayes, getting 30ish points a game. As long as the defense holds, and the health of T-Mac's back holds, they can pull it off, all the way to the conference Finals... they'll outlast Dallas in these playoffs, that's my prediction.

At 4/23/2007 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dwight aint soft he just doesn't have much game... he's a good rebounder and gets a lot of offensive boards. I'm not hating because he has time to develop a game, but right now he's seeing that in the playoffs when he has 3 6'11 guys boxing him out it's tough to score only on put-backs. For all the attention Howard gets I would take Bosh's more polished game any day.

At 4/23/2007 11:49 PM, Blogger T. said...

sml - damn I hope you're right. I'm trying to follow this in the office (in Shanghai - neglecting my powerpoint slides and spreadsheets to watch numbers on a page move. I don't regret my career choice, but I am insanely jealous of my old colleagues getting to ride this team into the playoffs. They're a fun group of guys to root for.

As to Howard/Bosh - I love Chris Bosh. And I'd take him over Howard for the next few years. But I think his ceiling is lower than what D-wight could eventually be. But that's the potential vs. proven argument. Who was that that described Dwight as a baby horse around the basket?

An apt description.

At 4/24/2007 12:10 AM, Blogger BenQRock said...

The best thing about Darko's postgame comments is that he said "baseball sticks", which is why "bats" is substituted in parentheses in the article.

As for Bosh/Howard, I agree that Bosh is the more polished at the moment. I also agree with the commenter who said that Howard's ceiling is higher. I think we can all agree at this point that Okafor winning ROY over Howard is a joke, though. Nothing against Okafor, who has developed into a well above-average player, but Howard is better. Period.

If the Magic talent ever develops -- I AM TALKING TO YOU, JAMEER NELSON -- there could be some incredible Bosh/Howard Eastern playoff matchups for the next decade. I look forward to it.

At 4/24/2007 12:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard's ceiling might be higher but that's just based on the fact that he's easily the most athletic young big in the game. But that's been the case for a while and up to now Howard hasn't developed any kind of offense outside of putbacks. I think he'll be a really good player but I think Bosh's versatility is more suited towards the play offs and winning.

At 4/24/2007 12:45 AM, Blogger T. said...

I don't want to say I know the Rockets game, but dang, that's pretty close to my formula.

At 4/24/2007 12:45 AM, Anonymous Freddie said...

think we can all agree at this point that Okafor winning ROY over Howard is a joke, though. Nothing against Okafor, who has developed into a well above-average player, but Howard is better. Period.

So? Okafor had a better rookie year by any measure. ROY isn't a predictor for future success, it's an assessment of who had the best single season. That wasn't Dwight Howard.

At 4/24/2007 1:08 AM, Anonymous Matt said...

ROY isn't a predictor for future success, it's an assessment of who had the best single season. That wasn't Dwight Howard.

Right, it was Ben Gordon ;-p

At 4/24/2007 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote: "Not a huge fan of ABC but Hubbie Brown is still one of the best guys doing basketball games right now."

You're joking right? I can't stand his 2nd person narrative, he is the worse announcer i have ever heard in my life. Everytime he calls a game i cringe and almost change the channel. Unfortunately ABC has some love affair with him they have him on all their good games.

At 4/24/2007 1:45 AM, Blogger BenQRock said...

So? Okafor had a better rookie year by any measure. ROY isn't a predictor for future success, it's an assessment of who had the best single season. That wasn't Dwight Howard.

I wasn't aware that Okafor's stats were better, but now that I look at it, they are. Still, Okafor has essentially peaked, and Howard is still climbing. The Magic made the right choice by selecting him first.

At 4/24/2007 5:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hubbie is great, he gives his input into the game and it's usually stuff you can see unfolding during the game and you can pretty much when he's on and his analysis/predictions are unfolding and when he's off and that's not happening as much... it's better than some of these comentators who just throw up random statements and hope they stick

At 4/24/2007 8:30 AM, Anonymous padraig said...

Does anyone else feel like Nellie is basically just scamming the Mavs, who in turn are scarfing up his BS with a giant spoon? I mean, the dude concocts a lineup of 4 guards and a 6'9" SF and somehow convinces arguably the lig's best team that this is a strategy to be emulated? Because, you know, it's been so historically successful? And then to add insult to injury he busts out this completely infuriating 100% fake Lou Holtz "oh, the Mavs are millions of times better than us, we can never beat them in a 7 gm series, this win means nothing" schtick while clearly and openly laughing at them in disbelief as they frantically rush to buy into his pyramid scheme. How did the Mavs only score 85 freaking points? That defies comprehension.

It seems like a cosmic injustice that the Warriors missed the playoffs for 12 straight years only to have Nellie be the one to have to come back and lead them to a glorious 8 seed, playing more or less the exactly same style as Run TMC with different dudes. I mean, he basically invented the Suns back in the early 90s before anyone in Europe (or the Colangelos) thought it was cool. That the Warriors might even beat arguably the lig's best team, which he helped to build, by tricking them with smoke and mirrors and outhustling them is just the weirdo icing on the cake. Don't get me wrong, I'm an Oakland transplant and after the Bulls I harbor a special place in my heart for the GSW but the ontological bizarreness and general surreality of the entire conundrum makes my brain ache something fierce.

Other than all that, I too was both thrilled and completely shocked that Skiles, of whom I am generally though not always a supporter, made Thabo the 1st guard off the bench. Granted it took Kirk, the king of picking up ridiculous fouls (basically the anti-Wade), having to leave after roughly 37 seconds for it to happen but still. Thabo's got prototypical "lockdown wing/2 guard defender" written all over his impossible lankiness and infinite wingspan coupled with quickness and he's also clearly the best Swiss NBA player. Tyrus, well, 2 instant back to back blocks followed by a ridiculous alley-oop followed by some incredibly fast fouls is pretty much par for the course at this point. That doesn't make it any less awesome to behold. The only things missing were several quick offensive boards, a dubious 15 ft jumper or 2, at least one wild spin move/venture into the lane (still 100x more refined than Ben Wallace, mind you) and Brian Scalabrine getting posterized a time or six. I liken Tyrus to a an ancient, rickety rollercoaster; loads of fun to ride but a sensational, horrifying death lurks around every shaky turn. If that dude can contine to harness his ludicrous powers...

Gary Payton looked completely shellshocked and lost when the Heat call timeout, and also like he's roughly 117 years old.

I'm also calling the Rockets right now to come out of the West. T-Mac and Yao are not fucking around. I'll probably be proven wrong but the weirdness of their intertwined stories is much more compelling to me than the endless Nash/Amare saga.

At 4/24/2007 10:50 AM, Anonymous StopSnitchin' said...

Speaking of Barnes, what were those awesome sneakers that he was sporting? Anyone?

At 4/24/2007 12:44 PM, Blogger T. said...

stopsnitchin' - those would be the adidas J-Smooth (yes, Josh Smith's signature shoe)

At 4/24/2007 1:41 PM, Anonymous fix_the_knicks said...

Anon133: Hubie's swag is phenomenal. He explains why things are happening in terms that make sense, rather than just screaming about how great superstar X is. He uses original linguistic constructions -- not just 2nd person, but also 1st person plural, by starting 90% of his sentences with "we all know that..." Finally, he represents Jersey to the fullest.

I don't what kind of milquetoast unaccented middle American color commentators you prefer, but, well, you don't know what you're talking about.

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