NBA Playoffs So Far Mailbag 4/23/14

Editors note: Over the last couple of days Brian Batty and Brad Fuson exchanged e-mails about the playoffs before, during, and after Tuesday nights games. Here’s what transpired

Brian: Brad welcome back to the literary side of AWR. It’s been so long. A couple questions, have you dropped out of college yet? When are you coming to St. Louis for a baseball game? Is your refrigerator running?

Brad: Welcome back, welcome back, welcome baaaaack. Shout out Mase! It’s good to be back! I haven’t dropped out yet, I’m thinking next year around this time though… RIGHT before graduation. I’d love to come down for a game somebody *cough cough* hasn’t invited me yet.

And yeah it is haha WHY DO YOU ASK, BRIAN?!??

Brian: Just wondering man, don’t want your food to spoil. God forgive me for being a good friend

Anyways, the NBA playoffs came into our TV sets like the Kool-Aid man/Andy Reid over the last few days. We should count our blessings because a weekend full of blow-outs is always in play. What’s one moment that stood out to you?

Brad: Haha and here I thought set one up on the tee for ya.

I’m breaking the rules – what a badass right? – but I can’t pin down just one. The two things that stood out to me the most were how god awful the Pacers are and how god awful the officiating was in the Houston/Portland game.

Used this before, don’t care. Kyle Korver blocked 7’2″ Roy Hibbert. That happened.

The Pacers have had their talent Space Jam’d away and look absolutely pathetic against the Hawks in game one. THE ATLANTA HAWKS! A complete lack of interest and effort was on display throughout forty-eight minutes from Jeff Teague destroying Evan Turner’s ankles to Kyle Korver swatting Hibbert not once, but twice. This team is far too talented to lay an egg like that and should be ashamed of themselves, but give credit to a young Atlanta team making the most of their opportunity; just imagine if Horford was healthy.

The officiating was goddamn deplorable in an otherwise fantastic game between the Rockets and Trail Blazers – it might have been the best of the opening weekend. The problem is just that, the officiating. The fact that I can recall not just one, but multiple instances (the T on Bev, Lopez’s 6th foul, etc) is ridiculous. You get these guys like Bennett Salvatore and Joey Crawford thinking “THE PEOPLE CAME OUT TO SEE ME!” when it couldn’t be further from the truth. Please, just let the players play and decide the outcome of the game from here on out; I beg of you!

Brian: Ok I’ll hit on the refs first. Yeah the officiating really wasn’t the best. Maybe it was even terrible, but man reffing the NBA is hard. I don’t think many people realize how hard it is to officiate guys that big and that strong moving as quickly as they are. After last year’s Finals with almost perfect officiating I’m willing to give the refs the benefit of the doubt for now. Referees in sports can’t win no matter what, only the negatives will ever be pointed out. I don’t understand why anyone under any circumstances would want to be an official? That, QB, and hockey goalie are the three least desirable jobs in sports

I’m done with the Pacers. As I type this they’re winning by 25, and even that does nothing for me. Congratulations! You beat a team that finished 6 games under .500 on your home court! Your 2014 NBA Champions…..THE INDIANA PACERS!!!

No, get out of here with that. You won a game against the worst playoff team ever. Does nothing for me. You haven’t earned any lee-way at all from me. Or should they from any one for that matter

Brad: I’m with you that it’s far from an easy job, but their inconsistencies are too much to handle and that game had way too many whistles.

Speaking of blowouts, how about that Clips/Warriors game last night?

Brian: Saw it coming from a mile away. Well, I shouldn’t toot my own horn like that because I didn’t see THAT coming, but I would have put a substantial amount of something on the Clippers. When you lose Game 1 at home, when you’re a good team, you don’t under any circumstances lose Game 2 at home. The NBA playoffs have been like that since George Mikan was slowly running around.

