5.15.2008

Burp In Rest's Name



The degree of frustration I'm feeling right about now cannot be put into words. But since I can't link up the webcam and dance for all of you, I suppose I set forth on a sloppy, piteous post about these playoffs.

But first, a documentary in two languages (at the same time) about my favorite international prospect. DraftExpress has him going lottery next year. You can draw your own conclusions from the one snippet of court action in this video:



Now, the immediate business. Seriously, I am numb from toes to shoulders. The home court dominance utterly flummoxes all attempts at drama, or odds-defying, or myth-building. Plus, as I've said several times before, shouldn't teams with acid in their step be stoked to play on the road? Not overwhelmed by young confidence, but ready to step up and fight back the city worth of hostiles. That aside, the cold calculus of these playoffs really drains the life out of these games. The Jazz/Lakers games have been the most dramatic, and intense, but in the end, they fall beneath the cruel blade of determinism. Plus, it makes the Celtics' ordained title even more rote.

Once again, the Celtics match the Spurs of yore, but times a thousand.

The home team advantage has short-circuited the very notion of playoff greatness. It's like there's an unseen force deciding these games. A command Chris Paul performance at home is all in the cards; were LeBron to really up his stock, he'd win on the road. You know, like Louis Williams and Rafer Alston managed to against far longer odds. That's what makes it so spooky—this was a problem in the more skewed first round, but not this egregious. Deron Williams is my playoff hero only because he's the one guy struggling mightily against the New Playoff Order. He takes it personally, or missed the memo. West, too, has had some of that, but in his case it's been a stage to prove his real worth. Still running into that large, ordinary wall of law.



So heading into tonight, I plan to leisurely watch the Spurs play clean-up man while snacking and soaking my feet.

NOT speaking of Skeets, and the Hornets, he and I had a conversation some time ago about the alley-oop, and whether it wasn't the most indefensible (in a good way) play on earth. Usually, we think of them as statements of facility, arrogance, or daring. But New Orleans has made it into a key feature of the offense. Not even a variation on cutting and leaping—they genuinely rely on the Paul/Chandler connect. It's the heart of this attack, not an incidental or ornamental feature. The other night, I suddenly realized that there hadn't been one in forever. Suddenly, one happened, the crew proclaimed "first in three games," and the Hornets took off.

That's sublimated style in a nutshell. You could say this is a step back from the Suns or Warriors—after all, there's a lot that's fairly conventional about the Hornets. Or is that same maniac spirit turned into something viable. Chandler is functional, not a looming isotope. Weirdly, there's a seven-footer who spends a lot of time away from the paint but doesn't take jump shots. He just waits to swoop in. Also, the "put your finger on David West" game is through, so what about Chandler? Have you ever noticed how unimpressive his stats are? Yet he comes across not as a hustle, intangibles guy, but rather a dominant defensive big man. It's like his presence alone is a major statement.



What's funny is that so much potential glory awaits in the next round. Lakers/Hornets or Jazz/Hornets would be positively important, I guess, but the pall of "home team wins" really makes we wonder what the purpose of it all is. Inevitability doesn't cheapen play, but it certainly reinforces conventional wisdom, which operates on a broad level and cares little for the more nuanced sparks and parries of, well, style. Competitive and otherwise.

Oh, and for the first time in history, I fully believe in an NBA conspiracy. D'Antoni to New York, then in Beijing, then in a position to woo LeBron. . . you'd have to be an idiot, or from Cleveland, or have some sort of perverse attachment to noble suffering and life in a hole, to not want that. And that's when conspiracies happen: When it's in enough people's interest to put that ominous undercurrent out of me and go with the fun.

I only hope Dolan understands that he's now back in the good graces of Stern.

Okay, out of gas. I'm reading Loose Balls for the first time, and am frankly a little humiliated I never got to it before. For what is Hawks/Bobcats, if not a league of hard-to-assess talents doing amazing things in an empty gym with little or no record of the matter?

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21 Comments:

At 5/15/2008 1:57 PM, Blogger Brendan K. said...

It's been frustrating for me trying to convince people that Tyson Chandler is playing the most important role in Spurs/Hornets.

Paul is obviously coming out in the playoffs, and West is becoming more openly great (and way, way more of a prick) as the series' go on. But we thought nobody was gonna guard Manu, and with the revelation that Pargo/Mo-Pete/Bonzi can keep him from going nova it's Chandler on Duncan that will win this series.

So how do we properly quantify the mythology? We can heighten our appreciation of the offensive rebound, or... uhm... count the fouls he gets Timmy to commit to count as steals? There's got to be a way, dammit.

 
At 5/15/2008 3:15 PM, Blogger Croz said...

