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Enough Pump Faking and Jumping into the Defender

Alright, I am sure that people will read this and think, "did he really feel the need to write a column on this issue?"  And frankly, as I sit here and write it, I am thinking the same thing to myself.  But I just cannot take it anymore.

I cannot stand watching an NBA game and seeing this sequence: player X catches the ball 15 feet from the basket while player Y closes out.  X then pump fakes, causing Y to jump into the air.  Y, realizing that X is not about to shoot it, puts his arms down and directs his body out of the way.  X subsequently jumps sideways into the defender, demonstrating the worst resemblance of a shot, and flails arms as if he has been gunned down in a back alley.  The refs award X with two free throws, much to the chagrin of player Y and his coach.

Still don't know what I am talking about?  Here is an example, albeit not the best one.  Gasol does a poor job of lowering his arms, but the premise of the play is where my qualm lies.  I understand that by the books, the body contact is a foul.  But in the event that the defender does dodge the shooter and puts his arms down, he should not be penalized because the offensive player jumps into him at an angle where he'd never otherwise take that shot.

The two biggest culprits of this are Paul Pierce (the master) and Dirk Nowitzki.  But every team has a player that commits the act.  And after watching Andre Miller draw a foul call in this fashion, and Dirk in an even more egregious fashion, I have decided I just cannot take it anymore.

Perhaps this really is a small issue and I am just acting melodramatic.  But defenders should no longer be punished if they are out of the way of the offensive player and they jump into the defender.  It just does not make sense to call a foul there.  Just as refs do not award shooting fouls when players throw the ball up from beyond half court, they should not award shooting fouls when a player jumps sideways to hit a defender.

Alright, now that that little rant is out of me, let's take a look at a couple of key notes from last night's Dallas-Portland game.Dirk-nowitzki-lamarcus-aldridge-2010-12-15-23-20-0 

  • Which is more likely: the Blazers get a repeat performance of Roy and Matthews in game three, or the Mavs get a repeat performance of Kidd's game one and two and Terry's game three?  The real question is: does it matter?  Each time has had their exemplary play from players that normally do not perform that well.  This series will come down to the consistency of team play, not simply outstanding individual performances.
  • 48 bench points for the Mavs.  They outscored their starters by four.  And the bigger issue in the series is that they outscored the Blazers 48-23.  The Blazers managed to pull out a win in game three despite this Dallas advantage, but they will seriously need more support from their bench if they want to try and mount a comeback.
  • Turnovers told the story of this game.  The Blazers forced 16 turnovers, huge after in game two the Mavs finished the final 23 minutes of the game without a turnover.  The Blazers ratcheted up the defense and caused some issues for the  Mavericks' guards.  Expect the Mavs to not go so small in game four as some of the length and size of the Blazers caused those problems.
  • The Blazers absolutely need those three pointers to fall if they want to continue to compete.  Matthews' first quarter barrage opened up the lane for Aldridge, and even though his shots were not falling, he was getting good looks in the low post.  Aldridge will not shoot 9-21 again.  Guaranteed.
  • I suspect in game four, the Mavs will attempt to slow the game down and force the Blazers to grind out a win.  Although the fast break statistics were not all that impressive, there was significantly more running in this game than in one and two.  Interestingly, this The key matchup
    works in the Blazers favor, which usually is not the case.  Rick Carlisle will want to slow down the game, especially in the first quarter, to set the tone.

Good win for the Blazers last night when it was an absolute must-win game.  I think that the Blazers will win game four and send it back to Dallas 2-2.  But I am less confident about game four than I was about winning last night.  60-40 that the Blazers win game four and tie it up. 


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