This Clippers/Warriors series is going to have a million emotional ups and down before it’s over. If you did notice though, the Dubs were down 30 and Steph Curry took it personally and started just attacking the rim like prime D-Wade. No player feeds off his home crowd more-so than Steph, and I think the end of that game was his way of saying “Ok, ya’ll got us. See you in Oakland”. Still don’t know who’s guarding Blake Griffin though, but once those shots start going in, the Dubs can beat anybody over 48 minutes. Don’t be surprised if they win Game 3 by 3

Brad: I agree wholeheartedly. The severity of the beat down was what surprised me. I think most people saw it going six, maybe seven games before the series started and I think we’re still right on track for that. It’ll be a roller coaster of series, like you said, but do you think Golden State stealing game one in L.A. gives them the advantage? Oakland has one of, if not, the best crowds in the NBA and heading there squared up at one a piece could play a factor.

Another team with some of the most dedicated, raucous fans in the NBA, your very own Chicago Bulls are struggling again tonight against the ‘Zards. What’s up with that? The offensive struggles are far from shocking, but they’re getting beat on the boards and simply getting out hustled. Your thoughts?

Brian: I think the only “advantage” I see in the series is one team has Blake Griffin and one doesn’t. I know that’s kind of a simple answer, but really the Warriors don’t have anybody who can guard him right now. But if he gets into foul trouble again or the game gets close at the end and he isn’t hitting free throws (both extremely likely relative to the alternative) that advantage is slim.

I think we all overreact to these games a bit as they go. In a 7 game series, each game is its own thing. Game 2 is Game 2, Game 3 is game 3. Nothing else that happened before matters once the games start, so I like to keep that in mind while watching these series play out, especially this Dubs/Clips one in particular. I liken this series to a good 42 minutes TV drama. Week to week (game to game) all the different characters (players) are going to stand out or have their moment. Just gonna kick back and enjoy it.

As for my Bulls….I’m just gonna post these. GET WELL SOON DERRICK! WE LOVE YOU AND THE WHOLE CITY IS BEHIND YOU! NUMBER ONE IN OUR HEARTS, NUMBER ONE YOUR PROGRAM!

Editors Note: Brad took the weirdest nap in history between these e-mails. During said nap, the Bulls managed to blow their second straight 10 point 2nd half lead.

Editors Note 2: Brian is slowly losing his mind. The Basketball Gods need to cut him a break very soon.

Brad: You’re right on the money with different games taking on their entirely own different life forms and I think no series will see that as much as this one. Blake Griffin took his game to a different level this year and is now a viable half court threat, but these pesky Warriors won’t go away easy. Let’s hope we get five more games like the first rather than Monday’s massacre.

Second tough L in a row for the Chi-town boys. I certainly didn’t see this coming- I don’t think many did. Like we discussed on the AWR Podcast, I figured the games to be highly competitive, but with the Bulls’ experience and toughness being the deciding factor. John Wall and Brad Beal (excellent first name) have played fearless in their first trip to the playoffs, but do the Bulls really go down this easy? This bulls team who, after again losing Rose and trading Deng away rallied behind Joakim Noah’s first team All-NBA performance get swept? Or go fishin’ after five? I’d like to think they have more fight in them than that their experience and sheer will is enough to get a much needed victory in Chocolate City.

Brian: They just can’t score man, like at all. I really hope this series is a wake-up call for the Thibs/Forman/Paxson three headed management monster though. They need to change how they’re looking at building a roster. This isn’t 2004. In this league you need shot creators and shot makers. Quirky over-achieving regular season teams are great and all, but were in this business for championships, not offensive rebounds. Usually when I watch a team beat my team in the playoffs in any sport I end up loathing their existence until the end of time. This Wiz team? Eh, not so much. I’m cool with Wall, in cool with Beal, I could watch Andre Miller teach an Advanced Basketball 301 class all day long. I’m kind of ok with them beating us, then sweep the Hawks and rest until the play the Heat in the conference finals.

Brad: Hmm… A shot creator and shot maker who may be on the market this summer… someone like Carmelo Anthony perhaps? I don’t know how anyone could hate on the fit, both for the Bulls and Melo. Chicago drastically needs offense and Melo needs, well, a functioning basketball team around him if he wants a real shot at a ring.