I think the Wicked Dave of the West's emergence is still the most important - it's absolutely crucial to NO's chances that he's able to score efficiently against the defensive monolith of Duncan, and it's the siege defense provided by that scoring that's so necessary to hold off the Spurs's consistent rallying (rat-a-tat high-pressure scoring that Amare has never been able to do against the playoff Spurs, which I think is a large part of what has doomed the setting Suns in years past). I do think Chandler is a crucial, crucial piece, though. For me it's those offensive rebound tap-outs referenced here earlier that stand proudly alongside the alley-oops as Chandler's unique stamp.

Also, I'm kind of loving the home court dominance. In the playoffs, home court should be the lion's den, and to see it so exaggerated is kind of amazing, not least because it flies in the face of so much arena homogenization.

 
At 5/15/2008 3:36 PM, Blogger avery said...

are you reading the ABA book or the Jayson Williams bio? I'm sure the latter only works well as firestarter.

 
At 5/15/2008 4:06 PM, Blogger goathair said...

The fact that Tyson Chandler modeled his game after Tayshaun Prince (same HS) is intriguing to me. For how different of players they ended up being, they both relish momentum changing plays at the rim. There's something to be analyzed there but I'm not sure what.

 
At 5/15/2008 4:36 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Kobe's back remains the key to the rest of the playoffs. If he falters against the Jazz, lord help us all - then the Jazz will advance, and Deron Williams will snuff out Chris Paul's shining. That will lead to the Jazz in the Finals against the Pistons. Yawn.

And yes, I have yet to see any evidence that the Celtics (presume they get past LeBron) will beat the Pistons next week. Although I have to admit I never would have guessed that Rondo would turn out to be the best player on the court in any game, yet there he was, totally dominating Game 5.

 
At 5/15/2008 5:06 PM, Blogger MisusedConfusedStrungOutAndWorse said...

sml -

Rondo was the best player on the court?

KG's 26 & 16 & 3rd qtr. would politely disagree.

But I guess it gets the dick harder to look at a new girl.

 
At 5/15/2008 6:15 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Most of KG's points came on pick n roll's that were perfectly executed by Rondo, who had 13 assists to one turnover.

Statistically, it's really six of one, half-dozen of the other. But I have to say: do you value a PG with 20 pts (on 60% shooting), creating and dominating the Pick N Roll, with 13 assists to 1 turnover (plus 2 steals and 2 blocks against Delonte), or do you value the PF with 26 points (on 60%) with 16 rebs and all the rest? Both are pretty impressive all-around.

But my thoughts were: "sh*t, you expect KG to go 26-16 on you; who expects Rondo to drop 20 pts with 13 assists?!?"

And since he controlled the ball more last night - I think he really was the best player on the court yesterday. And I'm been very vocally anti-Rondo in the past, so don't think I'm some sort of fan pushing an agenda....

 
At 5/15/2008 6:35 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I really hope you're all reading my Sporting Blog morning recaps, because they're funny and I like them. But if you haven't been, I'll say it here: Rondo will be better than Tony Parker in three years.

As someone (sorry, forgot who) said a few weeks back, Tony Parker is basically just a really, really fast guy who only sort of knows how to play basketball. Not as bad as T.J. Ford, but still. Now take Rondo: He's just as fast, but stronger, and a far better defender, and a very good rebounder. Rondo's outside shooting was shaky coming into this season, but he's improved—a lot like the evolution Parker went through. Plus, Rondo has much more "real point guard" potential than Parker. He's alreay capable of holding the offense together, not turning the ball over much, and getting 5-6 assists a game. That's Parker now.

Also his arms connect to his torso like an action figure, which is kind of cool. Or the arms/shoulder equivalent of kindergarteners drawing square crotches.

 
At 5/15/2008 7:13 PM, Blogger dickey simpkins said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/15/2008 7:16 PM, Blogger dickey simpkins said...

I guess you could say Tyson Chandler has been invaluable to the Hornets, but West's emergence as a guy who, when hot, is a top 4 PF has made the Hornets into an actual title contender, rather than just a fringe team that can win a lot of games and make it look fun.

I can't give Chandler so much credit because he has become the younger, more amicable version of Ben Wallace. A guy with so much promise, he has no post moves, no jump shot, bad free throw shooter, still fouls a shit load, still talks trash at the wrong times, and still tends to get injured at the worst moments (I really hope he is healthy).

 
At 5/15/2008 11:22 PM, Blogger Tom said...

I think the Hornets are still a SG away from being complete. MoPete just can't cut it anymore. Maybe the answer is just more Bonzi/Radical Preacher (who is looking amazing right now, by the by), or maybe they need to bring in somebody else.

 
At 5/15/2008 11:59 PM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

Fucking Spurs.. I wasn't totally on board with this post until after tonight and Ginobli's breakbreaking 3s and Horry's literally breakbreaking picks.