Outside of forecasting the future, which anyone who listens to our podcasts knows we’re fantastic at, what catches your eye most right now? The Raptors are knotted up with the Nets and the Grizz stole one in OKC despite Kevin Durant using cheat codes late in the game. I mean seriously, how ridiculous was that fall-away three?

Brian: I just about lost my mind when I saw that shot. Only three players ever hit that shot. Mike, KD, and Dirk. You got a gigantic, sweaty, pissed off Spaniard clobbering you into the second row, and you’re able to square up your body parallel to the ground and shoot a round ball into a round hoop perfectly lined up. Keep doing those sit-ups Iceberg!

I’m honestly looking forward to tonight’s Portland/Houston game. Neither team is happy about how things shook out in Game 1, and because they’ve had seemingly two weeks to let it all fester don’t be surprised if this thing turns ugly fast. I had my money on Golden State/ LA being the first series with a punch thrown, but I’m definitely losing that bet within the first five minutes of tonight’s game. I’ll have my James Harden shirsey on for this one; my boy needs to have a big game.

Brad: It took multiple replays for my mind to even understand what happened on that play.
That first game, despite the aforementioned abundance of whistles, was absolute entertainment from the tip. Defense is seemingly optional, but the bad blood keeps the physicality in play. I most definitely can’t wait for it. Does Houston keep Terrence Jones matched up with Aldridge and let him get abused all night? What other potential changes, if any, do you see?

Brian: If McHale doesn’t at least try running Asik and Howard together and putting Dwight on Aldridge, well I was going to say I’d be surprised but I honestly wouldn’t. McHale seems to severely struggle with putting the right five guys out there at any given moment, and he has all season. If you’re letting LMA kill you, it really doesn’t matter what else you do. He’s the kind of guy that can win a game on his own, 6’6″ Terrence Jones be damned!

What about you, you’re Kevin McHale and you’ve had three months (I know I’ve made this joke already, but the real joke here is how spread out these games are) since Game 1 to tinker and adjust, what’s your move?

Brad: I certainly don’t keep Jones on Aldridge, that’s for sure. I think you have to put Dwight on him to match his athleticism, but LMA’s range will pull Dwight from the basket and thus negate his rim-protecting ability. Enter Omer Asik, a 7-foot brick wall of rim-protecting goodness. The Twin Towers must be experimented with and while the spacing isn’t ideal offensively, I think it’s necessary to give some serious run and test it out.

If I’m McHale I’m worried about Pat Bev’s knee holding up. That dude is as scrappy as they come running around out there like a hyena from Lion King. Not only is he a spark off the bench, he brings the tenacity needed in highly contested games; he’ll get in your head.

All in all Game One was so close that it might not take any changes; it might just come down to who makes more plays (real deep analysis). Either way, I can’t wait.

Brian: PLAYOFFS BABY! PLAYOFFSSSSSSS!!!!

Sorry, I just got a little exited there. I want to touch on Raptors/Nets a little bit. We started this series with a “Fuck Brooklyn”, and now were 1-1 headed back to the Borough and with your boy Kevin Garnett talking noise on his way out of Toronto. “I don’t know if you can say ‘F*** Brooklyn’ and then come into Brooklyn. So we’re about to see what it’s like.” BROOKLYN IN THE HOUSE

Game 3 gon be guuuuuud

Brad: Kevin Garnett is the biggest talker in the league for a dude who only fronts against six-foot-tall foreigners. Don’t get me wrong, I love the intensity, but dude is a bluff through and through and has been garbage all year. That being said the new kids on the block (had a bunch of hits, Chinese food makes me sick) going up the grizzled Nets squad has been an entertaining series. DeMar Derozan stepped up last night with 30 big points and we’ll have to see how Brooklyn responds.

Brian: Honestly though, the storylines and entertainment through only 14 total games so far has been unbelievable. Every year the NBA Playoffs are incredible, but the parity seems to be real this year and we’re going to have a lot of looonnnnngggg series coming in the next couple months. I can’t wait to just kick back and enjoy

Brad: Couldn’t agree with you more. What looked like a pretty chalk opening round on paper has turned out to be a kickass first week. I’m sure they’ll be many more twists and turns as we move forward and we’ll be right here along the way watching!

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