 
At 5/16/2008 12:11 AM, Blogger Caleb Tyler Adam said...

@ Tom

In a perfect world, Peja moves to the two and Juju develops into the jawdropping athletic everyday three we know he can and should be.

 
At 5/16/2008 2:22 AM, Blogger Brian Burke said...

Rajon Rondo as the next-better Tony Parker is pure bullshit. Here's why:

Rajon Rondo has three spot-up shooters to pass to. Tony Parker does not.

Assist-to-turnover ratio... On any given night, Tony Parker passes to guys like Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto, and Ime Udoka. They all have terrible hands.

Never mind. This is ridiculous... Did you just call Tony Parker a really really fast pg "who only sort of knows how to play basketball?" Really, guy. That's the dumbest thing you've ever written.

 
At 5/16/2008 2:32 AM, Blogger Brian Burke said...

You guys used to respond to the situation at hand and analyze on the fly. Now it seems like you're so concerned with your own narrative, that you automatically discredit what actually happens if it doesn't match up with FD philosophy. Like the John Hollinger of concepts. Quit that shit, please. What happened?

 
At 5/16/2008 3:59 AM, Blogger Kaifa said...

Re Paul/Chandler alley-oop: Only a small observation but strengthening your point.

In game 3 against the Spurs Paul started from the left side of the court, got a pick and went into the paint straight from the top. As soon as Duncan made a move towards him to deny the lay-up, Paul actually faked the alley-oop to Chandler and immediately froze Duncan with it. I know that this probably has been done before, but institutionalizing the alley-oop as the first option so that you can fake it and having the simple lay-up as the second option is still impressive. Video at roughly the 1:30 mark:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maE6UOzLiAo

 
At 5/16/2008 5:23 AM, Blogger dan said...

Off topic:

I'm going to be spending a night in "Gunspoint" in Houston. Aside from Shoals' intense hatred of the city, I also recall that some of you live there. Anyone want to meet up and watch tomorrow's (Friday) games?

Doc

 
At 5/16/2008 10:12 AM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

Uh, Brian Burke, Tony Parker at any given moment can pass to Ginobili, Udoka, Bowen, Finley, or Barry. Oberto, Thomas, and Duncan are pretty much the only guys on that team who aren't threats to hit the three-pointer (and after that Phoenix series maybe Duncan should be reconsidered). Rondo can pass to Garnett (for a long 2), Pierce, RayRay, or House. I don't think Parker is exactly working with a group of stone handed mongoloids when it comes to the catch and shoot, at least not compared to Rondo.

And the way I've always interpreted Tony Parker as a "really fast guy who only sort of knows how to play basketball" is this: every time that I watch Parker make a tough play I'm left with that "how the hell did he do that?" feeling, but it never seems to stem from any kind of supreme athletic ability (which he clearly has) coupled with rigorous practice and crystallization of basketball skill. The two are disjoint. Parker is so incredibly quick that you can't stop him from getting to the basket, AND THEN he sneaks up some kind of pithy teardrop or scoop. The drive and the basket are never fused in the same way they are for Lebron or even Joe Johnson, who combine the motion towards the basket with the play itself. Parker is disjoint in this weird way that I can never fully enjoy; hence, "incredibly fast", "doesn't really know how to play basketball."

 
At 5/16/2008 10:40 AM, Blogger ~CW~ said...

I don't think Tony Parker has been double-teamed more than a handful of times his entire career, and because of that freedom he's able to look quite prolific when he should be doing that considering the defensive situation. Parker will never draw two defenders anywhere outside the paint if Duncan and/or Manu is on the floor.

 
At 5/16/2008 11:49 AM, Blogger morgenstern said...

I think Rondo's gonna be a really good player, he lacks a bit of flash in his game so he probably wasn't hyped much coming into the lig but he's played great this season.

Tony Parker is a really complex player to judge. It's true that his play looks a bit unorthodox at times, like when he beats everybody darting into the lane and the stops abruptly, killing momentum and taking those weird shots froma a couple of feet away without jumping , but there's talent in that, great touch and some sort of spiderman sense for avoiding trouble spots in the paint.

Seriously, Parker scores in the paint like nobody i've ever seen. Don't you ever roll your eyes when he drives all the way, goes dribbling under the hoop to the other side, takes a couple of steps away from the basket and then scores?

 
At 5/16/2008 2:00 PM, Blogger MisusedConfusedStrungOutAndWorse said...

sml -

Real good points. I do value the 16 rebounds more, but I also understand and agree with your "who expects Rondo to drop 20 and 13". Based on that, I'd be inclined to agree with you that Rondo was the best player on the court - not named KG.

 

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